The Roman polymath Vitruvius is often remembered through his written works, ‘De Architectura’ , through which he explored a range of design theories which are still implemented and referenced to this day.

The ten volumes which comprise ‘De Archiectura’ do not feature elements of Imperial Roman Architecture such as concrete, domes and cross vaulting as they were published prior to these developments; however, what is discussed by Vitruvius within these writings has had a profound impact on the architecture following its reception.

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Vitruvius was able to dissect a range of core architectural topics including:

  • Town planning, Architecture & Civil Engineering
  • Building Materiality
  • The Orders Of Architecture
  • Civil buildings
  • Domestic buildings
  • Pavements & plasterwork
  • Aqueducts
  • The intersection of science 7 architecture: geometrics, measurement, astronomy & sundials
  • Technology – Roman engines & machinery designed for the construction of architecture

A focus of the works was the understanding that the quality of an architect’s work was reflective of the work’s societal relevance and value. The structure must encapsulate the zeitgeist.

File:Vitruvius "De architectura..."; perspective diagram Wellcome L0012054.jpg

Vitruvius asserted that a structure must possess three vital qualities:

Firmitatis, Utilitatis, Venustatis

These can be translated as:

Durability, Utility & Beauty

As such a building must be resilient to the elements, functional, and fit for purpose in addition to being pleasurable to observe and be in. Within these ideas, is a need for architecture to be sensitively and rigorously designed; layouts must be conducive to pragmatic spatial arrangements, the building must display structural integrity, and it must be aesthetically pleasing.

These principles and their resultant influence on architectural theory and resultant understanding of what architecture should be; has shaped the way that architecture is taught and designed to this day.

Vitruvius introduced the idea that an architect’s designs must refer to the perfection of the human body’s symmetry and proportions. To create the ideal environment; this space must reflect the natural laws of harmony and beauty; an idea explored by influential Ancient Greeks, who studied how sections of a building could provide the most aesthetically pleasing portion of a rectangle.

Photo of the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo Da Vinci — Stock Photo, Image

By applying these ideas to the architectural designs produced today; we can ensure that the structures we design are long-lasting, suited well to the lifestyles of their inhabitants & beautiful to observe.

At Build Team, our talented team of architectural designers create designs to suit your specification, to ensure an addition to your home is expertly designed and rigorously considered.


A translation of ‘On Architecture’ by Vitruvius can be purchased here.