An important aspect for understanding Guarinis Architettura Civile is how the book is structured. The book consists of chapters, which themselves are embedded in five different trattati (treatises). These treatises cover various topics about architecture and serve as a collection of guidelines and suggestions that one should follow when trying to construct buildings.
The first treatise “Trattato Primo. Dell’Architettura in generale” is about architecture in general and the basics of planning. The second treatise “Trattato Secondo. Della Ichnografia” covers topic of the floor plan and factors that should be taken into consideration when planning any kind of architecture (surroundings, conditions, leveling) before even starting the construction. In the third treatise “Trattato Terzo. Della Ortografia elevata” Guarini writes about the vertical structure of a building, he dicusses the facades and explaines the Orders of antiquity and the construction of vaults and arches. The fourth treatise “Trattato Quarto. Dell’Ortografia gettata” explains the graphical construction of architecture and how geometric forms (such as cylinders, spheres etc.) are projected in architectural plans. The fifth treatise “Trattato Quinto. Della Geodesia” elaborates on some more geometrical constructions and transformations (similar to the fourth treatise). Apart from explaining how to plan, design and construct buildings, Guarini also touches upon broader subjects which help to expand the area of expertise of an architect. One can clearly see that this is an adoption of the teachings of vitruvius, which also promoted the notion of the architect as someone who should be a master of many skills.
Guarini writes down his own observations and makes conclusions based on said observations in many of the chapters, which he then bundles up into the treatises mentioned above. They are called treatises precisely because the guidelines written in the book should not be taken for granted/ strictly followed but instead used as a baseline to form your own understanding of working as an architect and what said work entails (as opposed to a formula sheet for example). Guarini also points this out himself, he states that the architecture of the ancients has evolved in many different ways with some of these styles only vaguely resembling what they arose from (or being based on a completely new set of rules and standards such as gothic architecture). Considering the work in its entirety it can be assumed that Guarini poured his whole knowledge (not only as an architect but a scholar in general) in to Architettura Civile.
Keywords: Structure, Topics, Themes