Fractals as a Fragment of Traditional Architecture: 10 Examples to take you through the Concept

Explore the curious amalgamation of traditional architecture and fractals through these meticulous examples.

Fri Jul 28, 2023

Nature has its ways of surprising us. One spectacular example of such surprising ways is Fractals. Fractals are self-similar patterns or elements found in nature that repeat themselves in accordance with the scale. They reflect themselves in nature through irregular, organic, and natural shapes. 

Even in the realm of design and architecture, fractals have played an integral role since ancient times. Such patterns help in channelling the beauty of complexity and the finesse of dynamism. 

Here are a few building examples that resonate with the combination of fractals and traditional or ancient architecture.

10 Examples of Traditional Buildings that have used Fractals

1. Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, India

Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, India

Source: Navrang India

Fractals are a prominent part of Hindu temples and are represented through the complex entities that are used for putting them together. The popular Kandariya Mahadeva Temple entails the concept of fractals in its shikhara. The majestic tower resembles a mountain peak, which in turn depicts its contours through height variations.

2. Borobudur, Indonesia

Borobudur, Indonesia

Source: Viator

Structured in the form of a lotus, Borobudur is a Buddhist stupa nestled in Indonesia that is based around the facet of fractal behaviourThe lotus is brought to life using a stepped pyramid encompassing six rectangular stories along with three circular terraces and a central stupa-like structure. When seen from the top view, the structure resembles a gigantic mandala, the largest one in the world.

3. Cathedral of Anagni, Italy

Cathedral of Anagni, Italy

Source: LuxuryRome

Fractals have been believed to be the flag bearers of power and balance. They have been inculcated in the plans and elevations of structures to infuse a sense of strength. 

The Cathedral of Anagni in Italy is one such example that uses this property of fractals to incorporate the aspects of strength and power. Dozens of mosaics adorn the floors of the cathedral built in the year 1104. This has been put together in the form of a Sierpinski gasket fractal.

4. The Duomo, Italy

The Duomo_Italy


Gothic Architecture encompasses fractals as a prominent element within every building that follows this concept. The biggest and largest Late Gothic Architecture nestled in Italy, the Duomo has a facade that is uniquely composed of several fractal patterns. The cathedral’s structure is curated out of white marble and positioned over a brick core. It entails a capacity of 40,000 worshippers.

5. Santa Croce, Italy

Santa Croce_Italy


One of the finest examples of Italian Gothic Architecture, Santa Croce in Italy is the church of the Franciscans in Florence. The structure was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and came to completion in 1442. Santa Croce encompasses a simple basilica along with a nave and two aisles. Its facade is composed of triangular elements that can be dissected to understand the role of fractals in its articulation.

6. Madurai Temple, India

Madurai Temple_India


Another example of a Hindu temple marvel that inculcates Fractals as an integral element is the popular Madurai Temple. Located in the ancient temple city of India, Madurai, the temple reflects the finesse and intrigue of Indian architecture of the bygone era and its intricacy. 

The temple features complex yet finely carved sculptures of deities, animals, mythical beings, and a lot more in the form of figures that adorn the structure. These elements that depict sacred geometry can be understood as great examples of Fractals.

7. Virupaksha Temple, India

Virupaksha Temple_India

Source: Hampi

Temples are considered to be a fractal part of the whole world of Hinduism. Additionally, fractal geometries play an essential role in depicting a special symbolic meaning in the form of Hindu philosophy. 

The Virupaksha Temple came into being as a manifestation of the cosmic model. This cosmic model is the basis on which the Hindu philosophy is created and is reflected through the myriad elements of the temple.

8. Jagdambi Temple, India

Jagdambi Temple_India

Source: Kevin Standage

One of the finely decorated temples within the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, an amalgamation of Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh, the Jagdambi Temple is also a striking representation of fractals in architecture. 

The temple features self-similar patterns around the central compound or the garbhagriha. Moreover, the symmetrical and structural design pattern is also derived from sources including central beliefs, myths, and mathematical principles.

9. Sun Temple, India

Sun Temple_India

Source: Gujarat Tourism

Situated in Modhera, the Sun Temple encompasses the dynamism and divinity of fractal geometry in its architecture. This profound form is channelised as a language that translates into beauty and complexity through the medium of self-repeating patterns. In temple architecture, the concept of fractals also reflects the interplay of the universe and its divine energy, through its various buildings.

10. The Sacred Stupa Pha That Luang, Vientiane

The Sacred Stupa Pha That Luang_Vientiane


The Sacred Stupa Pha That Luang located in Vientiane is yet another exemplary example of fractal geometry in architecture. Throughout the realm of the structural units, the basic shape is repeated in multiple scales. The Stupa is representative of Buddhist culture and is put together in the form of a pyramid-like shape. Besides, the base is surrounded by 30 smaller stupas.

Fractals: A Fragment of Nature in Architecture

Fractals, as we know it now, have been an integral part of architecture since the bygone era. Their principles have defined architectural elements and the way of designing even in various traditional styles. 

Getting acquainted with the multiple aspects of Fractals can help you understand the designing process better and adopt the related ideologies within your design curation. Futurly offers courses, workshops, and masterclasses that can help you delve better into the basics.

FAQs: Fractals in Architecture

1. What are Fractals? 

Fractals are self-similar patterns or elements found in nature that repeat themselves in accordance with the scale. 

2. What are the different types of Fractals? 

Following are the different types of Fractals:

- Infinite intricacies

- Zoom Symmetry

- Complexity from Simplicity

- Fractional Dimensions 

3. How does Kandariya Mahadeva Temple entail fractal elements? 

The popular Kandariya Mahadeva Temple entails the concept of fractals in its shikhara. The majestic tower resembles a mountain peak, which in turn depicts its contours through height variations. 

4. What are some examples of traditional buildings that use fractals? 

Following are some examples of traditional buildings that use fractals:

- Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, India

- Madurai Temple, India

- Virupaksha Temple, India

- Sun Temple, India

- Jagdambi Temple, India 

5. How do fractals exist in nature? 

In nature, fractals exist in the form of leaves, flowers, snowflakes, mountains, clouds, crystals, trees, river deltas, and more.

Architectural Journalist

Saili Sawantt
An Architect + Writer, Saili has worked as an Architectural writer & brand storyteller where she has collaborated with firms, studios, organizations, luxury brands, events & educational institutions to communicate in the real estate & travel industry. Her recent initiatives include curating an online workshop on communication and networking within the AEC industry. She is a commentator on the design industry’s upkeep through her social handles while also being an avid reader and traveler.