One of the first things a child learns is how to count. All fun and games soon become a nightmare, followed by addition and subtraction as the alphabet is incorporated. The mind-boggling calculations, screaming in frustration while staring at dreadful problems, and the need to learn trigonometry, calculus, and algebra–mathematics leaves a lasting impression on one’s psyche. 

Do You Need to Be Good at Maths to Study Architecture? - Sheet1
Mathematics_©(no date) Asian Research Journal of Mathematics_

Math is present in all aspects of life, from buying chocolates as a child to managing finances as an adult. It serves as a foundation for everything we learn. Buildings, transportation, medicine, clothing, art, finance, and sports are based on measurements, calculations, predictability, and numbers. Despite being incredibly helpful, math is generally despised by students. Why is this the case, though? In the long run, math is often publicised as tedious, dull, and boring. Contrarily, some people believe that math is highly interactive, enjoyable and technically proficient. Although debatable yet challenging, imagining life without it today seems unthinkable. Math has not only helped in personal development like problem-solving, analytical thinking, cognitive tasks, and basic mental growth, but it has also benefited technological advancements, scientific research, medicinal attributes, and as well as to study architecture and design. 

Math and Architecture- The Stereotype | Study Architecture

Do You Need to Be Good at Maths to Study Architecture? - Sheet2
Math in architecture_©Allen, D. (2020) Man vs. machine: Architectural drawing in a digital era, ArchiExpo e-Magazine_

The face of architecture would be very different if math did not exist. Astonishing structures can be made possible with the help of math. Whether the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry or the celebrated Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid, these structures would only be imaginable with math. With math, bridges would collapse, buildings would be strong and stable, and skyscrapers and parametric designs would be nonexistent. As a result, given the importance of math, a critical question arises: Can one be a great architect without math?

Although math is an essential aspect to study architecture, one need not be a math genius to be an architect. It is primarily one of the stereotypes widely heard in the architectural field that one must be a math expert to be an architect. However, while architects utilise math daily, it is different from what most people believe. Architecture is an art or a blend of art and engineering. While basic principles of math are incredibly important to pursue architecture, highly complex trigonometry, calculus, or algebra calculations are rarely ever worked upon by architects. In the professional world, architects are mostly required to work in a team. A team consisting of specialists – specialists in the field of architecture, engineering, and management. Eventually, structural engineers must do some serious number crunching to help make a structure stable and structurally sound. 

Architecture is, without a doubt, a technical domain. Calculating the number of steps, treads and risers, heights and levels, area of spaces, parking, F.A.R., and other technical requirements involves fundamental math and mental math skills. Although the project manager, civil engineer, and service consultants are largely responsible for cost estimation, having a rudimentary understanding of bills of quantities can help an architect design within the ballpark of a client’s budget. While math is not necessary for architecture, being good at math is certainly an advantage and can boost work rate and quality.

Technology versus Mathematics

Do You Need to Be Good at Maths to Study Architecture? - Sheet3
CAD and math_©Ibarra, R. (2023) Computer-Aided Design (CAD), architecture, Washington Technology Student Association. Washington Technology Student Association_

In these technological times, architecture has grown like wildfire. The face of architecture has positively evolved over the years. Math has played a significant role in making “kutcha” houses to design free-flowing organic forms. Technological advancement has altered how architecture is practised and perceived today. The majority of architectural work is done using computer-aided softwares and drawings. The use of excellent softwares not only simplifies and increases workability but also minimises the need for math on a professional level. BIM-enforced industry leaving hand drafting and tedious work behind is a great architectural step. However, translating early designs and ideas to a digital version necessitates understanding spaces, anthropometry, ratios and proportions, and math to combine them all. This can be made easier if one has a certain degree of understanding of math. Practical experiences and readily working for five years in architecture school help obtain a fundamental mathematical understanding and help blend it with real-life practices. 

Architecture is not a one-time but rather a lifelong endeavour. It is a process of designing, experimenting, learning, and evolving. Math is a constant in architecture today, yet being smart or bad at math does not determine one’s design or architectural abilities. In reality, it allows you to grow more, which is what architecture school is all about. 


Shrini Shrivastava is a passionate and enthusiastic architecture student, looking for new prospects to explore. She aims to demonstrate the influence journalism has in the field of architecture and believes that a variety of elements- from human psychology to individual upbringing, can make-or-break architecture.