The term “sacred geometry” gets thrown around a lot. Definitions abound but generally circle around something like, “ascribes symbolic and sacred meanings to certain geometric shapes and certain geometric proportions”. (www.crystalinks.com)
Now, I’m not a religious person and would not call myself spiritual, but if one were to be completely logical about it all there is an “efficiency” of certain shapes that cannot be denied. First, looking at nature we see virtually all critters’ nests are round. That’s very nice but let’s go about this in a more scientific manner.
The claim is that the circle is the most efficient shape. It has the smallest “perimeter to space ratio”. If you take the area of a shape and divide by its perimeter, that number will be the perimeter to area ratio.
To test this idea; take a triangle, a square, a 6-sided hexagon and a circle each 100 sq ft and calculate their perimeters. I’ll spare you the math but the results are: triangle 45’, square 40’, hexagon 37’ and circle 35’.
Notice that more sides you have, the smaller the perimeter.The circle would be a shape of infinitely smaller sides and it has the shortest length and theoretically uses the fewest materials to achieve the same square footage. The circle therefore, is the most efficient shape “in nature”.
Those two words, “in nature”, are key. While many say there is more waste in building a circle than in regular construction and I would agree, but not because of the shape, more because the building industry doesn’t “do round” very well.
So along comes Walther Balhaus (?) inventor of the geodesic dome, not Buckminster Fuller as some believe. Balhaus was an engineer in the 1920’s who was asked to build a planetarium. He discovered a way to build “rounded” buildings using square materials. He gave modern industrial society an opportunity to turn to something more “close to nature” as it were.
Aside from any religious beliefs it is worth noting that some buildings do make a person “feel different” when we enter. I think that feeling is one of awe. A high ceiling of any type tends to do that, commonly in large public buildings. But we can simulate that effect in a small space too. To achieve the effect of a high ceiling on a small scale, without looking awkward about it from an exterior design perspective, would be to make a dome shape. Trying it in a tiny rectilinear building that is higher than it is long...risks looking awkward and “boxy”.
So while I haven’t completely bought into the idea of sacred geometry I am fairly certain that spaces affect our well-being and the shape of those spaces would be one of those considerations.
Gilles Leclair is the founder of GeoStudios. Somewhat eccentric, fairly environmentalist, politically aware, he believes the world should have more off-grid communities... many more.