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It's all about Proportion

I have been thinking alot about this in many ways. Proportion seems to rule our lives in how much and how often . In our buildings, this word is a critical one to understand.

In architectural design, proportion is a word that inspires some regulating harmonic pattern that will create beauty, hopefully. The use of proportion is much, much more than that and is virtually missed by the design built world altogether. The practical yet ancient view of design has been gone for many years now and we are paying the consequences with poor quality , huge, energy hog homes built in places that should be left for our future water and energy needs. Oh well.

Proportion beyond the beauty principle is as important to our harmonic relationship to life as the aesthetic. For example, I have lived in huge homes in the past that required extensive amounts of my energy and resources. Often exhausted by the caring for these, I have had little time left for my more important needs of relationships and health. A very large price paid indeed. I also found that having a home that was much bigger than other people's lead to a false impression of who I was. I was actually struggling and feeling out of balance most of the time. These homes proportional use of my time and resources was something I had not considered .

A few years ago, I moved into a small Sears Bungalow in an historic area and this little place has only 1.400 sq. ft. Some magic has happened here that I would like to share.

The house was built with lots of wood, a material that has great spiritual quality. The wooden floors and heavy moldings make me feel safe. The rooms are very small but the proportion of ceiling height has made them feel much more comfortable, small rooms with high ceilings. For some reason, unknown to most, the land planning was done in this city to allow for N-S orientations and my little bungalow sits with all my rooms opening to the shadow and the light at the right times of day. The proportion of light emanating into the rooms has a beneficial affect because of this. I feel balanced and energized when I am there. That naturally disappears when the cat wakes us up at night demanding we turn on the water in the bath tub.

I feel comfortable with the proportion of materials and products we use to care for and repair this home. Although it is still expensive, by comparison, it is manageable. I am not aware most people look at the long term expense of maintenance and the building depreciates. Unfortunately, as we age and money thins, our homes require more and this expense is often not considered in planning.

Proportion in design and building must be understood to consider time, energy and natural resourse because when we do this, our quality of life will be changed either for better or worse.

I suggest proportion of size and the quality of products and construction are of first importance. The second proportion to consider is our relationship to our land use in design and site orientation as well as future resource conservation.

I imagine proportion may offer greater solutions to the way we are building that will create harmony inside our buildings as well as outsideĀ  of them.

Seek beauty in proportion but let it also provide more solutions in our building choices.