Architectural Hierarchy

Hierarchy in architecture is one of those concepts that seems obvious when done right, but is often done wrong.

It’s easy to go wrong here because often architects forget that there are actually two forms of hierarchy they have to keep in mind when designing.

The first is the client’s priorities for the home. In a way, this is the hierarchy that needs to be followed in terms of what rooms are the most important and therefore receive the most space in the home. For example, if the clients want to entertain, they need a grand entrance, a bar, plenty of space for guests to mingle, maybe several guest bedrooms. But if the clients want a private residence and have kids, maybe the priority is more on a large laundry room, a bunk room, windows that look over the backyard, etc.

At the same time, a good architect knows that the overall visual appearance of the home needs to have a vertical and horizontal hierarchy as well. A single, dominate element must anchor the home. This is often a vertical element – a tower, a defining roof line over the front door, or a strong front porch. Horizontally, the home needs to be broken up into simple shapes that keep the overall size of the house from feeling too large. Still, the key here is not to have too many competiting elements. There needs to be a hierarchy in both the vertical and horizontal shapes so that at a quick glance the key features, the front entrance, the lookout tower, the entertaining spaces, in other words the most important parts of the house, are obvious.

Here below is one of our latest creations. It’s a fantastic house in Destin on the water. I wanted to share some of these early construction photos because I think it is a georgeous example of how the architects have balance the hierarchy both inside and outside the home. Enjoy!