History is made by individuals; that was the Renaissance view. And at least as far as architecture is concerned it is right. Renaissance architecture was created in Florence in the 1420s by one brilliant and obstinate man, Filippo Brunelleschi. Although the creation of this style was of an individual nature it had a collective value. Its forms were based on a number of rules that were open to rational examination and improvement, a common language. This style was based on a fundamental decision made by Brunelleschi and confirmed by all his successors. This was the decision to use the forms of classical architecture in their buildings. In particular, they favored those adopted by the ancient Romans, mainly because they were better known and seemed more advanced and impressive than the Greek ones. The reasons behind this decision were numerous and complex and included what would today be called chauvinistic ones. The Italians, and the Florentines in particular, irritated by the pretensions of the German emperors, considered themselves sons and heirs of ancient Rome and its traditions. Basically, however, Brunelleschi was brought to this decision by purely technical
A r c h it e c t u r e considerations. He held that architecture based on classical principles was more likely to be consistent with the ideals being developed in the new century than the Gothic style then in vogue. The vision of a world based on faith was, in the 15th century, being replaced by one based on reason. And reason, or rather rationality, was the very foundation of classical architecture, the forms of which were grouped according to fixed patterns. Every architect had at his disposal a system of standard solutions to most problems. He was thus free to focus his attention on the new
problems posed by his task. The first advantage of this system was the great savings of time and effort. The second was the opportunity for constant improvement. Every architect started from a common rule and came up with his own interpretation on the basis of the case at hand. Those who followed him could carry on from where he had left off, discarding the negative elements and adopting the positive solutions. In time they achieved almost total perfection. Just such a method had created the supreme grace of the Parthenon. The Greeks had in fact invented the process.