Mathknow pp 91-111 | Cite as

Other geometries in architecture: bubbles, knots and minimal surfaces

  • Tobias Wallisser
Part of the MS&A book series (MS&A, volume 3)


Geometry has always played a key role in the design and realization of architectural projects. In his book “The projective Cast”, the English Architect and Theorist Robin Evans described how the production of architecture is linked to the representational techniques available. In the mid-nineties, the “first wave” of digital architecture hit the world and trigered a digital revolution of the profession. However, with this first wave, there was no gravity, nothing for the senses and very little constraints. Thus architecture divided between the digital visionaries and the ‘real’ architects who build. In today’s second wave ‘the digital’ enables us to conceptualize and build in an entirely different fashion. The computer now enables that which divided us: to build. The understanding of Geometry plays a mayor role in the application of the new digital techniques by architects. Sometimes, it is used as an inspirational concept, but more and more often a deep understanding of geometrical relationships is the key for parametrical optimisation and associative modelling techniques. These design processes trigger a different notion of form as the result of a process rather than the idea of a single designer. Although the application of mathematical principles is crucial for the realization of many contemporary designs, the idea of taking inspiration from nature or abstract mathematical principles at the base of natural order is more fascinating. These principles, such as minimal surfaces, repetitive tiling or snowflake formations can be used as inspiration to develop abstract diagrams that in turn can be refined and enriched with architectural information to become prototypical organizational models for buildings. Illustrations of mathematical concepts like knots or visualizations of algorithms provide another source of inspiration. They open up the possibility to think about other worlds, environments and building concepts, besides the platonic solids, Cartesian grids and equally spaced grid systems that dominated architecture for so many centuries.


Minimal Surface Platonic Solid Digital Revolution Foam Bubble Architectural Project 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia, Milan 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tobias Wallisser
    • 1
  1. 1.Staatliche Akademie der BildendenKünste StuttgartStuttgartGermany

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