The "Queen Ann" style of late Victorian and the later "shingle" style which
often were / are deliberately asymmetric, but balanced, are examples of
non-symmetrical houses that still are pleasing to the eye. I worked during
the 70's for a FLLW follower who always did unsymmetrical, but beautifully
balanced (and detailed) houses. His larger commercial structures were
largely forgettable, however.
When I went through my "Gee, maybe I should be OCD" phase I found
asymmetry to be deeply in need of satisfaction. I would step on a
crack with my left foot. Then I NEEDED to step on a crack with my
right foot. But I would do it with the front rather than rear of my
foot out of sheer lack of attention. Then I NEEDED to step on a crack
with the front of my left foot and still NEEDED to step on a crack
with the rear of my right foot... ad infinitum. For example. I could
feel the wrongness in the soles of my feet.
It seems different than "wow, that's really pretty. I guess because
it's got strong classical symmetry."
(The following is all re: normal old architectural bilateral symmetry)
Raises a point - Is the US Capitol more satisfying than McCormick
Place? Is that "superiority" evident in the fact that McCP is more
usually photographed on the oblique, emphasizing a different aesthetic
The nut of the question is about.. hm, don't know the words, I'm sure
the taxonomy exists somewhere... the emphasized symmetry of the
Capitol: not only is it symmetrical it marks the center/axis; it has
strong elements at the ends which say "yup, one here and one over
there"___ and ___ the de-emphasized symmetry that arrises more by
accident from the grid. If you repeat a panel n times then you CAN
draw a line down the middle and say "see, mirror images". Is Crown
Hall, a miniature McCP (yes, I'm aware of the dates; no, I don't care)
more satisfying than McCP because it has a marked center?
And then there's nesting. If something like the USC were made of sub
elements which weren't locally symmetrical, would that come to us as
less satisfying? Then the question is - if nesting is good then how
deeply do we carry it? Which, must rely on experience - "Is the viewer
going to get closer?"
This thread has mentioned "balanced asymmetry" but hasn't talked about
what it means, what different flavours there might be, what works
I'm inclined to put my aesthetic money on "fractal or chaotic
For example, I can like some women who have one eye higher than the
other. Another young woman in high school I thought especially cute
had one lazy eyelid. (Hi Tina ;) And of course we all know that many
have one breast bigger than the other, right?
And what about those flatfish-- the ones that apparently evolved from
the unflat? Cool-looking-- like some kind of software
intermorphapolation that God creatively halted just before the end.
...Then again, I dislike those puffy Chinese "tri-caudal-finned"
So, as for the original topic, I'd say that, for me, pure symmetry may
(I wonder what kind of symmetry the exchange between you and Kris
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.