How Do Architects Use Trigonometry?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 30, 2020 1:30:12 PM ET
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Architects use trigonometry to calculate roof slopes, light angles, ground surfaces, structural loads and heights of structures, according to Edurite. Architects are responsible for translating designer's plans into scale-model mathematical representations that contractors use to construct a building physically. Architects draw angles, determine heights and calculate measurements using trigonometric functions.


A simple example of trigonometry used in architecture is to find the height of a building standing a certain distance from the building. Architects know the distance to the building and the angle at which they stand in relation to the top of the structure. Using angle calculations for sines and cosines, the height of the building can be measured.

Architects during the Renaissance measured the width of facades using special tools and angle calculations. Dartmouth reveals illustrations of trigonometric measurements were commonplace in the mid-1500s. Raphael used a tool called a bussola, a compass that measured angles to determine distance. The bussola was a forerunner to the modern theodolite. Contemporary architects study classical buildings that still stand to ascertain how masters constructed their buildings.

Architects use trigonometry as well as calculus to create structurally sound buildings. Calculus functions evaluate the physical forces a building must tolerate during and after its construction.