Books Menu
Studies in Exploration & Archaeology
by Vincent R. Lee, MFA, Architect
Books Menu

DESIGN BY NUMBERS: Architectural Order Among the Incas

A proposed new theory of the Inca architectural design process suggests that the Khipu (Quipu) was a major tool, used to create the elaborate Inca structures that survive to this day


Design By Numbers: Architectural Order Among the Incas

Design By Numbers

An investigation into the tools and methods available to and used by the Incas to design their architectural works and get them built without recourse to drawings or written numbers and instructions; proposes an entirely new theory of the Inca design process. Included is application of these new ideas to the design of the famous Great Hall at the Bolivian site of Inkallaqta, one of the largest and most elaborate surviving Inca structures in the Andes.

Also published in “Tawantinsuyu: An International Journal of Inka Studies,” Vol. 3, 1997, available through the Dept. of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National university, Canberra, Act 0200, Australia.

DESIGN BY NUMBERS: Architectural Order Among the Incas
$24.00 USD (includes domestic shipping)
75 pages · 57 pages of black & white photos, drawings and diagrams · soft cover

Take a look inside this publication

  • The Great Hall at Inkallaqta, Bolivia

4 sample images from this book


The clear and ever-present order which was the Inca’s hallmark is given physical form in their monuments, and we may now have a better understanding of why and how this was achieved. By their reliance on simple, familiar and easily remembered proportional ratios, Inca architects could mentally visualize their designs and transmit the information necessary for their construction to builders with their numerical rather than pictorial instructions. The tools available for the task were uniquely suited to this “design by numbers” approach — a perfect marriage of means and ends.

“DESIGN BY NUMBERS: Architectural Order Among the Incas” © 1996 Vincent R. Lee, all rights reserved