IT is not surprising if soon-to-be house owners would be extra particular about beliefs that are connected in planning a house or building. These beliefs translate into practices that sometimes border on superstition, yet people still make sure they observe them thinking there’s no harm doing so anyway.

One of the most observed practices is Feng Shui, which American author Nicole Bridge described in her book Architecture 101 as “the art of creating harmony with the environment.” When relating to buildings, it usually refers to a “set of principles” for the design and layout of exterior and interior spaces.

Feng Shui, which translates to “wind and water,” traces its roots to Chinese culture, specifically Taoist principles which are usually geared toward establishing harmonious relationships with nature. The thought of having the “spirit” or the atmosphere of a place has an effect on how people live and maintain a certain outlook in life, making Feng Shui something everyone could relate to.

Dipping one’s hands into Feng Shui involves a lot of unseen elements. The “chi,” which is a form of electromagnetic energy that links all things in the universe, and the “yin and yang” concept, which emphasizes ideal balance between two opposite elements, are just some that must be carefully considered by planners according to feng shui masters. But looking closer, the Feng Shui-related practices in designing and planning homes and buildings have their practical side. Just like “green architecture” principles, Feng Shui paves the way to the most appropriate, user-friendly designs in architecture.

In living rooms, for example, the chi should be allowed to flow freely. To make this happen, Feng Shui dictates that there should be minimal use of heavy furniture as well as bulky fabrics and upholstery. However, the absence of these items in the living room is a welcome design approach since it frees more space in the room, not just for chi, but more importantly the users of the space.  

Sharp edges are usually no-no’s in Feng Shui. It is said that if chi passes a sharp corner, it begins to swirl resulting to disorientation and confusion. While sharp edges are sleek to look at especially in contemporary design, these are often hazardous especially in furniture. Sharp-edged tables and cabinets may lead to physical injury during accidents. If you have little kids in the house, these furniture pieces may be dangerous while they’re around.

The flow of chi energy is said to speed up in bathrooms when the bathroom floor is made of materials with shiny and reflective surfaces like marble, granite and even most ceramic tiles. Synthetic materials like carpets and rugs should be avoided. But as one gives it a thought, ceramic tiles and granite are favored in bathroom surfaces not just because of the more dynamic movement of chi but these materials are also easy to clean and maintain in spaces that usually get wet and messy like the bathroom.

Mirrors are also essential in Feng Shui. Being flat and shiny, they help chi energy move more quickly and distribute them to different directions inside the space, either reducing or enhancing the chi in a space depending on the need. In architecture, mirrors visually enhance spaces. Smaller rooms are made to appear bigger with mirrors creating a more relaxing ambience for some people. Mirrors also reflect light within a space, increasing the illumination inside it without having to install more lighting fixtures, thus saving up on the expenses for lighting and eventually energy consumption.

Feng Shui is not just about doing certain things to get good fortune. Its early practitioners in China surely did not just come up with these principles without any basis. Feng shui principles in architecture support the principles of good space planning which takes into consideration not just the efficient flow of chi energy, but also the typical activities done by the main users inside the building. Feng Shui helps people appreciate the design of a building by finding ease and convenience in using its various rooms and spaces.