Key words: structure, ideal, blueprint
The book “recueil élémentaire d`architecture” de Jean Francois de Neufforge consists entirely of similar sequences, that are all based on one concept. By giving a front view of a facade of a building and a floor plan in the same scale on the bottom of the page the author provides the viewer a ideal version of a specific building type.
On the top of the page the author always describes what kind of building the picture on the particular page shows and sometimes where it should be. On the very bottom on every single page the author is mentioned and where he draw it. He also thanks the King on every single page and another interesting note is, that together with his name it says that he composed the page and scratched the drawing himself, on every single page as well. I assume this is how copyright worked back in the 17th century and that this was common to do.
At the time of the publication, strict guidelines in architecture were not only common, but every architectural building was planned and constructed by regulations set by society or to be more precise by the intellectuals. Whereas today only physics and the building codes regulate the creativity of the architect.
In the book there are blueprints for all kinds of different building types. You find blueprints for private use like a country house or a private garden. But also ideal plans for a lot of public buildings that represent the government or other institutions. Such as a town hall, a library or even a prison. Furthermore thereare as well very detailly things like a railing for a balcony or a gate for a garden or even a pulpit.
I find these choices what to depict very, interesting, but quite weird for us contemporary readers.
For some building types there are multiple versions, that are available for the reader to be guided by, others only have one singular blueprint. Surprisingly plans for an organ are the most common.
Another interesting fact is that sometimes there are multiple plans for a specific building type, but they differ in the location they are planned for and are hence different in size and endowment.
The one common thing all building types in this book have is that they are objects of representation. All of them can only be build and owned by either rich people or a rich institution and they all represent money, power and a high social stand.
To conclude, the concept of the book, is very much a representation of it`s time, with the purpose to be firstly a strict guideline and secondly an inspiration for architects.