Saturday, February 5, 2011


Well, the blog has been a bit quiet since I am at a research meeting in Rome, Italy (yeah, the life of a scientist is difficult, I know) ... So, to show how much the amazing architecture here inspires us, dedicated but illiterate biologists, here are some thoughts on how to connect the past and the future.
Vitruvius (Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, 80-70 BC to after 15 BC) was a Roman military engineer and architect active in the first century preceding our era. He is mostly known for is tomes, referred to as De architectura (“About architecture”, known nowadays in English as “The Ten Books of Architecture”). In this multi-volume book, he described three major criterions that should be always kept in mind when building a structure. Those “Vitruvian criterions” are SOLIDITY (firmitas, firmness), USEFULNESS (utilitas), and BEAUTY (venustas, from the Goddess Venus, meaning more “able to create a delight”).
The concepts of Vitruvius inspired some of the greatest geniuses in all of human history. We all know, or will recognized on sight, the amazing drawing from 1487 by Léonard de Vinci (sorry guys, I am French, so for me Léonard de Vinci has to be known under his French name J ) named the Vitruvian Man, as it is accompanied by quotes from the De architectura.

The simple three basic criterions of the Virtuvian logic are actually very interesting. And somehow, we should always keep them in mind when we try to understand why some cyberworlds survive, while some don’t. Or just when we try to understand how designers are building the artefacts which allow us to interact with those new media (take an iPhone or an iPad, and you will see what I mean ...).

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