Architecture as a Mathematical Function: Reflections on Gottfried Semper

  • Ute Poerschke
Part of the Nexus Network Journal book series (NNJ, volume 14,1)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Gottfried Semper functionalism nineteenth century algorithms calculus differential equations infinity 

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Copyright information

© Kim Williams Books, Turin 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ute Poerschke
    • 1
  1. 1.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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