To begin my research with the search engine Alice, I defined „Alberti and Vitruvius Library“ as the brain. The first topic of conversation is plain and simple: architecture. As the search term I used „ancient architecture“ because Vitruvius focuses on the architecture of those who came before. This combination led me to the first comparison: „On the Art of Building in Ten Books“ by Leon Battista Alberti. For my second comparison I changed Alice’s brain to „Xenotheka Library“, kept „architecture“ as the topic of conversation and changed the search term to „beauty“. After some research I chose „Architectural Theory“ by Harry Francis Mallgrave.
„On the Art of Building in Ten Books“ is a text that is very close to Vitruvius, both in its structure and its ideals. Like Vitruvius, Alberti’s treatise is subdivided into ten books with ten different topics, such as the philosophy of beauty and the history of town planning. In the book, Alberti expands on Vitruvius’ writing, as it is the primary source for knowledge of ancient architecture. Like Vitruvius, Alberti believed in the trinity of strength, functionality and beauty. The main difference between the two, is that the predecessor focuses on how buildings were built in the past, whereas the successor teaches how buildings should be built in the present or the future. Alberti’s work represents the reawakening of Greek and Roman classical architecture, reimagined for the Renaissance.
„Architectural Theory“ is a comprehensive documentation of the key stages in Western architectural theory. It commences with Vitruvius, which creates the connection to my book, and includes everything up to Gottfried Semper’s theories in late nineteenth-century Europe. Six developmental stages are depicted, part one being the Classical and Renaissance period. Part two is about French Classicism, while part three focuses on Neoclassicism and Enlightenment debates. In part four, Picturesque and Sublime theories are discussed, which leads to part five focusing on the importance of Historicism in the nineteenth century. Finally, part six depicts the importance of Historicism in relation to indsutrial development. What defines „Architectural Theory“ is Mellgrave’s choice to include important contextualizing texts, that show the philosophical, political and aesthetic development of architecture.