Thursday, August 23, 2012

Scale in Design: Putting Order in All Things

Scale is a dimensional element that gave meaning to building design. It found fulfillment in the classic design of the Greeks, to the Renaissance and today. Michaelangelo, Palladio, Sir Christopher Wren and others found inspiration in this element.

Scale is a definitive dimensional element related to art, and the surrounding environment that co exists with humans.  Scale truly defines the physical size of things.  This element is the ‘Divine Proportion’ as coined during the Renaissance Period – a design aspect believed to be God-given. In application, the divine proportion is equivalent to the diagonal leg of a square, equivalent to 1.618. It carries a fixed rule, meaning that if the doorway height is 2meters for example, the width should be 3.236meters. When used to design building blocks, scale or divine proportion truly created a stunning mass.

The past is a rich source of inspiration of the application of scale. Artisan’s never created masterpieces without scale giving the impetus to build.  Classic design of the Greeks depended on it to build all what is entombed in the Acropolis. Though already in rubble now, the ruins suggest the splendor that it once was. This perfection is evident starting from the colonnade of Doric Columns of the Parthenon; to the richly chiseled out ornaments in the tympanum. Up to the bare simplicity of the Naos; all derived immortality in the use of scale. It was the buildings of the past that taught us the true contribution of this design element.

Scale in design is not a new theory. It has existed even before the Etruscans learn to build. But, the present is a true testament of the scale as the primary dimensional element. The evidence is all written around us, not just in building structures. Scale is revealed in the design of jewelry boxes, to sofas, to gaming consoles, even to the video screens and in almost everything. It may not be glaring to most but to the trained eye it is everywhere.  However, the true beneficiaries are the buildings.  Look at skyscrapers, they are the products of the 1.618 dimensional element.  Scale does not only suggest aesthetic appeal and practical planning but structural stability as well.

The influence of the scale element is forever. As long as mankind exists, scale as a design provocateur will always be a part of it. It will continue to inspire generations of designers, in the same poignancy as the Greeks, the Romans; to Baroque and Art Nouveau.  No one will be immune to the influence; particularly buildings and related habitats for mankind. Scale is the soul of the design and will put order to all things.

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