Proportion and Scale


Correctly apportioning elements, whether mental or physical, is a difficult task, but one that can have dramatic effects on the user. The idea of proportion is based on the idea that certain relationships have a particular resonance within the human perceptual system. In physical proportional schemes, these proportions are generally describable through some mathematical proportions. Resonant ideas are more difficult to pinpoint, as they are generally reliant on, for instance, a confluence of needs being met by a single element.

Resonance is variously perceived as "beauty," "recognisability," "order," and "meaning." It is an example of the "ampersand." The result of a resonant system appears to be more than the sum of the parts that make it up.

Often discussed in the same breath as proportion, scale interacts with it, but is a distinct phenomenon. It is the perceived proportion between an element and the self, and affects the whole of the user's reaction to a piece. Scale has similar "resonant" points, so that objects of particular sizes inspire particular associations.

Monumentality, triviality, and human scale

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Man as the Measure
Divisions of the Octave
Golden Number/Ratio/Section
(Coincidental) Geometry
Feng Shui, Cosmic Numerology and Other Traditional Proportional Systems
Le Modulor
Plastic Number

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Copyright (c) 1997 -- Mike Fletcher
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