Thesis – Chapter 3 Planning Literature: 3.2 Balance & Harmony
3.2 Balance and Harmony
Balance is perhaps the most fundamental positive calming concept in our lives, thus its importance in Feng Shui naturally follows. Harmony is realized when balance is achieved and the points of conflict that create tension are resolved, all relative to a person’s perception of the space. Unbalanced surroundings create a feeling of imbalance in a person. Buildings that are too high, streets that are too wide or too narrow, too much concrete and not enough vegetation, all these represent imbalances that repel people from a space, or cause them to use it only when necessary.
Harmony results from the balancing of extremes and the recognition and management of polarities, and the entire human body is affected. In Topophilia, Yi-Fu Tuan writes, “The human mind appears to be disposed to organize phenomena not only into segments but to arrange them in opposite pairs. This tendency may reflect the structure of the human mind, but the emotional force of some bipolar antimonies suggests that the total human being, at all levels of experience, is involved” (Tuan, 1974, p. 16)
When confronted with environmental attributes, a human being will typically select a spot of balance somewhere between the extremes of hot and cold, dark and light, hard and soft, and wet and dry. In Feng Shui, these extremes are defined as yin and yang, symbolized by, where the yin extreme is represented by soft, dark, wet, curvy, and quiet features, and the yang extreme is represented by hard, bright, dry, straight, and loud features. Extremes of any element are frequently difficult for us to endure, making us uncomfortable. We tend to naturally gravitate toward something in the middle, using a yin extreme to balance a yang extreme, and vice versa. This instinctive balancing and the subsequent feeling of harmony applies to any space regardless of size. “The appeal of cities lies in large part on the juxtaposition of the cozy and the grand, of darkness and light, the intimate and the public” (Tuan, 1974, p. 28).
For additional information regarding yin and yang, see Appendix I.