How To Use the Golden Ratio in Building

Written by brenda scottsdale
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How To Use the Golden Ratio in Building
The ancient Egyptians used the golden ratio when building the pyramids. ( Images)

Mathematicians seeking to discover why naturally occurring patterns are so pleasing to the human eye discovered that nature can be described by a ratio of 1.618. They called this number the golden ratio. In designing buildings the golden ratio is used to compare a smaller part to a larger part. If the larger part is 1.618 times the smaller part, it fits the golden ratio.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Calculate the golden ratio for the facade of the building. Measure the desired height of the facade. The golden ratio has been used for height/width comparisons since the Renaissance. The height of the C.N. Tower in Toronto, for example is 553.33 meters. The units of measurement do not matter, as long as the same units are used throughout.

  2. 2

    Divide the height by the golden ratio. For the C.N. Tower, 553.33 divided by 1.618 is 341.9839. The width of the C.N. tower would need to be 341.9839 to ascribe to the golden ratio. The actual width is 342 meters, demonstrating that the tower does conform to the golden ratio.

  3. 3

    Consider sizing the windows to fit the golden ratio. If the windows are shaped like rectangles, for example, take the desired height of the window and divide by 1.618 to get the desired width.

  4. 4

    Use the ratio to compare the proportion of the first story to second story in any home. Traditionally the first story would be 1.618 times larger than the second story; however, the Swiss architect Le Corbusier used a modern style where the second story was 1.618 times larger than the first.

  5. 5

    Use the ratio to compare as many or as few building features together. Palladio built the Villa Rotunda by conforming to the ratio on all axes, including diagonals.

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