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Fundamentals of Design in Architecture -2

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Aesthetic is the science of beauty which can deal with the theory of the nature of the beautiful. Aesthetic includes two important aspects, which help in defining the qualities of the architectural work and create visual interest to the viewers. These asp

As it has been explained in part 1, aesthetic is the science of beauty which can deal with the theory of the nature of the beautiful. However, aesthetic includes two important aspects, which help in defining the qualities of the architectural work and create visual interest to the viewers. The aspects of aesthetic are the ‘Elements of Design’ and ‘Principles of Design’.

1. Elements of designElements of design are the essential basic components and the physical objects, which help the architect during the design phase in arranging and creating any architectural composition. When architects examine or criticize any architectural work, they begin by examining its external façade in order to identify the aesthetic elements that create the overall design. First, they recognize the elements that attracted their attention and appealed to their senses such as line, shape, form, texture, color, light/dark, and space. Beginning with lines and shapes, the architect is able to visualize and draws an idea of how a building will seem to be after it is constructed.

1. Point

A Point is the first thing that architect draws in his/her drawing table. It is considered as the simplest element of visual design. Its characteristics are simple, as it has a position in a plan or refers to a specific location in the space. However, if multiple points gathered, the human brain connects them together and visualizes them as a line, form or even a very sophisticated form or object.



A line can be perceived as number of points, placed very close to each other, where they lose their individual identity and form a new thing. Unlike the point, a line is defined by length and direction. A line has many different features that characterize it, such as thick or thin, straight or curved, rough or smooth, light or heavy. In architecture, lines are often created by the shapes, forms and masses of a building or by the lines of the natural materials. The following examples demonstrate the various types of line and its effect on the viewers.



1. Horizontal

Horizontal lines usually suggest or refer to calmness and a state of stability. It is also a strong symbol of rest and relaxation. Of course, the most common horizontal line to be found in nature is the horizon. In architecture, repeated layers of horizontal lines can create pleasing rhythm to the eye.

 A building of horizontal levels gives a feeling of stability and more attachment to earth.

2. Vertical

Vertical lines convey more of a sense of balance and formality as well as create a feeling of movement and directing the viewer’s eye upwards to the sky.

    Skyscrapers represent the balance created by the vertical lines

3. Oblique

Oblique lines suggest a sense of movement or direction. It gives the feeling of motion and instability in relation to Earth gravity.

                      Oblique lines naturally form a dynamic entrance to the Louver, Paris

4. Curved

Curved lines do communicate many different meaning with the viewers. They can suggest flexibility and informality as well as comfort, safety, familiarity, and relaxation.

       Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, Spain, suggest a sense of flexibility and informality


A shape is a self-contained defined area of geometric or organic form. There are two types of shapes: a two dimensional shape which is drawn on a flat surface; a three-dimensional shape which is created in the space. The basic shapes are circle, rectangle (square) and triangle and its related three dimensional shapes: sphere, cube and pyramid. 

                                                 Shapes in architecture


Form refers to the outline or the appearance of something. It is the shape and structure of a dimensional element within a given composition. Form can be both two-dimensional and three-dimensional and can be realistic, abstract or somewhere in between. In reality, form is derived from the combination of point, line and shape.

The form of Taj Mahal almost includes most of the basic geometrical shapeswhether two or three dimensional shapes.


Texture is the surface quality and characteristics of a material of a shape which can be recognized through the human sense of touch such as, (soft-hard), (smooth-rough), (light-heavy), etc.,. In architecture, buildings take its physical appearance according to the material used, such as clay, brick, stone, glass, concrete, wood, and steel. The following examples demonstrate the effect of the used material on the physical appearance of a building. Texture can be used to emphasis an area or mass so that it becomes more dominant than another does. Different textures can also be used as decorative elements to add more visual interest to the buildings.

                   Clay texture (Soft)                                                     Stone texture (Hard)

                      Brick texture (Hard)                                       Glass texture (Smooth)

                                Concrete texture (Rough-brutalism)

                         Wood texture (Light)                                          Steel texture (Heavy)


Color is an element of our visual perception that is related to how our eyes perceive light. However, color is the part of light that is reflected by the object we see. These perceptions can be differentiated and named as red, blue, yellow, etc. Architects use color when they choose the materials required for buildings. These colors choices can be warm or cool. However, the architect must consider the color effect of every element of a building's construction, from the earthy colors of primary construction materials like wood, stone, brick and marble, to the expansive variety of colors available for paint, doors, and windows.

The powerful effect of colors can be sensed in the masses of the buildings.

     Warm colors: Red, orange, and yellow                         Cool colors:Blue, green, and violet


Light and dark are relative perceptions of light. Architects use the concept of light and dark as they create visual interest on a building by choosing shapes that create a feeling of depth. Narrow openings often appear dark, as in a tunnel, and broad, flat spaces look light. Materials can also be used to vary the light quality of a building. In architecture, dark areas tend to create mystery and drama, while light areas tend to express happiness.

                                  The effect of light, shade and shadow in buildings


Space is the virtual position of one three-dimensional object to another. Space is one of the most important considerations an architect think about while designing a building. The sizes of rooms, halls as well as their heights are of prime importance to the creation of an expressive building. However, to create an interesting building, the architect experiments with the aesthetic qualities of space by varying the width and height of the different spaces.

                                                             Open space Interior space


Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
Posted on Apr 17, 2011
Mandy Robinson
Posted on Apr 16, 2011
Posted on Apr 7, 2011
Posted on Apr 7, 2011
M 5446
Posted on Apr 7, 2011
Ron Siojo
Posted on Apr 7, 2011
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
Posted on Apr 6, 2011
James R. Coffey
Posted on Apr 6, 2011

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Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy

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