Read Why Buildings Stand Up: The Strength of Architecture by Mario Salvadori Free Online
Book Title: Why Buildings Stand Up: The Strength of Architecture|
The author of the book: Mario Salvadori
Edition: McGraw-Hill Companies
Date of issue: 1982
ISBN 13: 9780070544826
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 639 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.7
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Without having read much to compare it to, I'd call this a good, comprehensive introduction to the mechanics of architecture. The discussion stays at a generalist's level and covers a lot of ground from the pyramids to the Superdome. And then, in the final chapter, semiotics.
Things I know now that I didn't know before:
1. The construction of the pyramids does not necessarily demonstrate knowledge of π. The book doesn't quite explain what π was theorized to have to do with the pyramids, but through the power of the internet, I can share this with you: twice the length of one side of the great pyramid of Cheops, divided by the height, is approximately π. Isn't that just such a coincidence? They must be telling us something to go to the all the trouble to do that! It turns out there is another less deliberate way to construct a pyramid with dimensions reflective of π. Suppose a barrel has diameter d and you roll this thing x whole revolutions. If you call what you just rolled out a half side of your pyramid, and set the height equal to 4 times d times x, you'll get a scale model of the great pyramid with 52° side angles and everything. No π needed!
2. The pyramids were likely giant public works projects, and not for aliens either. They became popular when Menes, king of upper Egypt, conquered lower Egypt. Menes, it is theorized, decided the best way to unify his new kingdom was to make himself god and establish a draft for the service of himself. His new subjects built pyramids. Keep those young men engaged and not fomenting rebellion!
3. The arches between the legs on the lowest level of the Eiffel Tower are entirely decorative. Eiffel put those in to remind the Parisians of their bridges and thereby make his fantastic structure a bit more familiar and less visually offensive. It sorta worked.
Other highlights are his thorough description of Saint Pierre at Beauvais and Hagia Sofia. Those are on my to visit list.
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