Symmetry: Culture and Science
Volume 29, Number 3, pages 329-351 (2018)


Nikos A. Salingaros*

* Address: Department of Mathematics, University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, Texas, 78249, USA.
E-mail: salingar@gmail.com

Abstract: The golden mean applied to architectural composition ensures a scaling hierarchy that organizes complexity. This design methodology helps to establish natural fractal scaling in built forms, which provides a positive effect on the user. It is unrelated, however, to a rectangle’s aspect ratio, which is how modernist architects tried to use the golden mean. Simply considering rectangular aspect ratios does not guarantee good design. Furthermore, the paradigmatic historical examples are shown to be misleading: the Parthenon, the Villa Stein at Garches, and the United Nations Building do not correspond to golden mean rectangles. Neither do utilitarian objects such as credit cards, movies, camera film, and computer screens. Finally, Le Corbusier’s proportional design scheme known as the Modulor, supposedly linked to the golden mean, is debunked as being confused.

Keywords: Architecture, design, scaling ratios, Fibonacci numbers, Fibonacci sequence, golden mean, golden ratio, Parthenon, Le Corbusier.