Friday, July 1, 2011


Wahoo!  The latest sample from the "Design Elements" chapter of Alice Through the Proscenium:

Rhythm  Architecture is kin to music because both use rhythm.  Imagine a colonnade: a classical colonnade would have equally spaced columns.  In Baroque architecture, like in Baroque music, things get more complicated.  Why not jazz columns?  Any repeated element sets up rhythms.  Play with them.

Proportion – What if a chair was three times too big?  Or too small?  Proportion is relative size.  Alice was out of proportion with the White Rabbit’s house when she expanded until her arm…  

                        “An arm, you goose!  Who ever saw one that size?
                        Why it fills the whole window!”

Alice was differently out of proportion when she shrank and floated on gallons of her own large scale tears through a crack under a now-enormous door.

Exaggerated or minimized proportion can be used for emphasis or comic effect.  Make the over-sized villain hunch over that mini piano!  Put the thin, tall, leggy wingchair next to the short, squatty toad-green one.  And remember that different stages require different sizes of scenery and furniture – to suit their different sizes, heights, and viewing distances.                             

A more subtle version of proportion is that of size, shape, and style.  If you’re designing an 18th century house, it better have 18th century sized windows in proper proportion for its wall.  Victorian windows are quite different.  Notice the ratio of opening to solid wall – modern architecture may be glassy, medieval is mostly wall. 5.2  Look carefully at sizes and shapes of architectural elements like doors and windows and at the heights of wainscoting or furniture.  In some eras furniture was tall, in others, as low slung as an Art Deco chaise lounge.

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