Post 199 —by Gautam Shah
Doors have dual expressions, the interior and the exterior one. The interior expression relates to the enclosure, restraint, control, predictable behaviour, family, a way of life, virtues, etc. The exterior expression is associated with unpredictable conditions, unrestrained behaviour, memories, connection to other elements of building, the relationship and comparison with other openings. The interior and exterior expressions interpolate to form the street or neighbourhood. The neighbourhood manifests at the threshold. It is the most dilemmatic element of the building. And it is this behavioural indecisiveness that causes very strongly differentiated architectural representation. The interior and exterior differences are perceived through the resultant architectonic vocabulary. The Door itself may be physically identical on both the faces, but its adjacent elements endow a different image.
Exterior doors are synonymous with many objects and expressions, such as, the entrance, gate, gateway, passage, portal, access, admission, admittance, ingress and way-in. Interior doors represent relief, escape, exit, safety, security, privacy, assurance, and control.
In various cultures, doors opening outward and inward, imply peculiar meaning. A door opening outward shows that one needs to be more accessible to others. Roman society permitted individuals of high honour to have external door opening outward. An inward opening door, however, indicates a desire for inner exploration and self-discovery. Common citizens of Roman society had doors opening inward. The door was always open to a stranger and community, secured by a dog or its image. Roman Goddess Cardea had powers obtained the Door god Janus ‘to open what is shut and to shut what is open’.
For the Japanese ‘the door to happiness opens outward. A door simply imposes itself upon the room when it opens inward. Having the door open inwards has the outside intruding upon the inside’.
Feudal schools of etiquette prescribe all kinds of norms for opening a door and coming into a room. Sukisha, well-bred people use the hand, nearest the door to open it a few inches (the length of a forefinger, to be exact) and then switch hands to slide it back the rest of the way. A man is judged by how he opens a door and a woman by how she shuts. This is so because in a room with a group of men, a woman served the food and take a leave. She would be observed closing the door behind her with grace. The balanced and graceful action of folding down one’s knees on the floor, moving into a room, keeping at a level equal to others already in the room, were part of larger ceremony. The skills of opening and closing a sliding Japanese doors are part of reishiki, proper form or etiquette.
The exterior door is pronounced due to elements and functions that forms the entrance. In modern cities, the exterior door, as the entrance, is omni present at street level. The same door begins to diminish when the buildings are fed by underground parking, subterranean metro trains. In media, the window and the wall structure now carry the image of the city and the building, which was once sensed by the entrance. High level access from elevated track roads and trains, air and helicopter travel, is reinforcing the image of architecture that has no setting for the door. The door technology instead of being dependent on the physical form for the shutter, is moving to invisible surveillance and control.
An exterior door is the major or more used opening system and it controls the illumination, intrusion, acoustical disturbance, visual engagement, social interference, movement of air and pollution and thermal emissions. Throughout history and across cultures, doors, doorways, portals, gates and thresholds have been potent objects and symbols of superstition, rites and rituals, psychological change, transcendental and religious experience.
The interior doors are now less frequent in spaces. Single space residences, single or two person occupancy homes, open-office layouts, multi-shop malls, all have fewer inner doors. Interior spaces are more recognized by the amenities and facilities, rather then the architectural barriers including doors. An interior door is a facility, and a demountable and relocatable one. An interior door leads one out of a space, to another space, but that can also occur with a plain gap. Interior doors in a passage are bridgeheads.