Post 427 – by Gautam Shah 


There was a time when all things were measured with comparison to the body and figured with numbers. The numbers were fingers such as Five, Ten or Twenty, or hex multipliers like Six or Dozen, and easily divisible Octet series of 4, 8, 16, 32. Different regions followed own measure numbering system. Varied measure numbering systems created problems like lot recognition and commercial pricing for the lot. To compound the problem, the monetary unit fractioning was equally varied.


The French revolution helped select a ‘scientific’ digital system. It offered 7-10 fractions @10X. The system created utter confusion as to who (which trade) should follow which of the units. The problems of preferring few select units increased manifold, when other countries adopted the Metric digital format but with different set of units. As countries (mainly Spanish colonies in Latin Americas) began to use Metric digital format, with different preferred units, the need for rational and common units became pronounced.

Bronze wool weight of 14 lb (6.4 kg) (1550–1600) stamped with the Royal coat of arms. (Victoria and Albert Museum) Wikipedia Image by David Jackson

There were few other problems with digital units @10X . The digital (time) hour of 1/10 or 1/20 part of the day, or minute to second relationship (@10X) was not acceptable to sailors and astrologers, using compass fractionated into 360 degrees, arcs, minutes and seconds. This had to be rolled back to the original method.

A measuring for volumes of liquids in units of cups, fluid ounces, and milliliters.

Before and soon after World War II, several conferences helped resolve the issue of preferred units of measurements. SI (Système International d’Unités) first recognized, Three units 1000 factored apart, in every series (e.g. km-mt-mm). These were either too large or small for practical applications. A widely spaced measurement system was not amenable to unit formation for processes like planning, design, production, transportation, fabrication or execution, etc. So ISO (International Standards Organization) devised a practical modular system of dimensions known as ISO Modular Preferences. Most National Standards (including Indian Standards) are recommending and enforcing the same for various products and processes.

Imperial measurement standards At Greenwich

Before these were recognized and accepted, there were practical units of measure modulations. For examples plywood and other sheet materials were produced in 4 / 5 Ft widths. Tiles were available in 6 /8/12 inch squares. Foot (12 inches ) was the most popular module and was accommodated in the new order. This was done for wider acceptance and to achieve a gradual changeover.Block_Sizes_and_Street_Length

ISO’s Four Preferences for Modular Coordination:

FIRST PREFERENCE (300 mm = 12 inches) This is favoured by the building materials’ industry. Plywoods and other sheet products are available in modules of 300 such as 600, 900, 1200, 1800, 2400 etc. Large buildings are designed with 300 as the module. But, for smaller spaces such as Bedrooms, toilets, second preference of 100 is used as a module.


SECOND PREFERENCE (100 mm = 4 inches ) This is considered to be appropriate one for Building components and Planning. Glazed Tiles are available in multiples of 100 mm, with sizes like 100 x 200, 200 x 200, 200 x 300 etc., and also in sizes such as 150 x 150, 150 x 200 etc. as a carry over from the old system. Fabrics have widths of 600, 900, 1000, 1200, 1800 etc. When we order Windows or Doors the width x height are measured in 100 mm increments.

THIRD PREFERENCE (50 mm = 2 inches) and FOURTH PREFERENCE (25 mm = 1 inch), are suggested for objects smaller then 300 sizes. Though these modules are not to be used for basic object sizes of more than 300, unless there are strong economic or functional reasons for doing differently.

Tatami as the module for planning of Japanese houses

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

Grid for ceiling

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

Geodesic Hex grid Climatron Missouri Botanical Gardens



Post 426 – by Gautam Shah 


9 Koyama_3

Architecture and structures of mud or clay, for every conceivable purpose, exist in all parts of the world. In hilly regions of the world clay sediments have been used for packing the joint and as a masonry course leveller. Mud or clay is used because of the abundant supply, near zero cost of procurement, wet plasticity, mould-ability, insulating qualities, high thermal capacity, non toxicity, ecological friendly nature and simplicity of application. Mud as a forming material for architecture, structures or ceramics have some drawbacks like, shrinkages on drying, i.e., cracking, poor weathering qualities, lack of homogeneity in dry state, high water permeability -hygroscopic, poor bonding to a substrate -peel off, vulnerability to white ants and insects.


Mud has seen renewed interest during the last Six to Seven decades. First interest in architecture was for its abundance and simplistic technology. Later, the material was favoured for its insulative qualities. During the last 4o years the mud buildings are being favoured for their Eco-friendliness, chiefly the recycle-ability aspect of it. The ideology of sustainability, with its varied interpretations, has supported experimentation for different uses.

2 Wattle_and_daub_construction

8 Berber village Near Ait Benhaddou 5600152155_532c99cc67_z

Some basic techniques of Mud construction are identified. These are: Sod, Rammed earth, Cob (cobb or clom), Adobe, Wattle and daub Compressed earth block methods. These techniques differ in details, from region to region, type of soils, natural moisture content and availability of additional water, additives, reinforcements and support form-work within reach. The mix design and forming techniques also depend on building elements (wall, slab, etc.), architectural elements and surface finish or applique decorations.

11 st_stephens_church_at_acoma_pueblo1

Mud architecture presents fascinating forms. The quality of space formation, the suitability for range of basic architectonic elements, adaptability to different usages, and the universal availability, make mud a very coveted material. The love affair is very poignant during the academic period of designers. The passion, however, gets muted over the years, for variety of reasons, such as lack of the clientele, the place, scope and sponsorship for experimentation and the irrelevance of the technology at locations where the educated designer will operate. There are many other reasons for a failed take off for ‘low technology and eco-friendly’ endeavours. Mud, is reckoned to be a sustainable material, of very relevant (‘green’) technology, non toxic, universally available and completely recyclable material.


1 House_in_Toteil_002

These concepts remain valid so far as one can use the mud architecture concurrently with matching ‘lifestyle’ if one is conducting. A personal habitat of mud and to maintain (sustain) it for a long period, are two different things. A mud building is a very fragile entity and needs day to day care. Such concerns cannot be assigned to any outsider or agency. The cost of daily upkeep can turn out to be very high. And even if one can afford the cost, (which could be equal to the cost of a new structure), takes lots of time, practically a full time vocation.

7 Siwa mud Homes2009

Mud built-form cannot be conceived as a drawn plan or scheme. A person who constructs it must improvise it on own. The execution of such form cannot happen quickly, and during the period whatever that has been constructed will need updating and improvisation. Some of the key elements of built form, material behaviour, form and space organization exist in the society that has been using mud for generations. These innate capacities can be reinforced by being not only an active participant on the site, but by being an inhabitant of the entity. Only an inhabitant of the mud architecture can sustain it.

4 Mud_plaster_over_straw_bales_wallDesigners cannot, and must not meddle in mud architecture design or execution. A design student may be asked to design one and perhaps execute it, as a learning exercise. The fashionable word coined by teachers who never practice, or have never done, is “hand on experience” in material-form-and the technological implications.

3 Annual_repair_of_the_world's_largest_mud_brick_building_the_Great_Mosque_of_Djenné_in_Mali._(32088227574)




Post 425 –  by Gautam Shah


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida

A system is an entity with recognizable parts or subsystems that in some way overlap or interact in time and space. This overlap of functions and degree of interactions project a singular purpose or identity of the system. A system is conceptual totality, but need not be a fathomable entity, like the atmosphere system. Systems have parts or subsystems that may seem to participate with other system. Such transcending parts individually reflect the nature of the systems they subsist on.

Richards Labs Penn L Kahn


Systems are also finite when they exist within an environment of discipline. Such open systems also have nodes where other distinct systems get attached. Many such interconnected systems again serve a singular purpose. Compared with the interconnected or open systems, there could be self-sustaining systems. Such systems are strongly contained, and so are closed systems. Open systems interact with other systems or outside environment, and Closed systems have little interaction with other systems or outside environment. Our body is an open system as it continuously interacts with the environment, where as a watch is nearly self sufficient entity.


Open system have external interactions, such as of information, energy, material and other resources export-import. Open systems retain the enthalpy to be in equilibrium. Open systems are like a digital word processor article or a spreadsheet which are amenable to changes or can be “adjusted’. Some legal agreements could an ironclad or closed document, which once created cannot be changed in any part, and must be redrawn. A quasi-legal agreement could be an understanding, an open document allowing future change or revision.

Emil Bach House FLW

In Architecture, buildings are classifiable into Open-ended and Closed-ended entities. An open-ended form and structure allow extensions or additions. Open-ended structures allow spatially limited or occasional alteration. Open-ended buildings have identifiable subsystems, each of which can be designed, executed, maintained, operated, upgraded, replaced or terminated by different agencies, at different times and circumstances. Open-ended systems inherently have multiple units of modulated sizes, form consistency patterned arrangement and perceptible organization.


Closed-ended structures have a self-sufficient form and singular purpose. Such structures reflect the one master ownership or single intent, and so are monumental, akin to a piece of sculpture. There may be nonfunctional repeat units in the composition for pattern making. A closed system does not transect anything, and may not have nodes of exchange. One need not be aware of the interior of the system, as there are ‘no repairable or serviceable components inside’. Such tags are very common on technical products of proprietary design.

All Gizah Pyramids

Certain forms or shapes are dominantly, either Closed-ended or Open-ended. Forms that are broader at the base, and narrower or pointed at the top, do not allow extension. Pyramid, cone or tower, are closed ended systems. Similarly drum like shapes allow little additions except in the upward direction. Contrary to this, a square or rectangle is very extendible shape in all directions. Old Basilicas and Church buildings have been added upon, but Hindu temple is rather a static form.

Houses of parliament British

Highly articulated buildings like Versailles or British Parliament, are closed ended or static structures. It would be difficult to add upon them in any relevant manner without compromising the integrity of the built-form. Indian Parliament has an annex connected with an access tunnel. Versailles has glass pyramids (closed ended entities) as new extension.

Sansad Bhavan

Architects create monumental buildings by compromising many other functions or requirements. For such purposes the building is conceived with a single form (though transgressed in many ways), single material, or sensuality, nonhuman or disproportionate scale and fewer sub elements. Some explorations towards closed ended architecture or monumental buildings have been deconstructionist, gravity defying and highly dynamic or mobile forms.

Vitra fire station -Zaha Hadid



Post 424 – by Gautam Shah



A drape is a way of hanging or placing an unstitched piece of fabric. The word drape derives from Proto-Germanic drapiz and drepiz (=a strike, hit, blow), (=intended for striking, to be beaten), it also relates to English drub (=to beat) and Swedish dräpa (=to slay). In ancient periods a drape-able fabric was heavily (beaten) washed, and so soft and pliable. A heavily washed fabric is dull or of unbleached natural colour. At places a dull cloth is described to be greyish to yellowish or light olive brown in colour. The loss of crispiness perhaps indicates use of Linen, which became soft after several washes.

The word drapery is of 14th C origin, but drape or equivalent usages must be very ancient. Unstitched pieces of fabrics were used for covering own self by ordinary people as well as priests and rulers. The draped fabric, if soft, hangs loosely. The fabric, if stiff or of heavier weave remains fluffy, and does not ‘fall’ gracefully. The fabric worn as dress usually has vertical folds, which change with body movements. On a performance stage, it creates an impression of ‘larger than life movement’, perceptible to the spectators in the last tier of the Amphi theatre.




Drapery refers to composition of fabric used for decorative purposes, around internal or external gaps or openings. It also means any arrangement of fabric used as clothing, backdrop, accompaniment or adornment for a work of art in the form of painting or sculpture. Each artist and each era shows unique techniques of rendering the drapery curves and form. The quality of fabric material never shown as actual, it only enhanced the form of drapery. The colour of the drapery as shown was the artists’ pallet requirement and may not be realistic. The transparency of fabric and body revelations were according to the artists daring and perhaps client’s dictates.

Gandharv Buddha 1-2nd C BC

Sarcophagus of the brothers 250 AD > Wikipedia Image > Farnese collection

Leonardo studies for draping

In interior Design all types of fabrics are used for draping the furniture, openings, gaps, parapets, railings, columns, brackets, steps and stairs. These are covered with many different grades of fabrics ranging from sheer silk, flimsy organza, sateen, damask, linen, velvet, starched cotton, and later rayon and polyesters. Drapery colour and pattern schemes were coordinated with wall papers, curtains, carpets and other tapestries. Fabrics have been hung with formation of gathers or unstitched pleats, of vertical, dropped or sagged curves and twisted horizontals. Tapestry like one-sided fabrics are also draped over architectural elements of buildings.

Portrait of Mrs Abington British Actress 1737-1815 ART by Joshua Reynolds

Draperies were inevitable part of beds and bedrooms. Bed was the most important chamber for the lady of the house, almost like a female drawing room. Beds were separated by draperies from the room space, and beds structures were covered with drapes. Back side of the bed had hung piece of tapestry fabric or some form of drape composition. Paintings and portraits were edged with draperies.

Reconstructed Royal Bed at Warsaw Castle Wikipedia Image by Giorgiomonteforti

Draped fabrics were great collectors of dust and soot. The shaped drapes if too articulated, fluffy and against the gravity, have a tendency to collapse. The drapes are generally static arrangement, but during the early part of 19th C began to be replaced by simpler curtains. The curtain required pelmets or open hanging rods, both of which began to be covered with scallops. Scallops are articulated drapes, with ropes and tassels. Word Draper is used to denote an expert tailor or an establishment that stocks various types of fabrics and paraphernalia items.

Scallops over curtain

In art forms draperies have been treated both casually and formally, with neatly delineated lines or free-flowing curves. This has depended on the person to be presented like, an angel, Lord, saints, or commoners. Hellenistic period art draping was white or light coloured translucent body touching, but form emphasizing fabric. Gothic period showed the restrained flow of lines. Post renaissances, the drapery presentation was theatrical. Drapery presentation in painting was such an important issue that it was first discussed with the sponsors. Specialist painters were hired to touch-up the drapery work.


ART by Frans Hals 1625

Unstitched Appearals




Post 423 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 


A Paint Thinner nominally changes a material’s solid phase into a liquid phase and heavier liquid into low viscosity liquid. Thinners act by dissolving, suspending the solids and by intervening into viscous liquids.

Paints, Thinners

A thinner is a mix of different solvents that act as a thinning compound, suspending agent and a diluting material. A thinner is also conceived as accelerator or retarder of film formation of a coating. Thinners are used for cleaning of lubricants, machine cutting fluids, coolant materials, greases, waxes, etc. Thinners are used as stripping agent of dry or wet coatings (paint remover). A thinner sometimes may not strip a film of coating, but softens by affecting some of the constituents (through wetting, etching, etc.) of the film. Rest of the stripping act is accomplished with other chemicals, heat softening, singeing, mechanical stripping, scrapping or grinding.


Viscosity of a coating medium can be adjusted by including a low viscosity medium into a high viscosity material or by solvents and diluents. Solvents dissolve by entering the inter-molecular space and changing the intermolecular forces. Diluents by themselves do not enter the inter-molecular spaces but extend the action of a solvent as a liquid to liquid-phase. Often in a multi medium formulation ‘one material that acts as a solvent, to a particular medium, may act as a diluent for the other medium’.

Air brush spray nozzle

Solvents and diluents both increase the fluidity of a coating medium. The fluidity of a coating medium is important for applications (spray, brush, etc.), flow or levelling properties, nature of drying and ‘curing’ of the film. Very high fluidity may not mean very low viscosity. Very thinned down coating material leads to separation of solids (like pigments) from liquids (resins, solvents, etc.) Excessively thinned down coating, on drying produces porous film (a film with marked solvent escape pores). Too much thinning often creates non-opaque or patchy (in terms of colourants) film. Solvents also affect the inter-molecular structure of resins affect their interlinking or polymerization, and thus the quality of the film.


Solvents and diluents are added during the manufacture and also prior to application. For the later purpose, a well proportioned an economic blend of solvents and diluents, suitable for specific categories of coatings are marketed as Thinner or Reducer.

paint-brushes-500x500-250x250Thinning solvents included in a coating material, encourage separation and towards the gravity settlement of solids on storage. Nowadays thixotropic compounds are added to water based coatings (such as Plastic or Latex paints). These compounds create a false setting (thickening of liquid mass into a viscous paste), and with little stirring, the coating material gains the original consistency.

Majority of Plastic (or Latex paint as in USA) are water based system, though very small quantity of solvent do exist in them

Constituents of thinners are nominally low boiling point temperature solvents. These evaporate at a faster rate but are affected by the temperature, moisture, movements of air, and the application process. In nominal weather, 25 ° C and 40% humidity, thinner evaporates at an average rate, but in hot weather thinner leaves the coating film before it has time to flow and level out. In case of moist weather (raining periods) the moisture in the air gets trapped in the film and cause blushes or whitish spots. This can be corrected by using retarder additive or slow drying thinner.

Spray Gun formulations require special thinners

Coating applications require special thinner formulation. French polishes and lacquer coatings applied by rubbing pads need very thinned down and slowly evaporating thinner. Brush application of coatings needs film levelling time, high fluidity without reducing the viscosity. Spraying with compressed air creates cooling and moisture condensation and so prescribed quality of thinners must be used. Spraying by airbrushing (thin-narrow and a fine nozzle) for delicate work, need fast evaporating solvents.


HOW do STANDARDS emerge ?

Post 422 – by Gautam Shah



A Standard is that level of Performance or accomplishment which has been selected as an Ideal to which actions or objects may be equated’. Standards emerge as a consensus, from equalization of divergent views, beliefs or concepts. Such a consensus is with intentions of efficiency and commercial advantage.


The process of Standardization involves two sets of stack-holders, the User and the Provider. The user includes individuals, groups, and Governments. The providers are manufacturers, suppliers and service providers. Standards offer a clear communication platform between User and the Providers, at a relatively low cost and with some degree of efficiency.

compliance rating plate Assurance often beyond standards

Standards do create iron-clad situations, where only one solution is sought and offered. Standards promote interchangeable parts, replaceable systems and inter polarity of systems by encouraging concepts like ‘Open-Ended-Architecture’, ‘Modulated Plug-in Systems’, ‘Networking’, ‘Shareware’, etc.

Standards for Foods

Standards emerge at many different levels and the process takes sometime to mature. At basic level these are most widely acceptable strategies. But at higher level, a person, an organization or a government department must strive for greater universal participation. Such an active role in the society manifests as a Pursuit for quality for all aspects of being. The pursuit of quality is reflected in: desire to excel, readiness for improvisation, steadfastness to good practices, transparency in dealings, persistence for consistency, wider application.

Coffee testing -often personal standard

Personal standards are subjective as are compiled by a Person, as a ‘collection of bests’, ‘most favoured or representative items’ or ‘my suggestion’. Since these are sensibly picked out items or ideas, represent a Quality Conscience of the Author, and so are personal standards. Personal Standards are valued for the author’s mastery over the subject, then the absolute quality of the material included. Personal standards combined with personal norms for enforcement are often tyrannical. Personal standards describe entities’ physical characteristics, but rarely provide for the ways and means (processes) of achieving it, or even testing it.

Typical examples of personal standards, are: Time saver standards for architecture and interior design, Furniture or item catalogues, Special issues of periodicals, etc.


Standards as a strategic understanding occurs between the competitors and among associates to manage a situation such as: reduce the rivalry, rationalize the methods of production, reduce the costs, enhance the image of the product, form a cartel to ward off the non-members etc. Such standards also emerge without any distinct effort, by ‘followers of the same path’, to strategy for similar actions. A Work-Culture or Faith comradiery develops among the practitioners.

Gold Smith -compulsory to work with a Guild

Standards of clan or cast: Members of Clan or Cast can have a tacit or formal understanding for acting in unison. Such understandings are of usually negative dictates and are very restrictive. These understandings or standards sustain the livelihood by protecting the exclusive or patent know-how, and by regulating the competition among the members. The standards are of behavioural norms and less of technological specifications. Clans and casts flourish by acting in consonance with the Rulers or Government. Over a period of time the divergent policies and directives of the clans get rationalized as the Code of Conduct. Such Codes relate to personal behaviour, formation and conduct of commercial activities, use of resources including the environment, safety measures, risks management, manufacturing, handling and disposing of the materials, and trade practices relating to the weights, measures, economic transactions, employment, etc.

Indians at a Hudson Bay Company trading post Buyers Virtual standards

Virtual standards come into effect when major users and providers like Government departments (defence, railways, etc.) who are intensive formatters of rules. Their needs become de-facto standards. These agencies have the advantages of testing facilities, supervisory mechanisms, and experience for rationalizing the work procedures. These are Standards by Preference and Prevalence.

Standardization Mark for Indian National Flag

National standards have a strong indigenous origin, because materials and human skills, both have strong local character and advantage. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in India, and National Standards agencies in many countries of the world, operate as a Standards Formulating, Licensing, and Enforcing-agency. Whereas some governments like USA, act only as a Facilitating agency, encouraging the trade organizations and technical associations to take the lead in not only developing standards, but for their enforcement.

Governments during the later part of 20th century found it easier to frame laws along with formulation of standards. In many small countries, standards for only very urgent and acute requirements are integrated into the legislation. ‘Formulation of Standards’ and Legislation is considered to be the same.

Merchants have sought methods to minimize risks since early times. Pictured, Governors of the Wine Merchant’s Guild by Ferdinand Bol, c. 1680.

International standards emerged when vastly differing national standards created problems of compatibility. National standards are designed to serve the national interests, which are protectionist, restrictive and negative in nature. National standards cover only the exigent needs of the nation, so do not serve the interests of regional economic activities. To create universally acceptable charter, nations come together to form International Standards, such as through the ISO.

International Standards do not have Legislative Support or Enforcement backing of a Government. International Standards work on Voluntary Corroboration. Such standards flourish on the realization that greater advantages are earned by following it, rather then not being part of it. Success of International Standards depends on the Rational Confirmation and Wider Acceptance.


International Management standards are emerging as code or system for participatory operations. International standards were restricting the individual needs and creativity in several manners. First, the formulation and updating of international standards are a slow process, and development or innovation cannot wait for it. Second, the international standards are rather archaic for many. Third, the international standards had no universal legislative backup. So the stack holders would rely on transparency and participation of operations. Fourth, many companies, who wish to surpass the provisions of international standards, are ready to provision necessary assurances for it. Several Management standards as Systems have emerged, that provides for such declarative codes for conduct.



Post 421  -by Gautam Shah 




During pre-medieval periods trade with distanced lands was managed by shippers and caravan masters. These agents conducted the business through the holistic (piece or item) value of the goods, rather then through its measures. This system of commerce changed, in medieval age when many European nations established their own trading posts in colonies across Asia, Africa and American continents. The colonists bought goods at the trading posts, transited and sold in their own country. This was mainly conducted in measure traditions of their mother lands.


Caravan outside Morocco

The European nations, each had distinctive measure systems. The measure systems of lengths, weights or volumes, each had incomparable units, and their subfractions were illogical. These problems were already realized, but now with increased colonial trade, as it caused vast problems. The current political leaderships (Royals) were not capable of solving it.

Sea Trade in Europe

With the onset of Industrial age, the trade, transit and conversion of raw materials, became closely interrelated. Natural raw materials passed through several processes, spread across many nations, to become vast variety of finished products. During the conversion the applicable measure systems also changed. For example, Cotton bought on volume basis, was converted into fabric -sold by lengths, and dresses -sold by numbers. Metal ore is mined in volumetric measure, transported by its weight measure, bought for its yield rate value, refined into ingots for weight measures, rolled into metal sections to be used for their strength aspect.

Colonial post at Salem India


● The transition to common measures systems developed at many fronts. Arabic numerals (actually of Indian origin) became common in Europe, and began to replace the Roman numbers, during the late Middle Ages (about 1500). This made decimal system possible (after Simon Stevin, a Flemish mathematician, in 1585, showed in his book ‘De Thiende’, how fractions could be expressed in decimals.) Vicar, Gabriel Mouton, St. Paul’s Church, Lyons, France, proposed a decimal system of measurement in 1670. Bishop of Autun, also known as Talleyrand was the political sponsor of weights and measures reforms in the French Revolutionary National Assembly. 1790, in the midst of the French Revolution, the National Assembly of France requested the French Academy of Sciences to “deduce an invariable standard for all the measures. Larger and smaller multiples of each unit were to be created by multiplying or dividing the basic units by 10 and its powers. France made its use compulsory in 1840.

10X divisioned clock of French Metric system

Raw materials and Finished products’ are misleading terms for goods. A finished product is a raw material for some other process. Raw materials procured in a linear, square, volumetric, weight or liquid measures get processed into a different ‘measure’ entity. For products transiting from one measure phase to another, a persistent dimensioning system is very advantageous. Consistency of dimensions allows use of standard tools, equipments, plants and technologies. The dimensional consistency, if properly recognized and supported, can rationalize the conversion processes, storage, handling, and waste management.

Ship Batavia –International trade

Steam Engine and Ship

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

Kuantan Port Yard Container modulated units

Organisation internationale de normalization or International Organization for Standardization would have different acronyms in different languages. Its founders decided to give it a short, all-purpose name. They chose ISO derived from the Greek isos, meaning equal. ISO is a voluntary, democratic and non governmental organization for International Cooperation for Standardization. SI = Systeme Internationale stand for Universal Measure System and it is now accepted by nearly all countries of the world.

Universally agreed parts

SI Recognized Measures: The SI system recognizes three sets of measures in each of the major categories. There is a 1000-factored gradation.

            The ISO Recognized Measures are:

            Length:           mm     mt        km

            Weight:          mg      kg        T

            Volume          ml        Lt         kl

All other measures such as centimetre cm or gram gm are not to be used.

Leon Battista Alberti De statua, definitor



Post 420 – by Gautam Shah


Ferrous alloys refer to metals, where the chief constituents are Iron and carbon. Ferrous alloys are formed with metallic and nonmetallic compounds that enter into the structure and occupy the interstices of compounds. The metallic compounds include: Chromium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Titanium, Tungsten, Vanadium, etc. The non-metallic compounds include elements of smaller atomic numbers like Carbon, Nitrogen, and Boron.The word ‘Ferro-alloy’ generally refers to alloys of iron with a high proportion of one or more other metal elements. Such alloys have distinctive qualities.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Metals are alloyed because these become far more suitable for various uses, than in their pure state, or without the alloying agents. Alloys are formed when a metal element and its alloying compound form a solution at certain high temperature and solidify to form a solid solution. Sometimes the intermingling is so close that dissolved substance cannot be distinguished or separated by mechanical means. This in someway, is a result of the differing softening and melting point, and mechanical processes of amalgamation.

Cast iron grills

In some alloys the metals do not show complete solubility, and separate constituents may be recognized. Capacity of one metal to accommodate another metal varies with the temperature. In an aluminium copper alloy, the aluminium at 530° C can hold 5 % of copper in solution, but at room temperature it can hold only 0.5 % of copper. So if a 5 % copper alloy is rapidly cooled from 530° C, the excess copper cannot go out of the mass, but remains in the alloy, well dispersed in the mass.

Wrought iron gate

In alloys where inter-metallic compounds predominate, the alloy shows toughness of the solid solution and hardness of the inter-metallic compound. But the alloy with such inter-metallic compounds, may be hard but very brittle.

When a component of an alloy melts at a temperature lower than all other constituents, than that alloy is called eutectic. Such alloys have thin layers of the metal or small globules of one metal embedded in a matrix of another metal.

Roller chain Kettenvergleich

The physical properties of various types of steel and of any given steel alloy at varying temperatures depend primarily on the amount of carbon present, and on how it is distributed in the iron. Before heat treatment most steels are a mixture of three substances: ferrite, pearlite, and cementite.


Ferrite is iron containing small amounts of carbon and other elements in solution, and is soft and ductile.

Cementite, is a compound of iron containing about 7 % carbon. It is extremely brittle and hard.

Pearlite is an intimate mixture of ferrite and cementite having a specific composition, characteristic structure, and physical properties intermediate between its two constituents.


The toughness and hardness of a steel that is not heat-treated depend on the proportions of these three ingredients. As the carbon content of a steel increases, the amount of ferrite present decreases and the amount of pearlite increases. The process lasts till the steel has 0.8 per cent of carbon, then it is entirely composed of pearlite. Steel with still more carbon is a mixture of pearlite and cementite.

Excavator bucketRaising the temperature of steel changes ferrite and pearlite to an allotropic form of iron-carbon alloy known as austenite, which has the property of dissolving all the free carbon present in the metal. If the steel is cooled slowly, the austenite reverts to ferrite and pearlite, but if cooling is sudden the austenite is frozen or changes to martensite, which is an extremely hard allotropic modification that resembles ferrite but contains carbon in solid solution.

Metal spiral



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.




Post 417 – by Gautam Shah



One needs to find a place in a space. The place, one can reach, anchor at, belong to and from where proceed to another place. Such a place is not a pre-existing entity, but one that evolves with the relationships one establishes with the space, its components, environmental features and the occupants. These relationships are very fleeting, and so the place in the space is evanescent.

Looking for anchorage or bearing

Finding a place in space is initially very casual and precursory. The space, its components, environmental features and the neighbours, all make it a likeable entity. Though confirming a place in space for inhabitation is far more complex process than this temporary positioning.

The space for the place of visitation, occupation and inhabitation

The process of finding a place in space occurs for known spaces as well as alien environments. In a familiar space and occupied by known persons, it is the purpose of being in the place that will regulate where and with whom one wants to be, or even not to be. For strange places, the intent to visit the place may pre-exist, or gets arranged as the space begins to actualize. The place in space develops as the space evolves.


New Delhi Market place

The place in space is mainly for absorbing and exploiting the features of the space, and secondarily for recognizing and connecting with other occupants of the space. At another level the place is used for transiting to an appropriate orientation and body posture, and for deciding on the next place for occupation.

Finding a place in a public space

The encounter with the space is one continuum, which develops with improvisations. The approach to a reasonable place initiates the next process that of orienting own self. Orienting own self to elements and people in the space potentiates new relationships. Some levels of judgements regarding the orientation though may have already been pre-formed.

Anchoring in a space


The advance to a place and forming an orientation is for finding a place of securing or stabilizing. One may occupy such place or simply orient to it by maintaining a ‘non-committal’ distance. A non-committal distance is observed for both, people and objects. It depends on the perceptive faculties, degree of intra-personal relationships desired, the nature of solace and support required from the spatial elements, and how much one wants to be exposed.


Drawing the postures

During the approach to place, while being in the place, and through resolving the orientation, one begins to posturise the body. Some form of a stable version of the posture occurs at the place in space. The body orientation and posture, both represent a moment of conclusion. One has found an anchorage, a place in space worthy to be.

Eugen de Blaas Flirtation

One shifts from place to place, takes on varied postures, to not only express own self but be perceptive. Through it one exploits spatial features such as elements (facilities, amenities, gadgets, tools, natural and architectural entities) and environmental causation for next set of action (change), expression, communication and perception.