The Five shapes of Feng Shui in Architecture and Design

April 6, 2021



Shan Arcega

An age-old custom can still seep into the modern age.

In communities where power and luck have suddenly come into the circle, you can expect these communities to try and keep this sudden luck a well-kept secret. In the ancient Chinese Imperial court, feng shui used to be one of these secrets. Feng shui was founded on harmony and balance between the five elements (metal, water, wood, fire, and earth) and humans. It’s a technique that has been used for centuries. Over time, this ancient practice influenced architecture, urban planning, interior design, and even garden layouts. Such layouts pay special attention to shapes that equate to the five natural elements highlighted by feng shui. 

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Triangles fall down the fire element which brings passion, vitality, and warmth to a place. Apparently, adding this element into your space can rekindle your interests may it be for a passion project, a job, or even a relationship. Make sure to avoid placing these shapes in the eastern, western, or northwestern areas of your home to avoid an overabundance of fire energy. 

Squares are associated with the earth. A grounding and balanced shape, it’s great to add decor like crystal rocks, clay figurines, or paint walls in the earthy tone to summon the stable and strong energy. These earth elements can be placed anywhere in your house except the northern and southern corners. 

Circles represent the metal element which is known to bring preciseness, clarity, equality, and freshness to a space. This round shape then is a mark of continued energy and can be highlighted through white, grey, and metallic colors, and ornaments such as mirrors and metal decor.

Curved shapes as expected, are attached to the water element and represent the fluidity that can help increase social connections, or welcomes more wealth into the home. Fluid, graceful, and flowing, the energy from these shapes works best when combined with earth and metal elements. 

Rectangles are the shape of the wood element. Though the energy of vitality, growth, and kindness applies to both horizontal and vertical rectangles, the energy is said to be stronger in vertical rectangles since the energy would mirror the growth of trees.

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In the Philippines, several structures and spaces follow the practice of feng shui and focus on creating harmonious spaces that also use complementary materials. One great modern example would be the Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City (BGC). Designed by architect Ed Calma of Lor Calma & Partners, the museum highlights metal elements through the prominent use of aluminum. Another example would be Forbes Park which is known to be an ideal home location for its location near a body of water. Alongside feng shui superstition, the Philippines has its own share of local beliefs. According to, some of these include:

  • Never using the number 13 as a house number
  • Imprinting an old coin on a home’s doorstep to welcome a steady flow of cash
  • Avoiding dead-end lots and the financial misfortune or death that it can bring to the family
  • Avoiding placing mirrors across the main door to prevent the deflection of good luck entering a home
  • Making sure that stairs don’t amount to a multiple of three (this follows the theory of “oro, plata, mata” which translates to gold, silver, death). To ensure good fortune, the topmost tread should not end in “mata”.

Feng Shui is a superstition that brings nature and architecture into one circle. Very apt considering that all of our structures are made with bits and pieces of nature. It’s only to be expected that the shapes or materials of these structures become attached with energy that spring into superstitions. 

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