Feng Shui Architecture

Feng Shui literally means “wind-water” in English and is the Chinese art or practice of positioning objects or structures so as to harmonize with spiritual forces. The belief system is based on the patterns of Yin and Yang and the overall flow of energies (Qi or Chi) that present the possibility of positive and negative effects. Feng Shui commonly influences orientation, placement and arrangement of objects.

The concepts of Feng Shui are a constant, whether at the forefront or subconscious of the design process. There are times when the ideas behind this practice present contradiction for the design brain, in which case they will be inevitably ignored to allow the imagination of the project to flourish in a manner of whimsy, provocative juxtaposition – or to simply honor the sensibility within the logic of the overall design minus the “spiritual” connotation.

However the psychology behind designing a harmonious structure based on Feng Shui fundamentals are not easily ignored. In fact, it can be quite a beautiful process that may ultimately leave a lasting sense of positive well-being on the inhabitants of the dwelling. As a side note, the position of this post isn’t meant to focus on the philosophy behind Feng Shui, but rather to take a brief look at the role it can play in the architectural process…and present it for those seeking to incorporate this practice into the craft of their home.

The preferred proportion of a home is square or rectangular.

 The geometrics of these two shapes present ideal opportunity for ideal function and harmony amid interior spaces. The layout of these shapes also allow for energy efficient planning, and make way for the applications of practical building materials.

Create a dwelling which allows for lots of natural daylight, air flow, and proper ventilation. 

Large windows placed strategically to allow for the maximum amount of natural daylight will invite this concept – whether from floor to ceiling or placed on high points of a tall wall. Windows with operable function should be placed in directions that allow for natural air flow through out the home.

Areas of rest should be void of sharp corners or protruding objects.

 Rooms to put this concept into practice in are (of course) bedrooms,  living rooms, and family rooms. Even a luxurious bathroom space should incorporate this concept to give a spa-like feel of relaxation.

Work spaces should be kept separate from rest areas.

 Home offices should be given their own designated walls. This allows for proper energies within a designated room to flow without disruption of the activity that was originally intended for that specific space.

Prevent clutter with adequate storage. 

Creating a proper place for items that need to be stored is a must. Think closets, built-in cabinets, cupboards and shelving with internal organization capabilities. Clutter restricts the flow of positive energy and produces a convoluted and confused mind according to Feng Shui principles. Keeping your environment tidy and well organized presents a calm and relaxed environment.

Entry ways are extremely important when considering the structure of your home. 

Ideally your front doors should be solid and open inward to give a feeling of welcome upon entry. Additionally, entry ways should be kept clean and tidy of clutter to allow for positive energy to flow through.

There are an abundance of ways to implement Feng Shui into the architectural build of your home. If it’s an important piece of the puzzle for you, you certainly can enlist the help of an expert of the practice to work with your architect and interior designer to ensure the fundamentals are met.

The principles and practices of Feng Shui continue to play an increasingly important role in our design work and, while we’re no experts in the philosophy, we are enthusiastic students of its value. Even a basic review of Feng Shui reveals an intricate and sometimes contradictory language of design. In fact, for this post, we had a difficult time even finding a common definition of Feng Shui. In the spirit of forward progress, we borrowed from a variety of sources and produced our own definition – one that relates to our use of Feng Shui and (with any luck) keeps relatively true to its fundamental ideals. Here goes:

Feng Shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English and is the Chinese art or practice of positioning objects or structures so as to harmonize with spiritual forces. It is based on a belief in patterns of Yin and Yang and the flow of energies (Chi) that have positive and negative effects. The practice commonly influences orientation, placement, or arrangement.

While we greet some principles of Feng Shui with skepticism, (the placement of a three-legged toad statue in the entry vestibule, for instance,) we admire others for their direct and understandable value to physical design. These beliefs typically relate to what seems healthy and sensible to us as architects. Orienting the bed to face south-east is a good example, as it has a clear relationship with a natural way to awake in harmony with nature.

Academics may take issue with our rudimentary understanding of Feng Shui, our selective use of its principles, or our tailored definition. This post is not intended to cover the philosophy of Feng Shui or address the complexity of the complete Feng Shui design process. For that, there are entire academic programs which deal with Feng Shui’s cryptic language. We don’t intend to find anyone’s Bagua (energy map of a house), determine anyone’s Feng Shui Birth Element or clarify your Kua Number (lucky direction). Today’s post is, rather, 10 simple principles of Feng Shui that we continue to encounter on our projects. These items are usually requested by savvy clients who are versed in the guidelines of Feng Shui. More often than not, we find that these 10 principles of Feng Shui dovetail nicely with Pacific Northwest modernism and the philosophy of Scandinavian design that have so heavily influenced our own thinking.

1. The ideal house proportion is square, followed by rectangular. 

These geometries make for highly functional relationships between interior spaces, energy efficient plans, and the application of practical building materials.

2. The front entry should be clean, unencumbered,

and well maintained. The entry area should be free of trash bins, yard tools, and other distractions. House numbers should be clearly visible and preferably in a font like Century Gothic, Helvetica, or Neutra (okay, we might have made up that last part). The entry area is the face of the house, you pass it several times each day and it is the first thing that greets visitors: it should be an area that evokes positive energy.

3. The quality of the entry door determines the quality of the energy entering the home. 

Ideally, doors should be solid and should open in.  The front door can become a feature of the home with the use of a bright color (red seems to be preferable).

4. Areas of rest should be kept separate from areas of work. 

A home office should be distinct from living or sleeping areas. Physical and/or psychological design elements should be strategically located to separate places of rest from places of work.

5. There should be a place for everything to be stored and rooms should be clutter free. 

Clutter in the home restricts the flow of positive energy and results in cluttered thinking. A tidy, well organized home fosters a calm and relaxed environment.

6. Get rid of unused items.

 As a simple matter of home maintenance, items that are unused evoke bad energy and should be removed. That old [fill in the blank item in your garage] that you keep thinking that you’re going to fix up (but never do) is messing up your Chi.

7. Promote natural ventilation and an abundance of daylight inside the house.

 Large floor to ceiling windows maintain a maximum amount of natural daylight while operable windows in the right locations allow for excellent natural ventilation.

8. Beds should face south-east so that the process of sleeping and waking is in harmony with nature. 

While the fundamentals of Feng Shui link the direction of the bed with your Kua number and what you are trying to achieve in life (wealth, love, happiness,) we find that most people simply enjoy waking up with the sun.

9. Avoid sharp corners or protruding objects pointing toward areas of rest. 

This includes beds, the dining room table, the sofa, etc. Designing with simple squares and rectangles typically compliments this principle (see #1).

10. The center of a house should be empty to let the energy circulate properly. 

This works well with the circulation of a house and it allows common areas to share common square footage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *