Configuration is the general shape of a space. For example, the configuration of a space may be simple, L-shaped, or complex. However, configuration does not refer to the specific form of a space, such as whether an area is round, square, curved, or angled. Configuration is similar to proportion in that it is concerned with the outline of a space, although in more detail. Some basic plan configurations are described and illustrated in the following paragraphs.
Simple Configuration The generalized shape of a space can have a simple configuration (Figure 8—13). A space with this configuration has a strong sense of unity because the entire area can be seen easily and completely at one time from any location.
A simple configuration is most suitable for gathering spaces such as an eating area or an outdoor entry foyer.
L-Shaped Configuration As the name implies, a space with this configuration bends around a corner (Figure 8—14) and establishes two smaller subspaces in the legs of the “L” while still maintaining a sense of connection between them. A space with an “L” configuration can offer a sense of intrigue because each subspace may not be entirely apparent as viewed from the other subspace. A feeling of mystery is created by what lies hidden around the corner (left side of Figure 8—15). The inside corner is a strategic place that can be seen easily from all locations within the “L” configuration and therefore is a potential place for a focal point (right side of Figure 8—15). Examples of L-shaped spaces might include a major entertaining space with a small seating area to the side (left side of Figure 8—16), or a wood deck with an eating area and an observation area adjacent to it (right side of Figure 8—16).
Complex Configuration A third possible configuration for outdoor space is composed of an edge that has many variations in its alignment (Figure 8—17). These edge variations or “pushes and pulls” add variety to the space they surround. Each “push” away from the space creates a small subspace and each “pull” provides some separation between the subspaces. When this is done with an outdoor entertaining space, small pockets of space (the “pushes”) for small intimate groupings are created around the perimeter of the central space (Figure 8—18). Another example of a complex configuration is a wood deck designed to provide several different and unique views into the surrounding landscape (Figure 8—19).