Post 419 – by Gautam Shah 



Storage has the largest space occupation in buildings for human inhabitation. Since Industrial Revolution period this has been gradually diminishing in terms of volumes and scale of relevance. The reduced storage needs are more pronounced in highly urbanized settings, than in rural or scattered settlements. Storage needs are affected by several factors. Wherever supply and disposal systems are efficient, the need for storage becomes less intense. Similarly availability of ready to use items reduce the need to store high volume raw materials and tools-equipments of conversions.

Storage room, Palace of Knossos > Wikipedia image by Olaf Tausch

Stored things reflect affluence, discerning nature of the owner, and the skill of organization. The act of storing is very purposive, so provides an impetus to some form of organization of built spaces. That is why once it was believed that storage spaces make bare spaces worthy of living. Storage allows one to conduct life at a rational pace. A building with well-organized storage is a domesticated entity compared to very vast left out universe, whose order is unknown and is beyond control.

Kutchh Bhunga house storage from > from

Things are generally stored with perception that these are items of wealth and their value will be greater when retrieved. The increment in value may be due to sheer act of containment (locational massing), ageing (maturing, ripening), organization or orderliness induced through the act of storing, and art or technique of retrieval. Like all wealth, the values of stored things change with time, and this change may not add to the wealth.

Storage systems are required for domestic, commercial, administrative and industrial purposes. At all levels we also need to store means, storage mediums and containers, gadgets for conversion, tools of measurements, utilities for handling and transportation. In other words we store edibles, fuels, clothing, records, stocks, parts, components, products, wastes and effluents. Things we store include not only physical, static and non static things, but biologically live beings (pets) and non-physical things like ideas, concepts, feelings, experiences and thoughts.


Palatalized storage system Wikipedia Image by Patsy Lynch

Societies have endowed special importance to things worthy of possession and their display. These could be utensils, crockery, clothes, handicrafts, bags, containers, sanduks (trunks), pataras, gadgets, tools, armaments, trophies, prizes, certificates, photographs, paintings, sculptures, antiques, jewellery and stuffed animals. Storing is also called archiving.

Spices – condiments storage for merchandising different from stocking

Stored things are affected by external environment (atmosphere), internal constituents (such as moisture, bacterial activity) and forces like gravity, magnetic and other energies. Stored things are affected by adjacent things and overburden. Stored items change with age, which is either discouraged or supported. Stored items. Design of storage system must include these parameters.


Things to be stored are static or less mobile and can be stored without being ‘contained’, but things like gases, particulate matters, liquids, need to be contained. Very large number of small things or boxed or pelletized for easier handling and often for isolation. Design of storage items like crockery, cutlery, jewellery, toys, make-up things, handkerchiefs, socks, medicines are better if stored in containers. Office documents and papers are filed, and files placed in storage units. Containment is necessary for mass transportation, bulk handling, high density packing, and to reduce the amount of air space within the bulk. Containers’ design in terms of shape and size needs to be modulated, so that stacking, massing and handling becomes easier. ISO Modulor coordination system helps in pallet design of such systems. For example cement bags are 3×2=6 a layer cross placed stacks.


Stacked  Parking New York Wikipedia image by Jerome

There are many exclusive storage structures such as Petroleum tanks, Reservoirs, Septic tanks, Granaries or silos, Settling ponds, Jails, Auditoriums, Concentration camps, Detention camps, Sheep yards, and Balloons. Ships, Trucks, Railway wagons, Aeroplanes are storage transport systems.

Rip Rap stack

Particulate building materials in loose form need to be stored at angles lower then their angle of repose (angle of slide). Things uniform in size and shape can be stored in stacks. Stacking and heaping system of storing, both have size limitations. In stacked things, items placed at the bottom are not only difficult to retrieve, but there is an overloading burden on them. Such a burden may cause changes in stored things.

storage box or Patara

Interior designers need to be aware that Shirts or clothes, when overburdened, show unwanted creases. Woollen pullovers and suits, when overburdened, loose their fluffy character and look flat or dead. Silk fabric items miss their tenderness, while rayons get a permanent press. Over heaped cement bags get a false set. Overburdened soils over a period turn into a rock like structure. Overburdening affects retrieval, and can be avoided by good design. Things stored in a library book shelf pattern can be retrieved, irrespective of order of storage, but heaped or stacked things can be retrieved as ‘first stored – removable last’.


Conditioning of Environment of storage areas is very important. Integrated storage areas with toilets allow breeding of mosquitoes due to presence of moisture. Similarly in dry edible items like food grains, condiments are best stored at low humidity and at slightly lower temperature than average. Wet or moist foods and cooked foods need a temperature lower than one that discourages bacterial growth that below 4° C.