Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Laugier on the Primitive Hut Story

“He is in need of a place to rest. On the banks of a quietly flowing brook he notices a stretch of grass; he is drawn there and, stretched out at leisure on this sparkling carpet, he thinks of nothing less than enjoying the gift of nature; he lacks nothing, he does not wish for anything. But soon the scorching heat of the sun forces him to look for shelter. A nearby forest draws him to its cooling shade; he runs to find refuge in its depth and there he is content
He leaves and is resolved to make good by his ingenuity the careless neglect of nature. He wants to make himself a dwelling that protects but does not bury him. Some fallen branches in the forest are the right material for his purpose; he chooses four of the strongest, raises them upright and arranges them in a square; across the top he lays four other branches; on these he hoists from two sides yet another row of branches which, inclining towards each other, meet at their highest point. He then covers this kind of roof with leaves so tightly packed that neither sun nor rain can penetrate. This man is housed. Admittedly, the heat will make him feel uncomfortable in this house which is open on all sides but soon he will fill in the space between two points and feel secure
by imitating the natural process, art was born. All the splendors of architecture ever conceived have been modeled on the little rustic hut I have just described. It is by approaching the simplicity of the first model that fundamental mistakes are avoided ad true perfection is achieved. The pieces of wood set upright have given us the idea of the column, the pieces placed horizontally on the top of them the idea of the entablature and the inclining pieces forming the roof the idea of the pediment. This is what all masters of art have recognized”. 

Laugier believed that it was these three components which are essential to the perfect composition. This simplicity makes it easier to distinguish between what is essential and what is not. Components which are essential are inherently beautiful, those which are necessary provide license but it is those added in caprice which present flaws. By referring back to the primitive hut one can only choose the elements which are essential, and when they are suitably placed and formed within the composition, perfection may be achieved. The placement of these parts must ensure that not a single one could be taken away without the building collapsing. The close relationship between members is what makes each one essential, and therefore beautiful. 

"Marc-Antoine Laugier An Essay on ArchitectureMarc." University of Colorado Boulder. (accessed November 15, 2012).

Architecture is founded on simple nature, as nature is what indicates the rules. This principle is exemplified in the story of the primitive hut. The narrative describes a primitive man seeking shelter and consequently building due to necessity for survival. The product of this man’s effort is described as the basis of architecture. Three simple elements compose the hut: 
  1. The column
  2. The entablature
  3. The pediment
"Study Guide: Reading Greek Temples." Reed Digital Collections . (accessed December 5, 2012).

"File:Pediment (PSF).png ." Wikimedia Commons. (accessed December 5, 2012).

Laugier wished for a more rigorous approach and understanding in the use of ornament. In order to achieve this Laugier looked to the absolute roots of history. His goal was to find the source of perfect beauty, which he discovered in nature. His story of the primitive hut, describing this founding of architecture, has little factual basis, but is rather concerned with function and structure. The primitive hut represents the first architectural idea. 

""Bradshaw_Laugier Presentation-5.ppt." Texas Tech College of Architecture . (accessed November 25, 2012).


  1. Get all your favorite alcoholic drinks on Duty Free Depot!

    All the highest quality brand name beverages for unbelievable low price tags.

  2. eToro is the most recommended forex trading platform for beginning and professional traders.