A Theory of Proportion in Architecture
Hosted by the Northern California Chapter
The class provides an overview of the concept of proportion as a design tool in traditional architecture. It is presented in the form of lectures and demonstrations. The content includes an explanation of the concept of symbolic or qualitative number; an introduction to Pythagorean and Platonic numerical philosophy; the relation of number to beauty; the derivation of the ancient musical octave; a discussion of the Golden Section, its mathematics, geometry, relation to philosophy, and particularly its role as geometrical “logos”; and the connection of these ideas to the numerical-geometrical canons of classical architecture. These ideas are applied to historical archetypes, such as the four column portico and the small house, through demonstrations using arithmetic, geometric, and harmonic ratio methods. The course may be taken as an introduction to these ideas or as a review for those who have some background with the subject.
What you will learn
- Understand number in a symbolic rather than mathematical sense, with reference to how this connects to aesthetics and aspects of ancient philosophy
- Understand the use of rational ratios made of whole numbers, and transcendental ratios such as the Golden Section which are not made of whole numbers, in architectural composition
- Use geometric, arithmetic and harmonic methods of application of proportion for architectural composition
- Use proportional methods for analysis of historical design examples