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The Secret Garden Elements & Principles of Design in the exterior


Table of Contents

Features: Elements & Principles of Design Outdoors

Design Thesis…3 About the Author…4 Elements of Design…5

Texture…6 Lines…12 Light…18 Color…24 Space...30 Shape…36 Form…42 Principles of Design…48 Balance…49 Harmony…55 Emphasis…60 Massing…63 Rhythm…66 Proportion…71 Scale…74 References…77 Venice, Italy

About The Secret Garden Here at The Secret Garden magazine, we believe in the idea of beauty and inspiration being passed along via the placement and effects that a structure can have on a

person, especially outdoors. Our main focus is capturing this beauty and educating our readers on how to convey

this in their own back yards in order to reap the benefits. We achieve this by photographing interesting, abstract structures such as play grounds, gardens, and other constructions in North Carolina. Oftentimes, we see magnificent things in nature, whether it be natural or due

to a man made attribute. Our magazine encourages its readers to stop and smell the roses every once in a while.

We strive for awareness of the beauty around us.


Assisi, Italy

It all started when I was very young, playing on playgrounds and running around at recess. I always enjoyed looking at the way playgrounds were set up and gained a special excitement each time I discovered a new outdoor arrangement. I enjoyed looking at outdoorsy magazines and working as a YMCA camp counselor during the summers as a teenager. Something about the mixture of being outside and finding new arrangements sparked my interest to learn about the 4 principles and elements of design.




Tactile texture is that which one can physically feel. This is usually characterized by roughness or bumpiness. This bench is a nice example of tactile texture because when it is felt, on receives the bumpy sensation created by the many small cut outs in the seat. 8

Implied texture is something perceived by ones mind rather than by their senses. An object is designed in a way that when it is felt, it seems smooth and morose, but when it is viewed, the object seems rigid and lively. This part of a playground set shaped as a fish is a good example of implied texture because the cut outs imply the presence of gills. 9

Non Reflective texture can be viewed in the picture to the left. This type of texture does not act as a mirror when looked upon. The texture is usually grainy and coarse.


Reflective texture acts as a mirror and represents the image it is confronted with. These surfaces are usually shiny and metallic, which makes this small scale climbing wall a good example of reflective texture. 11



Horizontal lines promote a harmonious relationship with the earth. These lines can emphasize a focal point and guide the eye in desired directions. Horizontal lines can also be restricting, like those shown above. Horizontal lines are commonly used in fences because they convey a feeling of security to on lookers. 14

Vertical lines are more formal, lofty, and restrained as compared to horizontal lines. They give off notions of dignity and stability because of their perpendicular nature. It is said that these lines have the power to lift the mind as well as the spirit by forcing one to look upward. What better place to find these uplifting lines than in a playground, where innocent children come to play! 15



Art, Task, Track, Soffit, Natural, Colored, Uplighter, Combustion, Floor lamps, Table lamps



Uplighter lighting is used to emphasize textures, figures, and illuminate different objects from the bottom up. It is often used in the exterior lighting of houses and the illumination of lawn sculptures. The pictures on this page show a fixture being used to brighten the appearance of a decorative wall in the middle of a traffic circle in a neighborhood. 20

Soffit lighting can usually be found in rows on the ceilings of buildings. These recessed fixtures are connected by a soffit box on the non-visable side of the ceiling. They provide direct lighting below where they are installed. These types are optimal in placed like the entrance ways of schools, like the one shown above, because it provides optimal lighting and stays out of the way. 21

Combustion Lighting is a natural source of lighting which can be used functionally as a heat source and light source in the dark, as well as decoratively by providing a space with ambiance. The fires shown in the pictures above both provide heat in the winter and a relaxed summer night feeling the rest of the year. 22

Colored lighting mainly serves for decorating purposes. Colored lighting is most often associated with Christmas lighting, but it can also be found in other places. The luminaries in the photo are suspended in front of a building to draw in on lookers and provide an edge for the business.




Analogous Color schemes are comprised of colors which are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. Analogous color schemes are usually bright and are able to keep up with changing moods of the area. The scheme in this tennis court will be bright if the player is winning or losing. The bright colors also make the courts seem clean. 26

Complimentary color schemes feature colors that are across from each other on the color wheel. Direct color schemes are between colors directly across from each other on the color wheel, such as red and green, yellow and violet, and blue and orange. The red and green posts and the blue with orange lettering qualify these pieces of playground equipment direct complimentary.


Triad Complements include colors like red, blue, and yellow, and green, orange, and violet. The hues of these colors are equidistant from each other on the color wheel and provide a sort of “pop� to viewers. This scheme is perfect for play grounds because it is bright and cheery.


Monochromatic color schemes focus on using different tints and variations of the same color. These colors can be bright or dull, depending on the space. This wall is an example of monochromatic use of color outdoors. The grains in between the blocks of stone are a variation of grey, which contributes to the overall effect.




Territoriality spacing allows a person to have their own privacy in a certain space. Territoriality can set certain uses for a space or just exist for seclusion. This outdoor space serves to give children a place to go other than on the playground equipment. Here they can sit by themselves, look at the flowers and read the signs.



Positive space outside is space where things can be placed and arranged in a mindful manor. In this setting, the benches are centered around the stand to give the area a feeling of community. The field is full of positive space and room to arrange things in. 34




Abstract, by definition means “existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.� Abstract shapes are shapes which make the mind think. They engage the brain in trains of thought that would not be accessed via simple, geometric shapes. This bench is abstract because it is not a general form of a shape. The artist or builder of this piece was thinking out of the box upon creation.


Geometric shapes are two dimensional figures which are mathematically defined. These shapes can give an area a modern or futuristic feeling. This picture is of a geometric figure used for decoration in a courtyard.


Organic Shapes follow no specific form. They add a natural flow of energy to an area. Trees are great examples of organic shapes. Trees and other plants accent the area and contribute a natural theme to anywhere they are present. 40

Dynamic shapes appear as moving or active, even when they are stationary. This effect can make a patio or a piece of furniture come alive with its surroundings. These bricks give off the notion that they are moving because of their shape and arrangement. 41



Geometric forms involve named shapes, such as squares, circles, triangles, etc. The use of geometric form can promote an arithmetical or educated theme. This statue sends out a regal; theme because of the use of geometric 44 form within it.

Natural form is the original form of an object in nature. It is often times used to enhance a nature rich atmosphere. This tree is being used in its natural form as an accent to this red brick building. 45

Organic Shapes follow no specific form. Abstract form can be described as wild or untamed. This display, seen in a courtyard on East Carolina University’s, is abstract because there are so many different things going on. No one really knows what to think of this. 46

Non-Objective form is very artistic. It is free and literally has “no objective.” This statue is “non-objective” because there is no real method to the structure. Interpretation of the piece is up to the viewer. 47



Visual symmetry as related to balance is symmetry that can be seen by the eye. It is not always planned to be this way. The symmetry in this picture is visual because the trees are growing almost equal distances from the bench on both sides. The balance can be witnessed with the eyes. 51

Structural symmetry is balance which was planned to be a certain way. The design for the area and the components of the space are built with the intention of being balanced and symmetrical. Structural Symmetry can be seen in this picture because the railings of the bridge were built parallel to and on both sides of the road way. The lanterns were also built in this manner to promote the symmetry of the area. 52

Visual Asymmetry occurs when objects are unevenly distributed about a central point or axis. Asymmetry creates visual tension while preventing superficiality. In this picture, the rocks are asymmetrically placed in front of the tree.

Radial Symmetry occurs when a number of objects are centered around a central point in a circular fashion. The objects are said to “radiate� from the central point. This Gargoyle light fixture displays radial symmetry because the four lower bulbs are centered around the upper bulb.



Harmony can be created in a number of ways, one of which is through the use of lines to show unity. The repetition of lines in an image or an arrangement can create a sensual effect and a common flow. The boards that make up this fence create harmony by the lineage and parallelism.56

Unity through shape is created by the use of shapes repetitively to create a feeling of harmony. In this picture, the circular shape of the bushes unifies the garden and ultimately creates harmony.


The use of repeating colors creates harmony by attracting the eye. It creates a balance in an area and gives off a unified effect. These plants are unified by the color green to provide a sense of harmony.


Repetition can serve as a useful tool in achieving harmony. If a pattern is repeated, it gives the viewer a sense of security and relaxation. This design in the bricks of the building show repetition and ultimate unity.



A visual focal point serves the purpose of drawing the eye to a certain point in an arrangement. The focal point of this garden is the fountain. One can determine this because the pathway leads to it and the various plants and bench surround it.


Structural focal points are created via architectural advancements. They attract the eye to certain things on a larger scale. The way this building is built is to accentuate the doorway to this store. 62


Visual density is density in objects that can be easily noticed. This bush is visually dense. One can see that the bush is full through and through.


Optical density is when objects are placed in such a way that density can be sensed without being seen directly. This parking deck seems like it would be dense, yet when one takes a second to think about it, the parking deck is full of space. 65


Repetition is the use of similarly shaped elements. It is a strong unifying force and can create immense rhythm in an area. In this photograph, the lanterns outside of this sushi restaurant serve a functional and decorative use.


Climactic rhythm is used in this window of this building. This technique can lead the eye of onlookers to a certain point and create a modern aesthetic.


This apartment building displays contrast rhythm around the windows and roof. The contrast between white, grey, and the red brick creates a pop of color as well as a nice flow of elements which can be seen with the eye.


The curved lines present in the roofs of these buildings displays flowing rhythm. The fact that the same curve in the roofing material is carried out to the surrounding buildings makes this complex a nice example of flowing rhythm.



This pond is very well in proportion with the space provided to it. It’s shape and size is large, but not overbearing, so that other elements of this golf course can be noticed as well.


This pond, however, is different from the previous. It was installed in a smaller area and is the main focal point of this backyard. The pond takes away from the surrounding features, which makes it out of proportion with the space.



The figurines present in these letters are symbols of scale. The trees serve as a vantage point and a helpful gage of how small these figures are.


Human scale is shown in this picture because the sign serves as a literal scale of how tall the electrical towers actually are in relation to how tall an average person is.


Google Images…………………………………….cover, background images Venice, Italy…………………………………………page 2 Assisi, Italy………………………………………… 4 Various parks in Raleigh, NC………………..pages 8-11, 14-16, 20-22, 26-28, 32-35, 51-54, 56, 58, 61, 72-73, 75 East Carolina University, Greenville, NC..pages 17, 29, 38-41, 44-47 Triangle Town Center Mall, Raleigh, NC…pages 23, 62 Falls River Plaza, Raleigh, NC………………..pages 57, 59, 67-70, 76 Wake Med North, Raleigh, NC………………pages 64-65 77

The Secret Garden  

elements principles of design outside