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Lucas Oliveira

Modelling a Functional Building

Math Internal Assessment Type 2

As an architect, the task that has been assigned is to design a building with a
somewhat elliptical roof structure in which office blocks that should follow certain
specifications- are to be built inside.

Before going on to elaborate a design for this structure, there are some
previously determined measurements that should be mentioned. To begin with, the
whole building has a rectangular base 150 m long and 72 m wide. In addition, the roofs
height should follow the interval:

36 m g 54 m (where g is the buildings height)

Each room in the office structure has to have at least 2.5 m in height.

The roof would have somewhat of a parabolic shape, making it possible to

generate a model that describes its physical form. When the height of the structure is 36
m, and its width is 72 m, we can set the curve on a pair of axis to determine its
intercepts and its opening width. Let us position the ellipse in a way that it is
symmetrical in relation to the y-axis (more for convenience purposes). The standard
equation for a quadratic function is given by:

y = ax2 + bx + c

However, given that the ellipse is symmetrical to the y-axis, its axis of symmetry
is equal to zero. So,



Since b = 0, the model is no longer described by y = ax2 + bx + c, but by

y=ax2+c. The roofs height in this situation is said to be 36 m high, hence the shapes
maximum point has to have 36 as its y coordinate since it rests at the peak of the ellipse.
The maximum points x coordinate is given by the axis of symmetry, which as
previously found is equal to zero. Hence, the maximum point is (0, 36) and so the c= 36
in the model.
(0, 36)
Lucas Oliveira

In this coordinate system, the x-axis represents ground level (where y = 0), since
possible underground structures belonging to the roof are not to be considered. Also, the
width of the roof is 72 m, but since the shape is symmetrical to the y-axis, half of the
shape is to the y-axiss left and the other half to its right. Therefore, the y-axis cuts the
width in half, which means that the shapes roots are given by (-36,0) and (36,0). So, in
order to find the constant a, let us plug in one of the two points found in the equation y
= ax2 + 36:

0 = a (36)2 + 36

-36 = 1296a
Hence, the model for the roof structure can be given by:
1 2
y= x + 36

The graph below represents the model found. It also represents a two
dimensional view of the roof structure. The red parabola would be the roof itself while
the area limited by the x-axis and the parabola is the area inside the building. The graph
for this model is the following:
Lucas Oliveira

Now, the roof alone does not make up for the whole building. There are other
key components to it, like a possible cuboid that would hold several offices. In order to
get the most out of the roof structure with the height of 36 m, finding the maximum
volume of the cuboid that fits in this structure is required. Let us illustrate this:

x x

Looking at the building in a two dimensional way, the cuboid would fit in the
roof structure in a way similar to the one represented above. The variables x and y can
assume any value, but since this situation requires the volume to be at its maximum, we
have to determine what values of x and y will allow the area of the rectangle above to
occupy the maximum space underneath the parabola. So to start with, it is necessary to
relate both x and y in a single expression. The area of a rectangle is given by the product
of its length and width. Ergo,

(x+x)(y)= A (where A is the cuboids area)

2xy = A
1 2
2x ( x + 36) = A

1 3
x + 72 x = A

Since we want to find the maximum volume of the cuboid, it is necessary to

optimize the situation by finding the derivative of the function given and equating it to
zero. When a derivative is equated to zero, the x values give the functions maximum
and minimum point.
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1 2
A= x +72
1 2
0= x +72
x2 = 432
x = 12 3 (12 3 20.7846)

These two values for x give the maximum size of the cuboid that fits inside the
roof structure. The width goes from the point -12 3 to the point +12 3 , so its total
size is 24 3 (approximately 41.5692). To find the height of cuboid, the y value, simply
plug-in one of these two points found on the model previously developed:
y= (432) + 36
y = -12 + 36
y = 24
The length of the cuboid is the same as the length of the building itself (150 m).
So, to find the maximum volume of the cuboid that fits inside the roof structure:
Length: 150m , width: 24 3 m, height: 24m
V = 24 x 24 3 x 150
V 149649.12 m3
Now, the roof structure could have any height value between 36 m g 54 m,
suggesting that there might be a change in the cuboids dimensions.
The model for the roof structure is given by a broader function:
y = ax2 + g (where g is the roofs height and a is the roofs opening)
In a sense, by transcribing the function in this manner, one can have more
freedom to decide what values of g one wishes to use. But as there are two unknown
variables (a and g) that are dependent on one another. Hence, there is a way to rewrite a
in terms of g. Plugging in an unchangeable point (-36, 0):
0 = a(-36)2 + g
-1296a = g
Hence, the broader function could be rewritten as:
g 2
y= x +g
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As previously discovered, to find the cuboids maximum volume, let us connect

these equations into one single volume expression. As mentioned earlier, the cuboids
width is given by (x + x), 150 m is the length of the cuboid and the building itself, and
the height is given by a y value that can be substituted by the equation found above.
g 2
V = 2x (150) ( x + g)
g 2
V = 300x ( x + g)
25g 3
V = 300gx - x
To find the maximum volume, it is necessary to optimize the equation above by
finding its derivative and setting it to be equal to zero:
25g 2
V= 300g x
25g 2
0 = 300g x
25g 2
x = 300g
x2 = 432
x = 12 3

Once again, the values found for x are the same, meaning that the width of the
largest possible cuboid, regardless of the structures height, will always be 24 3 m.
However, the cuboids height can vary for different values of the roofs height.
Using the formula function in Microsoft Excel 2007, it is possible to find the
values of the cuboids height for different roof heights.
*All of the values below are in meters.
*periods are represented by commas Roof's Cuboid's
Height Height
36 24,0000
38 25,3333
40 26,6667
42 28,0000
44 29,3333
46 30,6667
48 32,0000
50 33,3333
52 34,6667
54 36,0000

*where the width (24 3 m ) and the length (150 m) are the same for all of the
different heights
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Both the cuboids length and width are kept constant while the cuboids height
g 2
changes as the roofs height changes. The equation y= x +g shows the
relationship between three variables (y: the cuboids height, g: the roofs height, and x:
the cuboids width). Since it has been found out that x is constant for any value of g or
y, it is plausible to say that y is directly proportional to g. So, in order to find y in terms
of g, let us simply substitute the unchangeable value for x, and simplify the expression:
y= (-12 3 )2 + g
y= +g
Although the cuboid is occupying a large amount of space inside the whole
building, there are still areas that are left empty. Therefore, it is possible to calculate the
ratio of the empty space and the space occupied by the cuboid. To find the volume of
the whole building (Vb), it is necessary to use calculus integrals:
36 g 2
(150) (
x + g)dx

36 25g 2
x ) dx

25g 3 36
Vb = [150gx x ] 36
25g 25g
Vb = [150g(36) (36)3]-[150g(-36)- (-36)3]
648 648
Vb = 7200g

So, the total volume of the building is given by 7200g and the volume of the cuboid (Vc)
is given by the product of its length, width, and height. Therefore, the volume of the
empty (Ve) space is given by:
Ve = Vb - Vc
Ve = 7200g (150 *24 3 * )
Ve = 3043.0781g

Once again, using the formula tool in Microsoft Excel 2007, a ratio can be
determined for each different structure height value:
*All of the values below are in meters.
*periods are represented by commas
Lucas Oliveira

Roof's Volume of the Volume of Empty Ratio

Height Cuboid Space (Ve : Vc)
36 149649,12 109550,88 0,732052
38 157962,96 115637,04 0,732052
40 166276,80 121723,20 0,732052
42 174590,64 127809,36 0,732052
44 182904,48 133895,52 0,732052
46 191218,32 139981,68 0,732052
48 199532,16 146067,84 0,732052
50 207846,00 152154,00 0,732052
52 216159,84 158240,16 0,732052
54 224473,68 164326,32 0,732052

As the table shows, the ratio between the empty space and the volume occupied
by the cuboid does not change. This means that for any value of the buildings height
within its given limitations, the ratio between the empty space and the volume of the
largest cuboid will always remain the same. So, increasing the roofs height will
increase the volume of the largest cuboid, but it will also increase the volume of empty
space proportionally.
The cuboid is the block where offices are going to be set in. Each floor cannot be
less than 2.5 m tall, which means that the number of office floors is dependent on the
cuboids height. Let us illustrate the situation for a better understanding:

*where red is the whole building, black is the cuboid, and green is the office
As the illustration above shows, a different number of floors will fit inside the cuboid
with different heights. Not only that but each of these floors will have exactly the same
ground area and be at least 2.5 m tall. The buildings height is limited to the interval
36m g 54 m, and it was previously found that the buildings height is directionally
Lucas Oliveira

proportional to the cuboids height by the equation: y = .So, by rearranging the
equation, g = . Plugging in this value in the roofs height inequality:
36 54
2 2
36*( ) y54*( )
3 3
The new interval for y values found above reveals the minimum and maximum
height for the office block.
Now, since each floor has to be at least 2.5 m tall, to find the number of floors a
certain cuboid may have simply requires us to divide the height of the office block by
2.5. Let us calculate the number of floors for each y value:
*periods are represented by commas

Height of cuboid Number of

(m) floors
24 9,6
25 10
26 10,4
27 10,8
28 11,2
29 11,6
30 12
31 12,4
32 12,8
33 13,2
34 13,6
35 14
36 14,4

However, since it is impossible to have 13.6 floors, for example, number of

floors with decimals in them should be rounded to the smallest integer. By doing this, a
more synthesized table can be created, where the height of the cuboid is represented in
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Height of Cuboid
(m) Number of floors
24z<25 9
25z27,5 10
27,5z<30 11
30z<32,5 12
32,5z<35 13
35z<36 14

*where z is the height of the cuboid

Now, the area of the base of the cuboid will always have a constant value, for the
area of the base can be found by the product of its width and length. As previously
found, the width of any cuboid within certain specifications is 24 3 m, and its length
will be the same as the buildings length: 150m. Therefore, the area of the base is found
Area of base = 150 * 24 3

Area of base = 3600 3 m2

So, for the number of floors in the office block, the amount of floor area
increases accordingly. The only thing it takes is to multiply the area of the base by the
number of floors. Therefore, let us calculate the total office floor area for cuboids with
different floor numbers:

Number of Total Office

Floors Floor Area (m2)
9 56118,45
10 62353,83
11 68589,21
12 74824,59
13 81059,98
14 87295,36

Joining both tables 5 and 6 in a single table shows how the height of the building
changes the total office floor area.
Number of
floors Height of Cuboid Total Office Floor Area
9 24z<25 56118,45
10 25z27,5 62353,83
11 27,5z<30 68589,21
12 30z<32,5 74824,59
13 32,5z<35 81059,98
14 35z<36 87295,36
Lucas Oliveira

So, as the table above demonstrates, when the cuboid is at its maximum height,
there are more floors that can be built, which means more total floor area. In a way, this
is fairly simplistic.
In all of the calculations and examples so far, it has been considered that the
buildings faade was located at the bases smallest side. However, if the faade is said
to be put on the longest side of the base, some of the structural values could be altered.
Let us illustrate the situation:

Let us set a more general equation to begin with.

In this situation, the full width of the roof structure is 150 m, which implies that
its roots are (-75, 0) and (75, 0). Therefore, by plugging in one of these values in the
equation above, a can be found in terms of g. Since the height of the building is
unknown at this stage, the model (to avoid confusion let us call it model2) will be kept
in terms of the variable g.
0 = a(-75)2 + g
g 2
y= x +g
As previously done, in order to find the cuboid with maximum volume that
would fit in the structure, it is necessary to optimize the expression that will be formed
using the model2:
g 2
Area of the curve y: (2x)( x +g)
A = 2xg - x3
Finding the derivative and equating it to zero:
A = 2g - x2
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2g - x2 = 0
x2 = 1875
x= 1875 43.301
Therefore the width of the largest possible cuboid is 2 1875 m. The length of
the building is also known (72 m). Inserting one of the x values found in the model2:
y= (1875) +g
1875 g
y= g
Lucas Oliveira