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Sources Concerning the Development of Knowledge in the History of Architecture


Early modern architecture is one of the major incentives which brought about modern Western science and technology, documented by architectural remains as well as by various sources, among them architectural drawings.
The collections represent documents as well as databases with research data, and construction details.

Collection of Historical Sources on Architecture

The collection of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and its cooperation partners comprises the major works on the History of Architecture from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

Collection of the Werner Oechslin Library Foundation

The Werner Oechslin Library in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, chiefly assembles source texts on architectural theory and related areas in original editions extending from the 15th to the 20th century. Over 50,000 volumes document the development of theory and systematic attempts at comprehension and validation in the context of humanities and science. The core area of architecture is augmented in a consequential way by related fields ranging from art theory to cultural history, and from philosophy to mathematics.

Florentine Cathedral - Construction Details

The goal of this project is to provide the first photographic documentation of the structural supports of the dome of the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence built from 1417-1436 according to plans drafted by Filippo Brunelleschi. The Photo series will contribute to an understanding of the spatial structure in the four walkways (W1 - W4) between inner and outer shell.

Florentine Cathedral - the Archives

The construction of the huge cupola of the Florentine cathedral Santa Maria des Fiore, the first cupola built without a scaffolding, can be considered as the most spectacular technological endeavor of renaissance architecture. Sources documenting the period of this construction survived, but have been rarely studied due to difficulties to access them. The situation was changed when the Opera del Duomo decided to launch the project The Years of the Cupola which now joins the ECHO initiative.

The Years of the Cupola is an archive of the documentary sources of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore. The period covered, 1417-1436, corresponds to the two decades during which Brunelleschi's dome was designed and constructed. The project includes all the documentary records of the cathedral's Opera, or Board of works, which oversaw not only the work site for the construction of the cupola and the rich furnishings and works of art that adorned the church, but also the residence of the clergy in the nearby canonry and other real estate owned by the Opera, as well as important outside projects ordered by the city's communal government, from fortifications throughout the territorial state to the papal apartments in the convent of Santa Maria Novella. The sources document the provision of building materials, the management of the work force, the institutional structure of the Opera itself and its efforts to collect the publicly decreed financing due it, its presence in the liturgical context and its relations with the city of Florence, that saw itself reflected in the great civic enterprise of the cathedral.

Obviously, the sources comprised in the archive The Years of the Cupola are of extreme interest for various branches of the science of history such as for instance history of economics, social history or history of science. Historians of science will be particularly interested in the inferences the material allows to draw regarding the mechanical knowledge that was necessary for the design and construction of the cupola.

Lineamenta − a database for the study of architectural drawings

Lineamenta is an on-line collection of architectural drawings from the Roman Baroque period. The database is currently under construction. The project is based on the ideas and the initiative of Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Kieven and is developed under her supervision by a team at the Bibliotheca Hertziana (Max Planck Institute for Art History, Rome).
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