Symmetry: Culture and Science
Volume 29, Number 3, pages 409-422 (2018)


Almantas Samalavičius*

* Address: Department of Architectural Fundamentals, Theory and Art, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, 1 Trakų Street, Vilnius, 01132, Lithuania.
E-mail: almantsam@yahoo.com
ORCID: 0000-0001-8753-407X

Abstract: The paper discusses the theories of proportions in various periods of Western civilization starting with classical Greece and their development into the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Although no major study has been published in this field yet, the author examines how a Lithuanian architectural historian studied these systems of proportions, which we often take for granted as sources of beauty when evaluating architectural structures. By criticizing the assertions such as “proportions can be grasped by a viewer almost instantaneously”, the author agrees those architectural philosophers and aestheticians who question such a simplistic attitude, and argues that architectural experience is more than a simple and immediate sense of sight — it also involves touching, hearing and other sensations. Besides, the architectural experience of the aesthetic kind demands certain other things. Focused attention and knowledge are among these requirements, thus, architecture can hardly be considered immediate in its impact. Though the role of architectural proportions plays out in judging and appreciating architecture, the aesthetics of architecture cannot depend on such notions as symmetry, harmony or proportions alone.

Keywords: Architecture, proportions, Pythagoreanism, Gothic, Neoclassicism, Lithuanian architecture.