OPENINGS’ TREATMENT SYSTEMS : Design Considerations

● Location: Openings’ treatments are dependent on the location of the opening. These factors are: ground floor, upper floor levels, attic, cellar, etc., road touch faces, side and back side faces, public or private spaces, open vista or cut out spaces.

● Orientation: Openings’ treatments are orientation specific. The variables are: directions like North, South, East, West, sun’s angel of incidence, breeze direction, degree of privacy, orientation value in terms of landmarks, natural features, etc.

● Environmental conditions: Environmental effects are very directional, diurnal and seasonal. The environmental constituents are: time of the day or night, seasons, solar incidences, and breeze directions.

● Functional units: Openings’ treatments serve the interior functions of the space units such as the bedroom, drawing room, kitchen, toilets, offices, store rooms, etc.

● Utilitarian purposes: Openings serve utilitarian purposes such as: ventilation, illumination, breeze catching, vision or vista, security, identification, emergency egress delivery of goods, communication, restricted animal or bird access.

● Height situations: Openings are placed at various height positions such as ground floors, upper floors, cellars, roofs and in terms of height positions such as low, middle, high, etc. For each such reference, the opening’s treatments vary.

● Profile positions: Openings are profiled as horizontal, vertical, inclined, skyward, downward, etc. The nature of exposure to various elements determines the type of treatment that are required.

● User abilities: Some openings are designed to serve specific physiological needs of the users such as: young, adults, infirm, aged, senile, prisoners, mentally retarded etc. Openings’ treatments are designed to suit their abilities, ergonomic and anthropometric requirements.

● Cultural and Social relevance: Openings’ treatments at exterior as well as interior level reflect the personality of the user, which emerges from the religion, customs and nature of privacy or social interaction desired.

● Users’ personality: It is a cumulative effect showing interests and involvement of many people. Individually a user continuously evolves and varies the choices, and one of the crucial aspect of it is subjective need for change with reference to past colonnades.

● Choices and Variations: Need for a change is one of the key determinant for openings’ treatments. A user wants something different from the current state, which may not necessarily be a new theme or entity. Historical styling is one such mode for a change. The change is also caused by alteration of key elements forming the openings’ treatment, such as colour, texture, size, form, illumination, etc.

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WINDOW LOCATION and NATURAL LIGHTING

WINDOW LOCATION: A window with an interior wall at a right angle distributes the light well, reducing the glare, compared to a centric window that causes contrast and so glare. A window in a wall with interior colour of lighter shade seems less contrasting than a window in a dark coloured wall. Chamfered or splayed sides of the window opening over the inner edges creates planes of intermediate brightness and thereby dispersion of illumination. Similar chamfering of the outer edges enlarges the sky component and thereby greater intake of illumination. A chamfered sill illuminates sections close to the wall. Windows located high in a wall or in the roof trusses and clerestories result in deeper penetration of light and better distribution. A rule-of-thumb is that the depth of daylight penetration is about two and one-half times the distance between the top of a window and the sill. Light-coloured floors allow daylight reflection to the ceiling section.

Brightness is a perceived phenomena or a subjective attribute of light, because the sensitivity of the eye decreases as the magnitude of the light increases. It cannot be measured, but checked as between very dim and very bright (brilliant). If the luminance of a viewed light source is increased 10 times, viewers do not judge that the brightness has increased 10 times. The relationship is, in fact, logarithmic: the sensitivity of the eye decreases rapidly as the luminance of the source increases. It is this characteristic that allows the human eye to operate over such an extremely wide range of light levels.

MODELLING: For a designer ‘modelling’ of objects is as important as their functional aspects are. Opening systems like windows, skylights, clerestories provide the necessary natural luminance (brightness or intensity) to show the form, colour and texture of objects. Objects are perceived mainly due to the direction of light and its ever-changing nature. These are often enhanced, contrasted or subdued by reflectance and also by artificial illumination. Corbusier has used planes strategically placed against openings to model the interior spaces. The size and intensity of the luminance determine the shadow density and so affect the ‘modelling’.

For visual effectiveness, some contrast in brightness levels is desirable in a space. Dull uniformity in lighting leads to tiredness and lack of attention. Windows on multiple orientations and height levels must be combined to produce the right mix of light for interiors.

Light from a single bright source over emphasizes the shadows and textures, and therefore creates a model that may be all right only from certain points of observation. Light from a large diffuse source softens the texture and dulls the neat delineation of the object (modelling), but permits mobile objects to be seen. Light from multiple directions and if in different intensities accentuates differences between different planes of the object. However, a very large diffuse source eliminates the texture. Light which comes from a large top source like a roof, seems shadow-less and so featureless, compared to light from a side, which enhances the horizontal dimension and creates a definition.

THE REALM OF BUILDINGS

Post -by Gautam Shah

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A building exists and flourishes in the circumstantial surroundings and with environmental factors. These bear upon the building. A building exists in the social, political and an economics profile of the locality. The environmental factors are absolute and are fairly consistent, but at micro level these effects are conditioned by the happenings in the immediate vicinity. A building has a relevance for its form, functionality and technological grade.

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Station Building 3, Blackburn Road, Low Wincoban > becoming an irrelevant location

Contextual setting of a building is considered mainly in terms of its Location and Age, and both change concurrently. A good building is integral to its space and time. Changes in the contextual settings affect some buildings more, if these are: acutely located that is subsisting on the site related advantages, stylized, highly dependent on the technology, and endowed with high degree of functionality.

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Old Buildings Camp area Pune, Reuse reconstruction – possible but Plot Footprint too small > Wikipedia Image by Yogesa

Location is the external realm of the building. It has two facets: the distance or the extent and the stack holders of the building. A building serves certain terrain or physical distance. When these get enlarged due to efficient transport services the usage is increased, but conversely barriers like railway tracks, canals, closure of roads, or loss of visual identity affects the raison d’être (reason for existence) of the building. Stack holders become insincere for maintenance when the location begins to deteriorate due to economic, social or political problems, and affects the pride or faith in the building.

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Wikipedia image by Drhtgoon

Life of building is governed by its surroundings. Environmental pollution over a location strains the parts and components, hastening their failure. Old buildings in good localities are more likely to be well looked after than in deteriorating locations.

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Age dilutes the connections a building has with the site and the circumstances. A building on ageing becomes irrelevant for the original functions and current day technologies. However, it can still continue to survive, if its structure is safe and habitation worthy.

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Abandoned > Craco village in Basilicata in Italy > Wikipedia image by Wallora at Italian Wikipedia

LONELINESS and Space Design

Post -by Gautam Shah

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Loneliness is an anxious feeling about a lack connectedness. It is experienced in absence or presence of people, and in known as well as unknown surroundings. The causes of loneliness are many such as social, mental, emotional, physiological and spiritual.

Causes for Loneliness are: Loss of a relationship due to breakup, travel, death of a person, dejection or withdrawal from a social circle, enforced isolation like jail or punishment like over stay at school or workplace, unfamiliar lifestyle, food and community leading to home sickness, a dysfunction of communication channels at places with low population densities, during periods of harsh climates and fewer people to communicate with due to language, sex, social or other barriers.

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Loneliness can be attributed to personal needs, period, place and people. A person when isolated may feel lonely, but to feeling of loneliness is not always due to isolation. Solitude could be by choice, and so loneliness is a subjective experience. People can be lonely in a crowded or public place, because a person may be desiring more intensive social interaction than what is currently available, or the surroundings are not suitable for such opportunities. A person can be in the middle of a party and feel lonely due to inability to participate in it. Contrary to this one can be alone and yet not feel lonely if there is no need or desire for social interaction.

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Loneliness tends to depress some but improves the cognition and improves capacity to concentration. Study rooms, prayer or meditation zones, contemplation areas, private consultation rooms, lovers’ corners in restaurants, back seats in assembly halls are designed to be less participatory. Such places of solitude or temporary loneliness lead to enhanced and creative expression. Solitude is also associated with spiritual and religious quests.

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For solitude, other then isolation from people, some control over cognition may be necessary. However, complete absence of cognition or by totally filtering an aspect of it (such as sound, light, touch, smell, etc.) in a space may create an uncomfortable situation. Even in jails and study rooms some illumination, background noise, distant odours are desirable to maintain mental health. Loneliness should be considered as an alert that it is time to seek social connections. Connections of this nature, may not occur  with presence of people, but rather by necessary adaptation of the living space.

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Single people keep themselves occupied through intensive work regimen, audio and video intervention, mobile or other means of communication, by seating near a street view window, keeping a pet as company, frequent relocation of amenities, irregular work cycles including physical workouts, dancing, and cooking.

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SPACE PLANNING -Developments

Post -by Gautam Shah 

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Wall abutting work unit

The space planning as a space efficiency method emerged in later part of the Industrial Revolution period (1800s). This was an age when number of gadgets for kitchens, toilets, craft areas, offices, industry, etc., began to be available. These initiated ‘systems planning’ thinking. The gadgets were conceived as fitments into a space, with planned connectivity and inter gadget relationships. Approach to ‘comprehensive planning’ later became ‘Space Planning’. Women’s hobby magazines of the time took it further, and helped in creating work efficiency layouts (home productivity) with behavioural considerations. For example, a window over a cooking range and sink were as a result of these attitudes. At industrial level the line production layouts were carefully planned and regularly updated. The ‘mega foot print’ or extensive spaces of new commercial offices required major re-haul of layouts when illumination and heating-cooling were electrified, telephony and better document storage systems became common. The new departmental stores of 1950s required very frequent space re-planning because of the fast changing brands and their packing formats.

For new Gadgets there was no specific furniture or provisions

At domestic level the house which had highly room specific spaces began to be open plan layouts with minimal of walls and partitions. It offered large unhindered space for various tasks. This was also due to smaller or one person family. The gadgets that were bulky requiring structural bearing were now multi tasking, miniatures, mobile or easily relocatable and affordable. This freed lot of space and need for compulsive siting.

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It was now clear that anthropometric data or ergonomics was not the only consideration, but behaviour of the human beings was the key to space planning. The definition of spatial and occupancy requirements were important. Other thoughts related to flexibility of accommodating the future growth, access for the disabled, safety, security, etc. Homes, offices, industrial plants, jails, educational institutions, research facilities, wherever growth or rationalization was conceived, it was through space planning. Corporate  organizations began replacing the layered system to team or department-based structures which favour classless, transparent or open layouts.

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Early offices had peripheral siting, that is along the wall work tables and cabins. This gradually gave way to half height partitioned or ‘compartmental office spaces’. But today, according to the International Facility Management Association, 68% of North American employees work in offices with an open floor plan or open seating. Open offices are  space-inefficient due to larger per employee area, and are less clustered.

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  • Older employees and traditional businesses like, law, finance and other professionals, who have worked from cubicles, cabins and corner offices, find it difficult to adopt open offices. Open offices are blamed for affecting privacy, client relationships, employee productivity, loss of sense of belonging, and even compromising the morale.

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Open offices provided a visual cohesiveness and spatial continuity.  Open office plan also incorporated the concept of compact personal work module -a work station. Computers had work stations as dedicated utility for multi tasking. Earlier craft’s people like watch repairer, engravers, gold smith had such facilities, to reduce the movement.

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  • Offices during and immediately after world war-II period had as much 50 % of the total space devoted to storage. These were separated from work areas, and manned by store keepers. The store room volume and traffic to it were reduced with several technologies such as document facsimile systems,  telecommunication, automated file access including the mechanical card-index sorting machines. Digital documents with computerization solved the problems of file storage, access and transfer. Now the offices were nearly fully ‘human occupied spaces’.

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  • Wireless technology and cloud storage software make it easier for companies to embrace nomadic workstations, says Frank Rexach, a Shanghai-based vice president and general manager at Haworth    Rexach says ‘People don’t want to feel handcuffed to their desk, especially the Millennials’ (= young people who were between the ages of 10 and 20 on September 11, 2001 defined as per Newsweek magazine).

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Laptop and tablet computers linked to remote servers reduced the location bound dependence. Wireless telecommunication, mobility and flexible work schedules allowed employees to work from location of their choice. The office space now remained a location for interaction. Of course this function too was met by video conferencing. Now the office space has become an unassigned seating place. Yet the need to personally interact remained as acute, perhaps emerged stronger. The meeting rooms are common or rented facilities. Its interior space has high efficiency ambience but does not match the corporate aspirations of a ‘personal space’. In a different perspective, something similar is happening on educational campuses. The teacher-student relationship is missing on personal contacts. The lecture hall is partly replaced by seminar or workshop rooms.

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EXTERIOR and INTERIOR SPACES

The spaces have two distinctions: Exterior and Interior.

 

Exterior space has two distinct zones: One where the extent is endless or beyond the limits of perception and, Two where the perception is limited by the physical edges. These ‘limited’ exterior spaces are the ‘neighbourhood spaces’. Very vast exterior spaces are recognised through intermediate markings. The neighbourhood spaces on the other hand are finite, shaped and sized by the bounding elements. The bounding elements are exploited or improvised.

 

Interior space consists of Core and the Peripheral sections. The core could be static, physical, and spatially centric, or temporally transient and metaphoric. The core is less variable then the peripheries made vibrant by the surroundings. Interior spaces for inhabitation require greater degree of interventions then anything nature can offer or can be improvised upon it, so are deliberately designed. For such interventions different types of spatial definitions are used.

 

One of the most important formative processes for interior space is the environment. That is why, the space and environment though two distinct entities, condition the human behaviour as a single happening. Since environment is ever evolving and so varies the space continually. As the space changes with time, so does the behaviour of the occupants. In other words’, the behaviour changes with space and time. A space with irrelevant environment is abandoned, improvised, or adopted by inhabitants with change in a lifestyle.

 

Some aspects of environment change with predictable periodicity (light, seasons, etc.) whereas other factors are unpredictable (wind, rain, etc.) The occupant or the user has different levels or receptivity. The same space could be depressing or inspirational at different times, because the environmental conditions are changed, and because the bio system of the inhabitant gets set to a different mode. The space has a subjective significance to its inhabitants.

 

The inhabitants develop a dynamic approach to sustain the occupation of a space. Essentially minor changes are accommodated at personal and passive level, i.e. by recasting of the lifestyle, body posturing, metabolic activity, rescheduling, etc. At micro level the changes are absorbed by activities like repositioning of the furniture and facilities, establishing improved amenities, etc. At macro level the changes are assimilated in terms of additions, alterations, renovations, etc. in the built form. At a radical level the changes may force recasting of the group-dynamics (treaties, friendship, divorce, etc.), or migration to new locations.

 

The environment is conditioned at many different levels:

  1. Environment conditioning primarily occurs at a personal level, when a human body adapts itself to the environment.
  2. Clothing provides the cover.
  3. By rescheduling and relocating tasks, substantial degree of environmental adjustment can be done.
  4. Barriers are formatted to meet the challenges of the environment.
  5. Moulding of a space configuration to reform the environment, by inward and outward transgressions.
  6. By modifying or exploiting surrounding elements (buildings, slopes, hills, trees, caves, valleys, gorges, etc.) the environment can be controlled.
  7. Specific amenities and facilities to regulate and exploit the environment.
  8. At another level beliefs, feelings and experiences help overcome the apprehensions and master the environment.

 

In an Interior space, the environment in spite of being contained and controlled, remains an ever-changing enigma, and so do the responses of our body.

INTERIOR SPACES and INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS

The group behaviour mechanisms exploit the space characteristics to infuse emotional and social functionality. Group behaviour depends on individuals as well as interactions amongst such individuals. An individual projects psychological and sociological responses. The group behaviour though erratic has a degree of commonality – raison d’être (cause) of formation of the group. The common approach of the group is an assurance that their peculiar behaviour is not an aberration but a probable happening.

 

Groups require space for interpersonal relationships, expression and its perception. However, the ‘depth’ required for such interactions in physical domains is irrelevant for the virtual domains like telephony or video conferencing, chat rooms, hangouts, etc.

 

Interpersonal relationships have no relevance in acutely sized and highly defined spaces (ergonomically sized, shaped and provisioned with facilities), such as: toilets, kitchens, storerooms, study nooks, booths, etc. However, bedrooms, drawing rooms, office cabins, etc. allow interpersonal relationships, and often in multiple varieties, simultaneously.

 

Interior Spaces have two basic components the Core Section and the Peripheral sections. The core is nominally a centric entity, but need not always be one. Whereas there is multiplicity of peripheral sections as the abutting environment is directional and varied. A third component Threshold emerges when interior spaces impinge each other. A threshold is dual entity where transgressions can occur.

 

Ideal place for a single set of interpersonal relationships is the core section. This has least external disturbance, so should be an area of tranquillity affording privacy. Yet peripheral zones are more preferred as a place for intimate relationships and commitment. In restaurants, cinema halls, public parks, large waiting areas, people move to corners and edges for seclusion. Threshold areas though peripheral, are public and vibrant. Threshold areas are considered ideal for non-committal interaction.