Proportion matters!

Proportion False frontI was walking around the Mission District in San Francisco recently and, as one does in SF, marveled at the elegance and variety (and colors!) of the Victorian houses. The houses are not always as tall as they look from the front. But to maintain a proper sense of proportion on the second floor, the builders added a false front to give a graceful line to the flat roof behind it.

If the roof cornices were dropped to just over the windows the building would totally lose its grace.

proportion low roof ranchCompare the Victorian to this low-slung ranch house in Portland. The windows butt right up under the roof, and it feels like King Kong stepped on it and squished it down. I would always feel like ducking when I went through the front door. What were they thinking?

Proportion tall DRAnother example of poor proportional judgment is this dining room. Can you imagine eating in here? Humans are most comfortable in human scale spaces.

The exception to this rule is the cathedral, when the soaring ceilings are supposed to make humans feel tiny in the presence of God.

Spend some time looking around spaces and buildings you feel comfortable and uncomfortable in. Is proportion a factor?


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