The Use of Basic Shapes in Residential and Home Architecture

Posted May 22, 2019 | Tags: Residential and Home Architecture

The link between architecture and shapes dates back to ancient times when the two disciplines were virtually inseparable. Egyptian pyramids and Roman temples were some of the earliest examples of architectural shapes at work.

Today, shapes continue to define the residential landscape, and thanks to modern technology, architects can explore seemingly infinite design options allowing them to design groundbreaking homes. In this article, we look at the use of basic shapes in residential and home architecture.   


Look around you. Triangles are everywhere. Any home requiring a rigid and robust support system depends on triangles to achieve that goal.    We see it in the framework of most residential buildings.  When a house is constructed using the shape of a triangle, the design has a massive base, and the pinnacle at the top is capable of holding a lot of weight.     Also because of its rigid shape, a triangle cannot be deformed when pressure is applied to it.

This is the reason why one of the most recognized homes is an A-frames; it provides both strength and stability.    The most common triangular forms in home design are the equilateral (where all sides are equal) and isosceles (where two sides are equal), their symmetry helps in proper weight distribution.   

The use of the triangle in home architecture dates back to the early years even before other familiar shapes such as the arch and dome were used.  

Squares and Rectangles  

A key concept in residential architecture is the use of squares and rectangles. These are by far the most used shapes in home design. Even though they are weak and require structural support unlike triangular designs, rectangles and squares are at work wherever cost reduction is needed.   

This is because such shapes are generally cheaper to construct. Floors, walls, ceilings, windows, and doors usually are rectangular or square in shape. Odd shapes will be more challenging to build and will cost more.  

Similarly, most plots are rectangular or square shaped, so building in such a plot will give you a similarly shaped house. Rectangular and square designs also allow furniture and other interior items to be fitted more easily. Incidentally, most items of domestic utility come in rectangular and square shapes too.   

With regards to energy efficiency, it is cheaper to service rectangular and square shaped rooms and houses. Oddly shaped houses will cost more in air conditioning and heating since standard solutions will not apply. Customized solutions are more expensive to install and maintain.    Moreover, inside wall fittings such as electrical lines and water pipes run through straight and bending them to fit irregular shapes can cause difficulties in installation and also maintenance.   

In short, rectangular and square shaped homes are not only easy and inexpensive to build, but they are also the most structurally sound.   


Not all residential designs are formed by straight lines. One of the most useful architectural shapes is the circle.    It provides the most economical forms of construction,  mostly because a circular design supports itself, and therefore doesn't require pillars to stand it up.   

Another advantage is improved ventilation because of the heightened ceiling and less hindering structures within. This allows cool and warm air to flow around smoothly than in any other shape of building.  With 20% reduced wall space, heating and cooling bills can be lowered.   

Round homes also stand up to extreme winds. The curved roofs make them wind-resistant because winds will flow around the structure instead of getting trapped in angles. Because of this, they are particularly resistant to high-velocity winds lifting the roof or tilting the house.   

Circular homes are also considered environmentally friendly. They use fewer materials than their rectangular and triangular counterparts.    In conclusion, shapes define architecture, no matter how subtle. Believers say that when we recognize shape and build upon it, we create buildings that inspire and comfort.

This is the core mission of Bill Whittaker Registered Architect- to help you shape a home that you'll love for many years to come.

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We are a small Design-Centered Practice Studio that promotes cost effective Green Building technologies.
We provide a wide range of services, and no job is too big or too small for our experience. With over 15 years of commercial experience, we can design a wide variety of architectural styles that can fit most needs or tastes.