So, who is Leonardo Da Vinci? He is probably one of the most influential people of all time, leaving his footprint during the High Renaissance era. His major accomplishments included advances within the fine arts, architecture, the engineering of flying machines, military equipment, science, anatomy, botany, geology, and physics, as to name a few categories.
For this particular article, let’s examine Leonardo’s inspiration behind the, “Ideal City.” Between 1484 and 1485, 50,000 people died in Milan of plague, killing off nearly a third of the city’s population. Due to this, Leonardo developed a keen interest in urban renewal and a desire to liberate people from the old fashioned, over-crowded medieval city where people were crammed together “like a herd of goats”.
Leonardo proposed new solutions for cities, based on the concepts of natural geometric design, cleanliness, convenience, and the circulation of air and exposure to natural sunlight. The concept of Leonardo’s “ideal city” was derived from the Florentine architect/engineer Antonio Filarete, but Leonardo’s vision was more radical.
His “ideal city” would have two levels. The top level was for foot traffic, designed with wider streets. He also proposed a paddlewheel system to maintain cleaner streets. The second level was for carts, animals, and underground waterways for commerce traffic and to help remove garbage from the city.
Leonardo also wanted to limit the height of buildings as to allow the air and sunshine to circulate more freely throughout the city streets. To help with this concept, he proposed arched doorways and walkway designs around the buildings.
Leonardo was not very concerned with integrating natural landscape into his urban renewal and that is where Biophilic Design complements his vision for the ‘ideal city.’
Biophilic Design provides a strong focus on integrating Natural Landscapes, Ecosystems, natural colors, and Images of Nature into exterior and interior designs schemes. The more you learn about Leonardo’s “ideal city” and Biophilic Design Principles, the more you’ll see how they parallel each other in fascinating ways.
Did Leonardo’s evolutionary ideas ever come to fruition? No.
Yet, today, they are with a modern twist.