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7 Basic design Principles in Architecture

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7 Basic Principles in Architecture

As architects or designers, we tend to have a creative mind which helps us believe that we are surrounded by design. Everything that we encounter on a daily basis, may it be a place, a building, a shop, or even an object like a pen that you might be holding right now is a design. However, design just doesn’t mean the outer appearance of the object, structure, or place, it also means human interaction with that particular design. But what makes a design a good design? The answer to that question for a common layman will be the aesthetic nature or the looks of it but as designers, a good design is when it serves the function of its purpose or when it gives a solution to the problem one is catering to and also in order to have a good design one can always incorporate design principles to make it stand out.

Here are the 7 basic design principles-

  1. Balance
  2. Hierarchy
  3. Contrast
  4. Emphasis
  5. Repetition
  6. Scale/Proportion
  7. Rhythm

 Let's go through these Principles with more understanding and architectural examples for the same. 

1. Balance

In design, visual appearance has more weight. Hence it is necessary that there is a sense of visual balance to make the design look appealing to the eye. A Balanced design is always said to be a good design and can be achieved in various ways such as incorporating ideologies such as symmetry, and asymmetry, with shapes, colors, textures, and in ways space is created. Balance makes the design look stable It normally talks about the weight, if there is a lack of balance in a drawing then there will be a lack of communication with the eyes of the viewer. Hence a balanced design helps make a complete design

·        Symmetry- Symmetry is a concept of formal balance that creates the same design horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

·        Asymmetry-  Asymmetry is an informal balance that creates designs having no similarity but with elements that balance out the visual weight.

Sydney Opera house
  • A well-balanced structure to the eyes that showcases symmetry hence having a formal balance throughout.

2. Hierarchy

Hierarchy is the arrangement of content or elements in such a manner, order to effectively communicate information and convey meaning. Visual hierarchy directs the focus of the viewers to the key element first and identifies navigation through secondary content. The creative utilization of graphic tools such as size, color, shape, and orientation are used by designers to establish hierarchy and convey the meaning, concept, or mood of a composition. It creates an orderly design that shows the relationship between the various elements that are present in a single design.

The Taj Mahal Palace
  • Heirarchy in spaces can be seen by the arrangement of different elements in an orderly manner for which Taj Mahal Palace is the best example.

3. Contrast

The use of visually different elements that are poles apart help create contrast in a design. With the help of contrast there an immediate sense of interest evokes in the eyes of the viewers. Contrasting designs helps guide the viewers eye to a highlighting space that needs most attention. Contrast creates a sense of drama to the design which in return makes the space pop. It then adds variety to the design due to the contrasting features it holds.

Adding contrast is a simple task and can be done by following the -

  1. Opposite colors
  2. Varied shapes
  3. Textures in combination with simple spaces
  4. Playing with the Sizes of different elements.
  5. Breaking the uniformity
 World Maritime University
  • Contrast is seen through the variety of elements, shapes, and materials.

4. Emphasis

Emphasis is a design principle that has the power to quickly catch the viewers attention. Emphasis simply means that part of the design is emphasised in order it stand out to be the centre of attraction. One area can have an accent or highlighting effect so that the user can emphasize on that area which is the crux of this principle. It helps create a focal point in the given space. As a designer if you want attention to a particular thing it is necessary to add a striking element or colour so that the viewers eye is instantly attracted to the part that is supposed to have grave importance.

Emphasis can be done using –

·        A dark coloured element

·        Bright colours

·        A striking shape with a larger size

·        Increasing the value of the emphasised shape.

Kutaisi International Airport
  • The design emphasises on the portion that is highlighted in red color to grab the viewer's attention.

5. Repetition

Repetition of the same element in order to create a design patter is called as Repetition. Repetition is a way where one can create interesting patterns just in the most simplified manner. It can also create a sense of texture to the design. It creates unity with the specific piece of design. Repetition has the ability to bring a design to life as it adds a sense of movement. It gives a sense of unity to the design. In order to achieve consistency in a design repetition can be done

It can be done with the help of repeating the same

  1. Color
  2. Shape
  3. Pattern
  4. Size
  5. Line
  6. Form
  7. Font
Managano Architettura
  •  With the repetition of the same shape and structure thrice an interesting building design has been created making a pattern.

6. Scale and Proportion

Scale refers to how we see and tend to compare the size of one object to another reference standard of an object while proportion is the comparison of the sizes of different parts of an object in relation to the whole. Proportion is associated with the relationships of sizes among various parts of the human body. In a good design, it is necessary to have varying scales of different objects to create interest in the viewer's eye. It isn’t necessary that the design is proportional, however, creating combinations of shapes and objects of different proportions and sizes is how one can make their design unique.

La Defense, Paris
  • A sense of scale and proportion can be easily made out by comparing the size of the structure and the humans.

7. Rhythm

In order to create a sense of movement in a design it is necessary that the design has rhythm. This again can be achieved with the help of repetition of lines, colours, shapes and more. Rhythm helps to maintain a flow which keeps the user’s eye connected and helps follow a path. This helps to evoke specific feelings in the eyes of the viewer and helps interact with the design the way the designer wants it to be. Visual movement is the key to a rhythmic design.

       Rhythm can be achieved by repeating-

  1. Lines
  2. Shapes
  3. Colours
  4. Forms
  5. Patterns 
John Curtin School of Medical Research
  • A sense of rhythm is formed by the flow of elements in the facade gives a sense of movement.

Now that we're all clear with the seven basic design principles, get in your design shoes and continue making your design a good design by enhancing it with the help of design principles.

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