Vincenzo Scamozzi, inventor: Architectural demonstrations from the last Renaissance treatise

Ann Marie Borys, University of Pennsylvania


This study is limited to an examination of Scamozzi as a particular case of the Renaissance humanist architect, the trattatista , one of only a few for which we have full evidence today of both written theory and built works. I approach Scamozzi with a two-fold question: how does Scamozzi's intellectual disposition affect his interpretation of long-lived Renaissance themes within the framework of his own time and place? Further, are the distinctions to be found in Scamozzi's presentation of the major themes of his time indicative of his historical position at a time of transition? If so, it would seem that for us Scamozzi not only promises to complete our understanding of Renaissance architecture, but he may also indicate some of the pivot points for the subsequent trajectory. Ultimately, twentieth century architects may find a model for rigorous intelligence as opposed to vague artistry as a basis for building design. Each book of the treatise is examined individually in order to identify its most significant contributions to architectural theory. Paired with each is the interpretation of a building that provides a demonstration of a major theme of that book. Alongside these focussed investigations in each chapter are two other sections, one which reflects the historical context of certain themes and another which traces the evidence of a particular idea in Scamozzi's work more broadly. Scamozzian theory grounds the principles of architecture in the solidity of body/building/city analogies. His philosophical approach is a consistent search for the reason of things, even if it is not precise or unified. Using the materials he finds already there, he invents anew the measure of architectural knowledge. For Scamozzi, architecture is nothing less than the physical manifestation of man's unique intelligence, and it must demonstrate the relation between the world of experience and the fabric of our knowledge. Scamozzi reflects the beliefs and values of his time, but he demands more from architecture, and, like the insistent pressure of the wind which drives the treatise ever onward, Scamozzi projects a role for architecture beyond microcosmic analogy to the invention of connections between the body and the cosmos.

Subject Area

Architecture|Art History|Biographies

Recommended Citation

Borys, Ann Marie, "Vincenzo Scamozzi, inventor: Architectural demonstrations from the last Renaissance treatise" (1998). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9913436.