What is the reason for constructing the Eiffel Tower with triangles?

Tourist Attractions

By Kristy Tolley

The Eiffel Tower and its construction

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, standing tall at 324 meters (1,063 feet) in the heart of Paris, France. Built between 1887 and 1889, the tower was commissioned as the centerpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair, and it quickly became a symbol of French engineering and innovation. The tower was designed by the French engineer Gustave Eiffel, and its unique triangular shape has become one of its defining features.

The choice of shape: the importance of triangles

The choice of a triangular shape for the Eiffel Tower was not arbitrary. In fact, triangles are one of the strongest and most stable shapes in architecture and engineering, and they were a natural choice for a structure of this height and complexity. Triangles are able to distribute weight and stress evenly, which is essential for a tall structure like the Eiffel Tower that needs to withstand the forces of wind and gravity. Additionally, triangles are inherently rigid, which provides extra strength and stability to the tower’s frame. The triangular shape also allowed for a more efficient use of materials, reducing the amount of steel needed to construct the tower and making it lighter and easier to assemble.

Triangles and stability: the science behind the tower

The science behind the Eiffel Tower’s stability is based on a principle called triangulation, which refers to the use of triangles to create a strong and stable structure. By incorporating triangles into the tower’s design, Gustave Eiffel was able to distribute the weight and stress of the structure evenly and prevent it from collapsing under its own weight. The tower’s base is formed by four massive legs, each of which is made up of four individual beams that are triangulated for maximum strength and stability. The tower’s upper portion is also constructed using triangulated principles, with a lattice of diagonal beams that criss-cross to create a rigid and stable frame.

Gustave Eiffel: an engineer’s vision

Gustave Eiffel was a French engineer and entrepreneur who had already established a reputation for himself as a master of iron and steel construction when he was commissioned to design the Eiffel Tower. Eiffel was known for his innovative and daring designs, and he was not afraid to take risks in the pursuit of his engineering goals. His vision for the Eiffel Tower was to create a structure that was not only beautiful and iconic, but also practical and functional. Eiffel believed that the tower should be a symbol of modern engineering and scientific progress, and he was determined to build something that would stand the test of time.

The history of the Eiffel Tower’s construction

The construction of the Eiffel Tower began in 1887 and was completed just two years later, in time for the 1889 World’s Fair. The construction process was not without its challenges, however, and Eiffel and his team had to overcome a number of obstacles along the way. The tower was built using over 18,000 individual iron pieces, which were prefabricated off-site and then transported to the construction site for assembly. The tower was also built using a complex system of cranes and pulleys, which allowed workers to lift the heavy steel beams into place.

The first stage: laying the foundations

The construction of the Eiffel Tower began with the laying of its foundations, which had to be strong enough to support the weight of the tower and prevent it from sinking into the soft Parisian soil. Eiffel’s team dug four massive pits, each measuring over 25 meters (82 feet) deep, and then filled them with concrete to create a stable base for the tower.

The second stage: assembling the framework

Once the foundations were in place, Eiffel’s team began the process of assembling the tower’s framework. This involved erecting four massive steel legs that would form the tower’s base, and then connecting them at the top with a lattice of diagonal beams. Workers then began to add additional levels to the tower, using cranes and pulleys to lift the steel beams into place.

The third stage: covering the tower

The final stage of the construction process involved covering the tower with its distinctive exterior, which was made up of over 2 million rivets and 7,300 tonnes of iron. The exterior was designed to be both decorative and functional, providing additional strength and stability to the tower. Workers spent months carefully fitting the iron plates and rivets into place, creating the iconic pattern that is now synonymous with the Eiffel Tower.

Triangles in art and architecture: a brief history

The use of triangles in art and architecture dates back to ancient times, and can be seen in everything from the pyramids of Egypt to the Gothic cathedrals of Europe. Triangles have long been recognized as a symbol of stability and strength, and their use in architecture has been driven by a desire to create structures that are both beautiful and functional. In the modern era, triangles continue to be a popular design element in architecture, and can be seen in everything from skyscrapers to bridges.

The legacy of the Eiffel Tower’s triangular design

The Eiffel Tower’s triangular design has had a lasting impact on the world of architecture and engineering, and has served as an inspiration to countless designers and builders over the years. The tower’s use of triangulated principles has become a hallmark of modern engineering, and its iconic silhouette has become a symbol of Paris and the spirit of innovation. Today, the Eiffel Tower continues to draw millions of visitors each year, and remains one of the most recognizable and beloved landmarks in the world.

Conclusion: The enduring influence of the Eiffel Tower

In conclusion, the Eiffel Tower’s triangular design was not just a stylistic choice, but a practical one that was based on the principles of science and engineering. Gustave Eiffel’s vision for the tower was to create a structure that was both beautiful and functional, and he achieved this through his innovative use of triangulated principles. The tower’s enduring legacy is a testament to the power of great design and the spirit of human ingenuity.

References: Further reading on the Eiffel Tower and its construction

  • "Eiffel’s Tower: The Thrilling Story Behind Paris’s Beloved Monument and the Extraordinary World’s Fair That Introduced It" by Jill Jonnes
  • "The Eiffel Tower: The History and Legacy of France’s Most Famous Landmark" by Charles River Editors
  • "The Eiffel Tower" by Gustave Eiffel (translated by Richard Allen)
  • "The Science of the Eiffel Tower" by Victoria Finlay
  • "Gustave Eiffel and the Eiffel Tower" by John Shannon Hendrix
Photo of author

Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

Leave a Comment