The birth of classical architecture

Theories of how classical architecture sprang from a wood hut seem plausible enough. Some gradual progression was obviously involved. But somehow, when rendered in the form of a step-by-step history, however evocatively illustrated, it seems to lose all plausibility, elucidating transitions that generously partake of the highly unlikely. Classicism probably emerged less rudimentarily, bursting onto the scene rather suddenly, the child of genius or a set of geniuses in one or more relatively advanced societies, however ancient, possibly in several far flung corners of the globe. Yet seeking roots in pre-history is natural, human, all too human.

Calder Loth sent the one below, by Sir William Chambers, from his Treatise on Civil Architecture, to the TradArch list. So I rebroadcast it in the form of a wish that all readers may enjoy the blessings of the new year, and that their affairs evolve in 2014 as beautifully as this:


About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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