Architectural compositions are designed for human needs and functions so their scale and proportion should be in coordination with the form and function. But, what is scale? Scale in architecture is measuring or ratio based on the relation of architectural elements with each other and their surroundings along with being in harmony with human body geometry. Anthropology has an integral role to play in the coordinates of a structure. Humans associate themselves with all elements of a building like the size of a door opening, building volume, void ratio, etc, merging Architecture and psychology. There are various types of scale in Architecture homolog us with the user dimension.

Human scale: 

The human scale in architecture is how the human body relates its self to the nearby surrounding and the architectural form. There is a relation between the experience, physical, and every space that we inhabit. Human scale architecture considers the proportion of space in context to the human body. This becomes the unit of design while creating/ Designing any space. Creating a sense of natural order and making sure that the environment interacts and gives a reasonable size and shape for usage.

The psychology behind scale in architecture - Sheet1
Human Geometry ©Paul Gisbrecht

Monumental scale: 

The scale is much larger than the human scale, majorly observed in public buildings, religious buildings, memorials, etc. Impressive in nature and stating with their architectural form. The majesty of their volume makes a user feel tiny and contained.

The psychology behind scale in architecture - Sheet2
Monumental Scale Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/things-to-do/all-that-you-need-to-know-before-visiting-taj-mahal/as66028975.cms

Intimate scale: 

Intimate scale is a very small scale more of a personal scale. It is like A subscale of the human scale. The design of nooks and alcoves or like that of a cosy recessed bay window for seating, measures to this scale.

The psychology behind scale in architecture - Sheet3
Intimate Scale Source: https://www.mrrogerswindows.com/blog/making-the-most-of-a-bay-window/

 Architecture Scale and Human Psychology

 Architecture is the geometrical aesthetic of scale and proportion and should represent unity with a human scale. The visual scale carves perspective to how the building should be perceived. The height and massing of the building respond to the overall context of its site, plus how it impacts it. Visual perception of space is largely based on a relationship with the scale. Based on the theories of Alois Regel (1858-1905) and his Aesthetic Model, the three main scales that we experience in space are near the middle and far range.

  • Small/near: this scale is easier to understand if experienced one individual piece at a time, and is best to grasp curvilinear geometries. While observing a map of the entire object can be framed mentally.
  • Medium/middle: this scale is suitable for experiencing a proportion of objects at a time. The texture and clarity are important for understanding the architecture of space. This shading in contrast also plays a vital role while observing from a distance.
  • Large/far: observing architectural form from a distance makes eye vision an important criterion as above the horizon line objects is difficult to understand for humans.

The direct and indirect impact of the built environment on human psychology can never be undermined. Sensorial imports of space are delineated by various factors of architecture. Therefore, an architect has great control over human behaviour as he creates the aura for the user. The main role of architectural pieces is to protect/shelter the human body so how well it responds to defines its efficiency. The user measurements are an important unit in designing a building. In contrast to this, the cultural/social spaces are much larger and magnified as compare to the human scale signifying the grandness of life. Human interacts with their environment through the sensory, perception, physical capabilities, their perceptions or experience are guided by the cultural factors, personal preferences, expectation, and incidences too. Interior character of space like the mass, acoustical reverberations, lighting affects them so the predictions to human experiences are unformulated.

The concept of scale in architecture makes space, human-centred and liveable from all three types of scale human-scale architecture resonates the most with the user. It comes out as a natural human tendency to compare everything against their dimensions. So why is human-scale important to user psychology? Humans have a horizontal sense of sight which is why small-scale is always in harmony with a human scale. Our angle of vision ranges between 50 to 55° so for a user to associate with high-rise structures or extra voluminous constructed spaces is comparatively difficult. As compared to over horizon line-built spaces it is easier to experience the low-rise structures. As human scale in architecture ways upon the physical dimension of the body and sensorial perception, it creates a friendly and indulging impact on psychology. These spaces facilitate a relationship and are relatable.

High Rise and Human Scale Source: https://www.proximus.be/en/id_cl_smart_buildings/companies-and-public-sector/it-services/iot/smart-buildings.html

Talking about the present context, technology has taken over the comfortable scale of human architecture. Larger distances, big structures, huge construction has led to diminishing traditional knowledge with rising new scales and technologies. Creating a dialogue with the user public should be the result. Interactive design more is how a city is perceived. Looking back in the pages of history where it is evident how the rulers/dictators used to erect massive structures of monumental scale to mark the victory and instil fear in the public of the rule. However, with the changing eras and winning democracies, Public oriented buildings have been erected/designed. Architecture has been affecting human experiences since the beginning of time.

Author

She is an architecture student, envisioning to mold the stereotyped perspective of architecture, beyond the walls and roofs. Practicing to craft song of words, which would do justice to the unseen and unheard beauty of the built world dancing around us. In hope that they will make a difference someday. Other than that you can find her gardening!

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