Post 460 -by Gautam Shah


Kwun Tong Town Centre siteA building is located on a land, and both have a very complex base of market value. The building as an asset continuously depreciates. A land is a commodity whose value is contextual, but its supply never increases. Though, factors like, facilities, laws, conversion (from one use to another), political stability and macro relevance, etc., change the availability for a while, and in a location.


Buildings are physically formed assets involving labour, material and technical know-how. The labour is non-recoverable expense to shape the materials into a built form. A built-form as soon as it is ready, begins to be affected by environment, usage, and technological irrelevance, and so depreciates. After some period it becomes advisable to construct a new on or shift to a new one. And a building even if it were not to cost more to construct a unit of similar functionality, it would still require new investment and time.


Buildings must remain consistently functional and valuable to remain valid. During reconstruction or substantial reformations, the building ceases to be fruitful. The existing activities require temporary relocation, the cost of it, cessation of income due to it, and optional legal redressal for it, all add to cost of the new entity.

640px-Bijenkorf_Rotterdam_1930550px-Sergei_Mikhailovich_Prokudin-Gorskii_-_Razguliai,_outskirts_of_the_city_of_Perm_(1910)The Land is rarely a free commodity. It is owned by the Government (or king), or else occupied by some authorized-approved-accepted entity or a squatter. The right to use a land are of many types, some permanent (or Allodial title), long-lasting or leased (for specific period). Nominally right to land includes right to occupy, build on it with a purpose, form, and volume (for farm and other lands it could include agriculture and mining). The right to land also include easement rights that allow the owner-lease holder to use a neighbouring property in a specified and limited scale, such as right of access, ventilation, view, illumination, aeration, drainage of rain water, etc. A new buyer checks out if these are transferable rights and if there are charges or other liabilities with it.


640px-Roma_settlement_at_Letanovský_MlynA building is relevant for the purpose it is designed, and later on reformation, how it adjusts to the intended functions. The functionality of a building derives primarily from the land’s location or neighbourhood, and secondarily from its technical virtues, style, and in few instances its past history. A building surviving at a location is continuously affected by the changes occurring in the neighbourhood, urban matrices and environment. Human settlements grow exponentially by new rings, absorbing the suburbs, but creating new sub-centers. Such shifts affect, connectivity, traffic, density and hastens or decelerate the new development in specific locations.


The existing user-owners will not vacate the properties unless offered sufficient incentive. The process of change becomes faster in countries that have holding or land owning companies leasing out sections. In India, urban residential areas abutting wide roads first turn into linear commercial precincts, but converting the back lane properties into warehouses. Both types of changes reduce the real residents, forcing the rest of the lot to flee.


Buildings of the older generation are massive structures where useful (carpet area) area to built-up area difference could be as much as 22% and compared to these, new buildings with thinner structures and leaner services, the difference is 9.5%. This acts as one major incentive to reconstruct the building. In some areas newer building laws allow more total construction. The deterrents to this are several conditions such as provision of parking space and smaller footprints of individual land holdings.

Roma settlement at Letanovsk Mlyn.



Post 459 -by Gautam Shah


Architecture and Interior Design are very old professions. Many terms or word usages, and practices have survived from very old times. Few have been transported across cultures, with and without changes in their meaning. Some terms seem strange, funny and profound.

Sex bolt, also known as a barrel nut, barrel bolt, Chicago screw or post and screw is a type of fastener

Skiffling -knobbing

Skiff is from Scottish ancestry meaning ‘to move lightly, probably changed from skift, from Old Norse skipta =to shift. A word like skiffle, of very recent origin means, is used for jazz, folk, or country music of the 1950s as played with unconventional instruments like as kazoos, washboards, or jugs. But skiffling is, a term used in stone quarrying business meaning rough dressing by knocking off knobs or projections, knobbing the rough corners for ashlar work. The word knobbing is as curious (The act of sucking a penis), but does it connect?

Vomitorium of Nimes Amphitheater

Vomitorium is another queer word of Roman architecture. It is a passage situated below or behind a tier of seats in an amphitheater or stadiums, but not for vomiting after watching the bloody sports of gladiators (or perhaps boring long winding plays) but access lobby for entry-exit to the audience seating areas.

Demising wall between two properties

Demise relates to death, dying, passing, passing away, passing on, loss of life, expiry, expiration, end, departure from life, a final exit. But its present participle: demising is altogether a different realm. In real estate business it is a provision in the lease through which the property owner (or agent) leases the property to the tenant, and by which the tenant takes the property. And a Demising wall is an enaction of that lease provision whereby an interior or exterior wall or partitions subdivide tenant spaces from one another.


Architects and interior designers have been erecting stairs and ramps for rises and falls, and some are easy, other too stiff. The step riser size is of great concern. Too tall or short, both could be uncomfortable. A 7-inch riser is OK with most, but do not interpret it in any other way.

Stiff Rising Batu caves steps.

A scupper is now less frequently used term, but carries widely different set of meanings. A scupper is an opening to let water out or in from a boat, ship or building’s roof. But it is also used as an intent to spoil someone’s plans or hopes of success. It is also a naval term for loose woman, tart or slut. On land a scupper describes a woman who wanders around all day indoors and outdoors in their pajamas, dressing gowns and slippers. But is there any common ground among various interpretations?


Groin vault, Butt-joint and Jack stud are so often used site terms, that no one squirms while discussing. A vibrator on site compacts the mass of concrete, but elsewhere could rouse or fluff up things. Radius of Gyration is perpendicular distance from the axis of rotation to a point mass, naturally how else would anyone behave? In the German: Fahrt is used for journey or movement like einfahrt (entranceway) or ausfahrt (exit or gateway), but not for the relieving the pressure inside or outside. And someone had a contract specification that ‘all masonry material shall be thoroughly wet before being laid’.

Grey or Gray –not a Black and white dilemma ?

Grey and Gray are both accepted in the English language, but many see 50 different grades between them. Some see nothing black in either of it but other are too enlightened and see too much of gloom and dullness of white. Gray or Grey, are white diluted blacks and reveal blue, red, green to many other shades, but there has been no Shakespeare to confirm ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet (play Romeo and Juliet).

Some trades-persons (usually man) have varied aliases or nicknames. Soldier courses are rows of bricks that are laid upright, by a Bricky -the bricklayer. Chippie is wood chipper, the carpenter, and if a smart alack well versed as an Electrician, is a Carptrician. An electrician is a Sparky, but if one who misses to ground own-self is the French fry. Muckers are labourers dealing with concrete casting, team. Muck and Gobbo stand for mortar.



ALFARJE -ceilings

Post 458 -by Gautam Shah



The word Alfarje meaning panelled wood ceiling, derives from Arabic al-furjah. It was a very common feature of Islamic and Spanish Moorish architecture. The Islamic dominated style began after the Moorish conquest of Spain in 711, but has common cultural effects of Moors, Christian, and Jewish. During the 12th C the Mudejar style of architecture emerged in Andalusia in southern Spain. This style lasted till 16th C. however, even after that period it remained popular in Andalusia and other regions of Spain. A modern version of it, Neo-Mudejar style was used by modern architects in Madrid and other cities during 19th C. (P.S. Farjee in Persian and Urdu languages mean fake, bogus or artificial and ceilings are called False ceiling, if cover the roof or floor underside as a suspended element).

intricate Islamic carvings in the Alhambra Palace, Granada

Maluenda Iglesia de Santa Maria -Alfarje wood panel ceiling

Mudejar refers to the art and architecture that were created by the Moors who continued to stay in the Christian areas after these ones passed from the Moors to the Christians. These Moors who remained in Spain, without being converted to Christianity were known as Mudejars. The Mudejars worked in Spain as craft’s persons, such as alarifes or master masons, carpenters, potters, and tile and glass-makers. In the middle of 16th C. they were forced to convert as Christians, and were called Moriscos.

Santa Maria Church, Maluenda

The Mudejar style of architecture used brick as the main building material. It was intricately plastered as seen in beehive ceilings and stalactites of palaces like the Alhambra. Cobalt blue and white ceramic tiles of geometrical motifs were used for roofs and walls. Mudejar buildings used horseshoe arches. An important planning feature of this architecture was use of patios with flowing water bodies, and fountains and balconies with screens.


The most outstanding element of Mudejar style was the panelled wood ceiling. It was known as Alfarje. The ceiling structure is made of joists and filler panels, both of which are carved, and inlaid with ivory and other precious materials. The same skills were also used for other wood works, such as furniture and floors in craft called marquetry.



LEGENDS of OPENINGS -2 God of doors -JANUS

Post 457 –by Gautam Shah


Janus-VaticanIn Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings. Janus symbolized change and transitions such as: the progression of past to future, of one condition to another, of one vision to another, and of one universe to another. He represented the middle ground between barbarity and civilization, rural country and urban cities, and youth and adulthood. He was worshipped at the beginnings of all events like planting and harvesting, births, marriages, etc. The cult of Janus dates back to a period even before founding of Rome. Janus has no equivalent god in Greek mythology. The oldest lists of Roman gods began with Janus. He was surnamed ‘divom deus’, an ancient Latin form meaning ‘the god’s god’. Lord Ganesh, elephant headed God of Indian mythology has many similarities with Janus. Ganesh is the presiding deity, and first to be invoked in all ceremonies. Presence of Ganesh is considered auspicious for all beginnings and is symbolically represented at the door-head. Ganesh is called Devadhi-Dev or God of the gods.janus-91

Ganesha_statue,_Asian_Civilisations_Museum_Singapore_-_20061231Rome had many freestanding ceremonial gates (‘jani’) that were marks of auspicious beginnings, departure and return from victory, as entrance and exit. One of the famous jani, Janus-Geminus was a shrine at the north side of the forum.

Temple_Janus_Autun_31640px-Autun_Temple_Janus_PA00113101_01_JPMJanus was depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. Some believe Janus represents sun and moon. ‘Janus Geminus’ -Bifrons the two-faced Janus was replaced by -Quadrifrons the four-faced Janus, by emperor Domitian. The two-sided gates began to be four faced structures. Four forums were erected such as, Forum of Peace, Forum Transitorium, Forum of Julius Caesar, and Roman Forum.



Four sided Buddha Head

A Typical Janus temple had a square room, a dual faced Janus statue or bust in the center, and two doors, (called Gates of war or peace) on opposite sides. The main street or forum side door (some claim both the doors) was kept open during war, so that he could easily intervene. The doors and gates were closed during peace. ‘The gates were closed to keep the War in’, or as stated exactly opposite by Ovid and Horace, ‘it is Peace that is kept inside the temple of Janus’. Symbolically Janus is represented by a Key.

Temple of Janus

Janus is remembered for the month of January. The fingers of Janus’ hands were placed in strange positions, which Pliny interpreted as an indication of the number 355, a reference to the number of days of the oldest Roman calendar. It is also suggested that origin of the name of the Italian city of Genoa is a derivation of Janus.



Concept of Holy duality Multi plurality is common across many cultures and religions. The duality represents alter ego or two facets of beliefs. Duality occurs in physical forms with two facets like sides of the path, doors or contradicting positions like heaven-hell. Many Indian Gods have such double (Dvi-Mukha or Anga like dwarpal -the doorkeepers), triple (Tri-Mukha like Brahma and Dattatreya) or four-way forms (Chatur-Mukha).

ArdhNarishwer Half Shiv Half Parvati.


Post 456 -Gautam Shah



Stability of a building is checked in terms the Physical condition, Structural integrity, and the stack-holders’ perceptions. The last factor is subjective, but it presents cumulative considerations of several participants. The Physical conditions are checked through the weathered conditions and user-related wear-tear to the building. Structural integrity ensures its capacity to stand-up in equilibrium, by defying, overcoming or consistently being with the gravity, safety and security as a place of habitation and in few instances as a long-lasting entity (of archeological relevance).

1024px-Al_Nouri_MosqueStability of buildings and other structures is an important factor during its lifetime and during construction, repairs-maintenance, alterations, renovations, extensions and demolitions. The stability is mainly related to the gravity disturbing the form. Other factors affecting the stability are the structure’s patterns of load transfer to soil, which could be as whole or local inadequacies. The integrity of the structure against lateral disturbing forces such as earthquake, winds and pressures of heavy blasts. The bearing of loads and their transfer modes, ultimately affect the stability of a building. Vibrations destabilize a structure. Stability of a structure is affected by sudden loading, point loading, and continuous vibrations. The disintegrations caused by these conditions enhance users related, wear-tear and effects of weathering.




Stability of a structure is perceived as its capacity to serve its functions under nominal (designed) load conditions. A stable structure has deformations that are recoverable, and within designed limits. Stable structure could be static or dynamic (like a car) but in equilibrium. A space ship in a no-gravity zone is affected when small perturbations that produce movement in the direction of force. It can continue to move, without missing its state of equilibrium.


DCF 1.0

Change in geometry of a structure or structural components under compression causes buckling. Buckling is non-recoverable condition of structures’ geometry. Such changes destabilize compressive elements such as columns, walls, foundation base and pedestals and parts of beams.



The INTERLUDE (intervening space)


Post 455 -by Gautam Shah


1 alley-1494736_640

A space, a gap, an interlude, an entr’acte, all distinguish the continuity. It manifests in time and space. In architecture, human settlements, art, performances, expressions and communication, substantial content is of temporal and spatial interventions. The miss-out is intentional as well as circumstantial. The intentional gap extends the tempo or intensity to longer duration or stretch. The circumstantial gaps are required for inhalation and exhalation time, shifting from one tune to another, visual perception, and sensorial reactivity. The gap is just large enough to prepare for the subsequent reflection.

National Congress of Brazil, designed by Oscar Niemeyer

In Architecture the interludes help spread the mass. The spatial interludes are in the form of distance between buildings or sections of it, chowks, setbacks and offsets. The temporal interventions relate to time and so movement, such as time required for image grabbing, visual scanning, travel time clues such as milestones, scaling through perspective, and movement attests such as slopes (accelerations) and rises (decelerators). Building forms are gravity stacked and inverted, and offer different type of spatial interrelationship with the earth. Buildings are massed, where the adjoining mass is repetition (same), smaller or larger, but spatial connection is within a bridging distance. There occur three types of masses. The two end ones are real, whereas the nothingness in the middle is an ethereal one. The ephemeral bridging is aided by visual clues such as proportions, form, texture, colour, directionality and the context of perception (perspective, framing, referencing clues, etc.).


At micro level architectonic elements occupy the building spaces and surfaces by forming hierarchies, orders, series, sequences and harmonics. In all these the intervening element could be another object, but it is the space that reveals the underlying sub-face. The intervening elements, such as openings, columns, corners, shapes, projections and recesses, textures, colours, light-shade and other transgressions create the time and space matrices.


Human settlements have interludes formed between built spaces. The form, purpose and its bridges with built spaces, however, well planned, never persist. It changes with little innovations here and there. But the relationship between something (engagement) and nothing creates the settlement. Chowks, plazas, streets, roads, gardens, playgrounds, cemeteries, are juxtaposed against the built spaces. Each window of the house offers a different view. Each porch has a unique setting. Each dwelling has unique set of sounds, smells, air and feel due to varied intervening spaces.

Piazza Cisterna Italy

Artworks are select perspectives that reveal the connect between environment, buildings and people. The spaces between them are modulated by colour, size, depth of view, referential elements, framing and story content. In primitive cave-art it is the space between them and the form of the figures that create the stage. A stage, where each element is sited and interconnected.


Raphael School of Athens without intervening Floor Patterns and Wall decorations


Raphael School of Athens

Performances happen in designated space, but the definitions are marked by the actors and their acting. Stage properties, lighting, dresses, dialogue delivery (direction, loudness and position-orientation), all create spatial and temporal markings. But the interludes in time (covering the stage distances, and the body postural-gestural enactments for it) and in space (orientation, distance from co-actors, stage space edges and other properties) are created by exploiting the distances. Where physical distances are not enact-able, these are executed through sounds, lighting, etc. A performer can project real and ephemeral interludes on any space (stage) through behaviour.


Jazzart Dance Theatre 69185 > Wikipedia image by Jazzart Dance Theatre

Expressions are intentional as well involuntary. Expressions occur through gestures and postures, and both of which require some transition time to shift from one to another. The intervening period with nothing is also a form of expression. One can stretch or shorten the period and modulate the expression.


Interludes of Time and Space in Expression

Communication is also a form of expression where the intention is to convey information and ‘impress’ the receiver. It may happen ‘in-person’ or in ‘absentia. In absentia communications such as telephony, audio-video recordings, modulate the scope of expression. To suppress the data band width requirements the quality is depressed into narrow channels. But in spite of these, the spatial and temporal interludes are not affected. In some long distance communications the transition of up and down signals occur on the same channel, and so one misses the ‘quick-response’ or feedback experience.




Post 454 -by Gautam Shah


One can rationalize the demands faced by an object or its surface system in many different ways. The processes of rationalizing the demands for surface finish begin with the object-modification, but may eventually include changing the environment. For a good designer, however, it is often more efficient (functionally, technologically and economically) to compose a new entity, than expend too much effort in modifying the entity or change its environment.

5 chamber plastic window profile

There are many fables where the advice is: cover your own feet, rather than cover the streets of the town, or carry an umbrella than cover up the sun. It is better to buy a new razor blade with a sharp edge, than polish the blunt one.

Objects and the surface systems, if of a single material, than operative demands are simpler, but if composed of many, similar or dissimilar materials, these have very complex and often in-specifiable demands.

Metal turning

It is ideal to reform the object entity by integrating the surface system with it. Where such direct integration is not possible, the object and its surface system both are individually refashioned, and then integrated into a single material entity.

Roman bath roof of multiple layers of materials / Hollowed blocks to reduce weight

First step in integrating several surface systems is to place them close together. Next step should be to eliminate any space that remains between them by tight packing or joining them. The joining of the surface system, than must allow the layered system to structurally function as one unit. When the layered systems begin to function as one, it is time to plan ‘a new integrated system’ to replace it. As one can see, the strategy is to invent a new replacement system and NOT to improvise the combined system.

Calendaring -pressing machine

At any cross section of time, we find a large number of surface systems either are overtly attached to the object or are in the process of being integrated to the entity base. It is very necessary that a surface system in such a situation, be singular in constitution or at least be effective in that manner. Finish makers aspire to provide a singular surface system in place of a multi-component system. However, in a finish maker’s world there are very few situations where singular surface system can satisfy all the demands. Multi-component surface systems are reality.

Human skin -an integrated but multi component surface system

A surface system can be facilitated by delaying or curtailing the effects of environment, for the functional period of the entity. Environmental effects are from specific orientation or comprehensive, and so one can design a surface system to be local or total, momentous or everlasting.

Multi layered but integrated surface system -polymer modified cement floor

Ordinarily surface finishes are fashioned, only after the object and its relevant environment have been conceived. But sometimes an object could be so hazardous that until an actual workable surface system is designed, it cannot be allowed to occur (such as atomic materials and isotopes). Similarly an environment could be so harmful that till an appropriate finish system is devised, the object cannot exist, much less function in it.

Air craft wall layers

Liquids and gases have no stable object boundary, so must be contained, and for such material phases the container becomes the apparent surface system.

The environment influences objects in such a complex way, that any search for logic is impossible. This is the reason why many surface makers seem to work with their intuitive faculties. To some people, providing a surface system is an art or craft, rather than a scientific discipline.

Concrete pavement