Another factor that should be taken into account when drawing the functional diagram is proportion. The proportion of an outdoor space is the relative relationship between length and width. One common tendency in this step is to draw most spaces as simple circular bubbles (Figure 8—4). This type of diagram makes each outdoor space similar to a building where every room is a perfect square. Of course, this would not be appropriate.
Each outdoor room needs special consideration based on the intended use of that space. Proportions should vary as intended uses vary. Generally, spaces can have equal plan proportions or unequal plan proportions.
Equal Plan Proportions A space that has equal plan proportions is one in which the length and width are about the same (Figure 8—5). Such a space lacks an implication of direction and therefore is well suited for collection, stopping, or gathering. A space of equal plan proportions can be inward oriented when proper enclosure exists (Figure 8—6). This type of space is often suitable for sitting and for conversation among individuals in a group. The outside entry foyer where people stop and gather before entering or after leaving the house is another space where equal plan proportions are appropriate (Figure 8-7).
Unequal Plan Proportions A space with unequal proportions (Figure 8—8) is one in which length is greater than width or vice versa. Outdoor rooms with such proportions are like hallways in a building and suggest movement because of their long, narrow quality (Figure 8—9). Long enclosed spaces are also appropriate for directing views in the landscape toward their ends or terminus points (Figure 8—10). Although spaces with unequal plan proportions are good for circulation, they are not suited for gathering because such activity gets in the way of movement through the space. And it is difficult to arrange furniture for conversation in long, narrow spaces; such an arrangement looks similar to a subway car (the left side of Figure 8—11). It is easier for people to talk to each other when they face each other (the right side of Figure 8—11). However, long spaces are good for arrangement of furniture for looking out at other points in the landscape, such as from a porch or veranda (Figure 8—12).
Spaces with unequal plan proportions tend to direct attention to their ends when the sides are enclosed.
The plan proportions of a space influence its ability to be used for gathering and conversation.