How Is The Golden Ratio Used In Architecture

Understanding The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio is an ancient mathematical concept, described in Euclid’s Elements in 300 BCE. It is hundreds of years old and has been used in many areas of design and art over the centuries. It is a term used to describe the proportional relationship between two measurements such that the relationship of the sum of the two measurements to the larger of the two measurements is the same as the ratio of the larger of the two measurements to the smaller. The number associated with the Golden Ratio is mathematically expressed as 1.618 and is also known as Phi or the ‘Divine Ratio’.

Applications In Architecture

The Golden Ratio has been used for centuries in architecture to create beautiful and aesthetically pleasing designs. There are records of the use of the Golden Ratio in the design of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. In the modern era, architects have continued to explore the potential of the Golden Ratio in their designs, and it is often used to help create harmonious proportions in interior and exterior spaces.
For instance, in the design of a building, an architect might use the Golden Ratio to create balance and unity. In the planning of a city or town, the Ratio can be used to create harmonious curves and lines. It can also be used to create internal and external patterns, such as for the interior of a hallway or the external facade of a building.

The Advantages Of Using The Golden Ratio

The main advantage of using the Golden Ratio in architecture is that it enables the designer to create a visually pleasing design that is in harmony with its environment. By using this ancient mathematical concept, the designer can ensure that the structure they design is proportionally balanced and aesthetically pleasing.
It is widely believed that due to its natural balanced proportions, the Golden Ratio can help to create a sense of peace and tranquility. It is often used by architects to create atmospheres that will promote a feeling of comfort and relaxation.
Using the Golden Ratio also enables the designer to create a design with a timeless quality to it. The elegant proportions created by the Ratio are still pleasing in the modern era, as they were when first discovered thousands of years ago.

Criticisms Of Using The Golden Ratio

Despite its advantages, the use of the Golden Ratio in architecture has been met with criticism. There are some who believe that by relying too much on this mathematical principle, designers will create structures and environments that are too symmetrical, or that lack creativity or originality.
There are also those who suggest that such precision in design can be stifling. Some critics argue that striking a balance between organic freeform design and precise symmetry is essential but can be difficult to achieve.

Implementing The Golden Ratio In Design Projects

When implementing the Ratio in a design project, it is important to balance the number of elements that adhere to the Ratio with elements that do not. Too much symmetry will create an uncomfortable environment, whereas too little symmetry will create a design that lacks unity.
It is also important to ensure that the elements used to adhere to the Golden Ratio create harmony and don’t create disharmony. This can be achieved by using the Ratio to accentuate certain features, rather than using it to create symmetry throughout.
Finally, it is important to ensure that the size and proportions of each element fit within the overall composition. The proportions of the elements should be related to one other, in order to create a coherent design.

Examples Of The Golden Ratio In Architecture

One of the most iconic examples of the use of the Golden Ratio in architecture is the Parthenon in Athens. This ancient Greek temple is considered a prime example of balance and proportion, with many of its features adhering to the Ratio. The proportions found in the Parthenon are believed to have been used to convey a sense of order and stability.
In modern architecture, the Golden Ratio is still widely used. One example is the Pompidou Centre in Paris, which was designed by the celebrated architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. The large external steel framework is composed of rectangular surfaces that adhere to the Golden Ratio.

The Place Of The Golden Ratio In Modern Design

The use of the Golden Ratio in modern design has been controversial, with some believing that it stifles creativity and others welcoming its use as a way of creating harmony and balance. However, by using it judiciously, and balancing it with organic elements, it can be used to create visually pleasing designs with a timeless quality.
In architecture, the Golden Ratio enables architects to create harmonious linework, as well as exterior and interior patterns. It also enables them to create the sense of balance and order that is so important in creating an aesthetically pleasing design.

Aesthetic Responses To The Golden Ratio

Some believe that the proportions created by the Golden Ratio are particularly pleasing because humans instinctively respond to them unconsciously. This is due to the way in which the brain processes visual stimuli, as it is believed that the brain responds positively to patterns and proportions found in nature.
The Golden Ratio is thought to be particularly pleasing as it can be found in the proportions of the human face, as well as in natural phenomenon such as the spiral galaxies found in space. It is thought that our brain detects this universal phenomenon and registers it as aesthetically pleasing.


The use of the Golden Ratio in architecture has been widespread since ancient times. It is widely believed that the proportions associated with this ancient mathematical concept are aesthetically pleasing, and it is an invaluable tool for creating harmony in a design. However, it is important to use it judiciously and alongside organic elements in order to create an aesthetically pleasing and balanced design.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

Leave a Comment