Caspar Walter's «Architectura Hydraulica»
Casper Walter: Architectura Hydraulica, Oder: Anleitung zu den Brunnenkünsten. (Augsburg : Mit Späthischen Schriften, 1765).
acquired in 2016
The history of water supply in Europe is often thought to peak in the Roman era, typified by its magnificent aqueducts, with the next peak coming only in the 19th and 20th centuries, when modern infrastructures were introduced. Between these peaks, there is a long and dark valley. However, even in this "dark age" sophisticated water supply facilities did exist that were planned with a high level of technical expertise, as exemplified in Caspar Walter's book "Architectura Hydraulica", published in Augsburg in 1765. The Iron Library has now acquired a copy of this book.
Following his father's footsteps, Caspar Walter (1701-1769) first learned the trade of carpenter and became a master craftsman in 1736. He had entered the service of the city of Augsburg in 1728 and was initially responsible for operating a water tower. From 1741 to 1768 he was the city's "fountain master" and as such responsible for the entire water supply infrastructure, which included everything from waterworks to pipes and public fountains. His knowledge was not restricted to maintenance and expansion of the waterworks within Augsburg's city walls – Walter published numerous monographs on technical aspects of engineering and water supply that made his name known well beyond the confines of Augsburg.
Owing to their ingenious construction and technical sophistication, the waterworks in Augsburg were a famous attraction – a real "hot spot" for visitors to the city. Caspar Walter set himself the goal of further improving the machines. His "Architectura Hydraulica", published in 1765, consists of two parts. In the first part he describes various machines designed to use watermills and windmills to drive machines for waterworks. In the second part Walter explains the different types of pumps, the construction of water towers, the making of pipes and the installation of fountains. The book is not "fiction": he backs up his extensive explanations and descriptions with illustrative copper plates.
In his introduction to the first part Walter wrote:
"Es ist eine unläugbare Wahrheit, daß die Wasserbaukunst, die Wasser zu leiten, und zu allerhand Nothwendigkeiten in die Höhe zu bringen, einen beträchtlichen Theil der menschlichen Beschäftigungen ausmachen; so daß dieselbe durch Kunst und Wissenschaft noch zu einem grössern Grad der Vollkommenheit gebracht werden kan. Sollte nun dieses Werk, welches das mir von Gott gegebene Pfund einer auf Theorie und Praktic gegründeten 36. jährigen Erfahrung ist, [...] etwas beytragen und meinen Neben-Menschen nützlich seyn, so wird es mich erfreuen [...]."