Architecture as a mathematical function: Reflections on gottfried semper

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In a lecture of 1853, the architect and architectural theorist Gottfried Semper (1803-1879) explained a work of art as a mathematical function. The lecture was published for the first time in 1884 and the equation for the work of art was presented there as Y = F(x, y, z, etc.). Since then, several widely differing manuscripts, translations, and interpretations have appeared. The following essay describes Semper's equation, the variations and explanations he gave in his writings, and the interpretations by others that have followed up to the present. It discusses Semper's attempts to connect architecture with infinitesimal calculus, his mathematical background, and his desire to give architecture a scientific foundation through methods of systematic comparison and classification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-134
Number of pages16
JournalNexus Network Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Architecture
  • General Mathematics
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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