DESIGN THEMES

Earlier in this chapter, Figure 10—2 illustrated a variety of design themes composed of different sets of forms and lines. These six themes provide the designer with com­positional options for creating visual structure in a landscape design. Some themes are made up of only one type of form; others include two. Rarely, however, will more than two different forms work together to create a recognizably consistent theme.

The following sections discuss characteristics of each of these themes along with their potential uses on residential design projects.

Circular Theme

A design theme made up primarily of circles or portions of circles is called a circular theme (Figure 10—29). Two potential types of circular themes are overlapping circles and concentric circles.

Overlapping Circles Overlapping circles create a composition with relatively “soft” edges. There are several guidelines for creating overlapping circular themes. First, it is desirable to use a variety of circle sizes. As suggested in Chapter 9, each composition should have a dominant space or form. Thus, one circular area of the composition should stand out as being the prominent element (Figure 10—30). Such a circular area could be used as a lawn area, a major entertaining and living space, or another impor­tant area of a design. Other spaces of the design should be smaller in size, although they should not all be the same size.

Second, when overlapping two circles, it is recommended that the circumfer­ence of one circle pass through or near the center of the other circle (Figure 10—31). There are two reasons for this. First, if there is too much overlap, then one circle is apt

Figure 10-29

Two types of circular design themes.

Figure 10-30

One circle within an overlapping circular theme should dominate.

Figure 10-31

The circumference of each circle should pass through or near the center of adjoining circles.

to lose its identity, being too much inside the other circle (left side of Figure 10—32). On the other hand, if there is not enough overlap between the circles, then acute an­gles are likely to occur (right side of Figure 10—32).

An overlapping circular theme has several qualities. First, it provides several dis­tinct, though still related, parts. This is advantageous where there are a number of dis­tinct functions or spaces that comprise a design. An overlapping circular theme also has many directions or feelings of orientation. Such a composition can focus on sev­eral points in the landscape (Figure 10—33).

Because of the repetition of the circles, an overlapping circular theme is best sit­uated on level ground or on a sloped site where each circular area is terraced at a dif­ferent level into the slope (Figure 10-34). A rolling landform, on the other hand, would not be as compatible with the strong geometry of the circular forms.

Concentric Circles Concentric circles create a very strong composition due to the focus of attention at the center of the design where the radii and extended radii origi­nate (Figure 10-35). It is quite difficult to deny the importance of the center in a con­centric circular theme.

Compositional variety in a concentric circular theme can be created by varying the lengths and the amount of rotation of the radii and extended radii (Figure 10-36).

A concentric design theme is best used when there is an extremely important design element or space that is to be the center of attraction. The center point of a concentric circular theme should not be placed randomly on a site. It should be a significant existing or proposed feature or space that accentuates the entire composition. To acknowledge the importance of the center point, it should be a prominent focal point such as a sculpture, water feature, or special pavement pattern (Figure 10-37). In addition, a concentric circular theme can be used to suggest a broad, panoramic view of the surrounding landscape (Figure 10-38).