Geometry of Design Elam, Kimberly. ) Book Review

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Geometry of Design

Elam, Kimberly. (2001). The Geometry of Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

The Geometry of Design is not a book about nature, physics, or even of design. Instead, it is a relatively short and simple overview of the role of geometry within nature -- whether it is the analysis after the fact from a human perspective or the way nature works that we find pleasant, the book explains the prevalence of the Golden Mean and other geometrical thermos within nature's design.

Proportion in Man and Nature - Proportion is all around us, it is in everything designed within the sphere of nature; a leaf, a shell, a flower. And these proportions are instinctively pleasurable for us, which is likely the reason why much of design and architecture is based on the very same principles of ratio, proportion, and structure. The basis for this design structure is the Golden Ratio, or 1:1.618. Since the Renaissance, this is the proportion that has been used by artists and architects to proportion their works for mass appeal. Fascinating, however, is just how many objects in nature follow this exact proportion.

Talking Points-

Nature is typically proportionate in design, showing smaller objects to be part of a greater whole.

Even animals show this same proportion, a fish for example, when split into individual rectangles, retains the 1:1.618 ratio.

Similarly, the human body in classical drawing (Leonardo, the Greeks, etc.) form similar ratios.

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Preferred facial proportions also follow the ratio; faces that do not are often considered less pleasing.

Chapter 2 -- Architectural Proportions - Through a series of dynamic rectangles, humans have developed their entire building system off this ratio. The harmony of space, e.g. windows, doors, arches, etc., especially in public buildings (governmental locations, arenas, religious buildings), all serves both to inspire and make one comfortable.

Talking Points

Book Review on Geometry of Design Elam, Kimberly. (2001). The Assignment

Ancient architects were very concerned with the way a building was shaped, laid-out, and built. It had to conform to strict proportions in order to be appropriate from a symboligist viewpoint to its function.

Each architectural discovery and innovation resulted in a reestablishment of the principles of appropriate design (e.g. circular stained glass windows in cathedrals, etc.)

This tradition remained in effect for several centuries; progressing through styles like the Baroque, Gothic, Romantic, etc.

In 1931, a French architect, Le Corbusier, expanded this into a more complex merging of mathematics and geometry -- regulating lines. He believed "with regulating lines, you make God a recipe."

In a way, this invigorated the reemphasis on proportion and meaning to form a more 20-21st century way of applying the Golden ratio to modern construction and design.

Chapter 3- Golden Section- the Golden section of any rectangle is a ratio of the Divine Proportion. The Divine Proportion is derived from the division of a line segment into two segments such that the ratio of the whole segment is the same, as 1: 1.61803. This ratio can be found in any portion or sub-portion of a triangle, rectangle, or square in which lines are drawn to make right angles. Additionally, the golden section is unique in that when subdivided its reciprocal is a smaller proportional rectangle, and the area remaining is a square. This portion of the theory results in the ability to find the Golden section in spirals, circles, etc.

Talking Points

The power of the Golden section was seen as something metaphysical for much of history, prior to the generalized advancement and understanding of geometry.

The Golden section may be found within almost every natural structure once reduced… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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