On the Eve of Changes or how an ancient Roman architect tells us designers how to embrace the future


Or how an ancient Roman architect tells us designers how to embrace the future .

Along with the State of UX report, which reveals some prophecies about the metamorphosis of designers in the near future, I came across another article—a lyrical ode to the timeless masterpiece of the Vitruvian Man by the genius Leonardo da Vinci. This unexpected encounter, seemingly unrelated, was an interesting addition to the overall picture of the changes to come.

I am sure you have seen this drawing dozens or even hundreds of times. But do you know why it is called the Vitruvian Man?

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci
Vitruvian man by Leonardo da Vinci

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio lived in Rome in the first century BC, served as a military engineer and artilleryman under Julius Caesar, fought and worked in what is now Spain, France, Turkey, and Tunisia. After his retirement, Vitruvius wrote ‘De Architectura’, a treatise that was part history and part guide to Greek and Roman architecture.

The ancient Roman architect Vitruvius considered human proportions to be the basis of classical architecture. And it was his notes that inspired Leonardo to create one of the most famous drawings in art history, and even gave rise to the Italian Renaissance.

Extract from the book De Architectura
Extract from the book De Architectura

In his work Vitruvius argued that architects should be able to draw, understand art, know history, music, chemistry, astronomy, law, medicine, poetry, and philosophy.

Here are some quotes that support his claims:

“Philosophy makes an architect high-minded and not self-assuming, but rather renders him courteous, just, and honest without avariciousness.”

“Music is needed so that architects may be able to tune ballistae, catapultae, and scorpiones to the proper key.”

“The architect should also have a knowledge of the study of medicine on account of the questions of climates, air, the healthiness and unhealthiness of sites, and the use of different waters. For without these considerations, the healthiness of a dwelling cannot be assured.”

“And as for principles of law, he should know those…


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