Fundamental of Design in Architecture -3

The main objective of using the principles of design, which is the second factor of ‘Aesthetic’, is to govern the relationship between the elements of design in one building or project.

A building is not only a structure composed of repeated elements such as lines, shapes, and texture, but also exhibits a thoughtful use of these elements according to the employment of the principles of design. However, the main objective of using the principles of design, which is the second factor of ‘Aesthetic’, is to govern the relationship between these elements in one building or project. By using the principles of design, the architect will be able to create a meaningful building with a unique architectural composition. These principles of design include: Pattern / Rhythm, Balance (Symmetry / Asymmetry), Contrast, Scale / Proportion, Theme / Variation, Unity in Variety, harmony, and Emphasis / Dominance.

1. Pattern and Rhythm

In architecture, pattern is the repetition of all or some of the elements of design, such as lines, shapes, and forms. Patterns can be formed of regular or irregular shapes and it helps the architect to create visual interest to the viewers and passers-by. In a building or a project, rhythm can be defined as the regular repetition of patterns, which create an architectural composition and add movement and excitement to the physical appearance of a building.

 Regular pattern (columns): rhythm can be sensed in the repetition of column.

Regular pattern: rhythm can be seen in the repetition of windows.

 Irregular pattern: rhythm can be seen in the repetition of matchboxes.

2. Balance (symmetry / asymmetry):

Balance is an important tool, which create visual weight as well as a feeling of stability to the building. In architecture, balance can be recognized, if the shapes on one side of an imaginary centerline drawn through the façade appear to have the same weight as those shapes on the other side. Balance could be symmetrical or asymmetrical as long as the building expresses and maintains a sense of equilibrium.

Symmetrical balance / Asymmetrical balance

3. Contrast:

Contrast is another important element, which create a visual variety, excitement and interest to the building and can be achieved in one building or a group of buildings on the scale of streetscape. Contrast can be recognized in a building, when two adjacent parts are very different from one another, different materials, colors and textures. Light, shade and shadow of masses also create contrast. Even on the scale of streetscape, adjacent old and modern buildings create and interesting contrast.

Contrast between buildings by the use different forms and the old and the new

4. Proportion / Scale

Proportion can be defined as the relationship between two things of different size. In architecture, proportion is usually used to describe the relationship between the size of spaces and masses and the size of the human body. However, this kind of proportion is called scale. In this case, scale is a very important tool which greatly affects the way a human being perceives a space. Sometimes a building is intentionally designed out of proportion to the human scale in order to emphasize things or an architectural idea. For example, a very high minaret in a mosque or a tower of a cathedral makes people feel quite insignificant in comparison to the remarkable power of God. Architects also deliberately design spaces with different scales in order to create a dynamic movement through these spaces.

Human-scale architecture Inhuman-scale architecture

5. Theme and Variation:

Another essential element of design is the theme / variation. It can be defined as a dominant feature (line, shape, colour), which is used throughout the building. A variation can be seen as the change in the dominant elements with the main architectural idea still recognizable. In designing a building, the architect is free to develop any theme based on modern or historical references. On the scale of the city, one can create a theme to the various buildings of the area with variety in their heights and sizes.

Geometric shapes represent the theme of the house with variations in its sizes.

6. Unity in Variety:

A work of architecture has unity when its elements are used and grouped together in a logical manner. In architecture, a variety of elements is used to add interest and excitement to a design. However, the architect’s main concern is to tie these varied elements in order to give unity to the overall image, as well as creates a sense of harmony. However, repetition of shapes and forms unifies the different parts of the building, while the differences between the vertical and curved shapes give the building a balancing sense of variety.

             Unity in Variety

 7. Emphasis / Dominance

‘Dominance’ is an important principle of design that relates to the visual weight of an architectural composition, while ‘Emphasis’ refers to the object or element which first catches the attention of the viewer. An architect needs to create an area of emphasis or a focal point, which is considered as the visual starting point from which the eye will begin the journey of recognizing the whole architecture work.

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