Garden Geometries: The Circle
By Vera Gates
The circular form is a geometric whole, arising from one point and one radius line, inscribing a visual volume. Seldom used, playful and magical, the circular form is pure pleasure to design with.
Of all the geometric forms, the circle holds the most embedded power. There is something primal in this form, with reference to mandalas, Native American circle dance and The Sanctuary of Athena in ancient Delphi. The circle has traditionally been used in the marking of time and creation of monuments to celebrate the seasons. Think Stonehenge, the Mayan calendar, sundials and your wrist watch.
The circle is a challenge to design with. It is perfection in closed loop, the eye and the mind tend to remain within, so it can be fairly static. We use the circle sparingly and quite intentionally, either at a grand scale for ordering space, or a design aspect where we playfully repeat the form or combine the circle with other forms to activate it.
For example, we often design using a series of concentric circles, bisected by lines and offset in their start and stop. This creates a dynamic but still very comprehensible form with a lot of play and movement. This gives an expanded sense of space and time.
In plan, we inscribe a circle as a design form. Lifting this form up and giving it volume, we create a sphere. The circle can also be one of the most playful of forms, as there is such whimsy in the reference to bubbles and big rubber balls.