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Architecture Inspired By Math In Alabama And Beyond

Math and architecture have been linked very closely since the dawn of time. In fact, there was a time when it was virtually impossible to distinguish where one ended and the other one began. The ancient pyramids in Egypt are great examples of astonishing bodies of architecture that relied heavily on precise mathematical equations. Today, there are countless striking architectural designs in big cities all over the world that make use of math equations and calculations in one way or another. There is, of course, also a number of striking buildings across Alabama that have math to thank for their appeal. Let’s have a look at a few structures that were inspired by mathematics.


Domes make for Popular Attractions

Geodesic domes have always formed a very integral part of human history and architecture.  An ever-increasing number of domed buildings such as the peculiar mini-dome in Pratville and the State Capitol Building can be found in Alabama. On the other side of the world, the Eden Project in South West London serves as a prime example of this type of dome which is typically made up of hexagonal and pentagonal cells. Upon closer inspection, it also becomes apparent that the structure of the building features more math-inspired brilliance in the form of phyllotaxis – the mathematical basis for the majority of plant growth.


Temples Can be a Mathematician’s Dream

The Parthenon in Athens, Greece dates back to approximately 440 BC. The proportions of the building as well as the actual spaces between the columns are governed by width to height ratio of 9:4.  There are also suggestions that the proportions of the Parthenon, which dominates the Acropolis in Athens, are based on the mathematical Golden Ratio (which refers to rectangles having sides that are 1: 1.618).  Alabama might not have a Parthenon, but it does have St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman that is a geometrical masterpiece with its angular exterior, impressive arches, and gigantic columns that span 9 feet in circumference.


There’s a Gherkin in the Sky

No list of architectural marvels inspired by math will be complete without a mention of London’s 591-foot tall skyscraper, The Gherkin. The tower, which boasts 41 floors, is primarily an office building and home to the headquarters of esteemed global brands such as Sky News and Swiss Re. It was meticulously constructed using parametric modeling and a number of mathematical formulas that made it easier for the team of architects to determine how to reduce the prevalence of whirlwinds at the base of the skyscraper. The Gherkin has a tapered top and a distended center that allows for maximum ventilation. Here in Alabama, the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center boasts its own intricate tower that may not resemble a pickle, but also required the use of many math calculations to design and erect.

Math and architecture have always been very closely connected to one another. Even with architecture becoming more and more reliant on technology all the time, basic mathematical principles will continue to play an important part in building design.

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