William Chambers’ Teatrise on Civil Architecture gained special attention for its detailed and precise presentation of individual building elements. The book is organized as follows. First, a preface explains the purpose of this edition through a history. It also addresses the question of why monarchs and nobles paid little attention to the art of architecture, as it was considered beneath their rank and dignity. This part also goes into more detail about Sir William Chambers and his architecture. “Sir W. divided the masses” and “his unique observations of architecture, which is why he stands first” are quotes from the preface.
In the second step, one dives even deeper into the career of Sir William Chambers. Only then does the actual reference book begin, entitled “An Inquiry into the Elements of Beauty in Architecture.” Philosophically, this chapter is introduced with the topic of what beauty in architecture is in the first place and where opinions differ on it.
The next chapter then deals specifically with Greek architecture of the time. Here it is shown that the original architecture was neither in India, nor in Egypt, as it seems, but in Greece.
The following part then deals with the process and perfection of Greek architecture. Here, for the first time, appear the precise illustrations that, in my opinion, greatly characterize the book. In the following section, entitled “Observations on the Plates,” a whole series of detailed drawings appear, analyzing, for example, the Temple of Apollo. The individual components, such as the various capitals, are also already discussed in more detail.
Why have I now chosen the term “technicality“?
I quickly noticed how detailed the various individual parts, which when put together then make up a whole building/temple, are treated. Sir William Chambers was one of the pioneers of architecture in terms of the accuracy of the descriptions and the developments of the parts of the building.
He begins first with the creation and process of a building. The challenges of combining beauty with functionality and awe are described.
Then, in about the second third of the book, the focus is on the individual components of a building. Sir William Chambers analyzes the various orders, Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Compositional, and Corinthian are covered. Mathematical calculations appear again and again, which shows me even more the depth of his analyses. Then, in regular sections, the fine and precise illustrations appear.
Larger parts of buildings, such as the basement or the attic are defined.
From gables to windows to statues, from profiles for doors to designs for casinos, there is hardly a topic that Sir William Chambers does not cover in this book.
In summary, the book has a large part that deals with the semantics of architecture supported by various stories.
The second part then goes into the various components, technical data and form issues and their processes.
Keywords: individual building elements, precise illustrations, developments
Quote: “He was unquestionably a man of very considerable talent and acquirements, and his Work is certainly the only text book in our language which has yet appeared worthy of being placed in the hands of students.”