Monday, April 17, 2023

Bibliography for the Preservation Carpentry Program, the North Bennet Street School, 2023


This April, the Preservation Carpentry students at the North Bennet Street School in Boston and I explored the use of geometry in construction: Practical Geometry.  


We practiced drawing circles, rectangles, floor plans and window layouts with a compass and straight edge. I gave a PowerPoint introduction on the historic use of geometry. The students asked good questions. 

We often referred to the books I had with me.

I had not made a list of those books, a bibliography. The students asked for one.


Here it is. 

   Bibliography for the Preservation Carpentry Program, NBBS, 2023

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Benjamin, Asher. The Country Builder’s Assistant, 1797, Dickman, printer, Greenfield, MAreprint by Applewood Books, Bedford, MA.
  *The American Builder’s Companion, 6th edition, 1827, RP &C Williams, Boston
Biddle, Owen. *Young Carpenter’s Assistant, 1805, published by Benjamin Johnson, Philadelphia.
Downes, Kerry, Sir Christopher Wren: The design of St. Paul's Cathedral, 1988, Trefoil Publication1805,s, Ltd., London
Gibbs, James. *Book on Architecture, London, 1728
Langley, Batty, The Builder's Director or Bench-Mate, 1751, printed for and sold by H.Piers, London                        
Nicholson, Peter. The Carpenter’s New Guide, 1793, London; 10th ed., Philadelphia, 1830.
Pain, William, The Practical Builder,  London, 1774.
Palladio, Andreas. *The 4 Books of Architecture, 1570, translated and published by Isaac Ware,London, 1738.
Serlio, Sebastian. On Architecture, Lyon, France 1530, translated in1611,  on-line.Translated by Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks, 1996, Yale University Press, New Haven
                     *Serlio on Domestic Architecture, 1978, MIT Press, Cambridge,MA, and the Architectural Foundation, NY; Dover Publication.
Shaw, Edward. *The Modern Architect, Dayton & Wentworth, Boston, 1854
Smith, Laurie,**  The Geometrical Design of St. David’s Cathedral Nave Ceiling,  2017;
                       Architectural Geometry A Rare Geometrical Record from Rural Devon, 2020;  
                      The Geometrical Design Of Harmondsworth Great Barn, 2021; published by The Geometric Design Works in partnership with the UK Carpenters' Fellowship, printed Exeter, UK.
Vitruvius, Marcus. *The Ten Books on Architecture, c. 10 BCE, translated by Morris Hicky Morgan, Harvard University Press, 1914.
Walker, George  and Tolpin, Jim, By Hound and Eye, A Plain and Easy Guide to Designing Furniture with no Further Trouble, 2015, Lost Art Press, Fort Mitchell, KY.
Ware, William R. *The American Vignola, 1903

  * reprint available through Dover Publications

  ** I act as a US distributor for Laurie Smith's books. I buy them in batches which makes the postage reasonable. Please contact me if you would like to purchase one.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Serlio Studies a Roman Temple




Sebastiano Serlio, 1475-1554, wrote 7 books 'On Architecture and Perspective' .

A contemporary of Palladio and Vignola, he spent much of his career in France working for King Francois I. The first part of his treatise was published in 1537.

Here he is with his compass.




The cover of Book I includes this drawing of  builders' tools across the bottom, including a tetrahedron and a cube with diagonals, squares and circles on its face, in the right corner.*

What's the cube about? I didn't know, but I am beginning to find out.



Book III, On Antiquities includes the illustration and measured plan of this temple outside of Rome, now thought to be the Sepulchre of the Cercenni. 

He writes that it was "built partly of brick, partly of marble and to a large extent ruinous."

To read the geometry look at 

1) the square, its diagonals which mark the outside of the temple including the bays;

2) the circle which fits within the square which mark the corners of the temple itself;

3)  the square which fits within the circle locating the outside of the walls.

Rotate the first square 90* to make an 8 pointed star. The intersections of the stars points mark the outside corners of the bays.

The inner square (barely visible in red) was not used.


Here is the how the  master mason could have used geometry to lay out the plan on site.

The red square was probably the beginning. It is the foot print for the walls.Then the diagonals, the circle around it, and the next square were added. These set the depth of the bays.

Next the outer square was rotated. It crossed the large square at 8 points. Those points when joined laid out the width of the bays.

The lines set the perimeter of the plan. The mason had his foundation plan and could set his lines.

 I usually find that the interior geometry of a masonry building is laid out from the inner side of the walls. This is practical: reaching over the walls with lines would not have been easy nor accurate. 

The square and its circle neatly locate the columns which support the vaulting.

* Serlio is my favorite writer/architect from the Italian  Renaissance. I have posted about him in this blog several times.  The cover of his Book I included the tools he and his contemporaries used:

Try this one too:

 His books are listed in my bibliography :