The principle of Unity deals with visual composition in design. Composition means the relationship between the visual elements. The brick work, timber and concrete which we use as building materials for protection from weather or for structural support form the visual composition of architectural composition. To get a good composition, the elements of unity should be chosen carefully.
Unity therefore deals with the arrangement of building materials and building parts (floor, wall, roof, column, beam, etc) to create a good composition.
7 key Elements of Unity
- Solid and Void
- Form and Shape
Consider materials such as stone, glass and steel. They are available in a variety of colours, tones, textures, shapes, proportions, etc. Various compositions of these material properties are possible-the challenge lies in arising at the most pleasing composition. The texture or colour of a single brick or wood panel will differ in effect when it forms a part of the larger composition such as brick wall or a door frame set in a wall.
The word texture generally refers to the appearance and feel of a surface. However, it could also mean the physical composition or structure of something, especially with respect to its size, shape and arrangement of its parts.
In this figure, a variety of textures can be seen in the roofs, walls and paving. Strongly identifiable shapes in roofs and battered walls are seen as repeated units, presenting a definite and distinguishable feel of the surface.
Individual dwellings within a group, as well as decorations and carvings in buildings can create an effect of texture.
Here colour refers to hue (colour range). Colour is one of the pronounced elements of aesthetics and its selection is very crucial to the overall effect it has on aesthetics. A variety of effects can be produced by varying luminance, fullness and its transparency.
Tone is related to the colour theory and varies from the neutral scale of white to black through a range of greys. This plays an important role in drawings used to represent buildings.
Every building has elements which suggest direction. In most buildings, these are strong elements that suggest vertical and horizontal direction. The total shape of the building, or parts of the building or its structural components (beam, column, wall, ceiling etc) its windows and other openings all suggest the direction.
Example: City Theatre, Helsinki, Finland
This building shows a strong dominance of horizontality given by the roof line and overhang in contrast from the columns. The directional emphasis is reinforced by the use of a strongly ribbed cladding tile, which can be seen running horizontally on the eaves soffit and the beams linking the column heads and the solid parts of the wall behind them.
Here a dominantly vertical composition is shown where the verticality is reinforced by the faceting of the envelope. Contrast is given by the generally horizontal emphasis of the fenestration. The curving round of the plan affords more window space for the living accommodation of the southerly side relative to the service and circulation space on the north i.e., stairs, lifts, passage access to flats.
In this context, proportion is the geometric relationship of the sides of volumes (e.g., rectangles). It is also the ratio and comparative size of individual parts of the composition.
Ducal Palace, Urbino, Paris illustrates the concept of unity through proportions.
We cannot measure these relationships accurately by eye, but we can compare them and try to judge the relationship of one to another on proportional basis.
Buildings belonging to Classical and Gothic Architecture have better proportional relationships than most buildings today.
Solid and Void
The relationship between solid (walls, roofs, etc) and void (windows and other openings) structural units is very important to form a good composition.
Cemetery Chapel, Turku, Finland shows the relationship between solid and void structural units. In this structure, the dominance of solid material contributes to the sense of enduring unity.
Form and Shape
Form and shape can be clearly observed in the overall arrangement of a building or in parts of a building (windows, doors etc) which have geometric shapes. Repetition or variation of a particular form can provide strong elements of composition.
Parts of a building, for example, windows depicting form represent geometric shapes such as a square or a rectangle. Repetition of a window unit form a good element of composition.
Shape helps to identify different forms, for example, the pitch of a roof will provide a certain form which is easy to identify and also easy to relate to other roofs which have a similar pitch. When a roof is of a distinctly different shape, it will look strongly dissimilar.