Buildings play a special part in public space. They are manifestly present and they shape their environment. Architecture marks and underscores social and political change, precisely because it is functional art. The posturing of power and the evidence of social and societal change are more immediately and publicly apparent in architecture than in any other creative discipline. To decode and analyse the complexities of architecture, historians of art and architecture rely on the comprehensive evaluation and analysis of archival sources, written records and graphic material to reconstruct the respective planning and building history.

The abundance of surviving sketches and drawings of Italian and, above all, Roman buildings offers ideal conditions for this kind of research. It therefore suggested itself to bring together in a single database as many of those drawings as possible by using high-resolution scans, thus facilitating the reconstruction of design processes and the documentation of different building states. For this purpose the Lineamenta database was initiated in 2000.

Lineamenta is designed to support specialist research on architectural drawings of the early modern era. Its main focus is on Italian architectural drawings of the seventeenth and eighteenth century produced by Italians as well as by foreign architects travelling through Italy. Today those drawings are scattered in collections throughout Europe and North America. The long and complex history of collecting architectural drawings is a fascinating part of cultural history and offers a glimpse of the important role those drawings played in the dissemination of Italian architectural culture in Europe and North America. At the same time, the dispersal of the material makes it difficult to study the context in which it was produced – and to see a great many of the drawings in the original. Lineamenta aims to virtually bring these drawings together, to document them in text and image, to link them to further images, archival sources and the actual buildings and to make them accessible to researchers. Thanks to the high technical standard of the scans, researchers will have online access to images of a quality replicating that of the original drawing. The database makes it possible to investigate architectural drawings as works of art, planning tools, a form of communication (for example between architect and patron) or as a medium of publicity and to examine their role in the development and dissemination of architectural concepts. The database also facilitates the production of visualisations and 3D models (see the model after drawings by Filippo Juvarra by Hermann Schlimme and Günther Eger as part of the EU programme »Culture 2000«).

If at all possible, the drawings are digitised at maximum resolution; the system can be employed in collections anywhere in the world. Datasets are created for the drawings and the watermarks are documented. In addition to the data referring directly to the drawing itself, data referring to people, institutions, archival documents, literature and research projects are linked, creating a dense pool of interconnected information on Roman architecture in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

Lineamenta was the starting point of the institute’s development of the comprehensive database system ZUCCARO, which became a joint platform for the Lineamenta and the ArsRoma databases in 2007. The resulting increase in data relating to individuals (artists, patrons, dealers, collectors etc.) alongside the object-based data on drawings and buildings demonstrates the suitability of the system for prosopographical research. In following the request of particular collections access to certain areas of the database is password-protected, yet a working version can be consulted online. Each of the two databases has its own distinctive interface. By way of additional differentiation of descriptions and commentaries access to shared datasets can be limited to one or the other of the two projects’ entrance points.


The CIPRO database (Catalogo illustrato delle piante di Roma on-line) was conceived to complement Lineamenta. It seeks to bring together the entirety of historical maps of Rome produced between 1350 and 1930. Another ancillary project is the systematic digitisation of rare Rome guidebooks and prints of Roman buildings. These are linked to Lineamenta and can also be accessed through the dedicated VERO (Vedute di Roma) portal. All databases are accommodated on  ZUCCARO.


Research Group Leader 
Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Kieven

Research Associates
PD Dr. Hermann Schlimme