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Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,

37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:

http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tmaa20

and Mark Burry

Robert J. Krawczyk

Published online: 17 May 2011.

To cite this article: Robert J. Krawczyk (2011) The new mathematics of architecture, by Jan Burry and Mark Burry, Journal of

Mathematics and the Arts, 5:2, 102-103, DOI: 10.1080/17513472.2011.574933

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17513472.2011.574933

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102

Book Reviews

knowledge, recognized and used mathematical properties. It is for the ethnomathematician to rediscover

and thaw that mathematics.

For teachers, many of the examples could be

developed as class activities; usually, they are not

written as activities, but they are well described. In

some cases, they are formulated as exercises which

could become classroom activities. These can offer

students demonstrations of the contributions of world

historical cultures to mathematical thinking. If the

examples are chosen carefully, they might even fit

directly into a mathematical content section of the

curriculum.

This book has three appendices. The first reconstructs a design and relates it to Gerdes earlier

discussion of Pythagorean relationships found

in woven patterns. The second recalls the now

rather well-known seven symmetry patterns of strip

(frieze) design. The third discusses how a coil wrapped

into a circular mat can lead to an area formula for

circles that Gerdes had written about earlier. A

supplementary book, Otthava Images in Colour,

that are mentioned in this book, including mats,

baskets, hats and paper constructions demonstrating

the structural patterns. It also includes some photos of

the people who do the weaving and scenes from

markets and museums.

In summary, although Otthava is similar to the

many earlier books by Paulus Gerdes, it represents a

more comprehensive view, is more user-friendly in the

technical discussions and has more beautiful photos.

Its content is specific enough that it would be an

unlikely textbook, even for an ethnomathematics class,

but would be an excellent resource for further research.

It continues to demonstrate that much mathematics is

hidden in traditional design.

Mark Burry, New York, Thames & Hudson, 2010, 272

pp., US$55.00 (hardback), ISBN 978-0-500-34264-0.

Readers who are looking for a relevant example of

mathematical concepts used in design and architecture

will find many in this book. Readers looking for the

precise algorithm or equation that was used in a

particular work will only find fragments or hints and

will be required to do much further research on their

own. When and where these methods should or could

be used or how you could do them yourself is not in the

scope of this book.

The authors point out in the introduction that some

of the work is based on a mathematical idea and some

of the work uses mathematical means to solve a

particular design issue. This may pose a problem for

the reader. If the work is an explicit expression of a

mathematical concept to solve a design issue, then the

reader might want to explore it further. If the work is

inspired by a mathematical concept then such inquiry

is of less importance. The text does emphasize this

distinction. One good example is the Mobius House by

UN Studio, because the text clearly states that it

celebrates the power of such architectural diagrams.

An important observation made by the authors

(and one that is readily apparent from the case studies)

is that digital computational methods have enabled the

exploration of a variety of mathematically based

concepts in the making of architecture. The chapter

on optimization demonstrates the variety of

overview or an introduction to mathematical concepts

as demonstrated in the practice of architectural design.

It collects in one place new work together with a

number of already published projects arranged by

mathematical concepts.

In the last decade, there has been a rise in the use of

formal methods to generate architectural forms and

structure. Contemporary software platforms have

enabled greater specification of form and pattern

parameters and relationships; mathematics has

become the basis for this definition and generation.

As more architectural projects are built using such

methods, publications have appeared trying to explain

some of the underlying concepts involved. This book is

the most recent addition. The Burrys, currently at the

RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have been

involved in such notable projects as Sagrade Familia,

Paramorph II and Aegis Hyposurface, all of which

appear in this book.

The authors categorization of mathematical concepts is helpful in understanding the past and may shed

some light on what is possible in the future. They

successfully demonstrate how architects have used and

DOI: 10.1080/17513472.2011.574933

Lawrence Shirley

College of Graduate Studies and Research

Towson University

Towson, MD, USA

Email: LShirley@towson.edu

2011, Lawrence Shirley

Book Reviews

computational methods that have been applied to

architectural design. Projects include structural relaxation methods, manually controlled parameters, finiteelement analysis and structural member optimization.

These all demonstrate some basic use of mathematics

but mostly highlight the computational methods for

their suitability and construction.

The chapter on Datascapes and MultiDimensionality uses mathematical constructs to represent or interpret data, such as atmospheric changes,

and cover mapping concepts. The best example in this

chapter is the Aegis Hyposurface by dECOI Architects;

a real-time modular articulated wall surface that

responds to environmental stimulus, such as the

present and movement of a passerby. In essence, it is

an animated surface.

The chapters in this book are arranged by

underlying mathematical concepts: Mathematical

Surfaces

and

Seriality;

Chaos,

Complexity,

Emergence; Packing and Tiling; Optimization;

Topology; and Datascapes and Multi-Dimensionality.

Each chapter includes introductory text which defines

its scope and defines some of the terminology used.

The bibliography is also organized by chapter providing further information on each concept covered. This

book includes over 628 illustrations including 435 in

colour. The projects selected were, according to the

authors, chosen on architectural grounds rather than

mathematical grounds.

The authors include 46 architectural projects; each

chapter contains from four to eleven projects. Each

project consists of about four to six pages of photographs, text, drawing and diagrams. The visual material is stunning and of consistently high quality

throughout. While the name, architect and location

of each project are given, the date of the project is not

included. In the Notes section of this book you will

find for each project the URL of the architects

website, the clients name and a list of the design and

engineering partners and consultants. Almost all the

projects include a short list of mathematical keywords

that summarize the concepts found in the project.

The Glossary section of this book includes brief

explanations of these keywords. Approximately 58

such terms are covered in the Glossary. They range

from specific mathematical concepts such as recursion

and developable surfaces to more general concepts

103

such as computability and system dynamics, in addition to architecturally specific concepts such as an

Arup optimizer and Vierendeel truss.

The keywords included for each project are a

good start towards understanding the projects underlying mathematical concept. The diagrams and drawings help explain the basic mathematical concept

that was found to be used. References are included

to support these descriptions. At times a full description is not possible. There can be some confusion

if concepts are not broad in scope; the generation of

fractals can be one such concept. The text has an excellent treatment of fractals, and when considering

the Grand Egyptian Museum by Henegahn Pen

it clearly differentiates between the computational

methods of recursive growth and successive

subdivision.

A chapters thematic concepts sometimes apply to

an entire project and sometimes only to smaller

portions of its architectural elements. For example,

curvature is demonstrated by highlighting the individual surfaces in the Disney Concert Hall by Gehry

Partners and the continuous roof of the Main Station

Stuttgart by Ingenhoven Architects. The individual

surfaces are described as developable surfaces and the

continuous roof as a minimal surface. Such differentiation is important. It should also be noted that the

curvature of these surfaces is discussed in general terms

without ever giving the mathematical parameters or

equations that generated or controlled those surfaces.

The Burrys address the somewhat confusing term

new in this books title. It is meant to refer to the

new mathematical focus by architects and not to new

mathematics. I would simply interpret it to mean new

to architects. It will be interesting to see what

generations of more mathematically literate designers

will bring forth in the future. What this all boils down

to is that new to me is just as important.

Robert J. Krawczyk

College of Architecture

Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, IL, USA

Email: krawczyk@iit.edu

2011, Robert J. Krawczyk

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