4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

Architecture / Design Timeline

Theme

2,800,000 BCE – 8,000 BCE

Perhaps the Oldest Surviving Architecture Circa 23,000 BCE – 12,000 BCE

Artist rendition of dwelling in Mezhirich, Poland, made of mammoth bones.  Source: Dolní Věstonice Museum. (Click on image to view larger.)

Inside protective structure in Mezhirich, Poland showing remnants of one of the huts made of mammoth bones. Source: Teesla. (Click on image to view larger.)

 

 

Huts built from mammoth bones found along the Dniepr river valley of Ukraine, at locations near Chernihiv, in Moravia, Czech Republic, and in southern Poland, that date between 23,000 BCE and 12,000 BCE, may be the earliest structures built by prehistoric man, and thus the earliest examples of architecture. Some of the most notable of these mammoth bone huts were found in Mezhyrich (Межиріч, Mezhirich), a village in central Ukraine located in the Kaniv Raion (district) of the Cherkasy Oblast, approximately 22 km from the region's administrative center, Kaniv, near the point where the Rosava River flows into the Ros'. Since 1966 at least four collapsed mammoth bone structures have been discovered in Mezhirich.

"They are composed of several hundred bones and tusks arranged in a rough circle, between 6 and 10 m (20 and 33 ft) in diameter. A hearth typically lies near the centre of the former dwelling, and stone tools and other debris are scattered within and outside the structure. Large pits filled with stone tools, bone fragements and ash have beenf ound near the houses.

"Considerable effort must have been required to assemble these structures. Even in a dry state, large mammoth bones weigh hundreds of pounds. It has been suggested that the bones and tusks were recovered from hunting episodes in which entire herds of adult mammoth and their young were slaughtered. A more likely explanation is that they were gathered from natural accumulations of bones perhaps at the mouths of streams and gullies near the sites. The primary purpose of the mammoth-bone dwellings which were presumably covered with animal skins, was probably shelter from extreme cold and high winds. Some archaeologists, impressed with the size and appearance of the structures, have argued that they also possess religious or social significance. The have been described as the earliest examples of 'monumental architecture' as as evidence of increased social complexity and status differentiation during the final phase of the Ice Age" (Paul G. Bahn (ed) 100 Great Archaeological Discoveries [1995] 54-55).

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The Earliest Surviving Human-Made Place of Worship Circa 9,500 BCE

The Göbekli Tepe, Turkist for 'Potbelly Hill,' is the oldest discovered structure for religious worship. (View Larger)

Göbekli Tepe (Turkish for "Potbelly Hill"), a hilltop sanctuary erected on the highest point of an elongated mountain ridge some 15 km northeast of the town of Şanlıurfa (formerly Urfa / Edessa) in southeastern Turkey, is the earliest surviving human-made place of worship, and the earliest surviving religious site in general. It was discovered in 1964; excavations began in 1994.

The site was erected by hunter-gatherers in the 10th millennium BCE, before the advent of the transition from nomadic to permanent year-round settlement. Together with Nevalı Çori, a site dating from the ninth or tenth millenium BCE, but which was inundated by the dammed waters of the Euphrates, Göbekli Tepe has revolutionized understanding of the Eurasian Neolithic.

"Göbekli Tepe is regarded as an archaeological discovery of the greatest importance since it profoundly changes our understanding of a crucial stage in the development of human societies. It seems that the erection of monumental complexes was within the capacities of hunter-gatherers and not only of sedentary farming communities as had been previously assumed. In other words, as excavator Klaus Schmidt puts it: 'First came the temple, then the city.' This revolutionary hypothesis will have to be supported or modified by future research" (Wikipedia article on Göbekli Tepe, accessed 05-18-2011).

Spectacular renderings and photographs of the site are in Mann, "Göbekli Tepe," National Geographic 219, no. 6, 39-59.

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8,000 BCE – 1,000 BCE

Cuneiform Writing in Mesopotomia Begins at Uruk in Association with the Development of Urban Life Circa 3,200 BCE – 2,900 BCE

Cuneiform writing in Mesopotamia began as a system of pictographs written with styli on clay tablets. The earliest cuneiform tablets. written in proto-cuneiform, were discovered in excavations of periods IV-III of the Eanna (Eana) district of Uruk (Warka) an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.

Between 1928 and 1976 approximately 5000 proto-cuneiform tablets were excavated at Uruk by the German Archaeological Institute.

"But these are not the only witnesses to the archaic script. Proto-cuneiform texts corresponding to the Uruk III [circa 3100 BCE] tablets have been found in the northern Babylonian sites of Jemdet Nasr, Khafajah, and Tell Uquair, testifying to the fact that the new technology spread quickly throughout Babylonia soon after its invention (in ancient Iran proto-cuneiform possibly inspired the proto-Elamite script ca. 3100 BC.) Illicit excavations since the 1990s account for several hundred additional texts, which possibly originate from the ancient Babylonian cities of Umma, Adab, and Kish. These texts have the advantage of being generally in better condition than those from Uruk, which, . . . represented discarded rubbish and thus are frequently fragmentary. To date the proto-cuneiform corpus numbers approximately six thousand tablets and fragments" (Christopher Woods, "The Earliest Mespotamian Writing," Chapter 2 of Woods, Teeter, Emberling (eds) Visible Language. Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond [2010] 35-36).

"The formation of an urban society and the innovations that came with it and which occurred for the first time in Uruk – a regional and supraregional centre – had an enormous impact on the entire Near-Eastern world. Very quickly, impressive temples and palaces sprung up, overshadowing the early grand architectural monuments in Uruk’s centre. A striking feature of these new buildings was their form, the ziggurat or stepped tower, which went on to become a defining element of ancient Near-Eastern temple architecture. The use of writing as an administrative tool also laid the foundations for science and learning in the ancient Near East. Very early on, lexical lists of terms and objects began to emerge – the first of their kind – and these were passed down the generations. Some of these records contain lists of city officials and specialist terms for occupations that provide an insight into a highly stratified society. Other records bear lexical lists of everyday objects, providing an insight into material culture. Particular importance was given very early on to observing the stars as a means to read the future. The ancient Babylonian palace of the ruler Sin-Kashid, built in the 2nd millennium BCE, exemplifies Uruk’s role as part of the ancient Near-Eastern empire. The palace served as both the seat of the ruler and as a commercial and administrative centre. It was here that diplomatic correspondence, legal contracts, surety bonds, and various court documents were set in writing. The site also served as a lively trading centre. Deliveries of raw materials were processed into valuable goods that denoted the owner’s status. The palace was also a place where writers were educated. The writers played a vital role in everyday life, as they compiled the correspondence and contractual agreements on behalf of the largely illiterate population" (http://www.uruk-megacity.de/index.php?page_id=6, accessed 01-13-2013).

"Writing emerged in the context of temple bureaucracy in the cities of the southern Iraqi marshes some time in the late fourth millennium BC. A tiny number of accountants used word signs (usually pictograms) and number signs to account for institutional assets — land, labor, animals — and their secondary products. They wrote on refined clay tablets, about the size of a credit card but around 1 cm thick, incising the signs for the objects they were recording with a pointed stylus and impressing the numbers with a cylindrical one. The front surface of the tablet was marked out into boxes, each one containing a single unit of accounting, logically ordered, with the results of calculations (total wages, predicted harvests, and so on) shown on the back. This writing was barely language-specific — it represented concrete nouns, numbers and little else, with only occasional clues to pronunciation and none at all to word order — and was known only to a handful of expert users. Its functionality was as yet so limited that it was used only to keep accounts, or to practice writing the words, numbers, and calculations needed for accountancy" (Robson, "The Clay Tablet Book in Sumer, Assyria, and Babylonia," Elliot & Rose [eds.] A Companion to the History of the Book [2007] 67-68.)

"Indeed that the vast majority of the earliest texts [discovered at Uruk and elsewhere in Mesopotamia] are administrative in nature suggests that the invention of writing was a response to practical social pressures—simply put, writing faciliated complex bureaucracy. It is important to stress in this connection that literature plays no role in the origins of writing in Mesopotomia. Religious texts, historical documents and letters are not included among the archaic text corpus either. Rather, these text genres arise relatively late, beginning in the middle of the third millennium, some seven hundred or more years after the first written evidence" (Woods, op. cit, 34). 

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30 CE – 500 CE

The Ostia Synagogue: the Oldest Synagogue in Europe 41 CE – 54 CE

Dating from the reign of the emperor Claudius (41-54 CE), the Ostia Synagogue located in ancient Ostia Antica, the seaport of Imperial Rome, is the oldest synagogue in Europe and one of the oldest synagogues in the world.

"There is a scholarly debate about the status of the synagogue building in the 1st century CE, with some maintaining that the building began as a house only later converted to use as a synagogue, and others arguing that it was in use as a synagogue from the 1st century.

"In its earliest form, the synagogue featured a main hall with benches along three walls; a propyleum or monumental gateway featuring four marble columns; and a triclineum or dining room with couches along three walls. There was a water well and basin near the entryway for ritual washings. The main door of the synagogue faces the southeast, towards Jerusalem.

"An aedicula, to serve as a Torah Ark added in the 4th century CE. A donor inscription implies that it replaced an earlier wooden platform donated in the 2nd century CE, which itself had been replaced by a newer Ark donated by one Mindus Faustus in the 3rd century CE" (Wikipedia article Ostia Synagogue, accessed 01-04-2014).

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The Library of Celsus at Ephesus Circa 115 CE – 125 CE

The library of Celsus was completed circa 115-125 CE in Ephesus, Anatolia in memory of Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus. A Greek Roman citizen who became a Roman consul in 92 and governor of Asia from 105-107, Celsus bequeathed a large sum of money for construction of the library, and for its stock of books. The facility, which incorporated Greek and Roman architectural elements, was designed both as a crypt containing Celsus's sarcophagus and as sepulchral monument. It was also designed to hold 12,000 book rolls in an expansive reading room.

The interior of the library and all its books were destroyed in 262 when a devastating earthquake struck the city. Thus we have no record of the contents of the library, as is the case for all libraries of the period. The front fascade of the library was restored during the 1960s and 1970s, and now serves as a model of Roman public architecture.

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The Earliest Christian House Church, With the Most Ancient Christian Paintings Circa 232 CE

Dura-Europos church.

The Dura-Europos church, located in Dura-Europos in Syria about 232, is the earliest identified Christian house church and one of the earliest surviving Christian churches. For the first three centuries of the church, known as Early Christianity, Christians typically met in homes because of intermittent persecution before Constantine's Edict of Milan in 313 proclaimed religious toleration throughout the Roman Empire. At many points in subsequent history, various Christian groups worshipped in homes, often due to persecution by the state church or the civil government.

The surviving frescoes in the baptistry room of the Dura-Europos church may be the most ancient Christian paintings.

"We can see the "Good Shepherd" (this iconography had a very long history in the Classical world), the "Healing of the paralytic" and "Christ and Peter walking on the water". These are considered the earliest depictions of Jesus Christ. A much larger fresco depicts three women (the third mostly lost) approaching a large sarcophagus. This most likely depicts the three Marys visiting Christ's tomb. The name Salome was painted near one of the women, who is often considered the same person as Mary Mother of James. There were also frescoes of Adam and Eve as well as David and Goliath. The frescoes clearly followed the Hellenistic Jewish iconographic tradition, but they are more crudely done than the paintings of the nearby Dura-Europos synagogue " (Wikipedia article on Dura-Europos church, accessed 12-24-2011).

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The Oldest State-Built Christian Church 301 CE – 303 CE

The Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin (Armenian: Մայր Տաճար Սուրբ Էջմիածին Mayr Tajar Surb Ejmiatsin; originally known as the Holy Mother of God Church, Armenian: Սուրբ Աստուածածին Եկեղեցի Surb Astvatsatsin Yekeghetsi), in the town of Ejmiatsin (Vagharshapat),  Armenia, is the oldest state-built Christian church. It's original vaulted basilica was built in 301-303 by Saint Gregory the Illuminator, who is credited with converting Armenia from paganism to Christianity in 301.

Thus Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion, preceding Constantine's conversion to Christianity (312-315), and formal adoption of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire in the Edict of Thessalonica (380).

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The Earliest Image of Codices in a Book Cabinet and Possibly the Earliest Image of a Bookbinding in Wall Art 426 CE – 450 CE

A mosaic in the so-called Lunetta di San Lorenzo in the Byzantine Mausoleo di Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy, represents the earliest image of codices in a book cabinet or book press or armarium— specifically codices of each of the Four Gospels lying flat on book shelves with the edges of the book blocks rather than the edges of the spines facing outward. To the right of this cabinet, on the other side of the marble lunette, the mosaic depicts the standing evangelist holding a large cross in one hand and an open codex in a chemise binding in the other hand.  This may be the earliest image of a bookbinding in wall art.

Clark, The Care of Books (1901) 41.

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500 CE – 600

One of Few Surviving "Scientific" Manuscripts from Late Antiquity Circa 500 CE – 1554

A page from Corpus Agrimensorum Romanorum, depicting a perspective of a house and the boundaries of the property on which it was built. (View Larger)

 

The Corpus agrimensorum romanorum, a Roman treatise on land surveying, the earliest text of which is preserved  in the 5th or 6th century codex known as Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelff. 36.23 Augusteus 2, is one of the few surviving illustrated, non-literary or non-religious texts from late antiquity. The manuscript text is written in an uncial script, with red letters indicating the beginnings of paragraphs.  The codex is preserved in the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel.

♦ In 1554 the Corpus agrimensorum romanorum was first published in print by Pierre Galland and scholar printer Adrien Turnèbe in Paris as De agrorum conditionibus, & constitutionibus limitum, Siculi Flacci lib. I . Iulii Frontini lib. I. Aggeni Urbici lib. II. Hygeni Gromatici lib. II. Variorum auctorum ordines finitionum. De jugeribus metiundis. Finium regundorum. Lex mamilia. Coloniarum pop. Romani descriptio. Terminorum inscriptiones & formae. De generibus lineamentorum. De mensuris & ponderibus. Omnia figuris illustrata. Parisiis, M. D. LIIII. Apud Adr. Turnebum typoraphum regium. 

Galland and Turnèbe worked

"from a manuscript found in the monastery of St. Bertin at St. Omer during a ‘humanist tour’ of Northern France and Flanders undertaken around 1545, the time that Turnèbe was teaching at the University of Toulouse. In the preface Galland says that they visited each monastery in turn and ‘carefully collected old manuscripts like keen-scented dogs’ (quoted by Lewis, p. 38). The illustrations are of ‘boundary stones, properties, cities, roads, rivers, and swamps, as well as diagrams of the cosmos. The areas to be surveyed are shown in plan from a bird’s-eye view, so that their dimensions can be reproduced accurately.

"Mountains, cities, buildings, and boundary stones, by contrast, are shown receding into space according to the technique that Vitruvius called 'scene drawing' (scaenographia). This scaenographia is not the one-point perspective of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries but rather the Roman technique of varying viewpoints’ (Rowland p. 135). The fact that the Agrimensores manuscripts are illustrated is in marked contrast to the surviving manuscript sources for Vitruvius, none of which retain the illustrations mentioned in the text" (Roger Gaskell, Catalogue 47 [2012] No. 22, with illustrations).

Rowland, The Culture of the High Renaissance (1998). Lewis, Adrien Turnèbe (1512–1565): A Humanist Observed 1998).

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600 – 700

Foundation of Corbie Abbey, Renowned for its Library 659 – 661

The Abbey at Corbie. (View Larger)

Balthild, widow of Clovis II, and her son Clotaire III, founded Corbie Abbey about 659-661. The first monks at Corbie came from Luxeuil Abbey, which had been founded by Saint Columbanus in 590, and the Irish respect for classical learning fostered at Luxeuil was carried forward at Corbie. The rule of these founders was based on the Benedictine rule, as modified by Columbanus.

"Above all, Corbie was renowned for its library, which was assembled from as far as Italy, and for its scriptorium. In addition to its patristic writings, it is recognized as an important center for the transmission of the works of Antiquity to the Middle Ages. An inventory (of perhaps the 11th century) lists the church history of Hegesippus, now lost, among other extraordinary treasures. In the scriptorium at Corbie the clear and legible hand known as Carolingian minuscule was developed, in about 780, as well as a distinctive style of illumination.

"Three of Corbie's ninth-century scholars were Ratramnus (died ca. 868), Radbertus Paschasius (died 865) and the shadowy figure of Hadoard. Jean Mabillon, the father of paleography, had been a monk at Corbie.

"Among students of Tertullian, the library is of interest as it contained a number of unique copies of Tertullian's works, the so-called corpus Corbiense and included some of his unorthodox Montanist treatises, as well as two works by Novatian issued pseudepigraphically under Tertullian's name. The origin of this group of non-orthodox texts has not satisfactorily been identified.

"Among students of medieval architecture and engineering, such as are preserved in the notebooks of Villard de Honnecourt, Corbie is of interest as the center of renewed interest in geometry and surveying techniques, both theoretical and practical, as they had been transmitted from Euclid through the Geometria of Boëthius and works by Cassiodorus (Zenner).

"In 1638, 400 manuscripts were transferred to the library of the monastery of St. Germain des Prés in Paris. In the French Revolution, the library was closed and the last of the monks dispersed: 300 manuscripts still at Corbie were moved to Amiens, 15 km to the west. Those at St-Germain des Prés were loosed on the market, and many rare manuscripts were obtained by a Russian diplomat, Petrus Dubrowsky [Peter Petrovich Dubrovsky] and sent to St. Petersburg. Other Corbie manuscripts are at the Bibliothèque Nationale. Over two hundred manuscripts from the great library at Corbie are known to survive" (Wikipedia article on Corbie Abbey, accessed 08-20-2009).

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800 – 900

The Archetype of De architectura Circa 800

Folio f32v of Harley 2767, the document from which most manuscripts of De architectura were copied. (View Larger)

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio wrote De architectura, the only surviving classical treatise on architecture, between 31 and 27 BCE, while he was employed as military engineer for the Emperor Augustus. The work, which Vitruvius claimed to be the first comprehensive study on its subject, comprised ten books on the theory and practice of architecture, which in ancient times encompassed not only building construction but also many aspects of mechanical engineering, including construction management, construction engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, materials engineering, mechanical engineering, military engineering and urban planning. The work contained much useful information on ancient materials and techniques, but it was the theoretical aspects of De architectura that were most influential. Drawing on his own preferences and a selective study of Greek architectural writings, most of which are no longer extant, Vitruvius defined architectural perfection in quantitative terms, and derived from these definitions finite rules governing planning and perfection. These rules had little effect on the architecture of his day, but were adopted as true doctrine during the Renaissance.

Of the eighty or so extant manuscripts of De architectura the great majority descend from a manuscript in the British Library known as Harley 2767 (H). This was written on the border between east and west Francia about 800.

"Its splendid calligraphy, and its dominant influence on the later tradition suggest that it might well have been written at the palace scriptorium of Charlemagne [at Aachen]. This is supported by the fact that the first two men to show any knowledge of Vitruvius after the Dark Ages are Alcuin, in a letter written to Charlemagne between 801 and 804, and Einhard, who in addition to his close association with the court, had a practical interest in building. The whole tradition shows signs of a derivation from an archetype in Anglo-Saxon script, and it has been suggested that Alcuin had imported a text from England.

"Among the descendants of H are a number of early manuscripts, all dating from the twelfth century, which show that by then this form of the text had spread over a wide area ranging from north-west Germany, through the Low Countries and France to England. . . .

"Germany obviously dominated the vital phase of Vitruvius' transmission, and we know that there were copies, too, in the ninth century at Reichenau, and its daughter house Murbach. It is difficult not to see such figures as Einhard lurking in the background, men equally at home in the workshop as in the library and scriptorium. An interest in technology has fused at an early age the α tradition of Vitruvius with that of a series of technical recipes known as the Mappae clavicula. This remarkable collection tells one how to gild metals and distill alcohol, how to make various compounds, from pigments and varnish to incendiary bombs. It has a particular bearing on the making of stained glass and the illumination of manuscripts. These recipes appear in various degrees, and combinations in H (and some of its descendants). . . ." (Reynolds, Texts and Transmission [1983] 441-42).

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The Only Surviving Major Architectural Drawing from the Fall of the Roman Empire to Circa 1250 820 – 830

The Plan of Saint Gall. (View Larger)

Codex Sangallensis 1092, The Plan of Saint Gall (St. Gall), "the only surviving major architectural drawing from the roughly 700-year period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the 13th century," was created between 820 and 830 CE.

The plan, which includes a library, probably depicts an ideal Benedictine monastic compound,

"including churches, houses, stables, kitchens, workshops, brewery, infirmary, and even a special house for bloodletting. . . . much has been learned about medieval life from the Plan. The absence of heating in the dining hall, for instance, was not an oversight but was meant to discourage excessive enjoyment of meals. In the quarters for the 120-150 monks, their guests, and visitors, the ratio of toilet seats was better than what modern hygenic codes would prescribe." 

In 1979 the University of California Press published a monumental three-volume study in folio format by Walter Horn and Ernest Born entitled The Plan of St. Gall. A Study of the Architecture & Economy of, & Life in a Paradigmatic Carolinian Monastery.  From the standpoint of book design and production this work with more than 1000 pages was one of the most spectacular scholarly publications of the late 20th century. Three years later, in 1982 to accompany an exhibition concerning the plan, the U.C. Press issued another spectacular, but much thinner volume of 100 pages, The Plan of St. Gall in Brief: An overview based on the 3-volume work. . . including selected facsimile illustrations color and black and white, and also a Note on Architectural Scale Models, with illustrations in color of the Reconstruction Scale Model of the Monastery of the Pllan of St. Gall, as interpreted by Horn and Born, and crafted in bassword by Carl Bertil Lund.

By 2012 a website at www.stgallplan.org was built to place the Plan of St. Gall in its widest cultural context. Aspects of this website were summarized by Richard Matthew Pollard and Julian Hendrix in "Digital Devotion from Carolingian Reichenau and St. Gall," Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures I (2012) 292-302. | 10.1353/dph.2012.0021, from which I quote:

"A long-term digitization project ( www.stgallplan.org) to bring the Carolingian plan for the monastery of St. Gall in Switzerland to life has earned justified praise for its impact. The project calls attention to and increases understanding of Carolingian monastic life at one of the great houses of the time. Whether the library was ever intended to be constructed or whether it was an imaginative conceptualization of an ideal library is immaterial to the light the project has shed on Carolingian spirituality. This article both introduces the project and demonstrates how digitization of manuscripts can increase the data available for studying devotion and the religious emotions that it entailed.

"There are few single documents more important for the history of medieval art, architecture, monasticism, and, as we hope to show in this essay, devotional emotions, than the famous drawing known as the Plan of St. Gall. This document, now preserved at the monastery Stiftsbibliothek in Switzerland, was drawn up for abbot Gosbert of St. Gall by two scribes of the sister monastery of Reichenau, on Lake Constance, around 820. An early and accomplished piece of technical drawing, the Plan measures 112 by 77.5 cm (slightly smaller than A0 paper, for those keeping track) and is made of five pieces of parchment sewn together. It depicts a large monastery complex, centred around an elaborate church, with cloister and refectories, scriptorium and library, alongside breweries, bakeries, a mill, and even a shoemaker'€™s shop. We do not know why exactly it was drawn up, but the dedication, probably written by Haito, abbot of Reichenau, indicates that it was given to Gosbert so that he might 'exercise your ingenuity and recognize my devotion.'€  Gosbert was undertaking building projects at the time, and so the plan may have been prompted by Gosbert'€™s desire to begin construction at St. Gall. It is clear, however, that St. Gall was not built from this plan, though some of the buildings there might have been inspired by it (Jacobsen). It is perhaps better to think of the Plan as a very detailed sketch of '€œthe ideal monastery' in the Carolingian imagination, where the whole world is reordered to the service of God (Dey 1940).  

"It is an unfailing axiom of medieval history that the ease of access to a document declines in proportion to its importance. This, and the Plan'€™s unwieldy size, has made it a difficult resource to use. Several years ago, therefore, Patrick Geary, of UCLA, and Bernard Frischer, of the University of Virginia, conceived of a project to make the Plan, and ancillary bibliography and analysis of it, accessible in virtual form. With the cooperation of the St. Gall librarians, extremely high-resolution pictures were taken of the Plan, and displayed using a special java applet, allowing the images to be panned, rotated, and zoomed. The result is actually much more useful and detailed than what one could experience with the large and unwieldy Plan.  In this first phase of the project, ancillary documents were added alongside to help contextualize the monastic environment that produced the Plan. Initially this focused on material culture: for instance, images of hundreds of Carolingian objects (pots, brooches, carvings, etc.) were put online to give a sense of the things used and produced in a monastery like that represented in the Plan. The second phase of the project aims to give a sense of the intellectual environment that produced the Plan by giving access to the books that were present at Reichenau (and St. Gall) when the Plan was produced. The project has acquired digital reproductions of 168 manuscripts present at Carolingian Reichenau and St. Gall. These are being presented in the same, high-resolution, zoomable form as the Plan, and are paired with updated descriptions."

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1100 – 1200

The First Building in the Gothic Style June 14, 1144

The west exterior facade of the Abbey of Saint Denis, considered by historians to be the firs building in the Gothic style. (View Larger)

On June 14, 1144 Frankish abbot-statesmen and historian Abbot Suger, friend and confidante of French Kings Louis VI and Louis VII, dedicated the rebuilt Abbey of Saint Denis. This building is often cited by historians as the first major structure of which a substantial part was designed and built in the Gothic style. Both stylistically and structurally it heralded the change from Romanesque architecture to Gothic architecture. Before the term "Gothic" came into common use, it was known as the "French Style" (Opus Francigenum).

"Suger began with the West front, reconstructing the original Carolingian façade with its single door. He designed the façade of Saint-Denis to be an echo of the Roman Arch of Constantine with its three-part division and three large portals to ease the problem of congestion. The rose window is the earliest-known example above the West portal in France.

"At the completion of the west front in 1140, Abbot Suger moved on to the reconstruction of the eastern end, leaving the Carolingian nave in use. He designed a choir (chancel) that would be suffused with light. To achieve his aims, his masons drew on the several new features which evolved or had been introduced to Romanesque architecture, the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, the ambulatory with radiating chapels, the clustered columns supporting ribs springing in different directions and the flying buttresses which enabled the insertion of large clerestory windows " (Wikipedia article on Gothic architecture, accessed 11-24-2010).

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1200 – 1300

The Portfolio of Villard de Honnecourt Circa 1230

Villard's schematic illustration of a perpetual-motion machine. Folio 1 of Fr.19093 preserved at the Bibliotheque Nationale. (View Larger)

The portfolio of Villard de Honnecourt, preserved in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (MS Fr. 19093), consists of 33 sheets of parchment containing about 250 drawings.

Villard's portfolio ". . . appears to be a model-book, with a wide range of religious and secular figures suitable for sculpture, and architectural plans, elevations and details, ecclesiastical objects and mechanical devices, with copious annotations. Other subjects such as animals and human figures also appear.

"Among the devices Villard sketched is a perpetual-motion machine, a mill-driven saw, a number of automata, one of which depicts a simple escapement mechanism, the first known in the west, lifting devices, war engines as well as a number of anatomical, architectural and geometric sketches for portraiture and architecture.

"Villard apparently traveled through many of the cathedral building-sites in 13th century France and recorded in his sketchbook in great detail work in construction. Of particular interest are drawings of the Laon cathedral bell towers and the Reims cathedral nave being built, which provide a valuable clue for building techniques of High Gothic architecture" (Wikipedia article on Villard de Honnecourt, accessed 08-20-2009).

"Who Villard was, and what he did, must be postulated from his drawings and the textual addenda to them on 26 of the 66 surfaces of the 33 leaves remaining in his portfolio. In these sometimes enigmatic inscriptions Villard gave his name twice (Wilars dehonecort [fol. 1v]; Vilars dehoncort [fol. 15r]), but said nothing of his occupation and claimed not a single artistic creation or monument of any type. He addressed his portfolio, which he termed a 'book,' to no one in particular, saying (fol. 1v) that it contained 'sound advice on the techniques of masonry and on the devices of carpentry . . . and the techniques of representation, its features as the discipline of geometry commands and instructs it.' . . . .

"During a period of perhaps five to fifteen years, Villard made sketches of things he found interesting. At some unknown time in his life, he decided to make his drawings available to an unspecified audience. He arranged them in the sequence he wished, and then inscribed certain of them, or had them inscribed. These inscriptions are all by one professional scribal hand, and fit around the drawings with some care. The language is the basically the Picard dialect of Old French, with some Central French forms rather than Picard forms used consistently, for example, ces and ceus rather than ches and cheus. Occasionally, the different dialects exist side by side: on fol. 32r both the Picard chapieles and Central French capieles, 'chapels,' are found. The inscriptions vary in nature, some being explanations (e.g., fol. 6r: "Of such appearance was the sepulchre of a Saracen I saw one time"), others being instructions (e.g., fol. 30r: 'If you wish to make the strong device one calls a trebuchet, pay attention here').

"The Villard portfolio was rediscovered and first published in the mid-19th century during the height of the Gothic Revival movement in France and England. For this reason, Villard's architectural drawings, which comprise only about 16% of the total, attracted the greatest attention. This led writers to conclude that he was an architect, an assumption based on a fundamental error: the practical, stereotomical formulas on fols.20r and 20v were taken as proof that Villard was a trained mason, and it was not discovered until 1901 that these drawings and their inscriptions are by a later hand.

"Since the 1970s there has been growing suspicion that Villard was not an architect or mason. It has been proposed that he may have been 'a lodge clerk with a flair for drawing' or that his training may have been in metalworking rather than in masonry. The question is not yet resolved, but it may no longer be automatically assumed that he was a mason. It may be that Villard was not a professional craftsman of any type, but simply an inquisitive layman who had an opportunity to travel widely and took the seemingly unusual step of recording some of the things he saw during his travels" (Carl F. Barnes, Jr., "Villard de Honecourt," MacMillian Dictionary of Art, 32 (1996),  569-571).

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1400 – 1450

The First Theoretical Work on Architecture Written During the Italian Renaissance 1443 – 1452

Between 1443 and 1452 Italian author, artist, architect, poet, priest, linguist, philosopher, cryptographer, and general Renaissance humanist polymath, Leon Battista Alberti wrote De re aedificatoria. This was the first theoretical work on architecture written during the Italian Renaissance.

When De re aeficatoria first appeared in print in Florence at the press of Nicolaus Laurentii, Alamanus on December 29, 1485 it was the first printed book on architecture. It was followed in 1486-87 by the first printed edition of Vitruvius.  The first printed edition of Alberti's work was edited by Alberti's brother, Bernardus. It also contained Politianus, Epistola ad Laurentium Medicem, and Baptista Siculus, Carmen ad lectorem. ISTC no.  ia00215000. MS Laurentiana 89 sup. 113 was used (among others) as printer's copy; Leon Battista Alberti. La biblioteca di un umanista' [catalogue of an exhibition at the BML Firenze], Firenze [2005] no. 54.

No illustrated edition of De re aedificatoria appeared until 1550 when the translation into Italian by Italian diplomat, mathematician, philologist, and humanist Cosimo Bartoli was published in Florence by the Dutch-Italian humanist, typographer and printer Lorenzo Torrentino.

Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) no. 28.

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The First "Public" Library in Renaissance Europe 1444

The library at the Dominican Convent of San Marco, designed by Michelozzo. (View Larger)

Foundation of the library at the Dominican Convent of San Marco in Florence by Cosimo de' Medici, designed by Michelozzo.

This has often been considered the first "public library" in Renaissance Europe.

"The ideal of a public library was one treasured by humanists and their patrons. Yet the term public library meant something very different to Renaissance scholars than it does today. It did not designate a library open to all comers. First and oldest of the available meanings of the term public library was that of a common library. Many libraries and colleges of the late medieval period had public libraries in this sense, usually meaning a collection for the collective use of the institutional community. Second was the notion of a library that served the public utility or was used for the public benefit, largely in a political sense; an archive, for example, or a library meant to support the jurisdictional and diplomatic activities of the ecclesiastical or secular political body it served. Third, a library might be in a public building or within the public space of a house or palace.

"Perhaps the best early expression of the modern concept of the public library is to be found in the establishment of the San Marco library, the first public library at Florence. The foundation of the library was Niccoli's collection. Niccoli's intentions were for his library to be brought 'to the common good, to the public service, to a place open to all, so that all eager for education might be able to harvest from it as from a fertile field the rich fruit of learning.' Eventually, the executors of Niccoli's estate permitted Cosimo de' Medici to place the books in the library of the Dominican convent of San Marco, which Cosimo was then on the verge of constructing. The library opened in 1444 and was the first public library in Florence, containing 400 volumes laid out across 64 benches. The San Marco library embodied three different Renaissance concepts of a public library: It was the common library of the Dominican convent in which it was housed, a collection made available to a circle of humanist investigators, and an institution supported by the public patronage of an eminent ruler" (P. Nelles, "Renaissance Libraries", Stam, (ed.) International Dictionary of Library History [2001] 151).

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Flavio Biondo Writes the First Guidebook to the Ruins of Ancient Rome, Launching the New Archaeology of the Renaissance 1444 – 1471

Between 1444 and 1446 humanist and historian Flavio Biondo (Flavius Blondus) of Rome wrote and published Roma instaurata, the first systematic and well documented guide book to the ruins of ancient Rome, or any other ancient ruins, launchingh the new archaeology of the Renaissance. 

". . . Roma instaurata launched a new archaeology. No one before Biondo had attempted so comprehensive and through a survey of ancient Rome nor tried to explain so much nor did it so acutely. Digressions are by no means rare in Biondo's treatise and some of them are really short dissertations on some antiquarian point. His section on the 'Velabrum', for instance, strives to explain this rather obscure name. This he starts to do by rejecting the medieval  corruption 'velum aureum', whence he passes on to examine and discuss the evidence offered by Varro, Ovid, Livy, Tacitus and the inscriptions still left in the locality. The whereabouts of the 'Aerarium' gave him an excuse for a historical dissertation on Roman coinage, mainly drawn from the Elder Pliny. Naturally enough Biondo relied constantly upon the ancient writers, but this did not mean that he accepted them invariably as infallible witnesses. Thus when faced with a statement of Cassiodorus that Pompey had been the first builder of theatres in Rome, he set against it one of Pliny, sayiing that the first had been Marcus Scaurus, while against another remark of Cassiodorus, attributing to the Emperor Titus the building of the first amphitheatre in Rome, he set a passage of Tacitus, showing that this was not so.

"Altogether, with the Roma instaurata, it was now possible to have a reasonable idea of ancient Rome, not only from a topographical standpoint, but also as far as its growth and the functions of its buildings were concerned. Here, in this work, the historian reveals himself side by side with the archaeologist, the student of ancient institutions with the humanist who has the classics at his fingertips, though without the help of the Teubner series and Pauly-Wissowa's encyclopaedia" (Weiss, The Renaissance Discovery of Classical Antiquity [1969] 69-70).

Roma instaurata was first published in print with additions by Franciscus Barbarus, Porcellius, and Petrus Oddus Montopolitanus, and De Romana locutione in Rome by the "Printer of Statius," before 26 July 1471. The city in which it was printed, the unidentified printer, and the date of the first edition were all inferred by bibliographers. The edition is printed in Roman type that appears in only one other known book, an undated edition of Statius, Thebais et Achilleis. The date is based on a purchase note in the Bibliothèque nationale de France copy dated August 6, 1471, and a contemporary marginal note in the Cambridge copy stating that Pope Paul II was currently reigning (making the date prior to the Pope's death on July 26.

ISTC No. ib00701000. In January 2013 a digital facsimile was available from the Bayerisches Staatsbibliothek at this link. The second edition was published in Verona by Boninus de Boninis, de Ragusia, 1481-82.

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The First European Civic Library; The Only Completely Preserved 15th Century Library 1447 – 1452

The entrance to the Biblioteca Malatestiana. (View Larger)

The Biblioteca Malatestiana (Biblioteca Malatesta Novello) was commissioned by Malatesta Novello, Lord of Cesena and brother of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, in Cesena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. The library which Novello founded was the first European civic library, belonging to the commune, and open to everyone. 

The Malatestiana Library, which I visited in September 2010, is the only monastic humanist library of which the structure, fittings and original collection of codices in their original bindings chained to the original desks, have survived almost completely intact. The main doorway was the work of the early Italian Renaissance sculptor Agostino di Duccio. The splendid walnut door carved by Cristoforo da San Giovanni in Persiceto was installed in 1454.

"The fittings are composed of 58 desks, with coat of arms at the sides. The light comes in through the 44 Venetian style windows, which were perfectly designed for reading. Inside are conserved 340 precious codexes. The 340 books concern: religion (among them, the oldest codex, an Etimologie by St Isidoro), Greek and Latin classics, sciences and medicine" (Wikipedia article on Malatestiana Library, accessed 10-30-2010).

To equip his library Malatesta Novello commissioned certain scribes to produce copies of many of the standard classics. These scribes included Jean-Epinal, Jacopo della Pergola, Brother Francesco di Bartholomeo, and Mathias Kuler. After Malatesta's death the library remained static--fixed in time.

The survival of the original library and its fixtures was probably due to the way that Malatesta Novello entrusted its care to both the Franciscans and the city of Cesena. The Franciscans originally had the idea for the library and received permission from Pope Eugene IV in 1445, and began construction in 1447. In 1450 Malatesta Novello adopted the friars' project and constructed his own library in their monastery. The inspiration for the architecture was the library of the Dominican convent of San Marco in Florence, designed by Michelozzo, which had been founded in 1444.

From 1797 to 1804 the Franciscan monastery associated with the library was used as a dormitory for Napoleonic troops occupying the city, and the library itself was stripped of its furnishings and also used as a dormitory. After Napoleon's forces left the library was restored to its original medieval condition and regained its original collections, less two incunabula which were kept by the French: the Ortographia dictionum of Tortelli and Cosmographia of Ptolemy.

Among the many distinguishing characteristics of the decoration of this library are the numerous inscriptions created at the time of its completion stating in Latin that the library was the gift of Malatesto Novello. On 1812 the remains of Malatesta Novello were moved from the church of St. Francis, already in poor condition and destined to destruction, to the middle of the back wall of the library, accompanied by this marble epigraph:

"D (IS) M (ANIBUS) S (ACRUM) / principum / Malatesta (UM) / SENIORIS NOVELLIQUE / CINERES Quosa DOMI / ET Foris / Clarissa (IMA) VIRTUS / CAEL DICAVIT."  

Clark, The Care of Books (1902) 193-98.

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1450 – 1500

The First Catalogue of the Vatican Library 1475

Under Pope Sixtus IV specific quarters were established to house the volumes of manuscripts and the archives that formed the nucleus of the Vatican Library. In 1475 the library prepared the first catalogue of its holdings as a manuscript for internal use in the library.

"When its first librarian, Bartolomeo Platina, produced a listing in 1481, the library held over 3,500 items, making it by far the largest in the Western world" (Wikipedia article on Vatican Library accessed 09-16-2010).

Among his other accomplishments, Sixtus IV built the Sistine Chapel

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Vitruvius, "De architectura", the First Printed Work on Classical Architecture 1486 – August 16, 1487

Printer Eucharius Silber issued the editio princeps of Vitruvius, De architectura in Rome between 1486 and August 16, 1487. The edition was edited by  the Italian Renaissance humanist and rhetorician Fra Giovanni Sulpizio da Veroli (Johannes Sulpitius Verulanus). 

"In 1486 Sulpizio prepared the first printed edition of Vitruvius' De Architectura for the press; the work had long circulated in manuscripts, some of them corrupt. The volume, which also includes the text of Frontinus' De aquaeductu describing the aqueducts of Rome, was dedicated to Cardinal Riario, an enthusiastic supporter of the ideals of the Pomponian sodalitas; the dedicatory epistle urges Riario to complete the recovery of classical Roman buildings with a theatre. In his preface Sulpizio urges readers to send him emendations of the notoriously crabbed and difficult text. With Vitruvius' text in hand, Sulpizio directed the erection of a reproduction open-air Roman theater in front of Palazzo Riario in Campo dei Fiori, Rome; there, in 1486 or 1488 his students mounted the first production of a Roman tragedy that had been seen since Antiquity, in the presence of Pope Innocent VIII. The play they chose was Seneca's Phaedra, which they knew as Hippolytus" (Wikipedia article on Giovanni Sulpizio da Veroli, accessed 01-04-2010).

Regarding Vitruvius's text and its manuscript transmission, see the entry in this database for Vitruvius circa 800 CE. For the earliest illustrated editions see the Vitruvius entries for 1511 and 1521.

Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) no. 26.  ISTC no.  iv00306000. In November 2013 a digital facsimile was available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at this link.

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1500 – 1550

Fra Giovanni Giocondo Issues the First Illustrated Edition of Vitruvius May 22, 1511

 The first printed edition of 'De Architectura,' originally written by Roman architect Marcus Virtuvius Pollio, was printed in Venice in 1511 and contained 136 woodcut illustrations and diagrams.  (View Larger)

On May 22, 1511 Veronese architect, antiquary, archaeologist, and classical scholar, Fra Giovanni Giocondo published the first illustrated edition of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio's De architectura in Venice at the press of Giovanni Tacuino. The edition contained 136 woodcut text illustrations, woodcut initials and a woodcut title-border. The title-border, a continuous design in four parts incorporating dolphins, leaves and flowers, may be the original of one of the most influential and widely copied pieces of printed ornamentation in the 16th century. Geofroy Tory copied the border (without the shading) to use on his 1525 Horace, and variations of the floreated dolphin design appear in books from all the major European centers of printing.

This fourth printed edition, the first to be illustrated with more than diagrams, was prepared by Fra Giovanni Giocondo, the Veronese architect who took over the construction of St. Peter's in Rome after Donato Bramante's death. The illustrations probably date from around the time of printing, as those that might have accompanied Vitruvius's original text on papyrus rolls or early parchment codices had been lost for centuries.

Mortimer, Harvard College Library, Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, Italian 16th Century Books (1974) No. 543. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) No. 2157.

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Cesare Cesariano & Colleagues Interpret Roman Architecture in the Artistic Language of the Renaissance July 15, 1521

Detail of Title Page of De Architectura Libri Dece.  Please click on the image to see the full page.

Detail of page from De Architectura Libri Dece.  Please click on the image to see the full page. 

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio

Architect and architectural theorist Cesare Cesariano, humanist Benedetto Giovio and and Bono Mauro da Bergamo edited the first edition in Italian of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio's De Architectura Libri Decem, the printing of which was completed on July 15, 1521 in Como, Italy at the press of Gottardo da Ponte. This was the first translation of Vitruvius into a modern language. The translation and commentary were largely the work of Cesare Cesariano, a pupil of Donato Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci; however, the address to the reader on leaf Z8r by Gallo and Aloisio Pirovano states that Cesariano left the work unfinished, and that it was completed by Giovio and Mauro. The edition may have been 1300 copies.

"Vitruvius' technical language is fraught with difficulties. Leone Battista Alberti was of the mind that the Latins thought Vitruvius was writing Greek and the Greeks, Latin. The impenetrable Latin and the lack of illustrations gave freedom to the Renaissance designers, who were able to interpret antique architecture in their own image, all' antica. Cesariano's Vitruvius gives us a clear picture of the Renaissance perception of the architecture of Classical Antiquity. Indeed the spirit of Milan's Late Gothic Duomo can be recognized in some of Cesariano's woodcuts. Among his illustrations is an attempt at rendering Vitruvius' precepts on the ideally proportioned man, successfully rendered by Leonardo, but attempted by many 15th century theorists" (Wikipedia article on Cesare Cesariano, accessed 01-21-2009).

This edition is known for its striking illustrations: "Some subjects follow the 1511 edition, but the execution is highly original and the illustration is much more detailed than that provided by Tacuino. . . . Blocks have black backgrounds and strong black lines. Aloisio Pirovano's `Oratio' to the people of Milan on leaf [-]8r refers to the collaboration of `molti excelle[n]ti pictori.' On leaves B6r, B7r, B7v are full-page plans and elevations of Milan cathedral. Cesariano's introduction of a gothic building into a classical text, apparently the first such illustration of gothic architecture, is typical of his individual approach to Vitruvius. . . . The influence of Leonardo on these illustrations has been generally noted" (Mortimer, Harvard College Library Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, 16th Century Italian Books, no. 544).

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 2158.

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The Library of the Painter El Greco and its Influence upon his Art 1541 – 1614

In April 2014 the Museo del Prado, the Biblioteca Nacional de España, and Fundación El Greco 2014 presented an exhibition entitled El Greco’s Library. The painter El Greco (Doménikos Theotokópoulos) was born in Crete. When he died in Toledo on April 7, 1614, he had among his belongings 130 books recorded in two inventories written by his son Jorge Manuel Theotokopoulos, one of which was compiled a few weeks after the death of the painter, and the other developed in 1621 as evidence of the goods Jorge Manuel brought to his second marriage.

The aim of the exhibit, and the accompanying book published by the Prado entitled, Biblioteca del Greco (2014), was to reconstruct the theoretical and literary roots of El Greco’s art through his library. Notable among his books was a copy of Vitruvius’s treatise on architecture from the Biblioteca Nacional de España, and a copy Vasari’s Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects. Both were copiously annotated by El Greco with comments that revealed his ideas on architecture and on painting. Also on display was a copy of Xenophon’s Works and one of Appian’s Civil Wars, both of which were represented in his library, and one of Sebastiano Serlio’s architectural treatise with annotations that have on occasions been attributed to the artist. The exhibition was completed by three manuscripts, nine prints that probably inspired compositions by El Greco, and five paintings which showed the relationship between his pictorial output and the books in his library. Also on display were the original inventories of 1614 and 1621, and a letter from the artist to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. The exhibition also included nine prints, mostly by Cornelis Cort and Dürer, which were key reference points for the painter, and five paintings, including Boy Blowing on an Ember and The Annunciation, which reveal the relationships between the artist’s pictorial creations and his books.

In total, the exhibition included 56 works that introduced visitors to what El Greco read and wrote, his knowledge and thinking, with the aim of understanding the ideas on the art of painting that underpinned his creative activities. The five sections of the exhibition reconstructed the artist’s career and analysed the way he saw painting as a speculative science. The first section emphasized the importance of El Greco’s Greek heritage throughout his life, while the second and third sections showed the key role that Italian culture played in his artistic transformation. The largest section focused on books on architecture, which highlighted El Greco’s interest in the universal nature of this discipline, and its influence on the status of painting as a liberal art. The exhibition closed with a small section on religious imagery, including a copy of Alonso de Villegas’s Flos sanctorum [Flowers of the Saints], which includes the first reference to the painter in print. 

"Based on the original documents of these two inventories, the exhibition is organised into five sections which together present its theoretical argument.

Greek forefathers and the classical heritage 

This section reveals the importance of Greek culture on El Greco, who was always manifestly proud of his origins. This is evident in the copies he owned of classical texts by Homer, Appian and Xenophon and others on the life of Alexander the Great, a hero of Greek history and the paradigm of artistic patronage due to his support for Apelles, of whom El Greco may have considered himself a modern personification. Also notable in this section is the absence of books by Plato in the artist’s library and the contrasting presence of works by Aristotle.

Metamorphosis in Italy 

The second section analyses the definitive transformation of El Greco’s painting following his time in Rome, Venice and other Italian cities. It was at this point and through an intensive process of self-education based on his knowledge of other artists’ work, his contacts with intellectuals and his own reading that he assimilated the prevailing practice and theory of art. At this point El Greco began to see painting as an autonomous discourse that went beyond the moralising depiction of subjects inspired by mythology, history and religion.

Painting as a speculative science

This section provides the exhibition’s central focus, given that El Greco believed that painting could imitate the invisible but also the impossible: in other words, he conceived of it as a means to explore the wonders of the real and to represent mythological subjects or sacred mysteries.

Vitruvius and the terms of architecture

While El Greco championed the hegemony of painting in relation to sculpture and architecture, at this period it was habitual to consider the latter the preeminent art form due to its traditional association with the liberal arts and because a knowledge of it was essential for becoming a 'universal man'. This is how the artist must have seen himself: he designed the architectural settings for some of the altarpieces into which his paintings were set and also wrote an architectural treatise, the contents and whereabouts of which are now unknown. These issues explain why his library included several copies of Vitruvius’s treatise as well as copies of the most important architectural treatises published in his own day, such as those by Sebastiano Serlio, Vignola and Andrea Palladio.

The problem of religious imagery

The final section emphasises the fact that although much of El Greco’s output consists of religious paintings, he did not devote a single one of his reflections to this subject and only owned around eleven books on religion. Aside from his own religious practice, he must have used these books to ensure that his works were doctrinally correct and conformed to contemporary precepts of decorum" (http://artdaily.com/news/69256/Three-Spanish-cultural-institutions-join-forces-to-present--El-Greco-s-Library--exhibition#.U0KgN61dUmQ,  accessed 04-07-2014).

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1550 – 1600

Giorgio Vasari Begins Construction of the Uffizi 1560 – 1581

In 1560 Italian painter, architect, writer and historian Giorgio Vasari began construction of the Palazzo degli Uffizi in Florence (Firenze) for Cosimo I de' Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates— hence the name "uffizi" ("offices").

Construction was continued following Vasari's design by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti, and ended in 1581.

"The cortile (internal courtyard) is so long and narrow, and open to the Arno River at its far end through a Doric screen that articulates the space without blocking it, that architectural historians treat it as the first regularized streetscape of Europe. Vasari, a painter as well as architect, emphasized the perspective length by the matching facades' continuous roof cornices, and unbroken cornices between storeys and the three continuous steps on which the palace-fronts stand. The niches in the piers that alternate with columns were filled with sculptures of famous artists in the 19th century.

"The Palazzo degli Uffizi brought together under one roof the administrative offices, the Tribunal and the state archive (Archivio di Stato). The project that was planned by Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany to arrange that prime works of art in the Medici collections on the piano nobile was effected by Francis I of Tuscany, who commissioned from Buontalenti the famous Tribuna degli Uffizi that united a selection of the outstanding masterpieces in the collection in an ensemble that was a star attraction of the Grand Tour" (Wikipedia article on Uffizi, accessed 09-29-2010).

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Opening of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana 1571

In 1571 the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (The Laurentian Library of the Medicidesigned by Michelangelo was opened to the public  in Florence, Italy.

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Pope Sixtus V Commissions the Design and Construction of the Vatican Library Circa 1587

About 1587 Pope Sixtus V commissioned the Swiss-born Italian architect Domenico Fontana to construct a new building for the Vatican Library.  

The library building is still in use today, and contains the famous Sistene Hall.

"This noble hall—probably the most splendid apartment ever assigned to library-purposes—spans the Cortile del Belvedere from east to west, and is entered at each ed from the galleries connecting the Belvedere with the Vatican palace. It is 184 fee long, and 57 feet wide, divided into two by six piers, on which rests simple quadripartite vaults. The north and south walls are each pierced with seven large windows. No books are visible. They are contained in plain wooden presses 7 feet high and 2 feet deep, set round the piers, and against the walls between the windows. . . .(Clark, The Care of Books [1902] 49-50). 

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Architect Domenico Fontana Describes Moving the Obelisk 1590

In 1590 Italian Architect Domenico Fontana published Della transportatione dell'obelisco Vaticano....in Rome at the press of Domenico Basa. The folio volume contained 2 engraved titles, both signed by Natal Bonifacio, 35 full-page and 3 double-page engravings. It described one of the greatest engineering feats of the Renaissance -- the removal of the Vatican obelisk from its old location behind the sacristy of St. Peter's, where it had been since the reign of Caligula, to its present location in the center of the Piazza of St. Peter. The problem of transporting this 327 ton and fragile stone tower had occupied Italian engineers for many years, so that when Pope Sixtus V appointed a council to consider ways and means of moving the obelisk, nearly 500 men came to submit their plans.

The honor went to Domenico Fontana, the pope's official architect, who proved to the council the feasibility of his proposal by making a scale model in lead. Fontana erected a framed tower of timbers surrounding the obelisk and then by means of ropes attached to the tower raised the obelisk from its pedestal, and afterward lowered it so that it should rest on a wooden platform. This platform he had had drawn on rollers to the new site, where the tower was re-erected and the great stone raised from its horizontal position on the platform to the vertical and set on the new base.  The project required 900 men, 75 horses and untold numbers of pulleys and lengths of rope.

The plates in Fontana's volume also illustrate many of the buildings and designs that Fontana executed for Pope Sixtus V.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 812.

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1750 – 1800

"Paper Architect" Etienne-Louis Boullée Envisages In One Gigantic Reading Room the Entire "Memory of the World" 1784 – 1785

In 1785 French architect Etienne-Louis Boullée proposed a reconstruction of the Bibliothèque du Roi that would contain in one gigantic reading room the entire "memory of the world." The library was never built. Boullée seems to have been an architectural visionary, most, if not all of whose schemes were never realized. Thus he is sometimes called a "paper architect."

The year before, in 1784, Boullée designed an even more visionary cenotaph for Isaac Newton, who had been dead for 57 years. Boulée's drawing shows the outside of the Newton cenotaph. Except for the tiny trees, the drawing does not convey the enormous scale of the monument; the sphere would have been nearly 500 feet across and 500 feet high. Boullée envisaged that during the day sunlight would shine through countless small holes drilled through the top of the dome, so that from the inside, the interior of the dome would light up like the night sky. A detail from the previous drawing with tiny human figures are at the bottom provide a better representation of the scale of the design. At night the dome would have been dark, but there would have been a very large armillary model of the solar system hanging from the ceiling, with the sun shining brightly at its center. Thus when it was day outside, it would have been night inside, and vice versa— a clever and dramatic twist on the natural order of things. 

My thanks to William B. Ashworth, Jr. for bringing the drawings and thoughts about Boulée's cenotaph to my attention.

Boulée's drawings are preserved in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. 

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1800 – 1850

John Thomas Smith Publishes the First Steel-Engraved and the First Lithographed Book Illustrations June 9, 1807

On June 9, 1807 English painter, engraver, antiquarian and sometime Keeper of Prints at the British Museum John Thomas Smith issued Antiquities of Westminster. . . . in London. According to its title page the work contained two hundred forty-six engravings of topographical subjects, of which one hundred and twenty-two were no longer in existence when the book was published. These engravings were published on 38 plates, nearly all either drawn or engraved by Smith, of which two were tinted and twelve were hand-colored (two heightened with gold). As a supplement to this work Smith issued Sixty-Two Additional Plates to Smith's Antiquitie's of Westminster, advertising the price of these as six guineas on its engraved and hand-colored title page. These plates were mostly either drawn or engraved by Smith.   

In his Antiquities of Westminster Smith experimented with various print media, including etching, engraving, mezzotinting, aquatint, and lithography. For his plate of the Ceiling of the Star Chamber facing p. 29. Smith used an old steel saw blade in its unsoftened state as a medium. He broke a number of burins in the process, and it took him two months to complete the plate instead of the two days it would have taken to engrave the plate on copper. Because of the difficulty with this print Smith did not return to steel engraving. The image was, however, the first steel engraved book illustration.

Smith's plate "Internal view of the painted chamber" facing p. 48,

"a rather weak pen drawing in the style of an etching, is the first known instance of a lithograph being used to illustrate a book. The original intention was to illustrate the whole edition with one plate only produced by lithography; but the process was obviously not quite so easy as it seemed, as after 300 prints had been taken the stone was ruined and it was decided to revert to etching on copper for the remaining copies. The first 300 copies of the edition have both the lithographed and etched versions as Smith decided to use his failure as an opportunity to describe the process" (Twyman, Lithography 1800-1850 [1970] 30). 

"The exact date of Smith's drawing on stone is not known, but he describes in the text (p. 49) how he was supplied with materials by André, and if this was so then the drawing must almost certainly have been made prior to André's departure in 1805. It must in any case have been completed and spoilt by 19 November 1806 since this is the date borne by the copper-engraving that replaced it for the rest of the edition. The print of the plate may therefore ahve been done by either André or Vollweiler (Twyman, op. cit., footnote 1, p. 30).

Smith's book arose from the chance discovery by workmen of a section of 14th century wall at Westminster, complete with its original wall paintings, sculpture and stained glass. Smith quickly secured permission to record what had been revealed before it was demolished and this became the basis of his superb work. His book remains the main source of information for the appearance of the Palace of Westminster, which fortunately it depicts in great detail, before the fire of 1834 and also of the Abbey precincts before the clearance of the winding alleys and sinister rookeries reflected in the names of Thieving Lane and Little Sanctuary

The text for Smith's book was written by John Sidney Hawkins, antiquarian son of Sir John Hawkins, the friend and first biographer of Samuel Johnson. However, Hawkins was a difficult collaborator, and so antagonized Smith that Smith removed Hawkins's name from the title page and elsewhere in the volume. The conflict between the co-authors became very public.  My copy has bound at the back an elaborate supplement by Smith entitled Mr. John Thomas Smith's Vindication: Being an Answer to a pamphlet, written and Published by by John Sidney Hawkins. . . . concerning Mr. J.T. S's conduct in relation to the "Antiquities of Westminster." Abbey, Scenery, 210; Lowndes p. 2426. 

Hunnisett, Engraved on Steel. The History of Picture Production Using Steel Plates (1998) 110-11.

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The Basis for Blueprints 1842

In 1842 English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer/inventor Sir John Herschel, invented the cyanotype, a photographic process that resulted in a cyan-blue print.

"The photosensitive compound, a solution of ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide, is coated onto paper. Areas of the compound exposed to strong light are converted to insoluble blue ferric ferrocyanide, or Prussian blue. The soluble chemicals are washed off with water leaving a light-stable print."

The process was used through the 20th century by architects and engineers for the production of blueprints.

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1920 – 1930

The First Suburban Shopping Center Designed for Shoppers Arriving by Automobile 1923

In 1923 American real estate developer J. C. Nichols built the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. Designed architectually after Seville, Spain, it was the first suburban shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile. In 2013 the Country Club District, which Nichols developed around the shopping center, was the largest contiguous master-planned community in the United States.

Nichols "called his method 'planning for permanence,' for his objective was to 'develop whole residential neighborhoods that would attract an element of people who desired a better way of life, a nicer place to live and would be willing to work in order to keep it better.' Nichols invented the percentage lease, where rents are based tenants' gross receipts. The percentage lease is now a standard practice in commercial leasing across the United States" (Wikipedia article on J C Nichols, accessed 04-05-2009).

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Fortunato Depero's "Bolted Catalogue" of Futurist Graphics 1927

For the 1927 Biennale Internazionale delle Arti Decorative in Monza, Italy, Italian futurist painter, writer, sculptor and graphic designer, and industrial designer Fortunato Depero designed a Book Pavilion  for publishers Bestetti Treves Tumminelli, built entirely out of giant block letters. This was considered a significant architectural achievement. He also produced a lavish printed catalogue of his own graphic work from 1913 to 1927 entitled Depero futurista, reproduced both by letter press and photography. The book was bound in futurist style using two industrial bolts.

 "It featured for the first time a mechanical binding consisting of two bolts holding the pages together, as conceived by Fedele Azari, the publisher. Influenced by the focus on the machine that characterized Futurism in the early 1920s, this book should be considered a manifesto of the Machine Age. However, Depero's innovation was not confined to the cover; the inside text features a wealth of typographic inventions including the use of different typefaces, the text formed into various shapes, the use of different papers and colours, and several other devices.

"After seeing this book, Kurt Schwitters wanted to meet Depero and enthusiastically showed his copy to every visitor to his personal library. This book was published in an edition of 1000 copies, most of which bear a stamp of the number of the copy. The edition, showed at least three different front pages with different color prints. There are four or five copies with a metal binding -- books of great rarity but of minor visual impact. Finally, there were even four to five copies provided with a box case expressly designed by the author.... " (http://www.colophon.com/gallery/futurism/1.html, accessed 01-03-2014).

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1960 – 1970

The Beinicke Rare Book & Manuscript Library Opens at Yale October 14, 1963

On October 14, 1963 the Beinicke Rare Book & Manuscript Library opened at Yale University. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Gordon Bunshaft of the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, it is the largest building in the world reserved exclusively for the preservation of rare books and manuscripts. In my opinion it is the also greatest and most dramatic "temple" devoted to the display, study and preservation of rare books and manuscripts built at a university in the twentieth century.

Like the Printing and the Man of Man exhibition which coincidentally occurred in London in July 1963, the opening of the Beinicke Library reflected one of the historical peaks of recognition of the role of the physical book in the creation, distribution and storage of information.

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1970 – 1980

Negroponte's "The Architecture Machine" is Published 1970

In his book, The Architecture Machine, published in 1970 architect and computer scientist Nicholas Negroponte of MIT described early research on computer-aided design, and in so doing covered early work on human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and computer graphics. The book contained a large number of illustrations.

"Most of the machines that I will be discussing do not exist at this time. The chapters are primarily extrapolations into the future derived from experiences with various computer-aided design systems. . . .

"There are three possible ways in which machines can assist the design process: (1) current procedures can be automated, thus speeding up and reducing the cost of existing practices; (2) existing methods can be altered to fit within the specifications and constitution of a machine, where only those issues are considered that are supposedly machine-compatible; (3) the design process, considered as evolutionary, can be presented to a machine, also considered as evolutionary, and a mutal training, resilience, and growth can be developed" (From Negroponte's "Preface to a Preface," p. [6]).

Negroponte's book has been called the first book on the personal computer. On that I do not agree. The book contains only vague discussions of the possiblity of eventual personal computers. Most specifically it says, as caption to its second illustration, a cartoon relating to a home computer, "The computer at home is not a fanciful concept. As the cost of computation lowers, the computer utility will become a consumer item, and every child should have one." Instead The Architecture Machine may be the first book on human-computer interaction, and on the possibilities of computer-aided design.

(This entry was last revised on 04-20-2014.)

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1990 – 2000

Foundation of Designboom 1999

In 1999 German industrial designer Birgit Lohmann co-founded Designboom in Milan Italy with Massimo Mini. Designboom was the first independent web publication dedicated to architecture and design.

"Based in Milan with her family, Birgit Lohmann runs the website of her own creation, Designboom. At Designboom, people from around the world can compete in design competitions, view design jobs and share their design work.  

"Having created one of the go-to websites for design knowledge, Birgit Lohmann is certainly on the cutting edge. We had the chance to speak with her about the role trend spotting plays in her work with Designboom.

"1. How did you get involved with Designboom and what motivates you to continue?  

"I practiced as an industrial designer and product development manager for 15 years, I worked for a number of Italian architects and master designers which include Achille Castiglioni, Vico Magistretti, Bruno Munari, Enzo Mari and Renzo Piano. At that time we did not use computers, we drew by hand and made lots of models and prototypes. I was able to work on the first chair using polypropylene and developed the tools for producing it. I enjoyed the work so much, that I did not plan to work on my own, but then there was a time when the ‘eternal assistant’ aspired for more autonomy.  

"Two of the things I like best - spending time in nature and figuring out how things work. I got to combine these things through Internet publishing. Massimo Mini and I founded Designboom in 1999. We left Milan with our two children (at that time 9 and 5 years old) and lived in Bali for a while. In between tropical plants in our garden we created an open air office with 4 desks, where the kids did drawings and homework (which was sent to us by email from their Italian school teachers) and we created and updated Designboom.  

"1999 - we are the ‘grandparents’ of online publishing in the field of art, architecture and design. When we started there were only two other relevant sites, the American Core77.com and the Belgian DesignAddict.com. Core77 was created by students inside the university and this targeted their audience - students and young professionals. Designaddict was initially a XX century design collector’s database. Designboom, because of our work experience, always reached design professionals. The ‘real world’ is a place where things change all the time, and it is essential to be updated continuously.  

"Based in Milan, our small international team is still made up of designers, not journalists. We talk about real experience, cultural intents and influences, restraints and contradictions. We stimulate a global discussion and the rapport that we’ve established with our readers and the greater design community keeps us motivated. It’s a lot of work, not exactly a typical 9-to-5 job, but we spend our days sharing ideas with people of all ages and backgrounds from more than 200 countries. Seriously - what could be better?!" (http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/birgit-lohmann-interview. accessed 01-15-2013).

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2000 – 2005

A Modern Analogue to the Greatest Library of the Ancient World October 16, 2002

Bibliotheca Alexandrina exterior

The Mediterranean side of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina 

The interior of the Bibliothetca Alexandrina

The internet archive in the Biblitheca Alexandrina 

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, or Maktabat al-Iskandarīyah (English: Library of Alexandria; Arabic: مكتبة الإسكندرية‎), a major library and cultural center located near the site of the original Royal Library of Alexandria, was opened to the public on October 16, 2002.

"The dimensions of the project are vast: the library has shelf space for eight million books, with the main reading room covering 70,000 m² on eleven cascading levels. The complex also houses a conference center; specialized libraries for maps, multimedia, the blind and visually impaired, young people, and for children; four museums; four art galleries for temporary exhibitions; 15 permanent exhibitions; a planetarium; and a manuscript restoration laboratory. The library's architecture is equally striking. The main reading room stands beneath a 32-meter-high glass-panelled roof, tilted out toward the sea like a sundial, and measuring some 160 m in diameter. The walls are of gray Aswan granite, carved with characters from 120 different human scripts.

"The collections at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina were donated from all over the world. The Spanish donated documents that detailed their period of Moorish rule. The French also donated, giving the library documents dealing with the building of the Suez Canal.

"Bibliotheca Alexandrina maintains the only copy and external backup of the Internet Archive" (Wikipedia article on Bibliotheca Alexandrina, accessed 03-18-2012). 

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2010 – 2012

The First Independently Published Magazine Exclusively for the iPad January 2011

London-based Remi Paringaux and his company, Meri Media, published the first issue of Post, the first independent magazine published exclusively for the iPad. It was offered for sale as an iPad app for $2.99.  

The New York Times characterized the publication as "A Magazine that Won't Smudge."

Postmatter.com described the project in this way:

"Post is a project born of love for magazines, and one dedicated to taking that love beyond paper and physical matter. A new frontier and paradigm in publishing, Post looks beyond the traditional rules of how and what magazines 'should be', in favour of speculating upon what magazines could be. It is about fashion, art, architecture, cinema, music, culture. It is about what's exciting now and tomorrow.

"Post is an only child, born of the iPad, with no printed sibling to imitate or be intimated by. Liberated from the imposing heritage of print culture, Post exists an entirely virtual realm, yet is intimately connected to material through the medium of touch. Inherently interactive Post presents a truly multimedia, mult-sensory journey from the first frame to the last, where the advertisements all built for Post by Post are immerse, tactile experiences.

"Post is not a thing. It is an idea. A non-surface whose pages dissolve and reform at your touch. It is material for the mind, the eyes, and sometimes the ears. An entire world existing only with a plane of smooth glass, tangibly alive, but cool to the touch. Let Post be your guide" (accessed 05-25-2011).

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The Largest Interior Image: The Strahov Monastery Library March 29, 2011

360cities.net posted a 40 gigabyte panorama of the baroque Philosophical Hall containing 42,000 volumes in the Strahov Monastery Library in Prague.  

The spectacular image is particularly useful since tourists visiting the monastery may only glimpse this library room from one roped-off entrance. When the image was posted on YouTube and on 360cities.net it was the largest interior panoramic image taken to date, showing all aspects of the room in the smallest detail.

♦ An article published in Wired magazine on March 29, 2011 provided production details, multiple images, and a video showing how the panorama was created.

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Construction of the Francis Crick Institute Begins July 2011

In July 2011 construction began for the The Francis Crick Institute (formerly the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation), a biomedical research center in London. The Institute is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Imperial College London, King's College London, the Medical Research Council, University College London (UCL) and the Wellcome Trust. It will be the largest center for biomedical research and innovation in Europe.

The Francis Crick Institute, named after British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist Francis Crick, will be located in a new state-of-the-art 79,000 square meters facility next to St Pancras railway station in the Camden area of Central London. It is expected that researchers will to be able to start work in 2015. Complete cost of the facility is budgeted at approximately £600 million. The institute is expected to employ 1500 people, including 1,250 scientists, with an annual budget of over £100 million. 

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2012 – 2016

Book Mountain + Library Quarter in Spijkenisse, The Netherlands October 4, 2012

"rotterdam-based MVRDV has just completed the 'book mountain + library quarter' centrally located in the market square of spijkenisse, the netherlands. a mountain of bookshelves is contained by a glass-enclosed structure and pyramidal roof with an impressive total surface area of 9,300 square meters. corridors and platforms bordering the form are accessed by a network of stairs to allow visitors to browse the tiers of shelves. a continuous route of 480 meters culminates at the peak's reading room and cafe with panoramic views through the transparent roof. any possible damage caused to the books by direct sunlight is offset by the expected 4 year lifespan of borrowed materials.  

"additional functions including an environmental education center, meeting rooms, auditorium, offices and retail take place on site. taking the form of a traditional dutch farm to reference the agricultural roots of the village. the encompassing district integrates 42 social housing units, parking and public spaces to form a neighborhood. the masonry exterior of adjacent structures is introduced into the interior with brick pavers for the circulation spaces

"project info:


"total budget incl. parking: 30 million EUR

"start project: 2003

"start construction: may 2009

"opening: october 2012  

"public part library: 3500 m2

"environmental education centre: 112 m2

"chess club: 140 m2 "back office library: 370 m2  

"retail: 839 m2

"commercial offices: 510 m2

"length book shelves: 3205 m total (1565 m for lending, 1640 m archive)

"amount of books: currently 70.000 and space for another 80.000

"the cover is 26 m tall and spans 33,5 m x 47 m  

"parking: garage with grey water basin and 350 spaces //client: gemeente spijkenisse

"user: openbare bibliotheek spijkenisse, milieuhuis spijkenisse, schaaksportvereniging spijkenisse

"architect: MVRDV, rotterdam, nl" (http://www.designboom.com/architecture/mvrdv-book-mountain-library-quarter-spijkenisse/, accessed 01-14-2013).

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"Top Ten New Libraries of 2013" December 2013

In December 2013 designboom.com architecture, based in Milan, Italy, issued their illustrated list of the TOP 10 libraries of 2013.

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Visionary Plans for a New City Library in Baghdad May 8, 2014

On May 8, 2014 Ibraaz.org published a dramatically illustrated article by London-based AMBS Architects on the philosophy and design of a new city library in Baghdad, Iraq: "Designing the Future. What Does It Mean to be Building a Library in Iraq?" From this I quote:

"The idea of building a new library in Iraq has been met with equal measures of impassioned hope as much as worn cynicism. AMBS Architects were commissioned to design a new library for Baghdad by the Ministry of Youth and Sport in November 2011. The supposedly simple brief of 'a modern library' for the 'youth' of Baghdad, as presented by the Ministry of Youth and Sport, required an exercise in re-learning and questioning the conventional model of a library. Our investigation into what a new library in Iraq could be was primary. The idea of 'youth' as an audience is especially significant given 63 per cent of Iraq's population are under 24, with nearly 12.8 million (43 per cent) of these under the age of 15, and a further 15 per cent between the ages of 25 and 35. Thus, we posed the question – how might people, especially young people, engage with learning in the future?

"Iraq's youth have been brought up surrounded by violence and instability. For the past decade educational services have rapidly deteriorated and opportunities for work and personal development have declined. When AMBS's founding director Ali Mousawi returned to Iraq in 2003, what he saw and still sees today is that the Iraqi youth are in many ways lost. Before 2003, Iraq had almost collapsed after a 13-year embargo and eight years of war. This kept the country isolated from the world and from modern technology.

"From the beginning, the question of what such a library can pose for the future of Iraq has been a reoccurring one. The recent turbulent history of over a decade of conflict during the occupation has left Iraq relatively isolated from the rest of the world. The neglect of Iraq's cultural resources has meant much of Iraq's literary history has been lost. Today there is a strong will to rebuild in Iraq and this project brings the hope of the re-ascendancy of intellectual life in Baghdad. As such, conceptualizing the library has demanded an understanding of the complex context and significance of raising a new library.

"The Director of the Iraq National Library and Archives (INLA), Dr Saad Eskander who has played a valuable role in preserving Iraq's literary heritage wrote about the new library:

"It is imperative for the new Iraq to consolidate its young democracy and good governance through knowledge. New libraries have a notable role to play by promoting unconditional access to information, freedom of expression, cultural diversity and transparency. By responding to the needs of Iraq's next generation, the new library, we hope, will play an important role in the future of our country. . . .

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