Sarah McLeary

Ceramics and Architecture

maths for fun and profit

‘How much Maths is there in Architecture?’

I would answer ‘more than you think. More than I think.’ On a day to day basis I might use simple geometry constantly, or not at all. Geometric thinking helps lay out basic shapes into a site layout, work out how many parking spaces you’ll get in a row, etc, them work out the minimum size of a communal stair, but it won’t help you decide if the stair should be straight or dogleg, or if those parking spaces are the correct orientation, or even needed.

I might use a quadratic equation to calculate the optimum width for a row of houses, where I know that area and the number of houses I want, but not the width they should be. I thought I’d left quadratic equations behind at school.

There are many ways to skin a cat. Architects are constantly thinking laterally around the problem, to try to optimise the design efficiently. Can you repeat an element elsewhere for ease of building? How do you avoid any of the bedroom windows looking onto a blank wall? These cannot be solved by a machine [well, maybe Deep Blue could have a go] but your mind has to be … flexible and bendy. Even a seemingly banal construction problem can have a solution which is elegant.

Do you need to remember the solution to a quadratic equation? No! That’s what Google is for, dumdum!

As with all things, practise practise practise.


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This entry was posted on July 24, 2012 by in architecture.
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