Scale And Proportion In Architecture

  • 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.

    We can find examples of this in our homes and workplaces; for instance, standardized heights have been created for counter tops, chairs have been scaled to fit our bodies, the widths of hallways allow for people to comfortably pass one another. You can see that the way we build our environment is based on the commonly known anthropometric data of human scale.


In architecture we deal primarily in 4 scales:

  1. Human scale
  2. Intimate scale
  3. Monumental Scale
  4. Shock Scale
  • Human scale : Humans interact with their environments based on their physical dimensions, capabilities and limits. The field of anthropometrics (human measurement) has unanswered questions, but it’s still true that human physical characteristics are fairly predictable and objectively measurable. Buildings scaled to human physical capabilities have steps, doorways, railings, work surfaces, seating, shelves, fixtures, walking distances, and other features that fit well to the average person.

Human scale in architecture is deliberately violated:

  1. Buildings, statues, and memorials are constructed in a scale larger than life as a social/cultural signal that the subject matter is also larger than life.
  2. Many architects, particularly in the Modernist movement, design buildings that prioritize structural purity and clarity of form over concessions to human scale.
  3. To serve automotive scale. Commercial buildings that are designed to be legible from roadways assume a radically different shape.


“Man is the measure of all things, of things that are, that they are; and of things that are not, that they are not “. –  Protagoras

The man-sized scale is what we are used to.

  • Intimate scale : Intimate sizes are smaller than what is normal. These don’t shock you, but they are smaller than what we expect. Not everybody would recognize intimate as a separate category. It is more of a sub-category of human-scale.

Intimate Scale

  • Monumental Scale : designs that dominate the immediate environment. If a building, monument, statue, sculpture, etc is a monumental space, meaning that it is giant compared to human size, is because it wants to show that what it stands for is bigger than life itself (meaning religion, political ideologies, some memorial, etc). Monumental scale is impressive. Our public buildings are monumental.

Monumental Scale


Monumental Scale

  • Shock Scale : Shock scale can be either smaller or larger, but it is so out of the ordinary that it jolts us.

Shock Scale


Shock Scale

  • Proportion :  Proportion refers to the relative size of parts of a whole (elements within an object). We often think of porportions in terms of size relationships within the human body. Proportion is the term used to describe the relationship between two things of different size. In architecture we are looking for the proportional relationship between spaces and the size of the human body. The proportion of the room can greatly affect the way a person feels in a space

proportion male-face-proportions


National Aptitude Test In Architecture – The Syllabus


How to visualize 3-D shapes from 2-D drawings ?


Indian Architect -Laurence Wilfred Baker (Laurie Baker)

About Author

A perseverant and passionate person creating a knowledge sharing culture .


  1. runescape gold on

    Howdy! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Many thanks

  2. animal onesie pajamas on

    I got what you intend, thank you for posting. Woh I am happy to find this website through google.

Leave A Reply

Powered by