This article is meant as a reference toolbox for home plan design harmony and proportion. The author prefers to deal with the practical how-to of it subsequently. The author, a custom home designer, suggests that there’s a place in designer home plans for age-old Western notions of unity, harmony, order, proportion, even Classicism.
Noteworthy, virtually all of these means and motives potentially applicable to designer house plans have been addressed in the literature and elsewhere principally to public or very large private structures coliseums, churches, huge bank buildings, and the like – rarely to home design.
The author has begun applying some very old ideas of design to some very new houses with success and surprises.
There’s a lot of reading on architectural design proportion and Classical design. Most of it’s not especially interesting clinical mathematics, nautilus shells and phyllotaxis, irrelevance borne of style, size, etc.
In the author’s opinion, these works are some of the better:
1. The heady, heavy-going: Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism by Rudolf Wittkower, W. W. Norton & Company, 1971.
2. The intellectually entertaining and well-written The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, The World’s Most Astonishing Number by Mario Livio, Broadway Books, 2002.
3. The commanding presentation of the Orders, their making and remaking in The Classical Language of Architecture by John Summerson, The MIT Press, 1962.
4. Of methods and materials, Traditional Construction Patterns: Design & Detail Rules Of Thumb by Stephen Mouzon et al., McGraw-Hill. 2005.
5. The thoughtful, The Old Way of Seeing: How Architecture Lost Its Magic (And How to Get It Back) by Jonathan Hale, Houghton Mifflin, 1994.
6. The overarching [but not over-reaching, not hardly], A Pattern Language: Towns, Building, Construction by C. Alexander et al., Oxford University Press, 1977 and its companion The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander, Oxford University Press, 1979.
FAVORED HOUSE DESIGN HARMONIES AND PROPORTIONS
As to proportion and proportions alone, here are those presently favored by the author, mostly for their simplicity of expression:
1. Golden Mean, or Golden Section or Golden Ratio, or Mark Barr’s Ratio of Pheidias (a/k/a Phidias), or phi.
2. Lambda in Plato’s Timaeus plus 5 & 7.
3. Regulating lines (ou tracs regulateurs la Auguste Choisy et Le Corbusier) Subjectively, this is about balance, rhythm, symmetry, a sense of schema from illusive to hard rock.
For perspective, “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” Sidelight on Relativity by A. Einstein, translated by G. B. Jeffery and W. Perret, London, 1922.
The practical use of these metrics so far for the author mostly relates – a) positive integers from 1-9 exclusively, b) plus Phi and phi, c) generally apparent and usually symmetrical lines of relationship.