Symmetry, Escher and Architecture Exploration

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Look at symmetry in decorations and architectural designs. Learn to recognize rotations and reflections in these settings.

Facade of the Vrijzinnig Christelijk Lyceum, The Hague (1959)

Facade of the Lyceum in The Hague

1. Does this pattern show any reflectional symmetry? YES NO

2. Does this pattern show any rotational symmetry? YES NO

3. What rozette symmetry group does this pattern have?

Pillars in the Johanna Westerman School, The Hague (1959)

Three pillars in the Johanna Westerman School

Escher designed three pillars for the central auditorium of the Johanna Westerman School in 1959.

The tiles were made by "De Porceleyne Fles", a tile and ceramics company from Delft. The three designs were carefully chosen by Escher to be educational.

The front column has a design consisting of lizards, which is based on regular division print 104.

The second column (whose close-up is in the middle) is based on regular division print 74.

The last column is based on print 96. [1]

The pillars in more detail
Escher Den Haag 062.jpg Escher Den Haag 065.jpg Escher Den Haag 067.jpg

4. What type of symmetries does the front column have?

5. What type of symmetries does the middle column have?

6. What type of symmetries does the last column have?

Pillars in the Nieuw Lyceum in Baarn (1968)

The two pillars in Baarn

Escher was well-known and had close ties to this school in Baarn. His three sons George, Arthur and Jan went to school here and he frequently gave guest lectures in art and serve as a jury member in competitions.

In 1967 Escher received the drawing plans for the new building that was to house the school. Escher had already collaborated with architect Bleeker on the design of three pillars in a school in The Hague. Two more pillars were designed for the new school in Baarn. The designs are different from the ones used in The Hague.

Escher Baarns Lyceum 015.jpgEscher Baarns Lyceum 031.jpg

Both pillars are built from fortified concrete and are 270 cm high and 50 cm in diameter (without the tiles). The tiles are about 6 cm thick (more than 2 inches) and in its complete form the pillars have a diameter of about 80 cm. In his notes Escher refers to the pillars as pillar A (birds and fish design) and pillar B (flower design).

Both designs require two different tiles. [2]

7. What symmetries do you see in the pillar decorated with flowers?

8. What symmetries do you see in the pillar decorated with the birds and the fish?

9. Both pillars require 2 different tiles. Describe the two different tiles used.

  1. D. Schattschneider, Visions of Symmetry, pg 244.
  2. AMPP Janssen Kunst in en om de School in J. Hendricks e.a., Serviam 1930-1998, Gedenkboek