The Origins of Architecture

The origins of architecture front 133

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The origin of architecture was a heavily debated subject in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Spanish Jesuit priest and architect Juan Bautista Villalpando kindled this debate with the publication of In Ezechielem Explanationes et Apparatus Urbis Templi Hierosolymitani in 1604. He claimed that the origin of architecture was to be found in the divine plan of Solomon’s Temple. Villalpando reconstructed the Temple of Solomon as a building that encapsulated the entire formal grammar of classical architecture. He believed that his reconstruction of the Temple represented the most perfect building ever built and that it could never be surpassed, since its plan was God-given. Within a couple years of its publication, commentaries began to appear that agreed or contested his theories. Villalpando’s influence spread throughout Europe. The aim of this book is to examine this important and influential debate and put into context the debate on the origin of architecture found in the English Age of Reason. Unlike their continental counterparts, Isaac Newton, Indio Jones, William Stukeley and John Wood of Bath connected the Temple of Jerusalem and the origin of architecture to an example of English architecture, Stonehenge. These debates and controversies became embroiled not only in questions about the history of architecture, but also in the architecture of the Enlightenment and questions about English literature and identity.