Architectural Design Theory beyond the Treatise

Session sponsored by the European Architectural History Network

Research on Renaissance architectural design theory has long been dominated by studies that focus on the architectural treatise as a literary genre. This focus has contributed to two predominant implications within the field. For one, it links the emergence of prescriptive architectural design theory to a strong genealogical narrative that places its origin in fifteenth-century Italy when authors of various professional backgrounds began to produce literary imitations along the lines of Vitruvius’ de architectura libri decem. Secondly, it limits the scope of architectural design theory and the means by which it is formulated; historians of early modern architecture only seem to consider those texts which explicitly take architecture as their principal subject.  

This session invites contributions that consider the various literary formats in which architectural design theories were formulated during the Renaissance (ca.1300-1700). Authors may address, but need not limit themselves to, the following themes: the implications of a given literary format on the form and content of the architectural theory it presents; the professional background of different authors of architectural theory and the intended audience of their texts; what different commentaries and texts on architecture reveal about professional, political or social issues at stake; and the interactions between architectural design theories and other disciplines, such as moral or political theory. Contributions that extend the focus to explore how architectural design theories relate to building practice are also specifically welcome.

Please send proposals by 24 July 2021 to Elizabeth Merrill (elizabethmerrill11@gmail.com) and Nele De Raedt (nele.deraedt@uclouvain.be). Your proposal should include a title, 150-word abstract, and one-paragraph biographical CV. 

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