B 1 – Orders of Knowledge and the Early Modern Architecture Theory
Johannes Kepler, Tabulae Rudolphinae, Ulm 1627, frontispiece, in: Mapping Spaces, Ed. by Ulrike Gehring and Peter Weibel, exhibition catalog ZKM Karlsruhe, Museum für Neue Kunst, München: Hirmer Verlag, 2014, p. 130.

SECTION B – Order as Knowledge

B 1 – Orders of Knowledge and the Early Modern Architecture Theory

Hans Aurenhammer, Susanna Thelen

Art History Institute at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main


Subproject B 1 refers to a historical formation in which architecture and science were virtually understood as synonyms. The theorists of the Renaissance (from Leon Battista Alberti to Vincenzo Scamozzi) developed an emphatic concept of architecture as a model of a rational, tendentially utopian order. The claim that the ancient treatise author Vitruvius merely meant rhetorically, that the architect should be well versed in many disciplines of knowledge, was deliberately misunderstood. The subproject in no way intends to perpetuate this topos, to which even today wishful thinking on encyclopedic architecture still refers. On the contrary, it asks how the conception of architecture as a universal order of both knowledge and social practice relates to the simultaneous early modern tendencies of scientification. While architecture was understood as the technology that dominated nature par excellence (for example, by Daniele Barbaro), the new sciences (such as astronomy) used architectural metaphors, but ultimately robbed the classical understanding of architecture of its natural philosophical foundations. This complex relationship is investigated using comparative analyses of architectural theoretical, scientific and state-utopian texts from the 15th-17th centuries. The guiding principles of the study are, for example, architectural metaphors of order that are also important for the new sciences: the portal, the theater, or the temple – for example, the temple of Urania, symbolizing the progress of astronomical knowledge, which adorns the frontispiece of Johannes Kepler’s Tabulae Rudolphinae (1627).