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Repetition and Rhythm

The use of same form or element in a building can be termed as


What is Repetition?

Repetition of unit forms usually conveys an immediate sense of

harmony .
Repetition adds visual interest to design, and helps to identify
elements that belong together. It can be considered a way of
adding consistency to any design.
These elements can be as simple as colour, spatial
relationships, a shape, a texture, Columns and windows, pattern
and arrangement of tiles.


In general, throughout Nature repetition is associated with

peaceful things with the idea of quiet succession in events.
Repetition of days or cycles of activities in nature imply a sense of
Dissimilarity and non-succession are results of interference and

Repetition in Nature

Thus, though an echo actually increases the quantity of sound

heard, its repetition of the note or syllable gives an idea of
calmness attainable in no other way; hence also the feeling of
calm given to a landscape by the repeated calls of birds
[Ruskin, John. Elements of Drawing,1971].

Repetition phenomena

Here the same butterfly is shown twice. Which one appears

closer? Note how size relationships create depth or space in a

Repetition and size

Examples in History

The interior of the dome of the Pantheon has repetitive coffers in

five rings of 28 each.

Examples in History

Examples in History

The Seagram building by Mies Van der

Rohe in Manhattan.
Completed in 1958.
Marked the onset of minimalist approach
to design and a new era of skyscrapers.
The minimal glass and steel faade is an
example of both horizontal and vertical
elements in repetition.

Modern Examples

The MIT Simmons Hall by Steven Holl Architects.

Examples in recent times

Repetition creates patterns. Pattern is created by the repetition of a shape,

form, or texture across a work of art.

Repetition and Pattern

Excessive repetition may cause Monotony.

Result of increased density in Hong Kong the repetition of

similar buildings with several units of same elements makes it


Repetition of shape - Shape is always the most important

element. Repetitive shapes can have different sizes, colors,
Repetition by the use of similarly shaped elements is a strong
unifying force.
Two similar shapes, even at different sides of an image, will
lead the eye from one to the other. A shape can obtain more
visual weight by being repeated, e.g., by its own shadow.
Repetition of size - repetition of size is possible only when the
shapes are also repetitive or very similar.
Repetition of color - This means that all the forms are of the
same color but their shapes and sizes may vary.

Types of Repetition

Repetition of texture - All forms can be of the same texture but

they may be of different shapes, sizes, or colors. In printing, all
solidly printed forms with the same type of ink on the same
surface are regarded as having the same texture.
Repetition of direction - This is possible only when the forms
show a definite sense of direction without the slightest
Repetition of position - This has to do with how forms are
arranged in connection with the structure.
Repetition of space - All forms can occupy space in the same
manner. In other words, they may be all positive, or all
negative, or related to the picture plane in the same way.

Types of Repetition

Unity is alone, the center, the One.

World Financial Center, Shanghai

Units of Repetition

Duality is YIN & YANG- indicating continuity. Duality

is fundamental to the Universe.

Units of Repetition

LEFT & RIGHT- divided yet

related, like the horns of a
Two together make a pair,
which we see as separates a
divided unity.

Units of Repetition

Three is magical-the resolved duality, the Trinity, the

circular motion- two brought together by one.
Can be represented by a pair and a single dominant;
a triangle.
In terms of repetition, four tends to many and leads
to confusion, or just breaks into pairs/ twos.

Five resolves into two twos about a center, six and

more can be the repetition of pairs.

Units of Repetition

When the unit forms are used in larger size and smaller numbers,
the design may appear simple and bold; when they are
infinitely small and in countless numbers, the design may
appear to be a piece of uniform texture, composed of tiny

Units of Repetition

Rhythm is the basic element of design that results from grouping

and repetition of one or more elements within a visual composition
with the goal of creating harmony i.e. a rhythmic feeling.

What is rhythm?

Rhythm is based on repetition, but requires more similar

elements than does repetition.

A small number of similar elements will be perceived as a single

group, but rhythm requires enough similar elements to be
perceived as several related groups.
The repetitive groups must have some variation to achieve
rhythm. The most common way to achieve rhythm is with
common shapes. Rhythm can evoke an emotional response,
e.g., curvilinear forms can calm whereas angular lines can

What is rhythm?

The of importance of creating Rhythm can be demonstrated by

noting how many important rhythmic cycles we observe in
nature -- consider the alternating tension and relaxation in the
heart's beating or in the ocean's waves, the revolutions of the
earth around the sun, or the comings and goings of generations.
Each of us has personal rhythms to our days, weeks, and years.
Life, indeed, would be chaotic without rhythm. Participating in
the tempo of this flow gives us each amounts of excitement and
calm, yearning and contentment, yin and yang. It is natural that
we would employ rhythms to organize and unify our work, and
rest of our experience.

Everyday phenomena

Repetitions of similar or varying graphic elements can create a

visual rhythm that creates a sense of organization and unity.
Rhythm can be described as timed movement through space; an
easy, connected path along which the eye follows a regular
arrangement of motifs. The presence of rhythm creates
predictability and order in a composition.
It is often achieved through the careful placement of repeated
components which invite the viewer's eye to jump rapidly or glide
smoothly from one to the next.
In any artwork, it is possible to distinguish between rhythm of
color, line, and form. In the continuity of the three comes the
whole rhythm of that work.


Paul Klee

Henri Matisse

Rhythm in Art

Sophie Taeuber-Arp

The Dancing House by Frank

Gehry, 1996

The Guggenheim Museum

by Frank Lloyd Wright,1959

Examples in recent times

There are several types of visual rhythm.

Regular rhythm - AB-AB-AB - Picture alternating stripes of two
colors, for instance.
Alternating rhythm consists of successive patterns in which the
element(s) continue to appear in a regular distinct order- ABBA-AB.
Progressive Rhythm is repetition of a shape that changes in a
very regular manner. Progression occurs when there is a
gradual increase or decrease in the size, number, color, or some
other quality of the elements repeated.

Types of Rhythm

Flowing rhythm - Flowing rhythms are the most relaxing, and

their gradual crescendos and decrescendos can be modulated
into a final "cascade" to make a memorable point.
Random rhythm - Groupings of similar motifs or elements that
repeat with no regularity create a random rhythm. Pebble
beaches, the fall of snow, fields of clover, herds of cattle, and
traffic jams all demonstrate random rhythms. What may seem
random at one scale, however, may exhibit purpose and order at
another scale.

Types of Rhythm

Repetition refers to one object or shape repeated; pattern is a

combination of elements or shapes repeated in a recurring and
regular arrangement; rhythm--is a combination of elements
repeated, but with variations.

Repetition, Pattern and Rhythm

Repetition, Pattern and Rhythm

The words Rhythm and Movement are often associated with

music, dance and sports. We think of steady marching rhythms,
drum beats and the pulsing sound of the bass on the radio as types
of rhythms. The darting of soccer players, the graceful flow of ballet
dancers and the artful dodging of basketball players emphasize
Movement. Art also has rhythm and movement, a visual rhythm, a
rhythmic movement.

Rhythm and movement


Movement is the way a viewer's eye is directed to move through a

composition, often to areas of emphasis.

What is Movement?

Motion is a characteristic an important consideration in design

as well as art. The visual illusion of movement can be based
on anticipated movement.
The use of multiple images can also create the illusion of


A pulsing rhythm is set

direction of bands of
diagonal lines in this
paintings, called Op
because they often
contain optical effects,
often present dizzying
pattern seen here.

Movement in Art

The easiest way to understand rhythm in work of art is to look at a

three-dimensional sculpture that actually moves in space.
Changes in air currents move the repeated shapes in this
sculpture to form new compositions.

ART+COM - kinetic sculpture, 2008

Movement in Art

The Turning Torso building in Sweden

By Santiago Calatrava. Inspired by the
movement of the human torso, this
building creates a sense of visual
movement while using the idea of
repetition and rhythm.

Examples in recent times