How Architects Use Geometry to Build

How Architects Use Geometry to Build

There are 80 arches in Rome’s Coliseum. Ninety-four floors in New York City’s Freedom Tower. And there are 7,754 windows in the Pentagon.

These iconic structures and their unique characteristics are examples of how geometry in architecture can make a building iconic.

And geometry isn’t just used by architects on the biggies. You’ll find it in the home you’re likely sitting in right now and in the lowly honeycomb.

In the following article, we’ll take a look at how architects and nature utilizes geometry at almost every turn.

Geometry in Architecture Basics

Geometry is the study of forms and their order. It’s one of the oldest and most fundamental systems of mathematics and design. Symmetries, proportions, and the formulas governing their structure are the tools architects use to design buildings.

From the area of a triangle to the general principles of harmony, geometry helps shape our world. Those principles of harmony were first set forth by the father of geometry, Pythagoras, and are still used today.

Geometry is a structural science. So geometric structures and their transformations are the basis of architectural designs.

Although Pythagoras and Johannes Kepler are thought to be pioneers of geometry in the Western world, examples of geometry in architecture appear worldwide.

The Great Mosque in Tunisia and its unique arches and pillars are considered one of the most significant monuments in the Islamic world.

The Mayan temple of El Castillo is an incredible pattern of squares and rectangles.

And the Sally Port of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque utilizes octagonal patterns and is considered a pinnacle of Iranian architecture from the Safavid Empire.

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These structures from all around the world show the incredible variety of geometric shapes in architecture and design.

Pattern Born in Nature

People first learned geometry by studying nature’s patterns. The complexity of a honeycomb or a flower’s symmetry captivated and inspired early thinkers.

Two of nature’s geometric concepts, spirals, and symmetry, are a common architectural concept. Let’s take a look at these two concepts:

Spirals: The beauty of the Vatican Museum’s double-helix staircase or the Guggenheim Museum in New York demonstrates the grace and beauty of spiral structures. In nature, spirals have evolved for stability and strength. The iconic shell of the chambered nautilus or the pattern of leaves around the stem of a plant is good examples of spirals in nature.

Symmetry: This is when similar parts of an object face one another. This concept is also shown in repeated elements as they change in proportion or size. You can see the glory of symmetry in the glow of the glass pyramid outside the Louvre in Paris or the Empire State Building’s aluminum windows in New York.

A Search for Connection

When an architect sits down at their drafting table and starts to work, they bring the geometry in architecture with them.

Architects use nature’s patterns to create 3-dimensional objects, buildings, and other structures. Without nature, geometry, and architects, the world would be without some of its most iconic structures.

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