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Architecture - Space and mass: Space, that immaterial essence that the painter suggests and the sculptor fills, the architect envelops, creating a wholly human. ​The height and massing of the apartment development contribute to a built form of a high LOCATION Welllington, New Zealand architect Architecture plus. There is a term architects like to throw around called building “massing”. What is massing you ask? Well it is pretty much what it sounds like; how the building.


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What is building massing?

If you look at a boxy office building it has massing. What is the massing? A lot of commercial buildings are boxy for the simple reason that constructing buildings that are boxy are cheaper to build because everything stacks up nice and easy. They can build one level and then stack the next level on top, then repeat.

Now the con of going this route is that a lot of times the beauty suffers…or the building lacks beauty all together. Architecture is ultimately subjective and what one person likes another may not. It is very much like being in love where beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I can tell you this though, in my humble opinion I have massing in architecture looked massing in architecture a building that resembled a box and found beauty in it.

An Introduction to Massing

There are a lot of modern buildings massing in architecture up that are literally boxes with roofs on them where the architects are looking to add beauty by the cladding or the materiality.

Some have used recycled wood, metal, concrete panels, metal panels, siding, and other cladding materials to dress up the building but in the end, when my eye looks at it, it still registers as a massing in architecture. Now it may be a cool box, but it is still a box!

These buildings are simply large boxes varying dimensions obviously but they all do the same thing; build the cheapest building that holds the most stuff! I do, however, give credit to some of these big box stores in that they do at least try to dress up the front facades to make them more appealing.

Now this I do think this is sort of cool in that they massing in architecture allowing the building to be what it wants to be. This brings up another topic entirely that concerns massing: Sometimes we can look at a building in most cases and immediately understand it. We can look at a strip mall and see a bunch of storefront glass and immediately know that it is a one-story building with space inside.

Look at the tiny Temple of Fortuna Virilis, for example.

Building height and massing - Auckland Design Manual

Take away all the detail of the columns and the entablature, and you are left with a rectangular cuboid. Temple of Fortuna Virilis, Rome, 40 B. They are approximately 1 to 1.

The overall proportions of that basic mass are pleasing. Imagine it shorter—it would look inelegant and squat. Now imagine it taller—it massing in architecture look rather gangly. Here is the celebrated Santa Maria della Consolazione in Todi.

Breaking massing in architecture down to its simple components, you have a central cube supporting a drum which supports a dome on top. The simplest architectural element is a plane, the flat, two-dimensional surface that limits masses and spaces.

The simplest plane is a rectangular one without openings or decoration—the wall of a room, for example.