In history, scientific revolution has been recorded as one of the very important developments in the tradition of the western civilization. Basically, scientific revolution refers to the changes of how people perceived the world and all that is in it. Therefore, a revolution was regarded as an epistemological meaning change, a revolution which changed the man’s thoughts. Intellectual revolution means the scientific revolution which was a revolution in the knowledge of humans. Scientific revolutionaries had an aim to understand humans and nature which Summerson (1980) exploited to reveal the truth. The scientific revolutions which emerged both in the 16th and the 17th centuries can be considered as the main watershed in the world history. The long-term effects, acceptance of technology, and human dependence on it can be felt vividly in the daily lives of people. A scientific revolution is believed to be a revolution which will continue to exist in many centuries to come (Summerson, 1980). Human is curious to explore the unexplored and to make new discoveries. This is a fact which will see man continue to make many discoveries in the field of science and technology thus it is a continuous process. These scientific revolutions have been witnessed in many disciplines such as medicine, architecture, military, transport, agriculture, among other science and technological disciplines. In this context, exploring what impacts these intellectual and technological revolutions had on architecture from 1550 to 1750 is the main interest.
Architecture is both a science and an art. One of the major intellectual revolutions that changed the face of architectural constructions was the invention of mathematics. Architecture and mathematics are closely related. Nowadays, architects will tell that there will be no architecture without the involvement of mathematics (McKellar, 1999; Summerson, 1980). Although mathematics is used almost in all other arts, architects use mathematics more and for several reasons. Mathematics is a wide discipline and the intellectual revolutions which took place in the discipline of mathematics are very indispensable part of the architecture that cannot be ignored (McKellar, 1999). Besides, the mathematics used in the engineering of buildings, architects also use mathematics, especially geometry to give form to their constructions.
The intellectual revolution (invention of mathematics) in the field of architecture has had several positive impacts in the architectural science since the early days when these revolutions were at their peak. Mathematics has been applied from time immemorial in architecture for the following reasons: Pythagoras theorem, for instance, has been used in construction to create harmony in all the dimensions of the architectural work (McKellar, 1999). This helped the architects to achieve mathematical principles needed in construction, aesthetics, and to some extent, the religious requirements of the buildings for instance in the construction of the early catholic churches and mosques. According to Allinson and Thornton (2014), mathematics had also been used categorically for decorating the buildings for example when objects such as tessellations are used to add beauty to the constructed buildings, mathematics was also used and is still being used in architecture today to meet various environmental requirements, for example, reducing the intensity of the wind at the bases of tall buildings.
In different parts of the world, the Islamic World, India, the Ancient Greece, and the Ancient Egypt, buildings particular for worship or for political administrations were constructed with various predetermined proportioned. These buildings included; temples, mosques, palaces, pyramids, and mausoleums among others. In the Islamic World where mosques are the buildings for worship, geometry was highly applied, for instance, in making geometric shapes and patterns which made both the internal and external decorations. On the other hand, the Indian temples were constructed with various parts of the temple resembling the entire building, an indication that the principle of similarity and enlargement was being applied as a way of decorating the buildings. These were also unique decorations which particularly identified the Indian people from other religions which do not construct their temples as the Hindus do.
Renaissance architecture was very common during the 14th all through to the 16th century. In these architectural designs, symmetry is a mathematical principle which was highly emphasized. For example, the architects such as Leon Battista, Andrea Palladio, and Sebastiano Serlio insisted that the houses being constructed had to be symmetrical. These were influenced by the arithmetic of Pythagoras theorem from the Ancient Greece and De Architectura of Vitruvius (Dixon & Muthesius, 1978). During this time, hyperboloid structures also started gaining importance in the construction of houses.
One example of the architects during the period of 1508-1580 was Andrea Palladio; he was an architect of the Republic of Venetia. He wrote a book in 1570 entitled I Quattro Libri dell’ archittetura; translated as Four Books of Architecture (Allinson & Thornton, 2014). During the 16th century, the demand for villas increased and Palladio was forced to specialize in domestic architecture. He had earlier designed very impressive churches: San Giorgio Maggiore in 1565 and I1 Redentero in 1576. His villas were often planned centrally, an imitation of the Roman models of construction. The examples of the villas he engineered were the Villa Rotonda which was considered the aristocratic refuge and Villa Emo which was a working estate (Dixon & Muthesius, 1978). In both the architectural structures, their plans were basically aimed at the ideals of symmetry clarity as well as axiality (Allinson & Thornton, 2014). All these were mathematically designed. However, these Palladian architectures were very simple designs, an element which made them be reproduced very easily in the rural England, and later on, they were introduced in the plantations in the American colonies in the south.
In conclusion, technological revolutions have been very crucial particularly in the field of architecture. Many of the intellectual principles, especially in mathematics have been used widely in the architecture of buildings. Architects throughout the documented history have all agreed that there is no architecture without mathematics. The examples were evident from the 15 to the 16th century when revolution reached the peak. These revolutions had a lot of impact on the architectural and artistic works during the aforementioned era. They helped the architects to design the most desired buildings because mathematics was able to solve all the problems for example of asymmetry and poor patterns of decorations. As a result, they felt more satisfied in doing their work and the demand for these buildings even increased because they were more aesthetical and stronger. Mathematics has been applied from time immemorial in architecture for the following reasons: Pythagoras theorem, for instance, has been used in construction to create harmony in all the dimensions of the architectural work. Mathematics had also been used categorically for decorating the buildings for example when objects such as tessellations are used to add beauty to the constructed buildings, mathematics was also used and is still being used in architecture today to meet various environmental requirements, for example, reducing the intensity of the wind at the bases of tall buildings.
Allinson, K., & Thornton, V. (2014). London’s contemporary architecture- a visitor’s guide, 3rd ed. Oxford, United Kingdom: Architectural Press.
Dixon, R., & Muthesius, S. (1978). Victorian architecture. London: Thames and Hudson.
McKellar, E. (1999). The birth of modern London: The development and design of the city 1660-1720.Manchester, United Kingdom: Manchester University Press.
Summerson, J. (1980). The classical language of architecture. London: Thames and Hudson.