Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (80–15 BC) was an artilleryman, writer, architect, and engineer in the age of Roman antiquity. Celebrated as one of Rome’s first published engineers, Virtruvius described how he saw architecture, ideally, as an imitation of things found in nature. Through all his writings, he is most famous for his three laws of architecture in his book, De Architectura, which asserts that a structure must possess three important qualities: firmitas, utilitas, and venustus. In other words, a building must be solid, useful, and beautiful to be of the utmost worth and utility.
It’s no surprise such philosophy is still followed by architects today, though not necessarily all. Certainly, there are exceptions that transgress Marcus Vitruvius’s laws, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater Residence in Pennsylvania. Built partly over a natural waterfall, the home, while aesthetically pleasing, has suffered deep structural flaws since its inception. The visual idea was understandably neat, but the practicality of its deflected concrete projections quickly became a concern during its first stages of construction. Building a concrete structure directly over the water presented a humidity problem as well, particularly in regard to the roofing material, which collected condensation from the mists of falling water below.