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  • Scale and proportion play very important roles for architecture. Proportion refers to the proper and harmonious relation of one part to another or to the whole, while scale refers to the size of something compared to a reference standard or to the size of something else (like a human being).

1) Scale

  • Scale refers to the size of an object (a whole) in relationship to another object.
  • Scale refers to the relationship between two or more objects, one that has a commonly known size.
  • In most cases, the size of objects is compared to our own human scale.
  • The relative size of different objects or of an object to a common standard.
  • It is a progressive classification of some quality like size, amount, importance, or rank.
  • A single object has no scale until it’s seen in comparison with something else
  • People judge the scale of something as per body size. Probably the most widely recognized descriptors that apply to scale include:
  1. Life-sized
  2. Miniature
  3. Oversized
  4. Enormous
  • When an artist or designer chooses to make particular objects oversized or miniature, it is often to emphasize their importance or encourage a new perspective.


  • Michelangelo’s sculpture David  represents the Renaissance emphasis on the ideal, based on the ancient Greek model of the ideal: rationality reflected in the portrayal of perfection in the human body.

This image is an excellent illustration of both scale and proportion in art.

  • The scale of this overwhelming figure is larger than life: over 13 feet tall. 
  • In addition it is placed on a pedestal taller than the average human, so that the sculpture towers far above the viewer. This gives it a sense of godlike grandeur.
  • The proportions within the body are based on an ancient Greek mathematical system which is meant to define perfection in the human body.
  • Ironically, this powerful representation of perfection is based on the biblcal story of David, a small, humble shepherd boy who defeated the giant Goliath with one slingshot.
  • This makes it an effective expression of the ideology of the Renaissance: mankind in alls its humility raised to the ideals of rationality, order, and  scientific objectivity.
  • Some toys are miniatures of actual objects. For example, scale model cars, trains and dollhouse furnishings replicate real objects on a smaller scale. 

In the photo Above, the man’s hand gives you a good idea of the actual size of the toy rail car. Scale model toys give children the power to manipulate realistic objects that are otherwise too big for them to manage.

2) Types of Scales

In architecture we deal primarily in Three scales:

  • Human scale
  • Intimate scale
  • Monumental Scale

There is also another kind of scale which uses exaggeration. It is known as Hierarchical Scale

3) Proportion

  • Proportion refers to the relative size and scale of the various elements in a design.
  • The appreciation of proportions should start from the relative sizes that define an object – the sizes of the sides of the triangles that define the shape of the triangle: equilateral, isosceles, scalene etc.
  • The issue is the relationship between objects, or parts, of a whole.
  • Proportion refers to proper or harmonious relation of one part to another or the whole. This relationship might be.
  1.  A Magnitude
  2.  Quantity
  3.  Degree
  • “Proportion” refers to the relative size of visual elements within an image. It also refers to the equality between two ratios in which the first of the four terms divided by the second equals the third divided by the fourth.
  • A proportioning system is based on a basic ratio that is continued in certain multiples.

4) Proportioning system

  • Throughout history, it has been realized that a proportion system can assist both the ordering and also the perception of buildings. 
  • Proportioning systems provide an aesthetic rationale for the dimensions of form and space. 
  • They can visually unify the multiplicity of elements in an architectural design by having all of its parts belong to the same family of proportions. 
  • They provide a sense of order in the facades and spaces of architectural works. 
  • A number of theories of “desirable” proportions have been developed in the course of history.

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