chapter  7
13 Pages

Newtonian empirical sciences and the order of nature

In Discours sur la nécessité de l’étude de l’architecture (1754), Jacques-François Blondel writes that the architect cannot limit himself to the rules of his art. He must be familiar with the rules and theories of everything related to architecture, including mathematics, perspective, sculpture, painting, gardening, stonecutting, carpentry, and structures. Following the Vitruvian tradition, Blondel thought that the architect should also have a general knowledge of philosophy, experimental physics, medicine, and music.1 He should have a general education and be a man of letters (homme de lettres). Le Camus de Mézières’s wide range of interests, from the strength of materials to play-writing, exemplifies Blondel’s description of the ideal architect. What is remarkable, however, is the manner in which his interest in subjects such as theatre, gardening, and literature converged toward a new, expanded theory of architecture.