WIT Press

The Conception Of Building In Ancient Architecture And The \“rules Of Art”


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WIT Press


F. Cairoli Giuliani, M. L. Conforto, S. D’Agostino, M. G. Filetici, E. Guidoboni, R. Parenti & P. Verduchi


The ancients identified with their native territory, and builders had a profound knowledge of the environment in which they operated. Their constructions, which have survived unchanged for centuries in their natural setting, are an unequivocal demonstration of their expertise concerning the various hazards associated with the territory. A profound knowledge of building materials combined with a spatial conception of natural forms, producing exemplary construction prototypes, was passed down over the centuries in a practical tradition comprising the \“rules of the art of building”. The basic difference between historical and modern building can be summed up in the antithesis \“construction/structure”. A construction is a unitary spatial organism which meets its volumetric, structural and environmental requisites without any functional differentiation. It was conceived to last forever: by modern parameters it possesses extremely high safety coefficients with respect to standard conditions. A construction was built according to rules of the art which guided all the phases of its production. A structure, on the contrary, is an organism which has been designed and realised merely to satisfy static functions. This investigation starts by considering a few exemplary prototypes of ancient building and goes on to identify some rules of the art, adopting modern structural calculation to show how they corroborate the buildings’ static soundness. It focuses on Roman substructions as the basic spatial construction element used to erect amphiteatres, bridges and massive supporting structures. It focuses also on exemplary prototypes of the 19th century. Keywords: conception of building in ancient architecture, rules of art.


conception of building in ancient architecture, rules of art.