• Ellipses in architecture

    Ellipses in architecture

    Architecture has in the past done great things for geometry. Together with the need to measure the land they lived on, it was people's need to build their buildings that caused them to first investigate the theory of form and shape. But today, years after the great pyramids were built in Egypt, what can mathematics do for architecture?

    E L L I P S E ?

    The London City Hall on the river Thames. Note the giant helical stair case inside. Ongoing projects include one of the biggest construction projects on the planet, Beijing International Airport, as well as the courtyard of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and the new Wembley Stadium in London.

    This means maximal impact on their environment and its people. Designing such enormities is a delicate balancing act. A building not only needs to be structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing, it also has to comply with planning regulations, bow to budget constraints, optimally fit its purpose and maximise energy efficiency.

    The design process boils down to a complex optimisation problem. It's in the way this problem is solved that modern architecture differs most from that of the ancient Egyptians: advanced digital tools can analyse and integrate the bewildering array of constraints to find optimal solutions.

    Maths describes the shapes of the structures to be built, the physical features that have to be understood and, as the language of computers, forms the basis for every step of the modelling process. The SMG's job is to help architects create virtual models of their project.

    We then help them to model it using CAD computer aided design tools, or we develop tools for them. With the help of computers you can model pretty much every aspect of a building, from its physics to its appearance. Computer models can simulate the way the wind blows around the building or sound waves bounce around inside it. Graphic programs can explore different mathematical surfaces and populate them with panels of different textures.

    And all the information you get from these models can be pulled together in what is probably the most important innovation in architectural CAD tools in recent years: parametric modelling.

    Parametric modelling has been around since the s, but only now are architects fully exploiting its power. The models allow you to play around with certain features of a building without having to re-calculate all the other features that are affected by the changes you make. This makes them extremely powerful design tools. Take the Gherkin shown on the left as an example.

    If you decided to make the building slightly slimmer, this would have a knock-on effect on some other features. You'd have to re-calculate its out-lining curves and the angles of its diamond shapes, for example.

    This is quite a lot of work and even when it's done, you'd still have to draw a new sketch, either by hand or by re-programming your computer. Parametric models do all this for you.

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    They allow you to change a variety of geometrical features while keeping fixed those features you have decided should not change. The models function a bit like spreadsheets: changing a feature of the building is like changing an entry of the spreadsheet. In response to a change the software regenerates the model so that pre-determined relationships are maintained, just like a spreadsheet re-calculates all of its entries.

    Equipped with the digital tools provided by the SMG, a design team can explore a huge range of design options in a very short period of time.

    ellipses in architecture

    The team can change geometric features of a building and see how the change affects, say, aerodynamic or acoustic properties. They can explore how complex shapes that are hard to build can be broken down into simpler ones, and they can quickly calculate how much material is needed to estimate the cost.

    The results are buildings that would have been impossible only a few decades ago, both because their complex shapes were next to impossible to construct and because of the degree to which they exploit science to interact optimally with their environment. The Gherkin is one of the projects the SMG was involved with and is a prime example of how geometry was chosen to satisfy constraints. Going by the official name of 30 St Mary Axe, the building is metres tall, three times the height of the Niagara Falls.

    There are three main features that make it stand out from most other sky-scrapers: it's round rather than square, it bulges in the middle and tapers to a thin end towards the top, and it's based on a spiralling design. All these could easily be taken as purely aesthetic features, yet they all cater to specific constraints.The last time was about a year after I received my license when they reminded me it was time to renew my NCARB Certificate that they had gifted me for that first post-licensure year.

    It has been nice not having to deal with them, but I also know that they continue to be the source of a lot of frustration for licensure candidates. I never wanted to simply abandon the stances I took on licensure, internships, and the various architectural organizations like NCARB that govern these processes simply because I was past that point in my career.

    Rather I want to be one of the architects out there that understands these issues as best I can. The initial purpose of this blog was to advocate for that career stage, and I plan on continuing this focus as much as I am able to, albeit from a slightly different perspective. My reasoning is laid out in that post and subsequent comments, and if you haven't already, I'd encourage you to read them.

    I'll actually be referring to a lot of the other posts I've written on the subject which would be good to read as well. Since the announcement, there have been a number of subsequent developments in the progress of sunsetting the term "intern.

    I'm convinced this is the product of their own doing. By advocating for so long the regulation of the title of architect and it's derivatives, they now find themselves in a position where they cannot put forth a replacement that doesn't tread over the regulations they've advocated for. This may appease some of their critics by showing that they've made positive changes to the programs they administer by getting rid of the negative connotations with the word 'intern.

    I think the changes that would be part of that action would require putting forth a recommendation for a title to give those people post-graduation and pre-licensure, and I don't think NCARB is yet willing to take that step.

    ellipses in architecture

    That isn't to say they don't have a path forward when they do decide to take that step. However, the final ideal that "architecture graduates should be recognized for their knowledge and abilities" by appropriate titling remains unaddressed. The titles the report recommends are "architecture student," "architect," and "registered architect.

    Rather changes would be required from the NCARB member jurisdictions for "architect" to be used to describe accredited degree graduates as they pursue diverse career paths, and for "registered architect" to be used to describe those who have obtained their license.

    Geometry of Architecture

    I think those titles are appropriate and dignified, and I think they would be able to be largely understood with some effort put forth by the 5 collateral organizations to educate and lead the industry and the public. I'd even been willing to hear proposals for other titles, but I'm skeptical that there are dignified titles that accurately describe the post-graduation, pre-licensure career stage that wouldn't require the same type of effort to change regulation and educate the public.

    My point being, the regulation on the title of architect and its derivatives will need to change anyway as part of the sunset of "intern," so we might as well advocate for something simple and effective. So here we are, over 4 years past the point at which NCARB declared they had tackled the intern title debate.

    I will give NCARB credit where it is due and acknowledge that they have removed most of the terminology from their documents and programs, and they have worked to advance the pursuit of licensure among candidates.To get a better experience with our home designs, please download other browsers for free. Just click on the icon! We use cookies. Information about them and how you can object or terminate their use can be found in our Privacy Policy.

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    How to lay out a perfect ellipse

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    Please check the country code, prefix and phone number. Note: You can revoke your consent by emailing privacy homify. Request review Edit profile.Math [ Privacy Policy ] [ Terms of Use ]. How are ellipses used in real life? In some cases it may be a circle. If you cut a cylinder at an angle, you will get elliptical sections.

    This can have important applications in optics lenses and mirrors can be elliptical in shapeor in the kitchen where one might cut vegetables or sausage along a "bias cut" in order to obtain pieces that have the same thickness, but have more surface area exposed.

    Some tanks are in fact elliptical not circular in cross section. This gives them a high capacity, but with a lower center-of-gravity, so that they are more stable when being transported. And they're shorter, so that they can pass under a low bridge.

    You might see these tanks transporting heating oil or gasoline on the highway The ellipse is found in art and architecture, and you may be familiar with the Ellipse, part of a President's Park South a National Park in Washington, DC, just south of the White House.

    Ellipses or half-ellipses are sometimes used as fins, or airfoils in structures that move through the air. The elliptical shape reduces drag. On a bicycle, you might find a chainwheel the gear that is connected to the pedal cranks that is approximately elliptical in shape. Here the difference between the major and minor axes of the ellipse is used to account for differences in the speed and force applied, because your legs push and pull more effectively when the pedals are arranged so that one pedal is in front and one is in back, than when the pedals are in the "dead zone" when one pedal is up and one pedal is down.

    Search the Dr. Math Library:.Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois June Communication Chair John M. Since ancient times, ovals and ellipses have been used to design floor plans and enclosed spaces. From the amphitheatres of Rome to the European Baroque churches, a wide variety of oval shapes have been constructed throughout the history of Architecture.

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    The close similarity between ellipses and ovals makes it almost impossible to distinguish between them without documentation from the construction techniques.

    Several details have led us to think that ovals were preferred by architects and masons. Modern architecture has experienced a revival of elliptic forms, creating amazing new buildings based on torsion, juxtaposition and rotation of ovals, ellipses and superellipses.

    Definition of Ovals. The word oval comes from the Latin ovumegg. There is no strict mathematical definition for the term oval and many curves are commonly called ovals. All ovals are closed differentiable curves that enclose a convex region. They are smooth looking and have at least one axis of symmetry.

    They are defined as the set of points in the plane whose product of the distances to two fixed points is constant. Remember that the ellipse is defined as the set of points whose sum of the distances to two fixed points is constant, rather than the product. Figure 1 : A chicken egg is an oval with one axis of symmetry left. Here, four simple and reliable techniques for the construction of ovals were introduced.

    Using the triangle, square and circle as basic geometric forms, Serlio described how to produce ovals made up from four circular arcs.

    This treatise has been used extensively by many architects across Europe. Serlio's constructions have been analyzed in terms of the ovals' approximation to an ellipse. We found that Serlio's constructions do reasonably well. Ellipses and Conic Sections. An ellipse is a closed plane curve consisting of all points for which the sum of the distances between a point on the curve and two fixed points foci is the same.

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    It can also be defined as the conic section formed by a plane cutting a cone in a way that produces a closed curve. Circles are special cases of ellipses. The discovery of conic sections is credited to Menaechmus in Ancient Greece around the years B. Conic sections were nearly forgotten for 12 centuries until Johannes Kepler discovered the elliptic nature of planetary motion as one of the major advances in the history of science.

    Figure 3 : Ellipse obtained as the intersection of a cone and a plane left Table of conics, Cyclopaedia, center Use of the string method to trace an ellipse, Bachot, right. Other more complex devices were the Trammel of Archimedes also known as Ellipsograph or the Hypotrochoid curve generator, considering the ellipse as a special case of a Hypotrocoid.

    In Astronomia Nova and the Codex Atlanticus Johannes Kepler and Leonardo da Vinci respectively described how an ellipse inscribed in a circumference divides lines drawn from its major axis to the circle proportionally.

    ellipses in architecture

    Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci from the Codex Atlanticus right.Welcome to Download That! Add Software. Search: Advanced search. Advanced Search Keyword: Author:. Architecture Landscapes vV1. Platforms: Windows. Download: Architecture Landscapes. Be your own architect with Ashampoo 3D CAD Architecture 4 and plan single rooms, apartments or entire houses including gardens, complete with furniture and appliances. Start off in the right direction Ashampoo 3D CAD Architecture 4 comes with a comprehensive 5-step wizard to handle basic settings, quick and easy.

    Gain the right perspective Either select between 2D, 3D and cross-section views or combine them for best viewing results and use freely You get a program, that connects a simple way of drawing, with all advantages of an electronic system.

    Additionally, the program makes a 3D-Visualisation possible, so that you can checkup the model at anytime. Sydney Interior Architecture 2. We aim to use our knowledge and experience to create dynamic and individualised interior spaces through innovation, functionality Download: Sydney Interior Architecture.

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    Abundant network diagram templates, network diagram symbols and network diagram Download: EDraw Network Diagrammer.In mathematicsan ellipse is a plane curve surrounding two focal pointssuch that for all points on the curve, the sum of the two distances to the focal points is a constant.

    As such, it generalizes a circlewhich is the special type of ellipse in which the two focal points are the same. Analyticallythe equation of a standard ellipse centered at the origin with width 2 a and height 2 b is:.

    The standard parametric equation is:. Ellipses are the closed type of conic section : a plane curve tracing the intersection of a cone with a plane see figure.

    Ellipses have many similarities with the other two forms of conic sections, parabolas and hyperbolasboth of which are open and unbounded. An angled cross section of a cylinder is also an ellipse. An ellipse may also be defined in terms of one focal point and a line outside the ellipse called the directrix : for all points on the ellipse, the ratio between the distance to the focus and the distance to the directrix is a constant.

    This constant ratio is the above-mentioned eccentricity:. Ellipses are common in physicsastronomy and engineering. For example, the orbit of each planet in the solar system is approximately an ellipse with the Sun at one focus point more precisely, the focus is the barycenter of the Sun—planet pair. The same is true for moons orbiting planets and all other systems of two astronomical bodies. The shapes of planets and stars are often well described by ellipsoids. A circle viewed from a side angle looks like an ellipse: that is, the ellipse is the image of a circle under parallel or perspective projection.

    The ellipse is also the simplest Lissajous figure formed when the horizontal and vertical motions are sinusoids with the same frequency: a similar effect leads to elliptical polarization of light in optics. An ellipse can be defined geometrically as a set or locus of points in the Euclidean plane:.

    Ovals and Ellipses in Architecture

    The line through the foci is called the major axisand the line perpendicular to it through the center is the minor axis. Using Dandelin spheresone can prove that any plane section of a cone with a plane is an ellipse, assuming the plane does not contain the apex and has slope less than that of the lines on the cone. The standard form of an ellipse in Cartesian coordinates assumes that the origin is the center of the ellipse, the x -axis is the major axis, and:. It follows from the equation that the ellipse is symmetric with respect to the coordinate axes and hence with respect to the origin.

    The length of the chord through one of the foci, perpendicular to the major axis, is called the latus rectum.

    ellipses in architecture

    A calculation shows:. Through any point of an ellipse there is a unique tangent. A vector parametric equation of the tangent is:.

    Conversely, the canonical form parameters can be obtained from the general form coefficients by the equations:. Rational representations of conic sections are commonly used in Computer Aided Design see Bezier curve. With help of trigonometric formulae one obtains:. This description of the tangents of an ellipse is an essential tool for the determination of the orthoptic of an ellipse. The orthoptic article contains another proof, without differential calculus and trigonometric formulae.

    Another definition of an ellipse uses affine transformations :. This is derived as follows. The converse is also true and can be used to define an ellipse in a manner similar to the definition of a parabola :. One may consider the directrix of a circle to be the line at infinity. All of these non-degenerate conics have, in common, the origin as a vertex see diagram. Because the tangent is perpendicular to the normal, the statement is true for the tangent and the supplementary angle of the angle between the lines to the foci see diagramtoo.

    The rays from one focus are reflected by the ellipse to the second focus. This property has optical and acoustic applications similar to the reflective property of a parabola see whispering gallery. An affine transformation preserves parallelism and midpoints of line segments, so this property is true for any ellipse. Note that the parallel chords and the diameter are no longer orthogonal.

    This circle is called orthoptic or director circle of the ellipse not to be confused with the circular directrix defined above.


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