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IASS-SLTE Symposium 2014: Shells, Membranes and Spatial Structures: Footprints


IASS Symposium 2014

SESSION: Historical Spatial Structures

19th Century string models for descriptive geometry: possible inspirations for structural forms

< Table of Contents for Historical Spatial Structures
  • Proceedings Name: IASS-SLTE Symposium 2014: Shells, Membranes and Spatial Structures: Footprints
  • ISSN: (Electronic Version) 2518-6582
  • Session: Historical Spatial Structures
  • Title: 19th Century string models for descriptive geometry: possible inspirations for structural forms
  • Author(s): John F. ABEL, Francis C. MOON
  • Keywords: string models, ruled surfaces, surface structures, structural forms
Abstract
String models illustrating concepts of descriptive geometry were employed in the 19th and early 20th centuries as teaching and visualization aids for engineering, architecture and mathematics. The carefully crafted “Olivier models” are composed of finished wooden bases, brass armatures and colored threads and have an inherent beauty. They illustrate a variety of ruled surfaces – cylinders, hyperboloids, cones, conoids, planes and hyperbolic paraboloids (hypars) – and their intersections. The models not only served to enhance mathematical and drawing skills but also inspired designers and artists. Such inspiration is evident for both the design of mechanisms for machines and for the creation of 20th century sculpture. The authors speculate that string models may also have influenced the introduction of ruled surfaces such as hyperboloids and hypars for longspan spatial structures. Although further research is required to establish this connection, this paper illustrates some possibilities.

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