Nexus Network Journal

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 701–714

Developable Surfaces: Their History and Application


DOI: 10.1007/s00004-011-0087-z

Cite this article as:
Lawrence, S. Nexus Netw J (2011) 13: 701. doi:10.1007/s00004-011-0087-z


Developable surfaces form a very small subset of all possible surfaces and were for centuries studied only in passing, but the discovery of differential calculus in the seventeenth century meant that their properties could be studied in greater depth. Here we show that the generating principles of developable surfaces were also at the core of their study by Monge. In a historical context, from the beginning of the study of developable surfaces, to the contributions Monge made to the field, it can be seen that the nature of developable surfaces is closely related to the spatial intuition and treatment of space as defined by Monge through his descriptive geometry, which played a major role in developing an international language of geometrical communication for architecture and engineering. The use of developable surfaces in the architecture of Frank Gehry is mentioned, in particular in relation to his fascination with ‘movement’ and its role in architectural design.


developable surfacesGaspard Mongedescriptive geometryruled surfacesFrank GehryLeonhard Euler
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Copyright information

© Kim Williams Books, Turin 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationBath Spa UniversityBathUnited Kingdom