POSTURES for Furniture Design -1

Post 250 – by Gautam Shah



Human body is a segmented system. Each of the segments has varied needs of stability, comfort and need for transition to other positions. Some human body positions are substantially formed by the individual limbs, but many others are operational in consonance with other limbs. Stability of the body depends upon the stability of the individual limbs and the state of composition of the limbs.


Gravity is the major force that affects the equilibrium of individual parts, and the body system as whole. Individual parts readjust to contribute the stability of the system, where for some reason their contribution fall short other segments augment that effort.


Human body manifests in many different ways. Position is a very nominal term for a composition effected by the segments of the human body. This is nominal static state, in consideration of stability, comfort and need for transition to other positions. The Posture is a purposive position attained intentionally, or a condition borne of habitual response to a situation. The Pose is a reflection of position or posture that expressly communicates or involuntarily conveys some form aesthetic intentions. A pose requires some degree of posturing, when several segments have to be manipulated and often beyond the stability of gravity balancing. Attitude is considered impressionistic posturing or posing. Intentional or not, it is used to express or imitate through learnt forms of behaviour. Attitude is seen as minor manifestation of posture and pose, but mainly through the gestures. Gestures convey messages, idea, information and attitudes, through movement of part of the body, especially hands, head, eyes and facial twitches. Postures encourage certain range of gestures.



Furniture Design is essentially about creating forms to support, encourage and sustain certain body positions. There could be several optional ways of doing it due to climate, culture, habit, social conditioning and racial differences in anthropometrics. So in this sense an item of furniture is as universal as human body is, and as diverse as the users are. The Furniture item as devised by trial and error and with intense design attitude, both have to foster a posture system. This posture system is then exploited by the user for posing, gesticulation and attitudinal purposes. Some of these aspects can be intentionally impressed in the design, through the symbolism of form, material usage and technological explorations.



Furniture designers deal with following Quarries in their field:

  • What is posture?
  • How does one acquire a posture, sustain it, relieve the tedium and transpose it with another posture?
  • Why do we take a posture?
  • How does gravity affect a posture?
  • To conduct an activity, would you really need the same type of posture in an environment without the gravity?
  • How would you differentiate between comfortable and non comfortable postures?
  • What causes discomfort in a posture?
  • What is the role of vascular circulation in posturing?
  • What is the role of accumulation of body fluids in postures?
  • What is the role of axial balance system of body in a posture?
  • What is the role of sensual perception vis a vis a posture?
  • What is the role of sensorial communication vis a vis a posture?
  • What is the role of metabolic activity in a posture?
  • What are yoga and exercise postures?
  • What are skeletal movements?
  • What are muscular movements?
  • If one had lower capacity to move the parts of body (old age, children, disabled people), would it affect the capacity for a posture?
  • If one had higher capacity to move the parts of body (sports people, circus artists), would it affect their capacity for a posture?
  • What are micro postures within a posture?
  • Why do we make micro variations within a posture?
  • What do postures express or communicate?



FOOD PREPARATION SYSTEMS – VI -Kitchen Design by Fires

Post 249 – by Gautam Shah 


Fires have literally fired the Kitchens. Along with the fire kitchens have been modified for the size, shape, configuration, siting of amenities, location within the dwelling, connections to the estate, entrance and other sections of the residence, linkage to the services, and the storage systems. At another level fire has affected cooking processes, tools and utensils, ingredients and condiments, schedules and duration of cooking activities. The energy resources or fuels have continuously evolved, reducing the labour required for the kitchen related processes. Simplified fire has been a great leveller for kitchens in dwellings of all social and economic statuses. The necessity of cooking, and for that reason the need for fire (or energy), has decreased due to several reasons, such as ready to use supplies, reduced home-based eating and smaller family sizes.


The Fire in the kitchen has become efficient at several levels, its handling methods, thermal productivity and quality of effluents. The fuel supplies are more assured and continuous. New techniques of heat or energy sources such as solar, electric and microwaves are replacing the age old fuel combustion methods.

Fuels for Cooking

The cooking fire with its illumination (and warmth in many seasons) was a fear alleviating element on dark and fearful nights. It kept predators and insects away. Even a primitive age family knew it was a wastage of fuel. Oil lamps spared lots of fuel for cooking and warming. Another attempt to save fuel was to redefine the hearth from open fire to with three-sided enclosure. Direct fire roasting or barbecue, began to replace stewing or juicy cooking on indirect low fires. Agriculture provided grains, which in whole or crushed form required different methods of cooking heat. Starch foods required very little heat for cooking.

Casa_do_OuteiroThe sources of fuel were mainly wood cut from trees, twigs and heavier stemmed grasses. Liquids like oils, lard and tallow were used for lighting lamps and for sustaining the fires. Fuel collection was need-based collection activity, but with forests moving away from settlements, it became a seasonal source. Substantial time, effort and space were devoted to manage the fuel resources.


Built hearth fire is superior to open fire, but requires converted fuels like chopped wood, broken twigs, animals’ excreta cake, briquetted coals, animal tallow and fish oils. Heat efficiency of converted fuels is slightly better, but often times the combustion poor and emissions annoying. Smokeless fire was a necessity and has taken a long time to arrive. It was first achieved in a closed chamber hearth, where gasification of fuels at a very high temperature achieved complete combustion. The raised internal temperatures of the burning chamber require better insulation, higher air input, and equally efficient ventilation. The process was perfected only during the Industrial revolution, with cast Iron stoves.



It was only in the 17 and 18th C AD. that low emission and heat efficient charcoal and briquetted mineral coals were available and replaced the firewood. Charcoal was a preferred fuel, due to its compact form and high heat efficiency. It made the firing section in the closed chamber hearth very small, allowing its better insulated design. Different forms of heat application, direct-radiant, reflected, etc. became part of the cooking art. Mineral coals that began to replace charcoals only enhanced the pollution due to presence of sulphur. Coals, however, brought about many changes in storage needs, form of cooking apparatuses and house fireplaces. Houses now needed chimneys.

Cast Iron composite stove



Post 248 – by Gautam Shah



Architectural windows have many sizes, shapes, form and locations. Wherever and for whatever intentions a window is placed, its most fascinating function is view out, and for some cases the view in. Wherever there is a little crack or opening in a wall like structure, one wants to discover the realm on the other side. Windows, enlarged or small in size, transgressed out and inward, pushed to the floor or roof, to regulate the scope of vision.


The mechanics of vision depend on several factors, such as: distances of the window frame, vision cone and the frame extent, sill level, lintel level, shading devices, size of window sides, window design or configuration, quality of glazing, level of maintenance, the differences of outside and inside illumination, amount of the glare, treatments on internal and external faces, quality of external surroundings, tasks, orientation, climatic conditions, lighting conditions, need for protection and privacy, etc.

NASA Space ship Window

The notion of the ‘eyes as the window to the psyche’ goes back at least to a text by philosopher Sextus Empiricus (2nd C AD).


The factors regulating the vision continue to evolve with new forms of openings, shutter systems and glazing technologies. A window is a frame, marking the edges of the aperture, and also the reference plane for the visual experience. The frame of a window reflects its structural dependence, but also aspirations for the structural un-susceptibility. The frame is not the body of a window, but rather the sized sides of the openings. The openings’ sides, sill tops and lintel or arched bottoms, in heavier wall structures imposed their presence, with the differential colour tone of the reflected light. These were, both, enhanced or dissolved with techniques like chamfering of sides, placing the window on an extreme inner or outer edge, texturing the side with flutes and carvings. The treatments to the sides affected the framing clarity of the vision.

Residence Abbey Church Holyrood Palace Holyroodhouse

The sides of the openings were encroached or enhanced by additional architectonic elements, such Jambs, sides, entablatures, architraves, pilasters, half columns, pediments, etc. These elements were intended to mould the appearance of the openings, but in many instances undulated the edges of the visual framing.


Glass windows have been prominent in domestic buildings since the 15th C, before, that these were employed in Gothic churches and public buildings. The Gothic windows were meant for the colourful effect, and due to a high plinth (sills were usually beyond the head level on ground floors) less for vision purposes. Compared to it, the Indian temples have remained without glazing, offer very little for vision-in, though vision out was through an axially placed opening.

High Plinth Windows Tall sill levels Gloucester Cathedral

Sections of the windows cause stratification of the view. Windows show views in three references: The higher view (above the horizontal eye level or head level), the middle view (within the nominal cone of vision) and the lower view (eye and the head both bend downward). The stratification of view becomes obvious when working some distance away (typically equal to one human height measure) from the window. A person working close to the face of a window may get all three views from a mid level opening. The strata are more pronounced in windows with horizontal baffles as the shading component.


Stratification of View by Window divisions

Higher view from the upper section of a multi-story building shows up only sky, a very static view. But higher view in a low rise building shows upper parts of surrounding buildings, mid portions of trees, and horizon, a slightly changing view, but not strong enough to cause any distraction. Mid level views on busy streets, are distracting due to continuously moving objects outside, and varying illumination and reflections in the interior space. Mid level views from any floor are ergonomically not exerting for most tasks. Low level view from upper floors show up the grounds, gardens, lower terraces, water bodies, etc. All of these surfaces very strongly reflect the changes in solar illumination, shadows, moving objects, etc. The ceiling surfaces become extremely vivid due to the upward reflections, not an ideal proposition for bed rooms, rest rooms and hospital wards.


Corner window

A fully stretched floor to ceiling window shows all the three views concurrently, and as a result there is no stratification of the view. The strata can be supported or diffused, by including or avoiding the horizontal elements in window design.


Open Zarokhas, bay windows and Latticed balconies, like at the Jaipur Hawa Mahal or Mashrabiya of middle east, are two opposite versions of street side openings.

Mashrabiya Egypt

Historically, windows have not been used for viewing in the interior spaces. Though small aperture openings, alone or as part of the doors, were used for eavesdropping, spying or casual observation (Darshan). These were small sized because the eye was placed very close to the aperture. Display cabinets and Aquariums have glazed fronts to display the items. Office and cabin doors have view windows.

Commercial spaces require people to see the interiors’ spaces and the goods and activities therein. Shop fronts are large format fixed glass windows. A shop front design depends on the angle of observation, difference between outside-inside illumination, angles of a light source, its size and intensity. Shop fronts are designed for clear and glare free view, achieved by treatments over glass, external shading devices and through back up illumination. The quality of glass and its cleanliness become very important issue. A view-in window like the shop front ensures security as a person breaking-in is likely to be observed.

Interior Illumination Glass

Illuminated Glass Fronts

The cone of vision is determined by the width of the window and depth of the room. A corner side window cuts off the view compared to a centrally positioned window. Ribbon like horizontal windows are called panoramic openings, whereas spot windows are called picture openings.

Villa Savoye Ribbon window

Panoramic views became popular with curtain wall structures. Here the horizontal members are placed floor level, and verticals are widely spaced or concealed. The glass walled window has the R-value of 3, which is the same as an inch of corrugated cardboard, making it a space of uneven temperatures. A study by the Urban Green Council, says that 59% of New Yorkers keep the blinds closed over their big glass windows.

Caboose wagon

The excitement of the frontal panoramic view and domed eye view of Pantheon have gone a step further. It started with Caboose rail wagons, where a dome projection over the roof allowed all round vision. The view down is being tried in many different formats. Sears Tower in Chicago has installed four glass box viewing platforms or sky-deck (called Deck) that juts out 1.2 mt, at 103 floors level.



The television screen as a replacement of a traditional window, creates ‘spatial ambiguity between public and private space’. In German post-war-architecture, the transparency of glass was equated with the transparency of the democratic government (dome of the former Reichstag in Berlin).

Glass Box Balcony 1

Glass Box Balcony 2




Post 247 – by Gautam Shah


For ages, seeing is implied in the word window,  such as in auga = eye ( ‘vindauga’ mean a ‘wind eye’). It was replaced in old English eagþyrl, (eye-hole), and eagduru (eye-door).


Walls of a building demarcate two distinctive worlds of inside and outside, but walls being opaque only, one is experienced at a time, and the other is unseen, so ignored. Openings like doors and windows allow the connection between the two realms to be simultaneously live. The see-through unglazed or glazed opening allows a chance for deliberation, which in case of a window is less causative then a door. The door threshold, real or imaginary can be transgressed either way at will, but a window sill is not always trespass-able from outside. Few windows have known or hospitable terrain outside. Only thing that could come through a middle age backyard window was the stench of the garbage or the night-soil thrown out every day. The backyard window, facing mass of buildings had little to offer as a view, but replacing the louvres with a pane of glass did stop the stench.


The gaze in or out of a window, for many years, was not considered a great problem, as the casting-forming defects in the glass (and earlier mica or alabaster), made it fuzzy. The glass panes for the windows, even though muddled, were rare, costly and fragile. The cost and bother of their replacement was a major matter. The glass size was small, so needed framing by several muntins and mullions, making the entire glazed opening prone to sagging. Glazed openings were mainly used in public buildings or for rich mansions. These were the people who could afford frequent glass replacement, and when technology offered, replace it with clearer quality of glass.


15th C architect, sculptor, painter, and theorist Leon Battista Alberti, considered a painting to resemble a view out of a window. ‘First of all, on the surface on which I am going to paint, I draw a rectangle of whatever size I want, which I regard as an open window through which the subject to be painted is seen;…’ . Alberti formulated the method of one-point linear perspective for scene painting. The window frame defined the canvas to scale, form the depth as a meta screen.

Dürer’s woodcut shows metaphoric use of window as a glass screen for forming one point perspective.

This intimate connection of seeing, outside, airiness, of windows transforms into metaphoric perception, realization and ultimately to the soul. The tunnel end is an opening of relief, so is a window that manifests where none was expected. It is like a dream that is remembered on sudden opening of the eye. An opaque window is called a blind opening, and set of louvred slats are window blinds. All early versions of the Televisions and Computers had a very strong window frame and were called windows to the world. Radio remained without a frame, just a listening device. These similes somehow show a window to be switch-able, open and shut case (a simple and straightforward situation without complications). The curtain masking, film layering and metallizing of the glass are concealing what is on the inside.


Framed TV screen like window

Frame-less Screen


In early Gothic buildings the day and night visions of the buildings were completely different. During daytime the interiors were brilliantly filled with colour, but the exterior face presented dull, almost flat, grey face of the glass, with very little perception of the colours of the stained glass. During night time, in the beginning phase, the building was even duller. But soon it began to be lit on inside by oil lamps and candles. Now the building on the outside had a colourful glow against the dark -street-lights less city scape. The glass became lighter coloured (Grisaille) and staining only selective, The oil lamps and candles, in large numbers, a created maintenance problem of soot removal. Private mansions began to have towers topped with a glass cage lit at night.


Stained Glass during daytime from outside

In the post Industrial revolution period the window became free of the wall as curtain wall, providing uninterrupted view in commercial buildings. Mies van der Rohe did the same thing for a dwelling in Farnsworth House. Le Corbusier in earlier phase used the glass as a grey surface, but in a later phase the glass becomes an unimportant feature, on the outside masked by architectonic elements like brise de soleil.


Fransworth House

Windows for transactions in Banks, Post offices and Government departments were once pigeon holes in opaque walls, not allowing much visual exchange. This became glass fronts with pigeons’ holes, encouraging a visual exchange, later became across the table relationship, and now remote and internet connection. The window form has also turned from a little hole to a large glass pane wall, and behind a screen or communication window.

view stratas

Fixing Metallic Transparency Glass Front Metal



Post 246 – by Gautam Shah


Caldarium of the Old Baths at Pompeii

A window in its most primitive form was an unglazed hole in a roof, provisioned mainly for ventilation and illumination. The hole in the roof was ‘windy’ to cause air-change and discomfort. The word for window derives from two separate words ‘vindr = wind‘ and auga = eye, which together literally vindauga‘ mean a ‘wind eye’. It replaced old English eagþyrl, (eye-hole), and eagduru (eye-door). The hole in the roof in its glassed version, was called fenestra (Latin version -in other languages, such as, German Fenster, French fenêtre, Swedish fönster, and English fenester).


Japanese word for windows, Mado carries similar meaning. Mado consists of two morphemes; ma and do, where the former relates to eye (as well as mi– the root of the verb to see) and the later can mean a place (in sense of place, such as fushi-do (lying or bedroom + place) and kama-do (cauldron or cooking + place). So Mado means a place to see –a window.


The windows transited from the roof, to upper and then lower sections of the walls, and truly became the auga or eyes, to look out. Doors for many centuries were used to look out, but now windows were an option. There was another divergence in place. Doors were points of entrance, and so placed towards a familiar and negotiable terrain like a known street, a courtyard, a neighbourhood, etc., but windows as an opening, could be placed over a lesser known territory, such as side or back of the building. In a dwelling, a door is absolute necessity for entry, but window for ventilation have been avoided in buildings with loosely tiled or thatched roofs.


Hagia Sophia Istanbul

Doors need an anthropometric confirmation, but windows remained small apertures. The small size provided security yet a connection to the outside world. Windows had solid plank shutters or heavy tapestry cover, so a closed window was as good as no opening, and an open one, true to its original name, a windy and uncomfortable aperture for many climatic zones. The windy window manifests when there is a chance of cross ventilation or stack effect. Both occurred due to the presence another ventilation system in the room. The door or another window were the cause of former, whereas the later was mainly due to the chimney used for cooking or as fireplace. But in tropical climates, the simultaneity of door and window in space was very desired.


Windows at lower levels, have been used for strange uses. Romeo preferred a window for surreptitious or secret entry, Adfenestratem or adfenestration, to see Juliet. Some jump out of the window (autocide or suicide or auto-defenester) on not able to do things they would like. Enemies are better defenestrated, thrown out of a window, rather then a door, leaving no doubts of their return. Defenestration is also an act of throwing something out of a window, like garbage and night soil into the backyards, as was a common practice in many medieval cities.

Back yard window to window clothes lines

Windows on familiar territories, such as the front face, tend to be full size. The full size is lintel at head level or more and sill level at belly button height. This size allows reasonable illumination up to 2 to 2.5 meter depth, making the most active work zone. A window seat in a aeroplane, train or bus and worktable near a window are desired places. A window of opportunity will not let anyone jump-out of the window (defenester), but rather persist on trying. Window shopping is compared to a Camel, who can survey every thing but eat (buy) few things. For Window dressing one needs a large glass front and passer-by on a busy street. A launch window is a very narrow or circumstantial opening, only with pre-planning one can push through it.


Windows provide a sense safety and security to an enclosed space. A person viewing out is able to survey the outside world, but unable to intervene. The windows are elements of frustrations and limitations in jails or palaces. The windows occlude the identity of the person inside, through lattices, structure of the surrounds, curtains, and the comparative darkness of the interiors. Windows frame a view. The masking changes the perception of the view through it. It scale reference helps size objects, and judge their positional depth. Windows frame as a stationary and known object, allows one to note the change or movement occurring in the scene.




Post 245 – by Gautam Shah



A designer operates more as a professional and less as an Industrialist, Trader or any other branches of commerce. The attitude to be professional arises from a desire to provide excellent services (professional) to a client. To work professionally a designer needs to have minimum distractions or encumbrances, including, for procurement, execution, material, labour and other logistics management. This attitude to design work has been formed from very ancient times. A well-documented design brief can free a designer from all other botheration. In the early period of painting work, artists use to create cartoons (full size representation on fabric, parchment or paper). Sculptors used to send clay or wax replicas to the site. Carpet makers, tapestry weavers, printers, all were given documented briefs as assignments from the ‘masters’. To handle large assignments, and simultaneously at several locations, one needs to divide them into jobs for various talents, technologies, and target dates. The documentation of design is as necessary as the professional distancing.

Creative- Design work -several partners, associates, free lancers

A Designer who works purely as designer, without any owned facilities of execution, production or supplies is a true professional, and many taxation laws recognize the classification. Many designers conduct supplying (vending), servicing and production facilities. From a taxation point of view, a designer as a Supplier or Vendor is classified as Trader (in many countries liable to pay Sales-Tax). A designer as a producer is considered a manufacturer, and equated with someone who operates an industrial establishment (even with temporary site-based work). As someone operating an industrial unit, the designer is liable to follow all applicable regulations. From country to country, and as per the local governments, the classifications and liabilities vary.

Pure design practices require a small setup, with very low capital outlays. Design and build type of set up have site-based facilities to save rents and transportation costs. But where sites are available for a very small period, entire production cannot be accomplished in a given time schedule. Some sites cannot accommodate or permit any production activity. A workshop or fixed production facility requires a heavy capital outlay, space, manpower and carry large overhead expenses.

Some Designers prefer to have their own production facilities. The production setups run by designers are of many types, a fixed-location type, or an on-site temporary and de-mountable type. A fixed facility may be used to produce prototypes, standard mass producible items or for job work. On-site facilities are for full scale production or for installation, erection, fitting of items produced elsewhere.

Single person Design work

A professional Designer, who wishes not to be bothered with any infrastructure of practice, can still get a variety of jobs. One may work as a free lancer attached to other Designers. One can also work as an associate designer with other design professionals of parallel interest. One can find attachment as an in house designer with an industrial unit that needs design services.



Simplest Design Practice, is as an individual entrepreneur or proprietor. The designer as single owner is called the proprietor of the firm. The proprietorship has lots of flexibility of operations, including firm formation and dissolution. One may have few employees. It is usually small in scale and overheads are very low. Clients get a highly satisfying personalized service. A Proprietor gains directly in proportion to the input effort. There are few problems with single person businesses, such as when the proprietor is indisposed or dies, business abruptly comes to an end, unless someone has been trained and appointed a nominee to takeover in such eventualities. Proprietors resources are always limited and it cannot handle complex and time intensive (fast) jobs.



Partnership types of organization come into being for many different reasons: One person cannot operate a business when it becomes very large, complex or multi locational, Original entrepreneur of one man business setup, need to retire and gradually hand over the running business to a successor. Often new business comes into being by pooling of large resources and varied expertise of two or more persons.

Partnership type of organization can come into being through an informal mutual understanding, but better, if through a formal (registered with appropriate local authority) a partnership deed. Informal understandings can work if all partners are equal agents of their partnership. In reality, however, partnerships are unequal (in terms of resource input, capital investment, liabilities, gain share, physical labour and expertise input), so a formal deed is necessary. For taxation and often registration purposes, it is often necessary that partnership deeds should be formal (legally registered). An informally constituted partnership can be dissolved informally. But formally constituted partnerships can be dissolved through a dissolution deed, which generally specifies who bears the residual liabilities and gains. A partnership business cannot be called off (dissolved) on the spur of a moment. Certain gains and liabilities take years to be resolved. So as an easy way out partnership businesses can be sold to either others, (partnership or proprietorship firms) or one of the partners takes over the residual setup as a proprietorship organization.


A partner of a partnership cannot transfer own interest to another person at will, as consents of all partners are required. Every time a new partner is included or excluded, entire firm is recast and reformed. Partners bear full and unlimited liability, and all have to share the consequences of an action by any partner. Partnership deeds however well executed, all duties, responsibilities, liabilities of partners cannot be fully described, and there are always some leftover contentious issues.


A partnership firm can launch a small or limited purpose partnership firm. Here the mother partnership firm as a single entity enters into an understanding with one or more persons called associates to carry out specific tasks. As soon as the specific task or time schedule is over, the relationship comes to an end. Birth and dissolution of such relationship is comparatively easy, because the mother firm usually takes on all the residual responsibilities.

Partners always face the problem, how to share the responsibilities and liabilities. More often than not partners with monetary resource are interested in a safe income for their investment. Such persons do not wish to take on any other responsibilities. Often businesses are of very risky nature and people who join may wish to exactly know their involvement and limit their liabilities. A Joint stock company is an organization where such problems are not acute.



For joint stock company, people with expertise, competence or resources invite select few (as a private limited setup) or any number of people (as a public limited setup) to invest by way of shares. A person who holds the largest number of shares technically runs the show. They may, however, allow an expert to run the business on their behalf. In joint stock company anyone who contributes for the firm gets compensated. The initiators through a share in the income, investors through an interest on the sum invested, and all others by way of salary or commission for the value of their labour, expertise, etc.


WALLS and Buildings

Post 244 – by Gautam Shah



A wall is a planner structure, generally vertical, with a proportionately narrow thickness in comparison to its height and length. It is a barrier system, like fences, barricades, partitions, etc, and used for dividing or enclosing a space. Its most distinguishing function has to bear the load. It bears its own weight -the self load, and also other imposed loads of the super structures or sideways thrusts. Walls ultimately transfer all the loads, own and imposed loads or thrusts to the earth. One of the most efficient load transfer systems to the earth is in perpendicular direction to the gravity. As a result, in all structure compositions, the vertical walls predominate.

Walls of Stairs Kolkata India

Allen Lambert Galleria Toronto an atriumspace by Santiago Calatrava that connects several heritage buildings along the side of it Wikipedia Image by Secondarywaltz

Imposed loads on walls emanate from other structural systems of the buildings, such as floors and roofs, beams, services, etc. and from the occupancy of these systems, like ‘live’ loads of people, flora, fauna, goods, storage utilities. Thrusts from within the structures are transferred by the walls to other bearing elements, or resisted and converted into a gravity bearing vertical component. These loads include from arches, beams, vaults, etc. Thrusts also bear upon the wall due to the lateral resistance provided to other elements such as water, grains, sand, soil, etc. and retained liquids or gases. Walls also endure pressures arising due to dynamic movements of live loads and shifting dead loads, earthquakes, and energy vibrations of sound, wind, etc.

metal-glass facadesWalls carry distributed loads, but frequently loads concentrated at a point induce local stresses and failures. Walls also fail, under excessive distributed loads, at its weakest section, get crushed or deformed depending on its homogeneity. When a wall has width equal to or less than its length, it becomes a column, and loses its meaning. Moreover, a wall that has a height equal or less than its width, remains an in-fill course or a layer only. Walls without any external down bearing imposed loads are called partition walls.

Uppsala cathedral wall

A wall carrying only side-thrust is called a retaining wall. A wall which carries the load of upper structure and also retains earth is an abutment wall. A gravity wall resists the side thrust of retained material by its dead weight. Gravity walls primarily have a trapezoidal section, with wider part forming the base. Cantilever retaining walls have ‘L’ or inverted ‘T’ section. A buttressed wall has additional intermittent pieces of lateral walls on the open face, to strengthen the mass. A counter-fort wall has a similar system (often as a structure in tension) on the inside or the loading face.

Wall Hazara Rama temple Hampi, Karnataka India Wikipedia Image by Ms Sarah Welch

Tabo Gompa - old walls and chortens Wikipedia Image by John Hill

Retaining Walls

Walls as barriers resist variety of forces or energies. A translucent to opaque wall can reduce light transmission. A wall of an absorbent material and geometric configuration is used in attuning sounds. Latticed walls as barriers filter out select elements. Small height walls are used as compound or estate walls and as parapets. Dispersed vertical linear elements used as non-continuous barricade function like walls. Curtain walls are rigid membranes that envelopes a building to protect it from winds and rains and many instances bear the surface shears.

Wall of Porta San Giovanni Wikipedia image by


Walls are ‘loaded’ along and across the width section, and sometimes along the length-section. To bear a load, a wall is expected to have adequate surface cross sectional area in a plane parallel to the gravity. These surface component are made of width and length of the wall. Theoretically, a wall can have an infinite length and single size module of width. Nominal walls however, are required to bear a variety of loads, thrusts and stresses. So walls need some sectional depth, depending on the integrity or homogeneity and strength of its materials, in addition to the geometric formation and composition. Height of a wall is a finite element, though theoretically a wall could be infinitely tall. A tall wall, proportionally, turns into a slender structural entity. Wind and other vibrations over the surface of a tall or slender wall are random (stochastic) motions. These cause dynamic effects in many different directions. So even if depth (thickness) of the wall due to high integrity of material, composition or geometry, can bear the loads, the transmission of loads to the ground is not harmonic or consistent.

Walls of Red Fort Delhi India

Walls of Hyderabad (Pakistan) Fort -Pacco Qillo Wikipedia Image by MUrad Ali Shah BukeraiVery thin walls are used in shells, domes, tanks, plates and membrane structures such as balloons. These are often called shell or membrane structures depending on their structural transmission. These structures often have indistinguishable wall and roof elements. A shell structure is classed as compressive structure, whereas a membrane structure like a balloon is classified as tensile structure. Thin structures are used for their light weight and economy. Membranes are thin and pliable materials or formed by ‘bloating’ or stretching a material along its plane. Membranes ‘wall’ or surfaces can carry well-distributed loads, but are incapable of taking any pointed loads, unless material is tear or puncture resistant. Boat sails and circus tents are examples of membrane structures. When a hard, homogeneous and rigid material is used for creating a thin wall structure it is called a plate or shell structure.

Walls of wonky brick building crooked old masonry house

Walls of Cooling tower at Thermal poer station Neyveli, Tamil Nadua India Wikipedia Image by NLC India Ltd.

Sail Ship -a membrane wall

 Walls of space vehicles and stations in outer space have few superimposed loads on the walls (once far beyond the nominal gravitational zone) however, if gets converted into stresses. The stresses ultimately result into some form of kinetic energy disturbing the equilibrium of the craft or station. To maintain the equilibrium (position and location), occasionally course-correcting boosters are fired.

Coventry Cathedral Ruins Flickr ImageOpenings like doors and windows, and provisions like niches, alcoves, weaken a wall, structurally and visually. For reasons of load-bearing capacity of a structure, openings at lower level must be fewer of smaller width. Lower sections of structures, however, have lesser solar exposure, so more openings are required. Openings are placed one above the other so as to leave uninterrupted vertical wall masses to transfer loads directly to the ground.

Dissolved Walls Day time - Night time




Post 243 –  by Gautam Shah


Adhesive joining is one of the materials joining technology, others are:

Mechanical joining techniques include Nails, Screws, Seam forming, wedge or pin fixing and interlocking. Fusion joining entails melting of, one or both surfaces through heat, solvent or chemical action, used in welding of steels and plastics, metal forging, PVC solvent joining. Gravity-positioning use the earth’s gravity for stabilization of carpets, floor-spreads, cobble stones, etc. which stay-put when placed parallel to the gravity.

Mechanical Joining

Welding heat fusion joining

Cobblestone Flooring - Gravity fixing

Cobblestone Flooring – Gravity fixing

Advantages of adhesives are many. Adhesives can join substances that are materially and dimensionally different and form-wise very difficult. Adhesive joints are thin, overlapping and smooth. Adhesives allow uniform stress distribution, unlike screws and nuts which create localized stress points. Adhesive Joints may be designed as required, to be elastic or rigid. Relatively low process temperature involved in adhesive bonding does not affect the crystallographic structure of the metal. Adhesives can create very extensive, multi layered laminar compositions without physically cutting or puncturing the materials.

Limitations of adhesives are few, but important. Adhesives require elaborate surface treatments, specific application conditions, curing procedures and considerable expense of time for setting. Inspection of the joint is difficult. Joint design becomes very critical compared with other mechanical and thermal processes. The adhesive itself may corrode the materials it is joining, or induce stresses during curing.



An adherend is a material or its surface attached to another by means of adhesion. To prevent failure of an adhesive it is necessary to prepare the adherend (surface or substrate). Surface preparations include cleaning, roughening or smoothening, and in some cases its chemical modification or coating.

An adhesive generally should have strength not greater than the strength of the adherend. It should be as rigid or flexible as the adherend. Adhesive should have a high bonding strength than a high structural strength and thermal expansion properties similar to the surfaces being joined. Adhesives must not contain solvents or volatile that can affect the adherend. Adhesives must not adversely affect the plasticizer or any constituents of the adherend.



The adhesive bonding primarily facilitated by mechanical factors, in which the surface roughness or absorption properties of the adherends provide a key for the adhesive to grip. Adhesion for smooth materials such as metals, plastics and ceramics depends on the molecules of the adhesive and the surface molecules of the adherents. Rough surfaces have greater contact area. Mechanical adhesion can be increased by special surface treatments.

Polyethylene surfaces need to be modified by flame treatment for adhesive bonding. Aluminium requires anodizing with phosphoric acid. Carbon steel parts are coated with a zinc or iron phosphate conversion coating as an alternative to sand blasting or hand cleaning to roughen up the surface.

In order to form a bond adhesives harden via processes such as evaporation of the solvent or water, reaction induced with radiation such as heat or UV, polymerization, chemical reaction or phase change.

Wall paper fixing

In formation of an adhesive bond, a transitional zone arises in the interface between adherend and adhesive. In this zone, called the inter-phase, the chemical and physical properties of the adhesive may be considerably different from those in the non-contact portions. The inter-phase composition controls the durability and strength of an adhesive joint and is primarily responsible for the transference of stress from one adherend to another. The inter-phase region is frequently the site of environmental attack, leading to joint failure.

The mechanical behaviour of the bonded structure is also influenced by the joint design, and by the way in which the applied loads are transferred from one adherend to the other. The quality of an adhesive is usually judged against the adherend (i.e., the components being joined -metal alloys, plastics, composites, etc.) and the surface (that is the nature of the surface and its treatment).

The strength of the bond depends on two factors: Adhesion and Cohesion.



Adhesion is the ability of the bonding material -the adhesive to stick -adhere to the materials being joined -the adherends. The development of an adhesive bond occurs through more than one of these processes. First, a mechanical interlocking, occurs when the adhesive flows into pores and micro projections on the surface. Second, Interdiffusion results when liquid adhesive dissolves and diffuses into the adherend materials. The third mechanism occurs through, adsorption and surface reaction, when adhesive molecules adsorb onto a solid surface and chemically react with it. Finally, electrostatic attraction, forces develop at an interface between materials.



Cohesion is the ability of the adhesive and/or the adherend to resist the applied forces within itself. Cohesion could occur even without an adhesive material if there is molecular attraction between surfaces that are in very intimate contact, as happens between two panes of glass. Materials with good surface wetting qualities, like water, also can help in cohesion. Cohesive failure is a constitutional failure of the adhesive, when two items separate out with adhesive remaining on both the substrate surfaces.

Surface resistance – Cohesion


There are three ways in which an adhesive bonded joint can fail:

  1. A very strong adhesive will not allow a joint to open out, so there is a rupture elsewhere in the material.
  2. Too weak an adhesive fails and separates into two distinct layers.
  3. An adhesive may fail to adhere to one face.


  • careful design of the joint,
  • correct selection of the adhesive,
  • careful preparation of the joint surfaces,
  • controlled application
  • environment at the joint (cleanliness, temperature and humidity).


With correctly prepared surfaces, the adhesion at the interface is usually greater than the strength of the adhesive itself, and failures occur within the adhesive film. Failure of the adhesive film is usually caused by the propagation of cracks accelerated by the presence of discontinuities and flaws. Therefore, thin layered adhesives provide the strongest joints. Usually the adhesive selected should have similar strength characteristics to be adherends being bonded together. An exception would be where boding is only temporary pending another joining processes to be used. Most adhesives show optimum strength characteristics when in tension or compression closely followed by, shear. Often the high strength, thermo-setting adhesives form brittle bonds that are adversely affected by vibration and impact loading, causing the bond to crack or shatter. Under such conditions a slightly weaker but more resilient adhesives may perform more satisfactorily. Adhesives may show a satisfactory strength characteristic under test conditions, but will tend to creep under sustained loads in service.

Most woodwork adhesives are stronger than the wood, so it is the convenience of viscosity, hardening time, cost, durability, etc. that play important role in the selection. A gap of 0.076 to 0.15 mm in wood joints suffices for a thin adhesive layer to give optimum results.


This depends on several factors such as:

  • Economics, batch size, and quantity,
  • Impermeable joints to seal liquids and gases,
  • Thermal or electrical insulation requirements,
  • Vibration and fatigue resistance,
  • Corrosion




Post 242 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 


A Sheer fabric is made from very thin threads and low density construction through knitting or weaving. The threads are of Silk, Cotton, Rayon, Nylon and Polyester synthetics. Silk and Cotton are short staple fibres and provide a dull finish, whereas Rayons have little sheen, but most polyesters are filaments (very long fibres) create a glossy finish. The density of a fabric (knitted or woven) determined by several factors such as sectional form the fibre, degree of spinning, massing during spinning and weaving (measured as Denier). The resultant fabrics are transparent, translucent or opaque.

Sheer fabric dress

DENIER: A Denier is a unit of measurement for fineness of fibres or filaments, as threads, expressed as the weight in grams for 9,000 metres length of yarn. The surface area of a fabric is directly related to the denier. Smaller deniers yield more fibres per unit weight of the material.

A micro-fiber is less than 1 denier, fibres for sheer fabrics are finer, just 0.9 denier, in comparison, a human hair is 20 denier. The sheerness of a fabric is expressed in denier, 3-5 is extremely thin, barely visible like clear film, 15 to 40 are used in making stockings, and 100 is fairly opaque.

COUNT: Fabrics’ coarseness or fineness, produced by weaving or knitting, are measured in threads counts (both-way) per unit area, (and also warp-ends per inch e.p.i, and weft-picks per inch p.p.i.).

Silk Sheer

Fabrics with a high denier measure tend to be thick, sturdy, and durable, whereas fabrics with a low denier measure tend to be sheer, soft, and smooth. Sheer fabrics are used as curtains on external face and as dividers in interior spaces. Sheer fabrics, however, are too thin to control incoming sunlight. Sheer curtains filter light, and cause its de-fraction.


In the post middle ages period, glass for windows was flattened from cylindrical form or flat cast. Flattened glass had crinkles and cast one unevenly polished. It was available in small pieces, and even then vision through it was distorted, muddled or frosty. The sheer curtain masked the vision through the window, and provided visual privacy. Sheer curtain fabrics do not offer any insulation against heat or cold, so need additional cover of heavy-opaque fabric curtains. Sheer curtains over bedsteads provide a romantic transparency, provided room is heated (or air conditioned). Sheer fabrics of low denier and high count weaves have little sound absorption, but higher proportion of gathers or creases substantial add to sound insulation capacity.

Dyed Silk Yarn -greater Opacity

Sheer fabrics of natural fibres such as Silk, have yarns with multiple fibre stands, whereas Cotton has several staples entwined during spinning, both of these create a fabric that is dull or with little sheen. Rayons are produced as staples so have a slight sheen, unless treated differently. Synthetic fibres such as Nylon and Polyesters are in filaments or very long staples and usually with same cross sectional shape, so provide slightly glossy face. Denser weaves have more sheen or shine. Sheer fabrics of netting type have comparatively low gloss due to greater de-fraction of light.

Preferred sheer fabrics are whites, white, natural (un-dyed) shades of white or off-whites, cream, ivory, colour shades. Though many base shades and prints are available. Lighter colours are preferred, due to the greater capacity to de-fract the light. Colour tinted sheer fabrics were popular to tinge the room with a particular hue with natural illumination through the windows. That is no longer needed as vast varieties of paints and wall finishes with subtle variations of hues are available.

Sheer -transparency and illumination


Silk has been the choice fabric for sheer curtains, for people who can afford it. Silk yarns are made of several very fine long staples or filaments, which give strength, dullness and a natural suppleness. Silk has one the most gracious fall of all sheer fabrics. Silk fabrics are thin, but often sized to add body to it. Heavy bodying, treatments and heavy deniers of fibres and counts of weaving, make a silk fabric opaque. Such opaque fabrics though miss some of the grace in fall, are still liked for curtain making.

Art Silk or artificial silks are made by treating polyester fibres, or by co-spinning the filament with rayon, cotton and silk staples. The main purpose of increasing suppleness is achieved by treatments and mix design, whereas fall is achieved by thin or low density weaving.

Synthetic sheer fabric

Sheer fabrics must not be used with a lining fabric to maintain its translucency and climate-related behaviour. Sheer fabrics are also embellished and embroidered for patterns. Such extra work only adds to the weight of the fabric at the cost of graceful fall. Sheer fabrics are commonly heavily pleated and so the total quantity of cloth required is little more then a curtain of regular fabric.


# Next article in the series deals with Non-Silk Sheer Curtain fabrics



Post 241 – by Gautam Shah 


Conscience is the inherent ability of every human being to perceive what is right and what is wrong. With this conscientiousness, control, monitor, evaluate and conduct all endeavours. Some consider that the innate sense of judgement needs to grow, develop, and further formatted. It must become a continuing passion of refinement.


There is some confusion between Conscience and Consciousness, because of their same Latin root (Latin word conscius, meaning with and to know). Conscience is a noun which can have many different meanings. It is considered as a quality of one’s character and conduct, reflected by the adherence to moral principles and consideration of fairness and justice. A quality conscience requires no outside assessor. Conscience is a social facet of the morality, as it is shaped by the person and the society. In commercial fields, conscience is seen in products and services that demonstrate the integrity and social responsibility. Consciousness is an adjective, for being aware and responsive to one’s environment, but not being judgemental in terms of good-bad, wrong-right, etc. Consciousness is being aware of all processes and parameters where conscience is checked.

Conscientious inventors

The Conscience as a refinement can be seen in the excellence enhancement and emergence of human relationship, at both, personal and professional levels. It is measured at professional level, as the original expectations (requirements) versus the product formation, service deliverance or adequacy of counselling. For this, It is imperative to formally state the expected use of the system and define ways how its adequacy will be checked.

Conscience and Consciousness, both format the Quality. Quality emphasises maximizing the achievements, value addition, and minimizes the process effort, resources, wastage. Quality represents the fundamental economics of the input-output equation. As per ISO 8402 `The concept of quality is the totality of features and characteristics of a project, product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs’. The characteristics of a project, product or service, by themselves, cannot determine the measure of quality. A project, product and services are satisfactory in every respect, but fail, if the external use conditions are drastically altered. Similarly a project, product and services, however, successful may not be conscientious enough, if the creator is not inspired to do better next time.

A designer, as a professional, strives to assure that projects when completed provide the intended benefits with planned level of inputs. Such assurances are needed at many different levels. A designer needs to assure the project initiators, project users (owners or the product buyers), project operators and the society. Such assurances, regarding the project, translate into a pursuit for a quality.


Quality results from a three-way interaction between:

  • The nature of the project, product or service, as perceived by the originator, i.e. the thing in its own entirety.
  • The user’s original needs and altered expectations, as a result of interaction with a completed project or product.
  • The operations or functioning of a project, product or service, as reflected in training, servicing, parts availability, ease of replacement, warranties etc.


Quality in Design jobs results from an interaction between `what the product is‘ and `what the users do with it‘. There several contextual issues, against which quality judgements are made, like: comfort level, variety, novelty, prestige, economy, size, ergonomics, anthropometrical possibilities, other uses, etc., with secondary issues of social, cultural, psychological, political and other relevancies. These secondary issues are considered fairly predictable and stable, but items that face vast economic, cultural and racial variations, may not meet the specific quality perceptions.

A Designer prepares a project brief for determining all requirements, such as: user and clients’ needs and demands, technical requirements, statutory obligations, prevailing standards, current styles, available technologies, etc. The client is not a user, and the product specifier is the marketing team, both of whom may not understand these aspects, so in it is left to the designer to fill in the gaps.

As a Design gets under-way and the design presentations, in colour, 3D format, reality models, and now in virtual animations, the stack-holders ‘truly’ react to the Design. The Stack-holders, the client, sample users, and marketing team, now ‘due to their subjective involvement’, become extra perceptive to all issues of Design. A designer should see this as the inevitable, and be prepared to modify the design at a late stage. As the Item is launched once again the designer faces a barrage of new demands, requiring substantial to a complete rethink of the design.

The buyer-user is not bothered about how others have evolved the item, but advantage accruing out of it. All designers as a professional have conscience to excel in all their work. But for quality adherence they have to not only meet the existing requirements and expectations set in various standards but outperform the requirements.

Quality checks and assurance



To achieve quality meticulousness, an organization must offer products or services that:

  1. meet a well defined need, use or purpose,
  2. satisfy customers’ expectations,
  3. comply with applicable standards and specifications,
  4. comply with statutory requirements and other social obligations,
  5. are made available at competitive prices,
  6. are provided at a cost which will yield a benefit or profit to the user.

For developing quality meticulousness it is very necessary that all matters relating to quality control are well documented. A well-documented brief serves as a benchmark for assessing the level of the quality being achieved. Wherever Quality control documents that are formal, transparent and accessible, to all stack holders (clients, users, public and competitors), the projects, products and services have greater quality assurance.

Quality meticulous product