Do You Need Maths To Study Architecture

Background Information

Architecture is an art form that combines both science and art. On one hand, architects have to understand the basics of mathematics, physics, and engineering in order to design buildings and other structures, while on the other they must be creative and have an understanding of aesthetics to ensure their projects look attractive and inspiring. So, do you need maths to study architecture?
The answer to this question is, essentially, yes. Mathematics plays a vital role in illustrating and understanding the design process of architecture, and the best architects are those who understand the mathematical principles underlying the construction and design of buildings, bridges and other structures. Mathematics is also an important part of the architectural process in terms of measuring, estimating and calculating building costs and materials.

Relevant Data

Maths is an integral part of the architecture curriculum and is usually part of a bachelor’s degree in architecture. Courses may include variety of maths subjects such as geometry, trigonometry, calculus, combinations, and statistics. These help the students to become adept at using equations and formulas to work out scale drawings and 3D models of buildings, bridges and other structures.
At the foundation level, architectural students need to know basic concepts such as linear and quadratic equations, vectors, transforming algebraic expressions, and formulas. As they progress through the degree, they may also explore topics such as determinants, integration, differential equations, polar coordinates and linear algebra.
According to an American Institute of Architects (AIA) survey, practitioners are also required to use maths skills on the job. Thirty-nine percent of the professionals surveyed said they used algebraic equations daily or as needed, while another 28 percent said they used basic graphs and diagrams to help with calculations.

Expert Perspectives

Experts have a variety of opinions on the importance of mathematics for the study of architecture.
Cathy Bynum, a former faculty member at the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design, believes that maths is an extremely important part of being an architect because it gives them a tool for understanding visual relationships.
“In order to understand the complexity of what you’re designing, you have to understand how it’s embedded in the mathematics,” Bynum says. “At the basic level, architects are doing calculations with area, perimeter, volume and surface area, but when you get into the diagrammatic reasoning of how things fit together, the math gets more sophisticated.”
John Portman, architect, developer and inductee into the American Institute of Architects college of fellows, argues that maths is essential for architects to measure and evaluate their designs.
“Architects are always looking to create efficient designs and to make sure that they are structurally sound,” he adds. “Maths is the tool they use to make those determinations. If you don’t have it, you can’t effectively design something that has any kind of complexity.”


Maths is the foundation on which architecture is built and it is used by architects to solve problems, measure and evaluate the effectiveness of their designs, and to visual relationships.
Since architects need to be proficient in maths, it is important that students who pursue a degree in architecture should gain a firm understanding of maths before they graduate. This will give them an advantage when it comes to finding a job in the architecture field and make them competitive in the job market.
At the same time, while maths is a great tool, it should not be the only tool relied upon. Architects should also make use of their creative abilities. They should experiment with shapes and materials and explore a variety of design solutions to come up with innovative solutions.

Real Estate Impact

Math is also essential to understand the impact of architecture on real estate, as architects must be able to determine how buildings affect the surrounding environment. According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), mathematical models are used to assess the impact of buildings on climate change, natural resources, and wildlife. Maths is also used to understand the economic, financial and social impacts of buildings.
For example, the USGBC’s “Strategies for Low Impact Development” report uses mathematical models to calculate the impact of buildings on hydrological cycle, air quality and water resources. In addition, mathematical equations are also used to determine the impacts of buildings on energy use and climate change.

Urban Planning Considerations

Math is also necessary for urban planning. Urban planners must assess the socioeconomic, environmental and cultural impacts of their designs, and maths is the tool used to calculate the effects of the plan on the population and the environment.
For example, mathematical models are used to determine the economic viability of the plan, the population of an area, the types of housing and other buildings, the number of jobs, the impact of transportation on the environment, and the impact of development on the environment.
Moreover, models can also be used to predict the effects of a plan on the water and air quality, on energy consumption and the environment, and on economic development. This helps urban planners make more informed decisions about their plans and designs.

Computer Design Software

The use of math and computer design software has revolutionized the way architects design. Computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) is an integral part of today’s architecture and has helped architects design great architecture and save time and money.
Software programs such as AutoCAD, Rhino3D, Revit and SketchUp are used to create 3D models and to draw detailed drawings. These programs allow architects to design complex shapes, generate accurate measurements, calculate structural load and stress analysis, and create animations.
In addition, several mathematical algorithms are used to create detailed and accurate models of buildings, bridges and other structures. These algorithms can be used to model lighting, ventilation, and energy efficiency, as well as to calculate the cost of the materials and labor.

Closing Remarks

In conclusion, maths is an essential part of studying architecture. Architects have to be proficient in maths in order to use their designs to the best advantage. Maths plays a vital role in understanding the design process of architecture and helps to make the building process efficient and cost effective. It is also important for urban planning, understanding of the environment and real estate, and the use of computer design software. Although maths is essential, architects should not rely solely on maths and should also make use of their creative abilities in order to come up with innovative solutions.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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