Post 220  – by Gautam Shah


Window Sash B & W

Openings like Doors, Windows, Gates and Gaps have several architectural components: 1 Surrounding areas of the openings, 2 Structurals of the openings, such as lintels and surrounds, 3 Frames of the openings, and 4 Surface of the opening including shutters such as panels and glazing.



Surrounding areas of openings have ancillary architectural elements to diffuse or highlight the opening in the wall. The nominal elements like the walls, columns, pilasters, cornices, arches, or abutment, are modelled to envelope the opening. The modelling also creates a consistent style for openings of various types, sizes and depths (setting in the wall thickness). Treatment of surrounds is used to link and coordinate other openings into a façade composition.


Surrounding areas of the openings are used to scale and enhance the presence of the opening in the wall. Opening specific surround treatments are done with better materials, well executed for exploration of the style.



Larger architectonic elements as stand alone or repeating units create interest of their own. Walls, forming very large surface area, however, are treated with Textures, Colours, and Patterns. Other surface treatments include: materials with various levels of translucency, make-believe or pseudo finishes, glowing or illuminated finishes, compositions of light and shades, vivid or changeable presentations.

Palazzo_medici_riccardi,_finestra_inginocchiataTextural treatments: Such surface finishes include uniform textures, patterns of masonry and structural joints, and definitive projected cornices, bands or grooves. The textures are used to enhance the surface qualities of the materials. The textural patterns are also oriented to follow or go counter to the nature of the openings. One of the most important considerations for texture creation is the nature of illumination in terms of the solar orientation, angle of incidence over the face, and the common view position. The density of the textures is an important tool for creating the contrasts. The portion in shadows show off as darkened colour, and this aspect was used for differentiating select portions of the surface. Textures were created over masonry surfaces by micro chasing or engraving such as vermiculation, polishing, grinding or finishing to various grades of fineness (e.g. glossy to matt). Textural treatments were also created by cladding thin slabs of marbles, granite, slates, bricks, ceramics, glass, etc. and highlighting the joints by different pointing methods (joints formation). Masonry and plastered surfaces were rusticated.




Colour treatments: Colour treatments were of two types: Materials with their original colours were used, or new colours were applied through different rendering methods. Materials for their unique colour tones such as wood, marbles, masonry or building stones, terracotta, bricks, ceramics and glass were selectively used. Colours of rare materials such as gold, silver, marble, granite, precious stones, exotic timbers, sea shells, etc., were inlayed for their sparing use. For applied colours many different bases -substrates and application techniques were employed. Stucco and Fresco over masonry surfaces, staining and dyeing of wood surfaces, enameling and baking over glass surfaces, and dyeing, embroidery and other embellishments of draperies and furnishing fabrics; were the commonly used methods. Masonry colour palate consisted of oxide minerals, as these were sun-fast. Calcimine and Distemper colouring has been the major painting system for masonry and plastered surfaces since medieval period. China has a tradition of painting door lords or guardians over the shutters. Oil panting became more common from 1700’s, whereas polymer paints (plastic, vinyl, latex) became popular after 1950’s.


Patterns: Masonry surfaces are the chief areas for surface treatments relating to the opening systems. The patterns emerged through the use of materials of constructions, or are rendered. Romans used the masonry joints’ patterns such as opus incertum, opus recticulatum, opus testaceum, and opus maxitum, and manipulated them around the square and arched openings. The stone surfaces were finished as polished or textured with irregular grooves intended to resemble worm tracks. Vermiculation is one form of surface rustication, which creates a decorative contrast between similar surfaces. The rusticated plaster or stone work is ordinarily confined to the lowest story of a building, and the finely dressed ashlar or plane plasters are applied in the upper sections. Vermiculated rustics are found in several areas of the Louvre, Paris. Patterns were also created by arranging or inlaying the assorted or variegated marbles, such as in the façade of the church of the Certosa di Pavia (1491) or as in most of the Venetian architecture. The style of pattern and colour coordination became common in the architecture of northern Italy.


The favourite building material of northern Italy was brick with terracotta trim and decoration, a combination by means of which a pattern of light and dark was created over the entire building. On occasions when stone was used, as at the Palazzo Bevilacqua in Bologna (1479–84), the blocks were cut with facets forming a diamond pattern on the façade. This was actually a decorative treatment of rustication. Even the Classical orders were affected by this decorative approach. Classical pilasters often had panels of candelabra and arabesque decoration in delicate relief on the surfaces of their shafts; the lower third of a column was frequently carved with relief sculpture.’



Structurals of the openings

These are lintels, door-heads and surrounds, cornices, pediments, etc. These are made with better-tougher material when a critical structural role to play. The material selection, in such cases differs from other architectural elements and contrasts in terms of colour, grain orientation and texture. Palladio replaced such carved elements of stone with baked terracotta pieces, but coloured them to look like stone entities. In later periods buildings had plastered or stucco finished, that were cheaper and easier to form then in stone. The coating finishes equalized the expression of diverse elements of the opening system.


Persepolis1In Central Asia, such features are highlighted with use of ceramic mosaics. The surface finishes are used, both to equalize or differentiate the elements of the openings. The colour and pattern, both created the surface differences, but without a strong dimensional depth.


Symbolic association with certain colour schemes is used to associate such buildings to specific religion, tribes, clans, trades and functional uses.

Frames of the Openings

Surrounds and frames were the same in pivot-based openings. This began to change with hinged shutters, requiring a fixing frame. The frame in revival period became more elaborate, and had greater depth to cover the entire gap-side of the opening. In many such cases the frame and side panelling (over the face of the depth) became indistinguishable. The frames for hinge fixing were mainly of wood, and retained the identity of wood. The frames of heavy section but of low quality woods were masked by wood panels or veneers.

Sugamo Shinkin Bank Tokyo

Frames were left as of natural wood or blackened (not painted) for contrast and to enhance their slenderness against the bronze or glass. It was in post Renaissance periods the openings’ frames were brilliantly coloured to contrast against the brick, stone masonry or plastered and stucco covered exterior wall surfaces. Staining remained the chief method of colour toning the wood.

House Old Wooden Window Wood Indoor China

The entrance doors however, were made of some of the best and exotic varieties of timbers, polished and stained to show off their colour and grains. The Colonial period in USA and revival periods in Europe saw the emergence of all white doors and windows. Black or darker frames enhanced the sub divisions of the opening, but white paint dissolved their presence.

Double-hung sash windows were mostly painted white, and had clear glass showing the curtains of the interiors. The later effect was used as the glass of larger sizes and better clarity became available.


Finishes Over the Surface of the Openings

An opening’s surface is characterized by several features such as the extensive face of the shutter, the presence of the framing elements and dominance hardware and other adornments.

The shutter and frame are either contrasted or matched. Contrasts occurred because the functions of the frame and shutter (panels) were different. For very large shutters, wood paneling required many joints and so bronze was the preferred material. For windows, glass was the most perceptive surface. Bronze panels had patina as the finish whereas glass panes had a grayish tone of iridescence and transparency. Both the materials are very distinctive, but difficult to contrast or equalize in colour or texture.


During daytime the glazed face invariably has a greyish tone, often reflecting the surroundings and the sky, which contrasts with most other materials except the metals like steel, chrome, bronze with patina, silver or tin. Pot glass had coloured presence but effective when back lit very brilliantly after sunset, but such illumination was not available in that age. From an interior side the stained glass filled the interior so profusely that it required sobering through use of grisaille painting technique over the glass or use of a non stained cristallo glass.

In stained glass treatment the need to stretch the story board across many sections of the window was so strong that all framing and dividing members like muntins and cams were made slender at least on the face side, and additionally dissolved by colouring them with the same tone as the outlines in the picture.

Museu de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain

Fort and other large doors were without glazing, and for the wood or metal no weather resistant oil paint system was available till later part of 1700’s. Wood shutters were left in natural state, though often had inserts or sub-members of exotic timbers, or were adorned with metal hardware, decorations, medallions, sheathing and inlay of precious metals. In windows polished brass muntins were brighter, stronger and could be leaner in size.

Doors with cast and embossed insert panels made of bronze, copper, brass, and wrought steel were embellished with gold, copper or silver on entire face or over local details. For these purpose metal working techniques, like: carving, embossing, chasing, repousse, matting, etching, damascening, niello, ajoure, inlaying, overlaying, gilding, etc. were used.

Ghiberti -Gates of Paradise Florence

Ghiberti -Gates of Paradise Florence

The craft of bronze casting was a thriving industry from 12th C. Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise -Porta del Paradiso (1425), Baptistery of the Florence cathedral, is the high point of this craft in Florence. It lasted through the Renaissance and Baroque era. The bronze doors consisted of 28 panels illustrating New Testament scenes of the life of Christ. Bronze doors inlaid with niello work were earlier produced mainly in Byzantine area (during 11th and 12th C.), began to be produced everywhere in Europe.

In England in the 17th century the door panels were raised with ‘bolection’ or projecting mouldings, sometimes richly carved. In the 18th C. the mouldings on the stiles and rails were carved with the egg and tongue ornaments. Doors were also made of wood veneers and wood inlay.



Post 219 – by Gautam Shah



Raw materials or Finished product‘s are transient terms for goods. A finished product is a raw material for some other process. Raw materials procured in a linear, square, volumetric, weight or liquid measures, get processed into a different ‘measure’ entity.

For products transiting from one measure phase to another, a persistent dimensioning system is very advantageous. Consistency of dimensions allows use of standard tools, equipments, plants and technologies. The dimensional consistency, if properly recognized and supported, can rationalize the conversion processes, storage, handling, and waste management.

For example metal ore is mined in volumetric measure, transported by its weight measure, bought for its yield rate value, refined into ingots for weight measures, rolled into metal sections to be used for their strength aspect.

Allegheny_Ludlum_steel_furnaceIn the Post Industrial Revolution period, trade and industry all over the world recognized the need for a Universal Dimensioning Discipline. At that time better coordination was also required for conversion and transmission from old measurement systems to the new SI system of measurements (Le Système International d’Unités). First worldwide understanding emerged in the adoption of SI as the Universal Measure System.

ISO System


The SI also recognized that, measures as above, are either too large or small for nominal use. Such a widely spaced (1000 factored) measurement system was not amenable to unit formation for processes like planning, design, production, transportation, fabrication or execution, etc. ISO (International Standards Organization) as a result devised a practical modular system of dimensions known as ISO Modular Preferences. Most National Standards (including Indian Standards) are recommending and enforcing the same for various products and processes.


The ISO Modular Preferences help in both, dividing a whole into logical parts and combining parts into a rational whole. It also accommodates traditional modular systems, such as foot-Inch and earlier versions of the metric systems. Typically, the Foot (12″), the most popular measure of FPS has been accommodated (but not the 1/4 or 1/5 part of the Meter such as 20 or 25 cm or 200 or 250 mm). This was done for wider acceptance and to achieve a gradual changeover.

ISO preferences

First Preference is favoured by the building materials’ industry. Plywoods and other wood products are available in modules of 300 such as 600, 900, 1200, 1800, 2400 etc. Large buildings are designed with 300 as the modular measure. But, for smaller spaces such as Bedrooms, toilets, second preference of 100 is used as a module.

Second Preference is considered to be the most appropriate one for Building components and Planning. Glazed Tiles are available in multiples of 100 mm, with sizes like 100 x 200, 200 x 200, 200 x 300 etc., and also in sizes such as 150 x 150, 150 x 200 etc. as a carry over from the old system. Fabrics have widths of 600, 900, 1000, 1200, 1800 etc. When we order Windows or Doors the width x height are measured in 100 mm increments.

Third and Fourth Preferences are more preferred for objects smaller then 300 sizes. These preferences are not to be used for basic object sizes of more than 300, unless there are strong economic or functional reasons for doing differently.

Raw material to product and wastage management through dimensioning discipline

Raw material to product and wastage management through dimensioning discipline


There are many products where smaller modulation or variations are desirable such as Garments and Shoes. ISO Modular Preferences, do not consider the variations in naturally available materials. Furniture, fittings and fixtures designed with ergonomic profile or serving anthropometric, inconsistencies have no specific accommodation in this system.

ISO is a modular system to form a grid or matrix for macro planning and in that sense takes a superior position. Components and parts are expected to fit in the system. As a result, work-sizes of components and assemblies should be determined by taking account of space for joint and allowance for tolerances.

body sizes

Garment Sizes

The ISO modular system is based on SI system (a derivative of the metric system) which originally was rational and contrived, and continues to be so. This type of Modular Coordination of Dimensions, is unnatural and does not exactly relate to human body. Its implications to our senses are extremely limited. It creates an ‘order that lacks beauty’. The system does not harmonize the variable tolerances’ requirements, and differences in fitments sizes.


Ergonomic- Anthropometric variations cannot be part of ISO modular system

ISO Modular system has very simple and predictable progression-digression, unlike many mathematical orders and systems like Corbusier’s Modulor system.

ISO Modular Preferences, as a universally agreed system of preferred measures, disciplines design, procurement, production, conveyance, handling, storage, distribution, usage, wastage and reuse or recycling of materials. The system has provided a level ground to compare standards of various countries, and evolve world standards (ISO) for various products, services and work or operational procedures. It has made the writing of specification lucid and logical. It simplifies taxation procedures, costing, estimating, and valuation. It also rationalizes deployment of human and energy resources. It has made quality control procedures very objective.

Universal parts

Universal parts

At any cross section of time, there are many creative people, who feel stifled by such an Abstract Dimension Modulating System. But one must also concede that by its universal acceptance (through ISO), a logical dimensioning tool has been made available to a vast majority of people. The Dimensioning Tool defies all localized traditions, cultural variations, anthropometric distinctions, racial biases and geographical peculiarities. The system is unaffected by time or space.



Post 218 –by Gautam Shah 




Historical perspective

An adhesive is a substance that as an intervening agent binds two similar or dissimilar surfaces (or objects) together and resists their separation. The term adhesive is used for substances such as the glue, gum, cement, mucilage, mastic compound, sealant or caulking compound.

Plant exudate Gum

Plant exudate Gum


Surfaces stick or remain together when forces that cause attraction are operative. A force of attraction is any type of force that causes objects to come together even if those objects are not close to each other or not touching each other. Gravity is one such force. The electrostatic force cause attraction due to differential electrical charge. The magnetic force affects objects that have magnetic properties.

Using Natural Starch

Using Natural Starch


Adhesive substances are many types. It is a solid that is dissolved by heat or solvent, a natural liquid that remains wet, a substance that in the presence of a reactant shows binding capacity, and a material that forms a longer chain (polymerization) over age or with chemical action.

Adhesives are joining substances, and offer unique advantages. The use of adhesives offers superior binding or joining in many situations. Its advantages are evaluated against other joining systems such as seaming, stitching, tying, knotting welding, forging, soldering, fusion joining, mechanical fastening, etc.

The adhesive like substances are valued, for non-invasive joining (without drilling, melting), ability to join similar and non similar materials, capacity to distribute stress across the joint surface, often without damaging the visual aspects of the objects, in some cases for demountable joining, functionality over wide range of temperature and other environmental conditions and facility to work without heavy duty equipment or energy use.


Adhesive are disadvantageous, in varied stress conditions due to environmental as well as structural loading conditions, require a large surface for adequate bonding and do not allow assurance inspection of joint integrity.


Earliest adhesives were plant exudates like gums and resins, and of animal origin like hide gums. The adhesives were perhaps used for joining, dissimilar materials for tools making, broken ceramics, and for waterproofing boats and canoes. Many of the primitive applications of binding materials were similar to use of painting or surface coatings materials.


Starches constitute largest and oldest form of adhesives. The starch is derived from cereals like, rice, wheat, and maize and vegetables like, potatoes, and agri. products like, corns, arrowroot, millet, sago, sorghum, bananas, barley, water chestnuts and yams, favas, lentils, mung beans, peas, and chickpeas. Starch grains have been detected in mill stone dating back to 30,000 years. Starch was used to join parts of adornments and as a hair fixer. Till the last century, Starch was used to size cotton fabrics and add weight to silk fibres. In modern age starch is used in paper making and for surface finishing. Starch is used as an eco-friendly gum for cigarette filter buds, forming corrugated paper boards, seaming tea bags. Starch has been traditional adhesive for forming kites and coat kite-strings. Starch is used as additive to gypsum for dry-wall boards.



Adhesive materials like, gums, glues, starches, egg whites, casein and other proteins, have been used in art work painting to fix various types of colourants. The Egyptians have extensively used animal-glues in tombs, furniture, ivory and papyrus items. Many societies worlds over have used adhesive materials to fix decorations on adornments, ornaments, etc. In Europe during the middle ages, egg whites were used to decorate parchments with gold leaves. Adhesives made of starch were used by Egyptians dating back 3,300 years, for bonding non-woven fabrics from fibres of reed plant -papyrus, and as a sizing material.

Roman concrete Vault of Pozzolana cement

Roman concrete Vault of Pozzolana cement

Limes and natural cementing materials like Pozzolana (volcanic ash), calcium carbonate and sulphates, were used in masonry work. Bitumen, tar pitches, and beeswax were used as caulk or sealants and also as adhesive for fixing statues and other repair work.

Cement masonry

Cement masonry

Wooden objects were bonded with glues from fish, horn and cheese. Hide glue was extensively produced in Holland and Fish glue was produced by the British, in 1750s.




Post 217 – by Gautam Shah 



Wood’s appearance, warmth to touch, its ability to be worked with simple inexpensive tools, wide range of tonal hues, grain patterns and textures make it, the most versatile craft material. The only drawback for using wood, is the effect of moisture on its structural properties and its susceptibility to decay. No two pieces of timber are similar, the great variations in structural properties, colour, texture etc., make it suitable for different uses. These wide variations in a quality put the timber to a disadvantage in comparison to many naturally available materials.

Wood products

Wood products

Wood products

Wood products

Trees can be basically classified into two groups – exogenous trees (exogens) and endogenous trees (endogens).

  • Trees may be broadly grouped into exogenous and endogenous trees according to the way in which their stem diameter increases.
  • Endogenous: are trees with inward growth, and have longitudinal fibres such as canes, bamboo, palms etc. Typically it is not possible to see any growth rings in this set of trees.
  • Exogenous: are trees with outward growth (such as additions of annual-seasonal rings), like Conifers (narrow leaves) (pine, fir), Deciduous trees (broad leaves) (teak, rose). These are used as engineering timbers.
Exogenous conifer

Exogenous conifer


Endogenous plant Bamboo

Endogenous plant Bamboo

Exogenous plants as the name suggests grow outward. The stems are formed by successive additional layer on outside. Timber is essentially derived by the new mass formed in the cambium between the wood and the bark every year. Trees of cold climates and substantial numbers trees of warmer climates are exogenous. Rings in the trunk or branch section, and pith with medullary rays extending outwards to the bark are two distinguishing features of exogenous trees. Exogens yield timber for furniture and construction. Exogenous trees are subdivided into two main classes: broad-leaved trees and needle-leaved trees, or conifers. Broad-leaved Woods generally contain no resins, and the density or weight is greater. They are usually hard, and due to their irregular structure, net yield is lower.





The other botanical group of endogenous trees or endogens or grow inward from a hard exterior shell or, more commonly, end-wise by the acquisition of a new joint. Endogenous trees grow by forming new fibres within the trunk interspersed with the old fibres. Old endogenous stems have older and harder wood near the surface, whereas younger and softer centre. Timber from these trees has very limited engineering applications. Examples of endogenous trees are Palms, bamboos, canes, etc. These are not broadly useful for furniture or construction work, yet have their specific advantages and uses.




Commercial timbers of exogenous trees are classified as softwoods and hardwoods, though a very misleading nomenclature. Softwoods are timbers obtained from conifers, growing above certain altitude, and are supposed to be soft and lighter in colour. Hardwoods, are timbers that originate from the mainland and tropical areas are supposed to be hard and darker in colour. Many softwoods, though, are much harder and often of darker in shades than some of the hardwoods. Inversely many hardwoods are fairly soft and lighter in colour than some of the softwoods. Botanical names and commercial names of trees or timbers do not provide a true picture. There are multiple botanical names for the same specie adding to the confusion. Same timber is likely to be differently known commercially in various parts of the world.


Thanjavur Palace India

Timber is a very precious commodity. It takes decades to grow a commercially viable timber tree. Deforestation has become a prime issue from ecological points of view. Several countries have banned or severely curtailed and controlled the export of timber. Similarly many countries have banned import of timber to limit deforestation world wide. Many governments and local authorities discourage timber structures and other uses of timber. Government of India has enforced conditions, so that usage of timber as doors and windows and other structural purposes are nearly banned, in government schemes. Similar conditions are likely to be followed by state governments also. So over the years use of timber is likely to be severely curtailed not only due to legislation but also its difficult availability and consequent upward pricing.

Wood products

Wood Composite products

Timber grown in planned plantations is of consistent variety due to standard or a singular source of seedling or genetic derivation and grown in very controlled conditions. These results in trees with identical grain, colour and texture, belying the natural variations associated with woods.


Wood replacement products are of broadly two types. Wood-based composites such as plywood, block boards, chip and particle boards are likely to remain available, but only for a while. The availability of such products is also going to taper off in future. Wood ‘look-a-like’, make-believe, or pseudo wood products made of polymeric composites, painted, printed or layered materials are in the market.

Unlike a metal or plastic, wood is inherently a replenish-able resource, provided production and use are controlled and matched.




Post 216 – by Gautam Shah


Hearth and Kitchen




Hearth in the Kitchen has been the most important entity of kitchen formation. All functions of kitchen, such as the food preparation, cooking, consumption, arranging water, fuel and other resources, smoke, effluents, and solid waste management, cleaning (of foods and vessels), washing (laundry), bathing (family members and staff), storage systems, and food consumption must be resolved for the convenience of hearth usage.

Space Station foods



Hearth form, size and location inside or outside the dwelling enclosure are decided by climate and social taboos. Hearth and its fuel, together determined the time spent for cooking, proximity of dining, nature of cooking, and social interactions within the family. Some strong dilemmas have always existed ‘as to what could and should remain with the hearth, and what must be placed away from it or outside the kitchen’

Caboose_(ship_stove)Kitchen is a place where means and methods continuously evolve. Activities of kitchen are strongly affected quality of fuel, foods and condiments available, urbanization, mobility of family (migrant, nomadic, ethnic), climate (seasons’ cycles), geography and heritage. Foreign influences such as new condiments, foods, vegetables, and recipes affect the kitchen form very readily. Vanquished and victorious civilizations, both are affected, if not by each others’ culture, and surely by foods and cooking. Societies that were geographically secluded, or not in war, stayed frozen in the time section, but with maturing their ethnicity.

Indonesian_brick_stoveWhen new foods arrive, new kitchen planning ideology also sets in. The stew in the cauldron on fire place like hearths, and open fire baked breads; were replaced with frying pans and closed chamber baking. This change also entailed platform-based cooking. Sink attached or connected with the platform and its drainage facility encouraged piped plumbing. The heat, smoke and soot of a hearth were vented through stacks or properly sited and adequately sized windows. The bathing tub of the family went out of the kitchen, into a separate chamber, called bathroom or toilet. Openly stacked stores were chambered into specific rooms.

Peasant_Woman_Cooking_by_a_FireplaceIn the middle ages, urban centers like Venice, London, Paris, etc. redefined dwellings emerged for urban family depending on urban supply system. Many of these urban dwellings were shared structures and located away from the ground (upper floor houses). A major change came with the charcoal and mineral coal replacing the wood. The new fuels were less massive, and had better heat output. The emissions were lesser and manageable. The kitchen now became exclusively a food preparation zone. It remained women’s domain. She spent substantial part of time overlooking cooking, but in the intermittent period busied herself with crafts.Woodcut_kitchenJean-François_Millet_(II)_005



Post 215 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 


Kitchen and evolution of its Facilities


The kitchen related storage systems, their spread and mass in a dwelling are determined by the routine climate, cycles of seasons, kinship within the community, degree of urbanization and industrialization in the society. It is a tradition borne out of wisdom and accumulated experiences. ‘An efficient storage system is ingrained in the family lifestyle, and is a heritage of a community.’


Storage management has been a family vocation as much as a community concern. Communities bound by ethnic affinity ensure continuous supplies for all their members. Kitchens, sustain well, if supplies of food, water and fuel, are available at the doorstep. The concern for supplies is more pronounced in extreme climates, difficult terrains and lonely locations. The place of cooking is environmentally too hostile for storage of food stuffs, and so raw foods are stored elsewhere in the house. Food preparation is rarely dimensionally small and spatially insignificant activity. Food preparation rather then cooking requires more space. With assured supplies the food preparation processes become less bothersome. Romans were staying in multi-story (a 4-5 floor high) apartment like buildings. It was difficult to carry water, fuel and other supplies to upper floors, so relied on the ground floor bakers. The food preparation zone becomes omnipresent in the dwelling due to the spread of storage utilities. A moderate climate zone offers multi season replenishments, obviating the need for large volume storage. In hot arid climates, the house appears to be made of only storage utilities, whereas the cooking looks like physically a very small time and space activity.


Industrialized and urban localities have the advantage of supplies being delivered in ‘nearly ready to cook’ form and without much delay. Storage needs of an urban house are very much smaller.

DCF 1.0

Mansions of the rich had kitchen storage systems of very large variety and volume, but spread at several locations. Cooking vessels were large sized and shaped to meet needs of fancy recipes. The kitchen had fuel store, water source area, cleaning and washing section, meat rooms, milk and butter section. The staff at kitchen level dined in the kitchen, and required large volume of dishes, bowls, etc. The prepared food was taken to upper floor bedrooms, chambers, dining rooms or coffee rooms, requiring service items such as trays and trolleys. The food was taken to pantry area of the floor, to be rewarmed, reserved in silver or porcelains. The pantry area had many sub sections, such as the silver room, linen room, etc.

Banquet de Charles V

Banquet de Charles V

The lifestyle of rich was naturally emulated by others in the society. The difference was that their houses were not so large. They did not have the capacity to retain an army of food-zone related staff. Often the housewife was required to intervene in the kitchen activities. The involvement of the housewife assured that kitchen was a clean and well-articulated place. Most of the kitchen related storage systems were in the kitchen or in an attached store room.

Task utilities of a kitchen are sited everywhere in the house to take advantage of the varied sensual experiences and comforts, as offered by the house. Certain amenities, like the grinding stone, butter milk churner, flour-mill, vegetable chopper, were fixed to a location, for advantaging the architectural, and other functional attributes of the space. Other task utilities, however, are shifted from place to place on schedules of daily, seasonal or occasional nature, to exploit the environment, climate, illumination, etc. available within and without the precinct of a kitchen.

Wall Hearth

Free Hearth -Chulha



Post 214 – by Gautam Shah

Kitchen and its place in the house

Home, Dwelling to House the structuring of the human abode has been centred on the position of the food preparation area. The transition from a metaphoric form, the Home to the physical definition of a dwelling in spite of assimilating many other concerns has remained focussed to the food preparation area. The structured frame as a Home, at simplest level had a singular space shared by house master as well as the servants. In early European dwellings, the master and the servants shared the warm kitchen for the night. The cold climate and warmth of the hearth helped create such single space entities.


In metaphoric dwelling, the basic or minimal form of the house, like the Bedouin and Nomadic tents, the food zone in spite of the climatic shifting (indoors or outdoors) was the resolving force of living. Transit houses of Eskimos, Red Indians or Mongol, the food preparation area was commencement of the house structure.


Single room or small houses managed by the housewife herself have had well formed and well-sited food zones. The kitchen came into being with the evolution of dwelling. It had natural efficiency of connections with neighbourhoods. A kitchen was often just a slot in the time schedule and a casual space occupation, yet when it became active for breakfast, lunch, supper or dinner, it was a place for the entire family. It was a place commandeered by the hearth, food and mother.


The housewife was no longer the commandeering mother in mansions of the rich. She had a retinue of servants who prepared the food in the kitchen, bearers who brought the food to dining area, and butlers to serve the food. The multi tired arrangement pushed the kitchen to lower floors or dungeon. It kept the smoke, heat and smell and sweaty and stinky cooks dealing with food away. No one, the master or the lady, ever cared to refurbish the kitchen.


The kitchen or food zone, began to get refurbished when fancy recipes and exotic foods arrived. The first came in with wider travel across countries by the house masters, and the later through traders. Both of these factors required new kitchen technologies. The house master, who was more familiar with foreign food varieties, wanted to impress the party guests. The house master was instrumental in redefining food preparation area.

The kitchen of the individual mid-class family was a cosmos of its own. It was well-evolved space, with storage areas for foods and vessels, fuel supply, access to water, garbage disposal, drainage and work platforms. The kitchen had its own access back door for supplies and staff entry. It was a very interactive zone for people, goods, services and information. This is one of the reasons why some conservative communities had secluded kitchens, to cut-off all outer contacts. On the other hand kitchens operated by males were created as outhouse or annexe entities.


Kitchen services yard

The siting and physical form of a kitchen depends on obvious operants like climate, effluent management and storage systems, and many other ephemeral causes like taboos, customs, religious, political, economics, etc.



Post 213 – by Gautam Shah



Food preparation has been part human life. Hunting or food gathering, cleaning and apportioning the food, were clan-based activities, but exclusively conducted by men. The clan kinship or arrangement continued for other activities like, grazing the animal herds and harvesting the crops. With all the community management, the dwelling was perhaps a long community house. It sheltered families as hearth-based units. The long house also stored foods, fuels and water.


The cleaning of meat foods and apportioning them was done away from the living areas to keep off smell, filth, vultures, and other carnivorous away. This was the first systematic Food preparation process. The final processing of food into an edible product was a family-based affair. The long community house had partitioned family sections, each of which had its own hearth. Here, the woman further refined the (clan shared) raw food, and reformatted it with own fire.


The fire or the Hearth became the focus of the family identity. Oxford’s dictionary defines focus, originally a Latin word, as a domestic hearth. The hearth was not only the metaphoric focus of the family, but it came to designate the Home.

Hearth -the focus

Hearth -the focus

 The community dwelling assured food Supplies, security and safety. Fire in the hearth provided illumination, warmth and safety against predators. Family centred around the hearth, and also pursued other productive activities like clothing, furnishings, and craft related pursuits. The community dwelling was finite in size, its partitioned families into self-sustaining units. The individual dwelling began to be structured by the family, to suit its own distinctive needs. All food related activities like, storing, processing, preparation and consumption, moved to the single family dwellings.


The food preparation zone of the individualized house had many different forms depending on the technology, climate, and materials. The woman not only reigned over the food preparation zone, but controlled all the happenings in the family, by occupying the most important section of the house.

Fat and Lean kitchens

As Lewis Mumford (City in History P 12) puts it, “security, receptivity, enclosure, nurture -these functions belong to a woman, they take a structural expression in every part of the village, in the house, and the oven, the byre, the bin the cistern, the storage pit, the granary…. are woman writ large. In Egyptian hieroglyphics house or town may stand as symbols for the mother, as if to confirm the similarity of the individual and the collective nurturing function.”

The kitchen in spite of its functional importance and inevitability, was often not the focus of the house, as it was in the primitive community long house. The kitchen was smoke filled, smelly, and very warm area, could be pushed off the centre, but never out of its core importance.

Diego Velazquez An Old Woman Cooking Eggs

Diego Velazquez An Old Woman Cooking Eggs

Food Preparation System consisted of several functional entities. Storage for kitchen and family vocation have been synonymous in terms of modalities and space management. Kitchens, sustain well, if supplies of food, water and fuel, are available at a doorstep and when required. Food processing (cleaning, grinding, chopping, etc.) is another area that is both time and space relevant. Cooking has been a fire related process has its environmental issues. Food consumption, though could be a separate affair in another time-space, remains interconnected with the cooking zone.


Modern Food Preparation Zone



Post 212 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 


Tasks are distinctive units of work, at home or places like office or industry. Tasks require specific setting or stage to happen. The setting is characterized by Time scheduling, characteristic Space form, and the conducive Environment. The environment includes amenities, facilities, structures, enrichments and social interactions.

640px-Twelve_Labours_Altemps_Inv8642Tasks are always purposive, so are creative, educating and productive. Tasks’ setting is carefully selected or moulded in consideration of productivity or efficiency. Tasks also require resources of tools, equipments, raw materials and energy.

Carve Workers Man Human Craft Craftsmen

A task nominally, consists of sub tasks, some of which is repeating. Many of the sub tasks or processes are not dependent on particular setting or very specific resources. As a result sub task or processes are handled without time and location compulsions. Many of the sub tasks or processes provide relief from tedious work, and are also used for entertainment, social interactions, expression and communication. In other words sub tasks are physically invigorating and relaxing.


Tasks derive their efficiency, normally through sequencing in time and space, and also through our ability to interchange it. Tasks are scheduled at a location where required parameters are available. Tasks, however, 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.

Human Craft Coppersmith Coppersmith Of UtaTasks requiring unique spatial qualities for efficiency and also for creativity and relaxation. Tasks continue to flourish at a location, till a better or exciting place or social accompaniments, are available. Tasks that flourish within groups and depend on group interactions for a diversion may even ignore time and space conveniences. Tasks are attached to entities like: space forms, environmental conditions, structures, amenities, facilities and other necessities.

Multi Tasks Control

Multi Tasks Control

Tasks are mainly oriented to advantageous environmental resources such as illumination, wind direction, sunlight or shadows. Orientation is a biological preference as well as cultural conditioning and accordingly people prefer left or right turning. Tasks occur at places from where some degree of command can be enforced over a larger domain. Tasks are also oriented to amenities and facilities, architectonic elements and to other people. Some tasks have sanctimonious associations and so are oriented to specific directions (like Mecca, East-Sun). One of the most preferred of orientations is the openings’ system like door, window, or a gap, because it extends the vision and allows to command further.


Multi Tasking

Multi Tasking

Task shifting is both a necessity for a change, and reflection of insufficiency of the current location. In built-forms where environment is well conditioned, the need to shift a task is less severe compared to tasks that are dependent on climatic factors. Similarly where a task for its productivity is extremely dependent on fixed amenities cannot be shifted. Tasks dependent on multiple processes, however, need to shift around wherever these are available. Tasks require different space spreads for various processes, and may need re-siting for accommodation. For a task the efficiency derives when wait for the right occasion or search for the right location is minimal. Some facilities are bounded amenities so some tasks cannot be easily relocated or rescheduled. In single room houses, tents and non-formal work areas (like rural craft workshops), tasks’ timings and their spread requirements are well matched.

Multiple Resorces

Multiple Resources

Tasks are mostly positioned (and shifted around) within the same space segment and scheduled (and switched around) in sequential time section. Some tasks are ‘shifted to other space segments or deferred in time’. Such shifts in space and switches in time occur primarily for functional needs, but often to relieve the tedium and for experimentation.




PAPER – Quality determinants

Post 210 –by Gautam Shah


A paper is valued for its quality, form and suitability for a purpose. There are many factors that determine these. The raw material composition, manufacturing and post processing methods mark the papers’ quality, strength, feel and appearance. The form chiefly relates to the post production processes and treatments and its size conversion. The paper becomes suitable for a purpose after various treatments, shape forming and combinative make-up with other materials.

 Paper-cutting by Bettina von Arnim, titled “Jagdszene” (German for “hunting scene”) WSikipedia Image by Bettina von Arnim (* 1785-04-04, † 1859-01-20)

One of the most important factors of paper raw materials is the fibre quality, its length and integrity. Chemical pulps in general have higher fiber length compared to semi chemical pulp and mechanical pulp, when made from same wood. Mechanical pulping, though has greater yield, it damages or shortens the fibre. Next in importance is the proportion of rag versus the cellulose. Higher rag content provides greater strength and better quality.

Paper made from unbeaten or inadequately beaten fibres is characterized by a lack of tensile strength, by high porosity, high absorbency, full opacity, by its irregular surface and in many cases by a wild uneven formation. A sheet from a well-beaten stock, exhibits greater mechanical strength, a higher density, a measure of grease-proof, translucency and in extreme cases transparency, a smoother surface and a more regular formation. A waste recycled pulp apparently has lower capacity to swell compared to a virgin-pulp due to prime `beating’. Pulp from better quality recycled waste is used for newsprint paper and straw board or packing carton paper. Card board and card have small amount of rags. Writing papers have better rag content that is contain substantial linen or cotton fibres.

Waste paper recycling

Waste paper recycling


Recycling Paper as bags Bag seller India

Grease-proof (resistant to oil and fat penetration) and ‘glassive’ grades require a paper as dense and homogeneous as possible. This is achieved by reducing the length of fibres. On the other hand craft paper, where strength and anti tear properties are important, fiber shortening is minimized.

Water Absorbency of a paper depends on the quality of the pulp and also on the degree and method of sizing. Papers are internally sized (i.e. sized during pulp formation stage), tub-sized or surface-sized after a paper formation stage. Sizing materials include glues, casein, starch, rosin, gelatin and many synthetic polymeric emulsions and suspensions.

Toilet paper

Toilet paper

PH Value of a Paper determines permanency of a paper, i.e. deterioration of a paper due to ageing. Papers with a tendency to yellow and become brittle have acidic content. Documents, account books, art work prints, maps, survey sheets, require acid free papers. Addition of alkaline substances like calcium or a magnesium carbonate can reduce acidity of a paper, but also increase the weight of a paper, and make it impermeable and smooth.


Ph value of paper and ageing Old books Yellowed brittle pages Wikipedia Image by Tom Murphy VII

Density of a Paper is also governed by many other factors, such as, quality of pulp, sizing, pressing, post manufacturing treatments like calendaring.

Hardness and Softness of Paper are related to many factors such as the constituents of the pulp, grain orientation, pressing, calendaring, sizing, loading substances, presence of residual chemicals (bleaching and optical brightening agents, acids). Brittleness occurs due to over handling of pulp, presence of residual chemicals and the moisture content. Papers often are treated with silicone emulsions, soaps, to provide a soft feel.

Old books Yellowed brittle pages Wikipedia Image by Tom Murphy VII

Optical Properties include opacity, brightness, gloss and colour. Opacity of a paper relates to legibility of an image through a paper or from the backside imprint on the paper. Tracings have very smooth grain structure with show through, achieved by very through beating of pulp or by impregnation with oil or waxy substances. While some papers are mildly translucent or have strike-through properties (legibility of an image printed on the back face). Opacity is often a desired property of copying, printing, writing papers. Opacity of a paper is achieved by loading substances, calendering processes, impregnation, coatings, sizing, dyeing etc.

Brightness shows as the degree to which white or near-white papers and paper-board can reflect the light of the blue end of the spectrum.

Gloss, Glare, Finish, and Smoothness, are used in describing the surface characteristics of paper. Smoothness refers to the absence of surface irregularities under visual and feel conditions. Gloss refers to surface lustre. Glare, is used for a more intense reflection and often an unpleasant effect of high gloss. Calendaring and coating, are important paper-treating methods that affect gloss.

Colour of paper at natural level is dull or off-white to bleached or super white. The most common way to impart colour to paper is to add soluble dyes or coloured pigment to the paper stock. Direct dyes with a natural affinity for cellulose fibre are highly absorbed, even from dilute water solution. Basic dyes have a high affinity for ground-wood and unbleached pulps.


This article in continuation of earlier articles on same subject >>