De re aedificatoria (On the Art of Building) is a classic architectural treatise written by Leon Battista Alberti between 1443 and 1452. Although largely dependent on Vitruvius's De architectura, it was the first theoretical book on the subject written in the Italian Renaissance, and in 1485 it became the first printed book on architecture. It was followed in 1486 with the first printed edition of Vitruvius.
Alberti's Ten Books consciously echoes Vitruvius's writing, but Alberti also adopts a critical attitude toward his predecessor. In his discussion, Alberti includes a wide variety of literary sources, including Plato and Aristotle, presenting a concise version of the sociology of architecture. De re aedificatoria is subdivided into ten books and includes:
In his survey of desirable floor plans for sacred buildings— "temples" in his phrase—Alberti begins with the ideal form of the circle, which is expressed in numerous examples of Nature. Nine ideal centrally-planned geometrical shapes are recommended for churches; besides the circle he lists the square, the hexagon, octagon, decagon and dodecagon, all derived from the circle, and, derived from the square, rectangles that exhibit the square and a half, square and a third and double square, all of which have enharmonic parallels in music. Chapels add small geometric figures to the basic circles and polygons to give a great variety of floor plans, in which each geometrical figure retains its clear unity and simple ratios that bind all elements of the plans and elevations into a harmonic unity.
De re aedificatoria remained the classic treatise on architecture from the 16th until the 18th century.