A Brief Guide on Asymmetrical Measurements

A Brief Guide on Asymmetrical Measurements

What are the things you should know about Asymmetrical Measurements?

  • Asymmetry measurements is having no balance between the two halves of an object.
  • Some buildings and structures are being built with asymmetrical designs. Some are built due to site requirements, while others are built to make an artistic statement.
  • In difficult designs, balance is achieved by using asymmetrical measurements.
  • Four reasons why asymmetry measurements work:
    • Nothing in the real world has a perfect shape.
    • A mind tends to linger to asymmetrical designs because it will try to understand it.
    • Asymmetrical pieces are more memorable.
    • Balanced can be achieved in asymmetrical structures by evening all out its elements.


Many designers, architects, engineers, and the like invest in an array of measuring tools in order to help them create various designs and projects. Not only is this useful for creating accurate measurements, but it also helps achieve a balanced design – whether or not it is symmetrical.

Symmetrical balance is one of the things professionals learn in order to design and build structures. This concept is known even by those who don’t belong in the world of construction. However, not many people know about asymmetry. If you are one of these individuals, you might wonder what it is.


What is Asymmetry?

In the everyday language, aesthetic symmetry means that something has the same length in both of its sides as well as its middle part. The perfect example would be a square; when you cut it down the middle, you’ll get two rectangles that are perfectly alike. Many people find this trait to be visually pleasing because of the sense of harmony and balance symmetrical images bring to their brains.

Asymmetry, on the other hand, is the lack of this balance because the two halves of an object are not even matches for each other. Take an acute or obtuse triangle for example. No matter where you cut it in half, both sides will be uneven in shape. Often times, this is seen as undesirable.

However, in visual arts, this can be done with taste to be aesthetically pleasing with the right design.


Symmetry and Asymmetry in Architecture

Symmetry and Asymmetry in Architecture

Symmetry can be found at every scale of architecture (from large cathedrals to the intimate home floor plan down to the tiles). Islamic structures are best known for this, especially with the iconic Taj Mahal and Lotfollah Mosque. Both of these use symmetry in their overall structures and small ornamentations. The Alhambra, which is a Moorish building, also uses complex patterns built around translational and reflection symmetries.

On the other side, modernist and postmodern architects experimented (and continue to experiment) on asymmetrical designs. This can mostly be seen in bridges. While most bridges are symmetrical, plenty of modern bridges were made to be asymmetrical. This was because of site requirements or the desire to make an artistic statement.


The Concept of Balance

The Concept of Balance

In order to understand why does asymmetry work in architecture and why does it work in design in general for that matter, the concept of balance must also be understood, including how it is achieved through both symmetry and asymmetry.

Symmetry takes a more simple but logical approach to design. By bringing an obvious balance to the mind of the viewer, the design is automatically perceived as pleasant. While a design doesn’t need to be perfectly symmetrical, as long as it is close enough, then the mind will be happy with what it sees. This balance is often called “formal balance.”

However, the nature of this formal balance makes it difficult to do when the design becomes more complicated. Plus, it is limited to simple designs. When one tries to achieve symmetry in a design that requires many elements, he will find that this is impossible; or he will have to force it.

In response to this need, to be able to make intricate designs while still being balanced, an “informal balance” was needed. This is achieved through asymmetry. Balance can be found here by distributing the design elements to even out the “weight” on either side. This means that, from the middle, no side has too many or too little elements compared to the other. A sense of balance is achieved by doing this and it is useful because not all designs can truly be forced to be symmetrical.


Reasons Why Asymmetry Works

Here are the reasons why asymmetrical measurements work: 

  1. Real Life: Nothing in the real world is perfect – not just in the philosophical sense. Perfect shapes are barely found in nature. Even the human body isn’t symmetrical.
  2. The Brain Lingers: Symmetrical designs, as stated earlier, are simple which is why it’s easy to appreciate; its beauty is obvious. But when a piece of art is asymmetrical, the mind tends to ponder upon the mystery of why it is so attractive. The brain will, at first, try to find flaws. However, in a good asymmetrical design, the flaws will be overlooked by the sense of imperfect yet perfect balance.
  3. A Form of Attachment and Uniqueness: When the brain lingers on a certain thing, the more attached it becomes to it. This barely happens in symmetrical designs since there is not much to remember. But asymmetrical designs intrigue the mind because of its uniqueness. There are more details trying to process and it automatically makes an asymmetrical piece more memorable.
  4. Balance is Perceived by Visual Weight: The reason why symmetrical designs are attractive is because the weight seems to be perfectly balanced and it seems like the image won’t tip over. This can be done with asymmetrical designs as well just by evening out the elements so they would look even.


Key Takeaway

The mind doesn’t look for a perfectly shaped design; rather it is looking for a balanced one. Although it is true that it can easily be achieved by symmetrical shapes, asymmetrical images are just as capable – and possibly even more interesting!

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