Post 253 ⇒   by Gautam Shah  →


A project is a unique endeavour undertaken to form a concept, create a product or render a service. Projects take diverse shapes, ethereal ideation or conceptualization, forming a strategy to actualize an idea, recollection of a happening, reproduction of an experience, a search for a match or fit, scaling an effort and detailing for an outward expression. A project is something distinctive from traditional, routine and ‘bureaucratic means’. A project must emerge out of circumstances, but aided by all kinds of debate and analysis and policy formulations. It always deals with fairly complex environment to address social, business and organizational issues.

Manhattan Project was a research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs during World War II.

Projects have finite amounts of Time, Money, People, and Resources, and conditioned by technology, legal, social and such obligations. A project is perceived as an exclusive entity, but with a fair chance of it being re-enacted.

Projects usually have a dual personality, technical, and procedural, but not exclusively one or the other. While managing a project situation what is unfamiliar and non routine, invariably necessitates all kinds of learning, adaptation, problem solving.

Columbus coming to Americas

Projects have four interdependent parameters, Scope, Time, Cost and Quality. Projects are so Scope or extent dependent that an increase in size may delay a project, increase its cost, or compromise the quality. A Time dependent project when delayed impacts the benefits or losses out of it. With early or accelerated execution, extensive benefits could be derived. Cost generally determines the extent of a project in the early stage, but costs are extremely variable and can change the perception of extent. Quality parameters are likely to be the prime casualty, when conditions are abnormal and survival of an individual or the society is threatened, such as during war, natural calamities, catastrophes etc. Though best or most challenging projects planning methods have emerged in such acute conditions.


These interdependent parameters can make a project critical. As a planning and forecasting tool, projects are hypothetically made critical by ‘tweaking’ one or few parameters. A project in critical mode reveals its weak points or inferior sections. A project is considered as weak as its most inferior section, but the project achieves a strength equivalent to the average strengths of all its sections. Project management systems entail recognition of such dependencies as risks, and provide means for dealing with them.




Post 252 ⇒   by Gautam Shah  →


A sheer fabric is very thin material, which makes it very translucent face and enlivens the light that to filters through. A sheer fabric has a graceful and natural fall. The translucency and soft bearing of sheer or similar fabrics have been preferred in all ages for dresses and draperies. The most desired of sheer fabrics, is the silk, The oldest is Linen and, Cotton has been most widely-used fabric. Polyesters are emerging as multi-use fabrics that can be formed to desired textures, effects and strength.

Banana Silk Sheer fabric for Barong Tagalog

Sheer effect in a fabric comes through due to natural fineness of the yarn itself fine spinning and weaving. Many synthetic yarns (polyesters, Aramid) are formed of very long staples or filaments, so are used alone or as co-spinning material to achieve similar effects. Some of the most used sheer like fabrics are made from cotton. Some of the lattices like airy or net woven fabrics are so pliable, flimsy and semi-transparent that they behave like a sheer fabric.


LAWN of Linen

Linen fabrics are made from fibres of Flax plant. Linen is a Bast fiber or skin fiber collected from the inner bark (phloem) surrounding the stem of certain plants. Linen fabric manufacturing is very ancient (nearly 35000 BC) but a labourious process. The linen fabrics were woven from hand-spun yarns, and considered very fine for their times (in comparison to wool, etc. and absence easy availability of cotton), but were actually fairly coarse compared to modern fabrics. Flax fibre is both, long and short staple fibres. It is not elastic, and so difficult to spin and weave without frequent breaking in dry state.

Linen fabrics are smooth, absorbent, lint-free, cool to touch, initially little hard but frequent wash-beating makes it softer but brittle. Linen fabrics do not stretch, and acquire a near-permanent crease on sharp folding, a desired quality for curtain making. Linen fabrics show resistant to damage from abrasion, so were preferred rubbing-polishing fabrics for cutlery and jewellery. Linens resist dirt and stains, and have no piling tendency (forming of small spherical bundles of loosened fibres formed due to frequent washing and wearing of fabric).

Lawn fabrics of Linen are very thin, with characteristic presence of slubs which are considered defects, or aesthetic surface characteristic. The fabrics after several washing cycles became soft, pliable and had beautiful fall. The fall of curtain fabric was further enhanced by storing fabric under weight or ironing. Original linen fabrics were non dyed that is of natural cream (grey cloth) or washed white shades.


LAWN of Cotton

The term Lawn derives from Laon, a city in France, which produced large quantities of linen lawn. Linen is a plain weave textile, originally of flex, then chiefly of Cotton, but now in 80:20 mix version of cotton:polyester. Cotton lawns have high count yarns providing a silky smooth or un-textured feel. The fabric is made, using either combed or carded yarns. When lawn is made of such shorter staple cotton, it has a softer feel and dull lustre.

The fine count yarn and close weave create sheer like feel in the fabric. Lawn is a lightweight cloth, crisper than voile but not as crisp as organdy. After weaving, lawn fabrics are processed further to endow different finishes, to alter the feel and behaviour of the fabric. The finishes create lawns ‘from soft to semi-crisp to crisp, but the fabric is never completely stiff’. Lawn is valued for its lightness and translucency, which ranges from gauzy or sheer to an almost opaque effect. Lawn can be white, dyed, and printed, but newer with in-woven patterns. Loans are, though produced with micro slubs to imitate antique linen fabrics, or woven with ‘wire fillets’ or long lines patterns.

Sheer Fabrics


Muslin is loosely woven plain weave cotton fabric. Muslin is usually made with slightly irregular yarns, but an even weave. It can be woven with tighter or looser warp areas to produce striped patterns. Most muslin is white or cream, but can also be seen in a wide range of dyed colours.

Marie Antoinette in Muslin dress


Organdy was made of cotton and Organza was made of silk, but both have synthetic versions. The fabrics are extremely sheer and crisp. Like lawn, they are plain weave fabrics with fine and even yarns. The yarns are of combed material than of carded variety. The yarns-fabrics are treated with acid to achieve the sheers and crisp qualities. Batiste is a soft and opaque fabric, produced in same manners as organdy-organza, but without the acid process.

Linen Batiste

Gauze: a fine, soft fabric with a plain, very open weave. Very open muslin fabrics are also called gauzes. Gauze fabrics have good fall but ‘fall down’ or gather at bottom with own weight and shifting of weft yarn. The fabrics form backside reinforcements layer, if stabilized with adhesive like materials.

Gauze fabric -loose weave

Net: Net or Netting fabrics are of three types, knitted, woven and fused. These are soft in feel due to their open and usually light formation. The fabrics are valued for their light filtering qualities. The fabrics often have alternating mass of opaque and net zones in warp direction. The opaque sections provide reinforcement to the fabric in hanging, and form an edge line of a pleat in the curtain.

.Synthetic sheer fabric with Net base



Post 251 – by Gautam Shah



Human behaviour is evident in responses related to: Body, Environment, Space and the Occupants.


BODY: The human behaviour is seen as conspicuous actions through body-limb movements or postures, discreet expressions of body related gestures, and also as overt expressions in modes like speaking, writings, painting, etc. Human behaviour originates from the genetic make up and is further conditioned by the experiences.

Physiological components of human behaviour are seen in survival, health, well being and comfort, spatial occupation with dimensional accommodation and fitment of the human-body, task functionality. Human behaviour relates to others. It manifests through group behaviour dynamics, expression and communication. Human behaviour can be sensed through cognition, psychology, sensorial perception, response mechanisms, metabolism, past experiences, inherited and learnt faculties.

On the Steps of St Martin's

The response mechanisms could be: accommodation, adjustment (like acclimatization), spatial shifting or temporal rescheduling, biological corrections or degradation. The responses are also assisted by the supportive systems such as tools, implements, gadgets, equipments, facilities and amenities. Body responses achieve task functionality by way of compliance within set confines for nominal to extreme purposes. Body responses achieve both, stability and mobility necessary for efficiency, comfort and security.

ENVIRONMENT: Environmental responses form a process of becoming aware of a space. Environment is the supportive system that moulds our perception and commands the responses. It permeates into a space depending on the spatial characteristics, such as the size, shape, sequencing, quality of barriers, etc. Environment formats a life style that passes on from one generation to another as ethnicity or ‘cultural ethos’. Environment also includes real presence of other occupants. The process environment acclimatization is in way a physiological reaction.


SPACE: Space is the setting where environment and cognition actualize concurrently. As cognition is personal, it endows environment subjective significance. Nature of cognition is one major factor that governs the Space experience. Environment is continually variable and so a space experience is ever expounding. It continues to reveal differently in spite of its scale or spatial features remaining static. Some environmental conditions and spatial features often occur in concert. And so we expect the presence of one to trigger the other. The accommodation of environmental changes makes the process of inhabitation tougher, but always equips one with better skills and greater efficiencies.

Street Football

OCCUPANTS: Occupants of a space are real, and sometimes through the metaphoric presences. Behaviour responses are due to the biological needs and also for cultural reasons or social norms. Occupants show varied behaviour due to factors like age, sex, level of adaptation, familiarity, limb capacity, body-limb coordination, sensorial abilities and reach extension tools, etc. Behaviour (even of lone beings) is substantially in the context of ‘awareness’ of other human beings (and not necessarily the physical presence). Interpersonal relationships among members of small groups are a result of the personality and cultural backgrounds of the individuals involved, their tasks, and the nature of the spatial arrangements or physical settings. Various races and cultures respond differently to the amount and arrangement of spaces. Humans evaluate the acceptability or appropriateness of behaviour using social norms, and regulate it by means of social control. The Sociological responses of human behaviour relate to the social needs of the occupants and awareness of their implications. The space, environment and the occupants together foster a social-contact mechanism.


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.

Glass store-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