Architects have long sought to understand what makes one shape more pleasing than another. The Square, the double square and the golden rectangle have stubbornly re-surfaced in treatises of aesthetics since the time of Plato.
Also, throughout history, artists, architects, scientists and philosophers have endeavoured to rationalise the human form, to understand the measurements of the body in relation to natural and geometric systems.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (1490) is perhaps the most recognizable of the visualisations, depicting Vitruvius’ ideas about the proportions of the human body and the relationships between man, nature, geometry and architecture. Much later, in 1946, Le Corbusier created the Modular as “a harmonious measure to the human scale, universally applicable to architecture and mechanics.”
The original competition brief called for a new two storey glazed foyer to be attached to the front of the existing hall. Avery Associates however suggested a more straightforward option, positioning the foyer to the side as a separate, single storey structure.
As a result, the existing facade remains untouched, the circulation is greatly improved and all the facilities can be used independently or together. It was also cheaper.
The new foyer has been set at an angle to reflect the picturesque irregularity of the context and the diagonal lines-of-sight linking the Chapel with the Arch entrance.
This angle then translates into a planning grid as a rhythm of equilateral triangles based on a side width of 1.65m, the dimension from the floor to the eye level of the architect.
This dimension, doubled, (3.3m) is the ceiling height and the proportion of 3.3/1.65 (a 2/1 ratio) is the size of every glass panel. In this way the floor, ceiling and walls are coordinated by a unifying geometry relating directly to the human scale and giving the foyer an elegant serenity.