Abbe marc antoine laugier 1713 1769
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Abbe Marc-Antoine Laugier 1713-1769. Born January 22, 1713 in Manosque, Provence Family of upper-class bourgeoisie Studied at ages 14-17 at college at Avignon to become a Jesuit priest, then on to Lyons, Province. Participated in public education with the Jesuits

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Abbe Marc-Antoine Laugier 1713-1769

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Abbe Marc-Antoine Laugier 1713-1769

  • Born January 22, 1713 in Manosque, Provence

  • Family of upper-class bourgeoisie

  • Studied at ages 14-17 at college at Avignon

    to become a Jesuit priest, then on to Lyons, Province.

  • Participated in public education with the Jesuits

  • Developed interest in architecture and began

    discovering buildings on his own.

  • Spoke publicly to the king and his consorts

    regarding religious and political problems

  • Wrote the Essai. Easy for people to read and understand.

  • Became “l’Abbe Laugier” by appeal and worked on his own

  • Worked with embassy and devoted his time to writing

  • Wrote Essai sur l'architecture (1753) among others including: Observations sur l’architecture, Venetian history, Peace of Belgrade, Art criticism, History of troubadours, Commerce of the Levant, History of Malta, History of the Popes.

  • Died April 5, 1769 in Paris, France

The Enlightenment (The Age of Reason): 1680s to 1790s

  • International, intellectual movement likely beginning with the political, economical, moral and religious struggles in Britain and France.

  • Believed in reason (science and thinking), rather than faith or tradition: The Rationalist movement

  • The Enlightenment’s Creed: “Sapere aude!” (“Dare to know!)

    • Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another.” Immanuel Kant, 1784

Jean-Jacques Rosseau

Denis Diderot

Immanuel Kant


“…it is above all important to think.” -Laugier

Essay on Architecture

  • Chapter III: Observations on the Art of Building

    • Article I: On the Solidity of Buildings

    • Article II: On Convenience

    • Article III: On How to Observe Bienseance in Buildings

  • Chapter I: General Principles of Architecture

    • Article I: The Column

    • Article II: The Entablature

    • Article III: The Pediment

    • Article IV: The Different Stories of a Building

    • Article V: Windows and Doors

  • Chapter IV: On the Style in Which to Build Churches

  • Chapter V: On the Embellishment of Towns

    • Article I: On Entries of Towns

    • Article II: On the Layout of Streets

    • Article III: On the Decoration of Buildings

  • Chapter II: The Different Architectural Orders

    • Article I: What All Orders Have in Common

    • Article II: The Doric Order

    • Article III: The Ionic Order

    • Article IV: The Corinthian Order

    • Article V: The Different Kinds of Composite

    • Article VI: How to Enrich the Various Orders

    • Article VII: On Buildings without any Orders

  • Chapter VI: On the Embellishment of Gardens

Chapter I: General Principles of Architecture

  • Founded on simple nature. Nature indicates its rules.

    • Example: The Primitive Hut

      • Tells story of primitive man seeking shelter and building out of necessity.

      • What this man built became the basis for all architecture

  • The Hut is made of the following architectural elements:

    • The column

    • The entablature

    • The pediment

Chapter I: General Principles of ArchitectureThe Primitive Hut

  • Architecture was founded on simple nature.

  • Laugier wanted a "more rigorous" understanding of architecture and ornament: look for precedents for classical architecture at the absolute roots of history.

  • He searched for absolute beauty, which in his primitive hut came from nature.

    • Was rooted in functional or structural basis. (This theory was the basis of the so-called Rationalist movement.)

  • Little basis in archeology or fact, and tangental basis in historical text

The Primitive Hut

  • Like Vitruvius, Laugier places the origins of architectural forms in nature: the first dwelling was built in the forest, with branches and trees.

  • This differs from the previous theories of Vitruvius in one important aspect: the hutis an abstract concept as much as it is a material construction.

  • The Primitive Hut represents the first architectural idea.

  • Shows beginnings of an understanding of column, entablature, and pediments. Future architecture is based on these principles.

Article I: The Column

  • Columns must:

    • Be strictly perpendicular to the ground

    • Be free-standing, to be expressed in a natural way

    • Be round, because nature makes nothing square

    • Be tapered from bottom to top in imitation of plants in nature

    • Rest directly on the floor

  • The faults:

    • “Being engaged in the wall” is a fault because it detracts from the overall beauty and aesthetic nature of columns.

    • The use of pilasters should strictly be frowned upon especially since in nearly every case columns could be used instead.

    • Setting columns upon pedestals is “like adding a second set of legs beneath the first pair.”

Article II: The Entablature

  • The Entablature must:

    • always rest on its columns like a lintel

    • In its whole length it must not have any corner or projection

  • The Faults:

    • Instead of a beam-like structure it becomes an arch

      • Against nature because:

        • require massive piers and imposts

        • They become pilasters

        • Force columns to give lateral support; columns are meant to give vertical support only.

    • Not straight, but broken with angles and projections

      • Why? “Never put anything into a building for which one cannot give a sound reason.” Nature is so, buildings should also be.

Article III: The Pediment

  • The Pediment must:

    • represent the gable of the roof

    • never be anywhere except across the width of a building.

    • be above the entablature

  • The faults:

    • To erect the pediment on the long side of a building.

    • To make non-triangular pediments

      • Should not be curved, broken nor scrolled

    • To pile pediments on top of each other

Chapter II: The Different Architectural Orders

  • The Doric Order (in columns):

    • Has the most beautiful base, but is difficult to use:

      • Doric columns can never be coupled successfully

      • Interior angles become difficult because of the bases and capitals must penetrate each other

  • The Ionic Order:

    • Almost faultless, lighter and more delicate than the Doric

      • The column suffers because nature dictates that the heaviest part must always be at the bottom, but the Ionic column is heavy at top

      • The base is ill-formed and could be eliminated

        • Offends against the true principles of nature

  • The Corinthian Order:

    • The greatest, most majestic order

      • Beautiful, harmonious composition

        • Architects should stop using anything by the acanthus leaf which “has by nature the contour and curves which suit the leaves of the Corinthian capital.”

Chapter III: Observations on the Art of Building(Laugier’s Commodity, Firmness and Delight)

  • Article I: On the Solidity of Buildings

    • Building must be solid for long life, much like the ancients did

    • Solidity depends on two things: Choice of material and its efficient use

  • Article II: On Convenience

    • The situation (site) must be considered to include views and ventilation

    • The planning (exterior and interior) must be suitable, comfortable, have good circulation, and always include a courtyard

    • The internal communications (servants halls, stairways, etc) must be located for quick access

  • Article III: On How to Observe Bienseance in Buildings

    • A building must be neither more nor less magnificent than is appropriate to its purpose

  • “Beauty of buildings depends on three things: accuracy of proportions, elegance of forms, and choice and distribution of ornaments.”

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