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scale, proportions

Trendy or Timeless? Don’t Forget Scale & Proportions. Part Two

I am feeling better compared to last week. Not able to visualize the massing — confused by how various pitched roofs came together — I made a crude model to assist myself. And finally, I got on the right track. Big or small, the most important design rule is to pay attention to the scale and proportions of the space.

scale, proportions

In plan, I was able to maximize the existing footprint, clean up, and add a new area addressing everything my client wanted. Capitalizing on the concept of indoor-outdoor lifestyle, programmatically I achieved the following:

  • Two extra bedrooms; new master boasts a vaulted ceiling and a balcony facing the backyard with a new pool;
  • Two extra bathrooms;
  • A formal dining room with a 9-foot ceiling and a deck overlooking the backyard;
  • A double-volume living room opening to the garden.

Planning is fun. I love carving out rooms that are as efficient as possible, making use of every square inch. It’s inspiring to create spaces that multi-task, transform, and surprise by feeling significantly larger than they actually are. I strongly believe that it has to do with paying attention to scale and proportions.

This project by Estúdio BRA Arquitetura is a good example of what I delight in and strive for. It shows that a designer has to think spatially, not everything can be solved in plan.

Case in point were two pesky constraints that I had trouble wrapping my head around. They had to be dealt with in section and elevation: a matter of an attic window that couldn’t be blocked and a puzzling problem of the low ceilings in the existing house.

These issues needed to be resolved spatially. I had to make sure that the new volumes of the proposed addition work with the existing. I kept trying to visualize the building as a whole, but it was not possible to foresee all of the conditions without building a model. Thus, I just started ripping into card stock paper. One option quickly morphed into another, and then another.

A crude mock-up turned out to be a savvy tool. It allowed me to address the scale and adjust proportions.

It really helped. If I squint, I could see it. It will work—not the way I thought originally — there’s a more elegant solution. Now, I can go back to the drawing board and test it, make it precise.

scale, proportions

scale, proportions

Next, I make another model. It’s still a “ghost” or a skeleton. Very conceptual. But it’s much more tangible. I am confident that the scale is right. What do you think?

scale, proportions

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  1. Mia S Kazovsky says:

    I agree that one of the most important things in design is “paying attention to scale and proportions.” One of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles has a massive chandelier hanging above the bar. The ceiling is not nearly high enough and the space is not nearly grandiose enough to house such a huge piece! I always think about this when dining there. Ignoring proportions really makes a space look awkward and poorly designed. The same can be said for any design. If you’re going to make such stylistic choices, they need to be offset somehow to create a balance. For example, a slouchy, oversized sweater or shirt would look better with tailored trousers or jeans than it would with big, baggy pants. I like the project that you linked, but it feels almost TOO efficient. It looks almost sterile, as though personality was sacrificed for efficiency. I really do like what you have proposed for this house! It’s very well designed: functional, marries existing and new, has a lot of personality, and will elevate the space to a 20 out of 10! I can’t wait to see what happens next!

    1. Alla DIY Ally says:

      Thank you, Mia!!! I am so happy to hear that you think what I’m proposing “will elevate the space to a 20 out of 10.” I really hope so!

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