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Two Mathematics Courses For Architecture College Students: From Context Problems To Design Tasks

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Integrating Math, Science, & Engineering

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1352.1 - 11.1352.11



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Paper Authors


Sarah Maor Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

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Dr. Sarah Maor is a Lecturer at the Hadassa-Wizo College of Design, Haifa, Israel

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Igor Verner Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

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Dr. Igor Verner is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Education in Technology and Science,

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Two Mathematics Courses for Architecture College Students: From Context Problems to Design Tasks


This paper considers Mathematical Aspects in Architectural Design course in a college of architecture, which focuses on experiential learning activities in the design studio. The design process is tackled from three geometrical complexity directions: tessellations, curve surfaces, and subdividing space by solids. Mathematical needs in architecture design and relevant learning methods were selected from interviews with practicing architects and educational literature. The course evaluation was based on observations, attitude questionnaires, project portfolios and interviews. Portfolio's assessment criteria focused on the project contents, design solutions and mathematics applications. Results of the course follow-up revealed a variety of mathematically-defined complex geometrical shapes applied in students' design projects. The increased interest, challenge, motivation, self-learning and positive attitude towards application of mathematics in architectural design were demonstrated. The findings lead to the conclusion that continuous mathematics studies in the architecture education are required, in order to assimilate mathematical concepts and turn them into a practical tool in architecture design.


Recent research has emphasized the value of mathematical thinking in architecture, particularly in geometrical analysis, formal description of architectural concepts and symbols, and engineering aspects of design. The studies call for accommodating authentic mathematical learning in architecture education1-6.

The two general approaches to teaching mathematics in context are Realistic Mathematics Education (RME) and Mathematics as a Service Subject (MSS). In RME, the mathematics curriculum integrates various context problems which are experientially real to the student7, while the MSS approach considers mathematics as part of professional education and focuses on mathematical skills needed for professional practice8, p. 8.

Our study utilizes the RME and MSS approaches to developing an applications-motivated mathematics curriculum for colleges of architecture. At the first stage we developed a first year mathematics course, based on the RME approach9. The two-year follow-up indicated the positive effect of integrating applications on motivation, understanding, creativity and interest in mathematics. However, from the analysis of 52 graduation design projects of students who studied the first year RME-based mathematics course, we found that the students did not apply mathematical knowledge acquired in the course in their architectural design projects.

This situation motivated us at the second stage of the study to develop a Mathematical Aspects in Architectural Design (MAAD) course based on the MSS approach. The MAAD course is given in the second college year. It relies on the first year mathematics course and offers mathematical learning as part of hands-on practice in architecture design studio10. The course focuses on the analysis of different types of geometrical forms used in architectural design.

Maor, S., & Verner, I. (2006, June), Two Mathematics Courses For Architecture College Students: From Context Problems To Design Tasks Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--704

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