the dome of the Marble Church in Copenhagen
Understanding how architects use proportions and scale - or rather looking at how good proportions, used properly in a design, and the construction of buildings with an appropriate scale - is essential in trying to appreciate architecture.
Appropriate proportion and scale are not just just significant in the design of an individual building - having a strong impact on how good or how bad, how attractive or potentially how ugly, the facades are in isolation - but proportion and scale are important in the relationship of the building to its setting … and not just for building in an urban streetscape but also for the way a building relates to its setting in a garden or in a natural landscape.
In part, this is because we seem to respond instinctively to the scale of a building and can decide quickly if it looks wrong or looks right. Often this comes down to judging a building against our own human scale and normally that means deciding if it is right or wrong depending on if we feel comfortable or uncomfortable with the size of the building.
It’s a difficult balance to get right. We can easily feel overwhelmed by a large building but we can also feel that a building is mean and too small if it’s not an appropriate scale for its function, particularly if its a civic building or a building of wider national significance.