Architecture, City and Mathematics: The Lost Connection

Document Type: Special Issue: International Conference on Architecture and Mathematics


Department of Architectural Fundamentals, Theory and Arts, Faculty of Architecture, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Vilnius LT-1132, Traku st. 1, Lithuania


The connection between architecture and science and sound based on mathematical relations has continued to develop[ since the rise of the Western classical civilization that originated in Ancient Greece. The mysterious Pythagorean cosmology pursued as secret esoteric knowledge was related to the search of rhythm, proportionality and harmony. Even somewhat earlier, Greek mysteries were based on a concord of music and form. This line of reasoning can be raced as early as when the doctrines of Orphism emerged in early Greece to be followed by the concepts of Pythagoras and his followers and eventually the philosophical school of Neo-Platonists. Early medieval thinkers like St. Aurelius Augustine and Boethius revived and continued this ancient tradition; they sustained and developed further the ideas of dependence between architecture and music (as well as mathematics). Their ideas were further elaborated by later Christian thinkers. Architectural principles practiced by architects belonging to the Western tradition were passed further on. The Pythagorean tradition was still alive during the Renaissance and even baroque. This tradition was gradually marginalized and forgotten with the rise of scientific mentality developed in post-Renaissance era. However, the roots of the application of mathematics and geometry to the design of urban settlements have survived. Such principles can be still observed while studying the early patterns of western as well as non-Western civilizations, and thus one can speak about the universal mathematical geometric character of early urban design.


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