"Even those with only a superficial; knowledge of architectural history texts have certainly come across the so-called 'regulating lines', those complex grids of lines, circles and arcs superimposed onto buildin elevations or—more rarely—onto building plans. Their meaning should be fairly transparent: they demonstrate the presence of a system of special proportional relationship that would otherwise remain hidden to the naked eye without the subtleties of geometry. It is no coincidence that they can be found predominantly in texts about Renaissance architecture, or—as critical tradition would have it—about the period that perhaps more than any other posed the mathematical precision of proportions at the centre of its aesthetic conceptions.
The real nature of these lines often remains ambiguous: it is never really clear whether we are dealing with analytical tools—of the hermeneutics of the historian who, perhaps, can also be allowed to disregard the intentio auctoris; or whether they are generative tools, themselves projects and invention, conceived at the same time as the architectural project and guiding its creation."
A Regulated Suasion: The Regulating Lines of Francesco di Giorgio and Philibert de l'Orme
Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes
Vol. 65 (2002), pp. 95-131
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