<i>Regio</i>: Leon Battista Alberti and the theory of region in architecture

2005 2005

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Abstract (summary)

Leon Battista Alberti explicated his whole architectural theory adhering to the framework of a basic theoretical model in which regio was the first in the series of six universal constituencies of every architectural endeavor whether practical or interpretative. The next constituency was similar, yet narrower in scale—area. Both categories extended beyond [com]partitio—the immediate scope of a project. Alberti was the first to postulate wider architectural context as an architectural sine qua non, thus formulating an architectural canon that has persisted to this day. He therefore instituted the concepts of both modern ‘landscape’ and modern region which was not only his original but a fundamental contribution to the ‘art of building’, planning, landscape and regional studies. Curiously, the issues surrounding his views on region constitute a lacuna in the existing scholarship on Alberti and his time.

Although the importance of location and the use of the word regio were not new categories, neither his contemporary nor classical sources, including Vitruvius, postulated region, area and architecture similarly. Alberti's insistence on “region” in architectural thinking encouraged necessary distancing from the immediacy of the work and enabled its contexualization with larger scale projects, city plans, and landscape designs, even regional planning on a wide, typically Renaissance level, never known before. He also introduced the cultural region as a set of particular ethno- and anthropo- values available for participation in the architectural enterprise. This is how Alberti truly elevated architecture to higher levels of human concerns. His regio best fits our concept of “larger context” and “situating”.

Nevertheless, the architectural region was not ‘clear cut’ and Alberti treated it in a variety of ways, often blending the traditional and the new. This is a study of Alberti's regio and his contribution to the fields of landscape, regional architecture and regional ‘discourse’, for which he laid the modern foundation. I have explored Alberti's region in two distinct ways: following the meanings of his own, explicit use of regio and through his more elaborate treatment of region in connection with architecture. The latter includes not only his theoretical approach to regio, but also the regio embodied in his projects, as well as that implicit in his own, self-conscious identity. This revolves around his understanding of the Italian, Latin [Roman] and Etruscan. I decided to treat his use of the notion of patria as a special region—separately.

Indexing (details)

Urban planning;
Area planning & development;
Fine Arts
0729: Architecture
0999: Urban planning
0999: Area planning & development
0357: Fine Arts
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Social sciences; Alberti, Leon Battista; Architecture; Italy; Renaissance
<i>Regio</i>: Leon Battista Alberti and the theory of region in architecture
Kostich-Lefebvre, Gordana Ana
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 66/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780542006135, 0542006138
Rykwert, Joseph
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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