Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman architect and engineer at the time of emperor Augustus. In his book De Architectura he distinguished three basic principles for building projects and town planning: Utilitas, Venustas and Firmitas.

the three basis principlesThree basic principles
  1. Utilitas: the first quality Vitruvius distinguished is ‘usability’. Buildings and towns must be made so that they can be used for the purpose they’re designed for.
  2. Venustas: secondly, ‘beauty’ is a fundamental item for buildings and town design.
  3. Firmitas: to make sure the build environment stands the test of time they must ‘durable’, deliberated and solid.
4_claritasA fourth basic principle

In his Dutch book Logische Ruimte, eenduidige en authentieke stedebouw’ (‘Logical Space, unambiguous and authentic urban design’) Voorhorst enriches the three basic principles with a fourth: Claritas (unambiguous).

Not only the usability, beauty and durability are fundamental design items, also the unambiguity is one. Voorhorst defines the course to make an urban design easy to use.




– Vitruvius: “De Architectura” translated to Dutch by T. Peters [1997], Athenaeum – Amsterdam.
– E.M. Voorhorst MA: “Logische Ruimte, eenduidige en authentieke stedebouw” [2011], Uitgeverij Stili Novi – Utrecht.



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