The Garden Guide

Vitruvius Pollio, Marcus

Born - Died : ? - c 27 BC

Vitruvius is known only as the author of the first and most famous text (De architectura) in the history of western landscape architecture, architecture, enginering and town planning. The book is dedicated to an un-named emperor, assumed to be Augustus. It is based on Vitruvius own experience as a designer and on other books by Greek architects, which have not survived. Pliny the Elder's remarks on construction methods, in his Natural History, appear to be based on De architectura. Vitruvius book became the chief reference on classical architecture throughout the Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical periods. He provided the basis for Alberti's Ten Books on Architecture (1452) and also for Henry Wotton's Elements of Architecture (1624). With regard to colonades and walks, Vitruvius advises 'The space in the middle, between the colonnades and open to the sky, ought to be embellished with green things; for walking in the open air is very healthy, particularly for the eyes, since the refined and rarefied air that comes from green things, finding its way in because of the physical exercise, gives a clean-cut image, and, by clearing away the gross humours from the eyes, leaves the sight keen and the image distinct.' With regard to entrance courts he advises 'Propriety arises from usage when buildings having magnificent interiors are provided with elegant entrance-courts to correspond; for there will be no propriety in the spectacle of an elegant interior approached by a low, mean entrance.' The first of Vitruvius' Ten Books (all published without titles) could well have been Landscape Architecture. See online text from Vitruvius Ten Books on Architecture.