SIZE of SPACE

Post by Gautam Shah

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The Size of Space is perceived in terms of its utility (functional adequacy), ergonomics requirements, past experiences and sensorial reach capacities. The size of a space module is a large variant, but it is a function relative to the human body. Space sizes have interrelationships of proportions, analogy, sequencing, proximity, etc.; all these are absolute functions.

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Size is fundamentally scaled to the human body, but it also represents capacities of retaining, spreading and distancing. These capacities also reflect the effort and duration required to possess, occupy, use and even dispose off (de-possess, de-occupy) the spatial entity.

THE SIZE

At Absolute level the size is perceived as the difference between the Length and Width of a space. It is seen as a narrow or wide entity. The height confers its own scale of narrowness or broadness to the space. Height accentuates or de-emphasizes the character of the space nominally contributed by the relation between the Length and the Width. The equality of Length and Width of space marks a balance.

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The orientation of smaller or larger size gives a feel of a deep and shallow space. All these terms also give a sense of direction (long vs short) in the space.

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At Relative level the size of a space is scaled to the body size of the occupants. Such scaling confers certain functionality to the space. The nature of cognition, reach, communication and exchanges are function of the space size. The levels of intimacy, the loss of objectivity and subjective involvements that occur in a space, are governed by its size (related to the body of the occupants). The size is seen as the facility of accommodation and also future potential for alternation, improvisation, and personalization. Size in a neighbourhood space is perceived in terms of the reach. Whatever is within reach (of touch, vision, hearing or smell) is considered the neighbourhood space. Here the recognition of reach also defines its functional adequacy for interpersonal relationships and related behaviour. The sizes are defined by the mutual relationship between spatial elements and their perception.

A hazy or foggy atmosphere dulls the perception of such elements, as much as a bright sunny day highlights the spatial elements through enhanced light and shadow differentiation. Past midnight in absence of nearby background noises, the far-off sounds are acutely heard, increasing the extent of the neighbourhood space.

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A space is perceived to be small, adequate or large in terms of various tasks, and in terms of responses it offers such as echoes, reverberation, reflection, illumination, glares, vision. Same space may be seen to be of a different size depending on the recent experiences.

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Most people find hospital wards to be very strange (large). A patient, in a large ward of a public hospital, experiences the very large space to be strange compared to domestic (home) spaces, because the space size proportions are different, surfaces are harder and less absorbent (causing reverberation to be different), background noises are less passive, illumination levels are brighter during day and night, furniture and furnishings are unusual, in addition to sickness and weakened mental faculties. Occupation of domains with unusual proportions (combinations of lengths, widths, and height) and sizes require extra efforts of accommodation.

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Functionality and the environment are difficult to separate, as one seems to manifest the other. For a lay person, spaces within the known range (of recognition) are predictable and so manageable. The strangeness or alienation of a space is reduced by introducing scalable elements. The scalable elements in a space include repetitions, rhythmic evolution, structured patterning, sensory gradation, acceleration-de-acceleration, graduated changeovers, linkages, relationships through modulation and proportioning, etc.

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