Post 261 – by Gautam Shah



The word Corridor has derived from Italian Corridore =place or space to run, which in turn has derived from correre or Latin currere=’to run’. By association courier, meant a man or horse who could run to deliver messages, money or documents. Italian word corridoio is a place, or rather space for the courier (man or horse) to run. From later part of 16th C. Corridors were strategic spaces or routes of access in fortifications. Used for quicker deliveries.

640px-Corridoio_vasariano_da_uffiziCouriers and corridors were used for faster deliveries by the military. It had military ramifications for defence or offense, but no civilian relate. The space for a faster messaging, the corridoio was not a marked territory or a facilitated ground within a fortification or dense urban setting. It was simply a familiar-well travelled precinct. In late 16th C it denoted a military term for a narrow strip of land along the edge of a ditch or fort-wall sometimes protected by a parapet. It was also a narrow walkway along the slope of a hill and sea. Trails are marked passageways but in the wilderness. Trails are so narrow that most vulnerable or unafraid ones lead the way, and others must trail.

Corridor Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Delhi Wikipedia Image by Jasleen Kaur from USA

Alleys, arteries, aisles, channels, lanes, couloirs, tunnels, paths, lobbies, vestibules, avenues, all have one common element: A linear passageway. A labyrinth and maze, both are entwined complex of passageways, where the former one ‘has a single path -unicursal, reaching the centre; and the later is a complex branching -multicursal puzzle, with choices of a path and directions’.

Labyrinth Chartres Cathedral France Wikipedia Image by Maksim.

The Jubilee Maze, an octagonal hedge maze near Symonds Yat in the Forest of Dean Wikipedia Image by NotFromUtrecht

Unknown paths and passageways pose as corridors of uncertainty, not due to the unfamiliar ends, but due to the monotonous, dark and acoustically spooky feel. Walled corridors are personal spaces that one wants to cross over in haste. Corridors are conceived for direct and fast access to a destination, but in public buildings these are used for delaying, waiting and lingering. Corridors may hasten the movement, but retard the creative pursuits. No one uses corridors for contemplation or any purposive activity.


The corridor is like a threshold, an uncertain space, which is not a public, or participatory space, or even a private or isolated place. Corridors have no identity due to its extraordinary length and non-specifiable character, but there is an acute sense of exposure of being seen and linked to a cell. Students asked to stand in a corridor, outside a classroom or headmaster office, and patients’ waiting in a hospital; know the loss of dignity. The offices, chambers and rooms create places of vulnerability in the corridor. The expression corridors of power come from the distinct delineation of cell and passage, or as architects argue the Master and service spaces.

The acoustics of the corridors are uncertain, as the internal sounds of steps, whispers, rustling, shuffling etc. reverberate in the space without providing any clue to source or direction. Some corridors have an eerie silence due to complete isolation of background noise of an outside world. Corridors, as a result of acoustic ill-definitions, are considered places of ghosts. Foot-stepping in a corridor has a multiplying effect, where the past trails behind you like a shadow. To detach the past, one may walk lightly, only enhancing the effect of a ghost moving in the air.


Visual characteristics of a corridor is very fuzzy. The darkness does not allow visual clarity, and the glare against the end of the passage opening occludes visual perception. The repetition of side wall faces or columns of the passage distorts recognition of distance.


Enclosed corridors and open passages serve nearly same function that of transit, but have different architectural character. Both could be space demarcations, recognition or enforcement without any physical structure. The essence of corridors or passages is not in their straightness but linearity. The height profile and roof, if any, place them on a different lineament.


Corridors denote heavy density of traffic, usually with dedicated lanes and purposes. A dedicated freight corridor (DFC) on railway lines, or an air corridor for landing or take off by aircraft are simply designated space routes and not any physically marked entities. Routes are designated for special purposes carriages. Ports have buoys to mark the channel for ship to traverse.

Buildings on ‘distributed campus’ are connected with links, passages or lobbies. The side open passages (long-verandah) are cold or warm, and a maintenance nightmare. Passages require glass cover or need to be walled in. Glass cover is a costly installation and needs high degree of upkeep. Walled corridors have been perceived to be dark, poorly ventilated and haunted spaces. This was in stark contrast to Asiatic tropical architecture. Here the temple complexes had vestibules and ambulatory areas, in the interiors as well as on edges of exteriors. The inner long hall like vestibules were dimly lit, but climatically cool spaces, whereas the edge side ambulatory passages were airy, but sun shaded. The ambulatory spaces have walls of a sanctum sanctorum on one face dotted, but with several small deities installed in niches.

Samayapuram Mariamman Hindu Temple, at Samayapuram, near Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India Wikipedia Image by TRYPPN, P.Periyannan, Tiruchirappalli

Precursors of corridors are presumed to be Halls or Hallways, a common area near the entrance of a large house. Halls are abutted with doors to several rooms or sections, and in later periods a grand stairway to upper floors. Residential or commercial buildings of Europe had no corridors till the beginning of 1800s. The Building was an entwined complex of rooms.