Life is energy! Energy can only exist in a dynamic interplay between the opposites of Yin and Yang.

Everything in nature fluctuates between two poles – night and day, female and male, contemplation and action. Just as power is generated between the positive and negative poles of a battery, so is a building’s life force generated through a dynamic balance between Yin and Yang.

Yin & Yang in a building

Bedrooms and cosy corners are Yin in nature. They should be more quiet and protected to facilitate inward focus, nurture health and support good sleep. Yin energy is referred to as the ‘mountain’ energy. It is still and sits in hills, walls and heavy furniture.

Active areas, on the other hand, are Yang in nature. Such spaces should be brighter and open. They support our activities and connection to the world. Yang or ‘water’ energy is active. It is the building’s life force. It comes in through doors and windows and is amplified by open spaces, bodies of water, pathways and activity.

Dynamic Balance between Yin & Yang

A dynamic balance between Yin and Yang is not a dull even sameness, but a building that contains both opposites: protected and softer spaces for bedrooms and cosy corners, and brighter, open areas for family rooms, kitchens and work spaces. 

Typical closed plan older homes with separate rooms for kitchen, lounge and dining are very Yin – often a bit lifeless and dull. They lack Yang energy; movement, connection and radiance. Modern open plan buildings, on the other hand, are often too Yang; too open. They lack protective Yin so that lounges, and even beds, end up surrounded by open space and doorways. Such spaces can make us feel unsettled, even irritable. They may carry a ‘wow factor’ and are great for entertaining, but lack cosiness and a place to relax.

A balanced space has contrast. It has bright open as well as protected cosier areas, each room the right degree of protection and openess for its purpose. This is achieved through the distinct size and placement of elements that provide stillness (walls, heavy furniture and objects) and those that provide movement and connection (doors, windows, open space, pathways and view).

In a bedroom, we want a solid wall behind our bed, not too many doors, and smaller windows. In a family room we want large windows and doors so we can look out and connect to the outdoor spaces.  A lounge room lies perhaps in-between, with a cosy sofa against a solid wall and open space connecting us with the outside.

It is through the interaction of Yin and Yang that we collect and retain environmental energy.  A good building collects Yang life force through doors and windows, and retains this for use through quiet Yin features.

photo by Vittorio Zamboni on