Plan Geometry: 1-Square, 4-Square, 9-Square

You may be surprised to know that vast majority of plans can be reduced to one of these categories. These categories are generic organising strategies and the square is not to be taken literally when either looking for, or working with, these strategies. The 1 square refers to open plans with a single room or without any subdividing elements. The 4 square is a strategy in which four zones are organised around the periphery without a linking centralised space. The 9 square is a centralised plan with a clear central space (middle square) and peripheral zone (surrounding 8 squares). The 4 and 9 square represent a basic opposition between centralised and non-centralised plans, and as such provide you with a choice between hierarchical or non-hierarchical plan strategies. The 1 square can be treated as either, dependent on how the perimeter enclosure is defined.

These strategies are not absolutely necessary for making a good plan, but you will likely be working with one of them whether you know it or not – it’s better to know and understand their relative strengths and weaknesses. Each of these comes with their own range of possibilities as well as limitations.


How can these help?

When you recognise with direction in which your plan is developing you can ask yourself if the plan geometry is supporting your intentions, particularly where hierarchy is involved, or where a need for a centralised or collecting space is needed. You can also work ‘against’ the logic of the geometry in clever ways that may help your design development. For example, you may with to strengthen the different spatial characteristics of each quadrant in a 4 square scheme, so that the design does not freeze over into an overly static design. You can also ‘collapse’ or merge squares together so your plan isn’t just a diagram of a geometric strategy.




One thought on “Plan Geometry: 1-Square, 4-Square, 9-Square

  1. Pingback: Centred, Peripheral and Dispersed Plan Types | Architecture Design Primer

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