Post -by Gautam Shah



An Interior Space has finite volume, but with very average level of air exchange with outside environment. Interior spaces can support a moderate level of human occupation and of certain intensity but for fixed duration. In excessively polluted localities it cannot offer the comfort and health safety beyond a limited period.


Quality of outdoor air determines the quality of Indoor air

Outside air is always fresher due to its infinite volume, air currents, solar radiation and other environmental processes of nature. Though external air in highly polluted surroundings could be inimical, during specific periods. For buildings, at micro climate level, the exterior air may be contaminated on specific sides and periods of the day.


Indoor air quality in buildings can be improved, by control at the source, by filtration techniques, and by passive and active means of ventilation to dilute contaminants. Inadequate exchange (ventilation) can increase indoor pollution level by not bringing in enough and quality outdoor air to dilute the pollutants in indoor air. High temperature, humidity levels and to some extent air movements also increase concentrations of some pollutants.


To refresh the interior environment, one needs passive and benign interaction with the exteriors. The benign interaction could be scheduled in terms of time, such as during periods when outside environment is better, or facilitating the exchange on faces that are less vulnerable to exterior fouling, such as off the road sides, terraces, etc.


Contamination of Interior Spaces is not related to occupancy, but it may continue in dormant periods also. Many of the contaminants evolve from building’s materials, furniture, furnishings, cleaning and maintenance products, and as after effects of processes (such condensation of vapours, deposition of airborne particles, bacterial growth, etc.). The contaminants include unwanted gases, excess moisture, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), odours, particulate matters, etc.


Poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer, and chronic lung diseases such as asthma. In addition, it can cause headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue. People, who already have lung disease are at greater risk.

Formaldehyde is a carcinogenic substance and also causes coughing, eye, nose, and throat irritation, skin rashes, headaches, and dizziness. It is a very common chemical group found in many substances such as adhesives, paints, dyes, processed and printed fabrics, carpets, upholstery, particle board, and plywoods. Formaldehyde continues to get released in the air. Similarly many types potentially harmful chemicals are emitted by household cleaning agents, personal care products, pesticides, paints, hobby products, and solvents. Such chemicals can cause dizziness, nausea, allergic reactions, eye, skin and respiratory-tract irritation.

bedroom-window-1434067_640Some simple strategies to improve Quality of Indoor Air

1 Design wise isolate areas of high contamination by controlled partitioning system from benign areas.

2 Recognize the role of cracks and crevices for micro ventilation in buildings of warm climates, compared with a tightly sealed entity designed to avoid heat loss in buildings of colder climates.

3 Schedule activities and locate processes in areas where passive exchange with the outdoors is available.

4 Interior Design must include products and processes with least or zero VOC emissions.

5 Use cleaning and maintenance products that emit low or zero VOCs.

6 Plan for Air Moisture Control by way of ventilation, diffusion and scrubbing.




Post -by Gautam Shah



Estimating methods for interior jobs largely derive from the Architectural profession, which in turn have originated from Civil Engineering. However, gradually distinct methods for estimating interior jobs are evolving. Civil structures are large entities but made from few basic raw materials, compared with Architectural projects which consist of more raw materials and are complex. Civil and Architectural components as produced on the site are comparatively simplistic and require services of one or few contractors. Architectural components are generalized, traditional, and are being used for ages. Complex architectural systems are procured in full or partially ready state at workshops.


However, Interior jobs are composed of many but rarely recurring components. These are produced from many different materials. Complex interior systems composed or assembled on the site, are very intricate and require services of several contractors, craftspeople, etc. Interior components are custom made or improvised on a situation to situation basis. In interior jobs due to fewer occurrences, or total absence of standardized components, modules of measurements and modes of measurements are not very useful. Rate analysis and other systems for determining an appropriate market rate per item/ sub item / task are not suitable.


Civil structures and Architectural buildings are executed by third party contractors and, so require detailed estimates. However, in many design fields including Interiors, Design+Build or design and execute type of job handling is very common. Design+Build interior jobs are paid per the total cost (design services + cost of execution + profit), so a detailed estimate or item wise cost estimate is not required, except for the in-house judgements.


Interior elements are of many different varieties: paints and polishes, soft furnishings, furniture, machines, electronic systems, hard furnishings, building elements. For accounting purposes (by clients) some of these elements are classified as recurring expenses, while others qualify as asset creating investments. Asset creating investments are written off (discounted) for short or long term depreciation. Clients wish to take maximum benefit through tax planning, and so demand bills to suit the accounting needs. Estimate schedules reflect the grouping of items to this end.





 Post -by Gautam Shah


Jobs however complex, are composed of elemental parts and small tasks. The elemental parts and tasks are usually comparable to many others used in different items or situations. Elemental parts, though similar in form and constitution, acquire a unique personality depending on their position in the whole, nature of use, method of installation or erection and time schedule of installation. Often parts of different types are correlated based on external factors like guarantee mechanisms, life span, utility, depreciation, finance, cost, return, energy consumption, waste output, hazards, ecological value, replacement schedules, etc.

It is generally experienced that certain form characteristics, dimensions (widths, depths etc.), etc. of parts and components remain constant. To save labour such constants are defined and only other variables are sought. Modes of measurements generally take care of such definitions.

Quantity estimates generally are compounded-quantities of various measures. An Estimate, to be relevant, needs to be converted into other values (monetary etc.) There could be several levels of conversions before an estimate turns into a relevant statement. Such conversions are carried out by many different agencies, without the author or the originator of the estimate being aware of it, or being informed about it.

 Jobs are estimated in many different ways:

  • with varying Degree of Accuracy
  • at various Stages of Work
  • for many Different Reasons

Accuracy of an estimate depends on how well the job has been conceived and detailed. Estimates that cause secondary change elsewhere (item selection or elimination), create liabilities, or have any hazardous consequences, and are prepared with due care.

Estimates are primarily made at two stages of work: Any Estimate prepared at the beginning or during the work are called Budget costing. An Estimate compiled at the Completion stage is called Historic costing.

Budget costings are made to determine the likely cost of execution. It helps in planning of resources, to search options, to check quotations, to control likely cost over runs, to determine the bill amount for a percentage fee, etc. Pre-execution estimates are made with certain parameters (presumptions). When there is a variation in parameters like, the cost of input materials, labour etc., the cost estimates need revisions. Budget cost or pre execution estimates remain very variable. Budget cost, as a document must remain revisable or fluid till the item is executed. It will have very little relevance once the item is born.

Historic costings are made, to determine the actual expenditure incurred. It also helps in assessing the value of absolute addition to the wealth, investigate conditions that caused cost over or under runs, to determine the set-off or depreciation amounts, to fix insurance cover charges, to fix operations or servicing costs, etc. Post execution cost estimates, on the other hand, is made on the basis of accomplished facts, soon after the birth of a product. Historic cost estimates are static documents and have an archival value.

Who makes the Estimates? Budget costing is usually made by the people involved in the design and execution of the project, because they have all the data resources. Historic costing however may also be carried out by third parties or people not necessarily involved with design or execution processes.

Why Estimates are made? Estimates are made for many diverse reasons. Estimates are made for solving problems, making decisions, for highlighting or projecting certain facts, for supporting or confirming facts, for calculating the value addition or deduction, for procuring grants, loans, subsidies, etc. The purpose, which the estimate is going to serve, determines its format and the level of accuracy. 




An opening primarily connects two distinct worlds of outside and inside. Openings through their own presence assume many different guises or architectural character. An internal opening is very important medium of investing the nature of relationship between spatial domains. External openings have in their nominal form, have often diffused the distinction between the interior and exterior spaces. Openings have been stretched inward and outwards to transgress the architectural domain.


Design considerations


Basic design considerations for an opening system are: width, height, depth, form (shape, configurations) and position (in the surroundings, angles, orientation).


Key issues for openings in buildings


Openings occur in consonance with other openings, in reference to the exteriors or surroundings, positioned for the functional value in the interior space, maintaining the structural integrity of load-bearing walls or following the regimen of structural framing, and while balancing the punctured surface versus the opaque surface.


The openings also take care of nominal transit needs, emergency egress requirements, environmental facilitations, ergonomics needs, and view requirements such as eye level, angle of sight, framing, etc.


The openings in buildings are placed for the pattern, compositions, for scaling and proportioning, endowing graphical character, for reflecting styles, cultural ethos, religion and such other affinities and identities.


Openings are devices for allowing or restricting the sunlight, air, sounds, privacy and for framing the view of the outside. As a device openings have inbuilt systems to modify the elements transiting through it, such as air, moisture, dust particles, ion charge etc.




 Post –by Gautam Shah



Doors in literature are used in their various physical constructs, metaphysical effects and metaphorical forms.

1 As a construct or description, the opening systems occur as entities with architectural, functional and visual interests. Passageways, bridges, ducts, also serve the function of transition. An opening is a line where the change occurs, and the bridges lead a path to or away from such a line. The point of transition is a mark-up or demarcation.

Gates_of_Hell_at_Fengdu_Ghost_City2 Metaphysically the opening constitutes a triad: an inside, outside and as in-between. It is a 3-way experience, of being on one or the other side, and the state, or of being into neither of the two. The third reality is the threshold, the zone of indecision for some. The paired reality of inside and outside, or existing on inside vs. outside, creates a threshold or an edge.



The threshold allows time and space for contemplation before committing to circumstances or even doing nothing. A threshold is a point of commitment any action beyond it may not be undone.


An opening is a relief from the enclosure or very constricting situation. It is a way to ful fill the expected, and a venture for the unexpected. The opening is like a dream or thought, so thin and efferent that one often does not realize if it is real or ethereal.


3 Metaphorically an opening is a change. Doors, gates, windows, and other openings express the transition from one state of existence to another.


Authors perceive a door as a point of change in both the time and space. The door, the opening, its mention portends a change not only in the place and period but alteration in the character’s personality. As one comes to a door there is a dilemma to go out or not. The vision of the outdoors is invariably wide and with several options, where the character has hesitation of sort. To show the compulsion of the character the door leads to non-fathomable deep space or night. All actions occurring near or in the door place help stretch the scene in time. One passes through a door and enters a new stage of development or experience, having gained long sought key’, knowledge or clue that was necessary to move forward. Going through a door the character becomes more mature, capable, extra ordinary perceptive, or endowed with some super power.



J. R. R. Tolkien the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings refers directly or indirectly to a door, window, gate, or other passageway that leads to a change in a character’s state. In the Silmarillion, the representation is used extensively. The transition through an opening refers to a passage point that signals some type of change in a character. Barriers are thresholds that represent the dichotomies of safety-danger, us-other, inclusion-exclusion, and control-chaos. For Tolkien the doorways and openings convey the idea of ‘becoming’.




The interior space within the door is a comfort zone and one must have sufficient compulsion to venture out. It is only through such courage we begin to realize our true selves. In other words, we must cross the thresholds that paradoxically lead us both outward and inward to a deeper understanding of our strengths and weaknesses and recognition of our relationships with the cosmos, just like Tolkien’s fish out of water.




Post -by Gautam Shah



8664613983_104777299f_zWall Panellings are very similar to partition walls, except that panellings are wall dependent systems, so do not need lateral stability, and are useful on one side only. Panelling differs from cladding system as the latter ones are fixed with no cavity with the wall. A small cavity between the cavity and the panelling serves manifold purposes: service or utility space, insulation against heat, reduced sound or vibration transfer, level adjustments (cover a rough wall or create a curve or surface undulations).


640px-Berlin-_Jewish_Museum_-_3068Fixing panelling requires design considerations. Framing for the panelling, visible or concealed, its divisions must follow the fixing geometry. Panellings are fixed with localized spacers or studs (in vertical, horizontal or both directions). For studs in vertical direction 400 mm spacing is most common. For local spacers 200 x 400 grids are used.




For the past 400 years, wood planks, wood veneered boards, gypsum plaster on a lathe, gypsum boards have been materials for panelling. Today extruded plastic sections, pre-coated metal sections, and composite boards are widely used. Modern day panelling systems are factory-finished so require no post fitting finishing or painting. Prefab panels are usually demountable and reusable. Pre-fab panel systems are designed with concerns such as acoustic and insulation properties, impact resistance, allergic properties, fire escape time, pollution hazards, disposal systems and demountability.


Classical panelling consisted of large pieces of marble with engraving, wood and cast metal panels with inlay, engravings or other treatment fixed into specifically designed niche or alcove spaces formed within a design grid. The niches were made emphatic by surrounds, edge borders, half or full pillars, rustication, reveals, mouldings, pediment or eaves, bracketed sill shelves. In place of marble or mosaic design paintings or statuettes were also placed.



Later in Medieval period wood became the chief material for panelling. Oak was the common wood. Panelling occurred as small as a skirting band of 200 to 400 mm height at floor level. The skirting band was a plain-finished covering stripe, except for the top edge moulding. The band skirted around the floor touching elements like niches, alcoves, windows and doors, accentuating the contours by chamfered edge junctions of the moulding. The Skirting band later had a projecting out mouldings at the bottom edge.


The Skirting edge was extended to the sill of the windows or work top. It was called Wainscot (from Middle Dutch waghen-scot= wagon plank). The French equivalent for wainscot is boiserie. Boiserie is profusely decorated panelling that commonly covers the wall up to the ceiling and may also be painted, gilded, or, in some instances, inlaid. It was often carved in low relief, of the 17th and 18th C. in France.


Wainscots are like the extended skirting bends but also accommodated fixed furniture items like lower level cabinets, dressing units, secretary cabinets, chests and fireplaces. Wainscots were later extended a little beyond the top level of doors and windows and became panelling systems. The door or window lintel level panelling systems had top level continuous capping band. But unlike the skirting band, these were ‘wholly moulded and projecting out entities’. These top band were met by the curved down ceilings. Full wall panelling systems enforced a distinct regimen in Architectural designing and Interior space planning, as all the sizes had to be modulated. Window and Door placement had to be classical or formally balanced. These also forced designers to articulate and coordinate interiors and exteriors.

Dynamic Panelling as changing projection

<p><a href=”″>Terrell Place, Washington DC, by ESI Design</a> from <a href=””>ESI Design</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>




An architectural opening occurs within a barrier or at the junction of two distinctive barriers. A very strong barrier provides for equally important opening. Doors, windows, gates, gateways, etc. are openings within barrier systems such as: walls, fencing, fort walls, enclosures, partitions, dividers, etc. Barriers are continuous entities, and can only be experienced through the openings. Barrier systems define a domain, so an opening becomes the representation of the domain. Opening systems can never supersede a mother barrier system. Openings are subordinated or minor systems as these must occur within a barrier system.

SCALE OF OPENINGS: An opening is a finite entity with definite size, however, the barrier system within which it manifests could be infinite in size. An opening can never be larger or equal to the barrier system within which it resides. An opening, occurring in a finite barrier system could be relatively small or large, but openings occurring in very large or infinite barriers can be judged to be large or small in terms of the user.


A small opening makes a barrier system very evident, whereas a large opening or multiple openings make barriers less effective. The exchange occurring across a small opening is very intense, compared to a large gateway. Small openings due to their smaller scale allow a controlled scale of exchange. However, a large opening often requires re-scaling through various appendages such as: segregation channels for up – down, and fast -slow traffic, compaction through funneling, filtration for selective processing acceleration and de-acceleration mechanisms.


A large window is divided into smaller units –lites, each of which can have a varied configuration. Entrance foyers of skyscrapers, lounges of Airports and Railway stations, have ganged or multiple doors to serve the demand for a wider but controlled opening. However, air hangers, garages, barns and warehouses require very wide doors to meet the functional carriage width. Very large or wide doors often have an insert small opening (‘a door within a door’) for passage. Openings are spaced out to take advantage of the location and orientation, and diffuse the exchange over a larger zone. Openings are concentrated or grouped together, to few locations to reduce the wastage of distributed operations.



Openings are scaled in terms of the image projection. A large opening means: capacity to build better, greater control over security, desire for extravagance or grandeur, need to be perceptible from distance. Smaller and fewer openings mean: conservative building technology, problems of safety and security, prudence and need to be less visible.




A Large window illuminates the interiors brightly, creating a fearless but public (non-private) space. Bright spaces are warm, a desirable quality in some climates. A Small window mean a sturdy and stable structure, an intimate (private) space, safety, security and cool interior or a ‘cold’ space. Walls, traditionally have been massive entities, so fewer openings disrupt a wall less.

LEVELS OF OPENINGS: Openings are essentially of two types: negotiable for egress or transit-able in an emergency. In both cases, the degree of conveyance may have been intentionally made difficult or easier. A French window is a door for conveyance, and a trapdoor or a hatch door is a window for all purposes. A door could occur at a negotiable level but a barn door for fodder, is placed at first floor level. A warehouse gantry girder could extend out of an upper level door like opening to lift up goods and bring it in. Windows have many grades, of ‘high to low’ sill levels, as referenced from interiors or exteriors. A high sill from interior space cuts off the view to the outside as in medieval cathedrals. A low sill or zero sill window ‘opens’ a space as in case of traditional Japanese houses. The upper floor windows of a glass curtain high rise building, clerestory windows and skylights offer a static view, lacking in dynamism.







Humayuns Tomb Delhi

Restoration is an exercise to recreate a situation as close to its ‘original condition’. The original condition is evidenced by various types of records. Restoring means re-establishing or resurrecting a value, concept or a condition that is lost, diminished or diluted, due to natural processes like decay, circumstantial causes, forgetfulness, malicious or beneficial changes. Restoration is done to all types of assets where there is some inherent worth or will gain it post restoration. Buildings, artefacts, paintings, streets and towns are restored. At places terrains and other natural assets are restored.


Buildings are restored with many different concepts. Society values a building for many different reasons:


●         as a functional entity,

●         for its association with a past event,

●         for its value as an entity of architecture or arts,

●         as an outstanding specimen of crafts or a technological accomplishment of an era that has passed away,

●         as an ideally fitting and irremovable part in a whole (a house in a street of nearly similar houses).

Society wishes to preserve such milestones but in a state that will make them last as long as possible. Society also wishes to preserve buildings and artefacts in distinguished conditions that later generations can admire it and be inspired to preserve them further.

Buildings are restored to their original stability, functionality and sensuality. ‘Retrofitting’, reinforcing and ‘stress relief’ measures help depleted buildings to survive greater or different loading stresses and for longer periods. New functions are bestowed to not only old and used but new and unused buildings. Functional restorations are made primarily for economic viability, and secondarily for validating it in the changing circumstances and surroundings. Buildings are restored to reestablish the sensual aspects lost due to decadence, endow new sensual values to match the current trends in the society or neighbourhood, or even remove the sensual characteristics that have become abhorrent in the new social or political setup.

Buildings being restored to endow new trends or styles do not pose many problems, but restorations tracing back the history are very difficult. For old buildings very few records are available to show the sequence of occurrence and extent of various changes. What one gets is an interpolated image through several layers of changes.

A building as it stands, represents a product of not only its originator’s perceptions and accumulated effects of changes like alterations, extensions, additions, restorations etc., but also losses, dilapidation, demolitions, etc. over the years. Many of these changes were planned and benign, but there are many changes that were malicious or unintentional (natural calamities).

It is always accepted that, a true and absolute restoration is never possible. A restoration is an approximation. It is based on the perception of the restorer or the sense prevalent in the society at that point of time. It is not possible to restore buildings to the original condition, a particular situation or any specific time frame perception, but, to what the user (or the designer or, restorer) conceptualizes. Restoration as an exercise is likely to be based on generalizations, ignorance, insincerity, wrong decisions, lack of resources, time constraints, etc.



Postby Gautam Shah


Hiroshima -remembering


Interventive conservation is the practice of mitigating further deterioration. The goal is to treat an artifact like entity so that it can be gently handled, safely stored or displayed without further risk of damage. In case of buildings the aim is to enhance the structural safety, bring it as close to its ‘original state’ or match it to some ‘perceived image’. Live heritage entities need to flourish with use-related awareness, as to what actions could be counter to sustenance.


Preventive conservation is a practice of preservation by providing a stable environment to minimize further damage or deterioration. The damage or fouling to an object or extent occurs from two main sources, the Environment and Human occupation or visitation. Both together accelerate the unstable nature of the entity’s composition. Preventive conservation is performed by a professional conservator and may mean specialized cleaning or the removal of agents that cause damage -an intervention of some form.



The way Interventive conservation and Preventive conservation are handled, and the end results, distinguish one from the other.


Conservation starts with an accepted truth, that the present condition of a built form or an entity is a historical fact, resulting from natural causes and human discriminations. The natural influences and human machinations in a building or entity are usually so interpolated that it is almost impossible to delineate them spatially or temporally. It is almost impossible to conserve any entity unless some of the changes are terminated, withdrawn, isolated or retracted. These exercises more often mean a move towards the original condition, which is an unknown or uncertain to begin with.



Preservation should be less bothered about the history of the object or look for the original conditions. But in attempts to create a stable environment to minimize further damage or deterioration, one needs to know are the actions yielding any fruitful results. Preservation attempts must not add anything that is irretrievable or un-restorable. Any action that adds a physical layer is avoided, as much as any structure or protective cover that obscures or obliterates the identity or appeal of an entity are not favoured.



Interventive Conservation and preservation both turn out to be attempts in restorations. ‘Buildings are preserved or conserved by the society, due to a fear, that any other action may cause irrevocable harm than any good’.

Ta Prohm

Society may not only preserve or conserve things its members like and value, but also abhorrent things (Hitler’s concentration camps, Hiroshima atomic ruins etc.), that must be ‘relived’. The appropriateness of the condition being preserved or conserved is always a matter of controversy. Preservation and conservation are always subjective judgements that are valid in only a particular, political, social or historical context.




Post –by Gautam Shah



As a process, Conservation and Preservation converge, but as area of application they are slightly at a variance. Conservation is used for macro zones such as for environment and resources. Conservation does not negate the continuation of use or participation by humans, provided it is within some ‘sustainable form’. The sustainable form though a restrictive term, ‘it has no (universally) acceptable definition’. Conservation evaluation is based on the results of efforts that manifests in future.


Bhadra Fort Ahmedabad Gujarat India

Conservation is a term used in the sense of ‘preservation for the future’. Conservation implies that the reasons behind protecting something are based on using and managing that resource wisely. A conserved area or zone would mean perpetuating a ‘conceptual environment’ by preventive strategies such as inculcating an image, a concept or a futuristic projection and also by way of intentional tactics of regulations, discipline or a lifestyle. So conservation can be broadly of two classes: the Preventive conservation and the Interventionist conservation.





Preservation, on the other hand is scaled to local or works at micro level, such as for finite entities like buildings, works of arts or crafts. It is a process of keeping safe or free from harm or decay. It entails enforcing a complete isolation through creation of an enveloping environment. “It is the act of keeping alive something like a palm leaf manuscript in a library”. Preservation, in contrast to conservation, attempts to maintain the pristine conditions of areas where some fouling is imminent or has already set in. For both of these conditions it is necessary to define what constitutes the ‘pristine’ condition. The pristine condition is a hypothetical section of the past. So preservation is selective or circumstantial. In doubtful or controversial situations where stepping back in history is not possible or permissible the preservation is also enforced as conservation. Whatever the existing situation may be, it is maintained.