Thursday, September 29, 2011

DIY Attic Base

Everybody should be able to construct their own Attic base. It's a beautiful and simple process. In my history of architecture class, I've sent my student scourging through campus measuring column bases. F&M's Georgian pretensions have guaranteed an endless supply of classical details. And I'm sure there is no shortage of Attic bases in your own hometown. Go measure it, or make one yourself. Just follow Vitruvius (III.5) or Alberti (VII).

1. Take the diameter of your column and divide it in 2 (ie. the column radius). This is how tall your base should be.
2. Divide that into 3. The lower third should determine the height of your plinth.
3. Take what is left above and divide it by 4. The top quarter will give you the height of your upper torus.
4. Take what is left between your base and upper torus and divide it into two. That will give you the height of your lower torus.
5. Divide what is left over between upper and lower torus into 7. The top and bottom sevenths will give you the height of your two fillets.
6. Whatever is left over will be your scotia.

The proportions are quite simple and easy to construct. In 2003, Mario Carpo wrote a fascinating essay in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, "Drawing in Numbers," where he traced the translation of the proportional values into a numerical system with the emergence of modernity and calculus. My sketch above is based on Carpo's analysis. I look forward to reading Carpo's newest book The Alphabet and the Algorithm (2011) that deals with the issue of digital duplication.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States