Correctly Proportioned. Chatsworth Cottage, North Carolina. Design by Christine G.H.Franck, Inc.
Incorrectly ProportionedThe reason columns look too skinny, pediments are misshapen, keystones make no sense, and dentils are wrong is because we no longer understand how to use the parts and pieces. Instead these elements have become mere symbols of a traditional style. Often they are used to convey importance, class or taste, while in fact they show our ignorance. In one sense we have returned to the Middle Ages in that today our buildings make no sense. We have forgotten the rules, yet continued to use the parts. We are like barbarians trying to speak a language without knowing the rules. Not only do we not know how to make and use the parts, we don’t know where they go. Learning the language of Classical architecture will give us more words for our vocabulary. It allows us to be more descriptive, more playful, and more original. But first, we must start with understanding the system. One piece of this system is using the human scale to attain beauty in a timeless house, which we’ll discuss next.