Post -by Gautam Shah
To facilitate living and conduct various tasks we need Amenities and Facilities. Amenities also endow a personal value, a sense of belonging to a space. Amenities in this sense are space enrichments.
Amenities are attached (such as the kitchen platform, toilets) to a building shell. The linkage is for structural support through a wall, floor or roof. Amenities also get functional support for sourcing a ‘supply or disposal utility’.
One of the largest sections of amenities is for environmental control, such as projections, wind towers, air ducts, sun shades, pergolas, grills, etc. Some of the amenities are conceived to be architectonic elements for enhancing the architectural language.
Amenities are, on one hand, structurally integrated solutions which are difficult to remove without damage to the building shell. On the other hand, amenities are also mounted entities that may perhaps be replaced, but require an identical or matching solution for the sake of design integrity and fitments.
Relocatable amenities are sometimes considered facilities. Amenities are also designed as a subsystem that is part of a larger system -the building. Such subsystem amenities have well-defined relationships or connectivity and so can be manipulated.
The structural elements of a building also serve the function of an amenity. An amenity nominally is static, but could also be a mobile, which then is called a utility. A static amenity can have some degree of internal variability like a louvre in a window, or an elevator in building. The static amenities are designed to take advantage of the location, orientation, connections, etc. Static amenities use their mass for their relevance and so are heavy. Static amenities do not consume power and in most cases have no outputs except for disposal or on extinction. Non static, dynamic or mobile amenities are difficult in terms of managing their inputs (power, etc.) and outputs (residues, effluents and disposal or extinction).
An amenity that relates to variations like a climate (Sun, Wind) is operational only for a part of the season, day or hour. Such amenities are also designed to be architectonic elements. Connections (power, water supply, entry) to fixed amenities, once set are difficult to reestablish elsewhere or everywhere. So one is forced to customize the living around the amenities or accept the inherent deficiencies.
Behaviour in habitable spaces often revolves around the amenities. Areas near the attached amenities attract all the activities. Due to these users seem to move from one amenity to another. All the intermediate space patches and time interludes become sections for secondary behaviour.
In buildings such attached amenities are the platforms for cooking, fireplaces, window ledges, door thresholds, otalas, steps, open to sky chowks, cut-outs, seats along the walls, etc. These are areas with very focussed behaviour, surrounded by a loosely defined zone but worthy of many free activities.