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.

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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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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

Postby Gautam Shah

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The spaces have two distinctions: Exterior and Interior.

Exterior spaces have 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.

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Interior spaces consist 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

INTERIOR DESIGN and the LOCUS

Post -by Gautam Shah

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The role locus is a setting or a realm for behaviour with many facets. It is

1  ‘Space for inhabitation’,

2  ‘Zone of individuality’

3  Entity existing in its ‘Formal and allegorical or abstracted form’.

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The role locus has the individual or a group leader as its focus. In this sense it is subjective.

A Locus in dictionary means
A particular position or place where something occurs or is situated.
The effective or perceived location of something abstract.
◘ A center of activity, attention, or concentration
The place where a person or thing is located: emplacement, location, placement, position, site, situation.

1  The role locus is an inhabitable place. It is space defined by the bounding barriers. So it is a physical reality, a dimensioned territorial entity. It is a non-transient location. It is finite in scale, sized and shaped for the occupant. It also reflects the cognitive capacities and ‘reach capacities’ of the occupant.

2 As a zone of an individuality, it has a personal imprint or relevance. It has associated beliefs, intuition, etc. It is intensely evident at the point of origin or close to its creator, then diffusing out into infinity. Such a place as metaphysical entity may not have territorial markings of own, but sometimes are ‘incumbent with the metaphorical markings’ of values, beliefs, feelings, intuition, etc.

3 In formal and allegorical or abstracted form a place is a representation. It arises from the few essential elements that allow us to perceive ‘a substantial space entity’. Such a representational space entity could be part of our experiences or are intuitive part of the psyche. A metaphoric place is effective till it is consciously accepted as a representative form for its economics (efficiency), and also so far as it is beneficial in spite of its myth remaining unresolved. A metaphoric entity prevails among certain class of people, who tacitly agree or have been socially or politically conditioned to accept such symbols to represent certain expressions, actions, etc. Such places are space impressions that are representative, immaterial, allegorical, pseudo, make-believe, or of ‘virtual reality’.

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INTERIOR SPACES as Settings for Tasks

Post -by Gautam Shah

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Tasks are identifiable units of work at home or at places like office, industry, etc. Tasks require specific setting. Task settings are the space parameters required to perform a task. The parameters include space forms, environment, time management, amenities, facilities, structures, enrichments and social interactions.

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Tasks are repeating or unique. Main tasks have a basic module of work. Main tasks are purposive, so can be called productive, creative, or learning. Main tasks incorporate several processes, called sub-tasks. The processes or sub-tasks require a particular setting and very specific resources. Processes are both time and space dependent and also free of it. As a result some processes are handled without time and location compulsions. Such tasks also serve purposes such as relief, entertainment, social interactions, expression and communication. In other words sub tasks are physically invigorating and relaxing.

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Tasks are strongly characterized by Time and Space. Tasks derive their efficiency through sequencing in time and space. Tasks are scheduled at a location so far as required parameters are available. However, tasks shift the location if the setting parameters vary in time. Tasks substantially dependent on the environment, shift with changes in breeze direction, shading, illumination, etc. Tasks requiring unique spatial qualities for creativity, relaxation, efficiency continue to flourish at a location till a better or exciting place or social accompaniments are available. Tasks that flourish within groups may even ignore time and space convenience.

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Tasks have Three important qualifications:

  1. Tasks are anchored to various entities.
  2. Tasks shift around in time and space.
  3. Tasks if routine, the efficiency of performance is critical and if casual, the relevance of the end product is important.

Multitasking lol

TASK ANCHORAGE

Tasks are attached to various entities like: space forms, environmental conditions, structures, amenities (these are attached to architectonic elements and are relocatable ), facilities (these are integrated architectural configurations and are mostly fixed, but sometimes demountable), and other enrichments (these do not have apparent functionality but add specific character or interest to the space). Some tasks happen where there are  chances of intra-personal interactions. Tasks occur at places from where some degree of command can be enforced over a larger domain.

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