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Scale and proportion. These are two of the easiest tools to use incorrectly. Who hasn't seen an ill-proportioned elevation or room? Maybe the columns are too thin or the windows too big. Whatever the case, when it goes wrong it can be quite unsettling. So getting scale and proportion right is something that architects and designers strive for.
Roofs. There are so many important functions for a roof. Though its primary purposes may be to shed water and protect us from the elements, a well-thought-out roof does so much more. It can tether us to the landscape or let us soar up and away. And the best roofs can do both at the same time.
Open corner windows. The traditional way of making a room is to build four walls, each connected and perpendicular to the adjoining wall. Doors and windows are then cut or "punched" into the walls to connect rooms and introduce light and views. This all started to change in the 19th century when architects started to create "cornerless" rooms.
Removing the defined corners of the room was like eliminating the corners of a rectangular bowl. The space within the room, like the water within the bowl, would flow freely, spilling out to the adjoining rooms and the outside, thanks to modern glass and glazing technologies, as can be seen here.
Solar power. In a recent ideabook we toured a smartly designed home as one that is respectful of the planet. In another story, we presented the Hudson Passive Project, a home that relies almost completely on the sun for its heating and cooling. Taking advantage of the sun's power is growing in importance as a design tool.
Symmetry. Stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself. Now draw an imaginary line down the middle of your face and torso. Chances are good that your left and right sides match and that you're symmetrically composed. Not too symmetrically composed, mind you — there will be a little variation from side to side. Small differences add interest and keep things from being too static.
Explore how architects create and use symmetry in their designs.