Pick up a pencil and piece of paper. Without caring what it looks like, close your eyes and draw what ivy feels like. Draw all over the paper.
Now open your eyes and look at what you've drawn.
If you're even half way normal, you will have doodled all sorts of lazy loops back and forth and all around and there's probably not one sharp angle in the entire composition.
How many "L's" can you find?
Ivy feels flowing, growing, loopy, curvy, sensual, living and green.
Ivy feels feminine.
Turn the piece of paper over. Nobody's watching. Doodle again, eyes closed.
Draw what a mountain feels like. Draw what a pyramid feels like. Draw what you thought a house feels like when you were a kid. Draw what holds up a bridge.
Assuming the other half of you is normal, you probably drew bigger, bolder, stronger movements made of straight lines, angles and sharp corners. And these shapes feel dark brown, black. These shapes feel masculine.
Look at your drawing. How many triangles can you find?
How many "A's"? An "A" is a triangle and feels masculine.
Most everything in nature is "L" over "A" or "A" under "L", female over male or male under female, yin over yang or yang under yin.
The Great 69
Good design introduces aspects of both yin and yang. Great design balances female and male attributes. The interplay of things female and things male, things growing and things structured, is "the music of art".
And art is the music of architecture.
Architecture that exposes too much yang is stiff and overbearing. The yin in the composition is made subservient.
Is it any accident that most governmental buildings and churches are designed to express rigid yang control over the living yin?
Notice how phallic columns stand stiff at attention like so many soldiers guarding the imprisoned arch. Who would here dare enter?
Notice the absolute thrusting symmetry. God is approached on one's knees. The human is humbled and small, insignificant. Antoni Gaudi here perfectly expressed the hierarchy of access to Deity; woman, man, human, priest, Jesus, God.
This is still great architecture. But, this is great architecture made great to prove that the church is in charge and is Great, GREAT, GREAT!
Our friend Gaudi however had often his most talented tongue in cheek!
Personally, I find more joy and humor and connection when the yang is teased and twisted and tortured a little, to the point yang nods and give sway to the yin. He does not lose his manliness, but he is better understood and received. The green zippered pea-pod parapet in the photo above seems to be laughing almost at the eight pontificating cardinals masquerading as chimney stacks.
("I hear quiet whispering nuns reflecting black and white on the pomp of colorful circumstance," I imagine Gaudi laughing.)
Fun happens when yang is trumped by yin, when yang's angular rhythmic battle against gravity is pulled over and bent, humbled yet proudly resisting, strong but yeilding, ultimately embrased but in good humor, his giving in and living as one with his opposite.
The greatest of humanmade designs mimics nature in the eternal balancing act of yin and of yang.