Architettura universale

Werner Oechslin, "L'idea della architettura universale: Vincenzo Scamozzis Grundlegung einer Theorie der Architektur". – In: RIHAJournal 0060, Sonderausgabe "Vincenzo Scamozzi: Lektüren eines gelehrten Architekten" (13 November 2012)


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L'idea della architettura universale: Vincenzo Scamozzis Grundlegung einer Theorie der Architektur

Werner Oechslin


Scamozzi's Idea della architettura universale (1615) is the last architectural treatise endeavoring to provide a comprehensive and all-encompassing presentation of all theoretical and practical issues pertaining to architecture. In doing so, Scamozzi follows Alberti and, most notably, Vitruv who had first defined architecture as a "scientia." Celebrated by his contemporaries for its stunning erudition, Scamozzi's magnum opus was later, on the same grounds, dismissed as incomprehensible. Consequently, translations restricted themselves to the practical parts on building and the obligatory column theory, thus establishing Scamozzi within the canon of authorities, while the other parts of his all-encompassing work were mainly forgotten. This article is dedicated to Scamozzi's undertaking in its entirety: It traces Scamozzi's claims of the universal scope and significance of architecture and the foundation of these claims within a philosophical tradition. Scamozzi emphasizes that architecture, being committed to the principle of causality, qualifies as a science; more precisely, following Aristotelian tradition and the definiton of architecture as "habitus faciendi," he classifies it also as a "scientia fattiva." At the same time Scamozzi is eager, more than his predecessor Daniele Barbaro, to situate architecture beyond the realm of practice. These questions of the relationship of architecture to other arts and sciences are far from being obsolete today; to the contrary, whether we like it or not, they raise the perpetual issue of the self-understanding of architecture and its role and significance within society.