MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – II

Post 497  by Gautam Shah



A design client visiting a design office or querying about design fees through a communication channel, is expected provide some basic details about own-self and the project (its location and scope). Such inquiries however, routine may not be answered instantly or orally. A design fee statement is not a commodity rates list, and should be presented after knowing, meeting or vetting a client. A design fee statement presented to a client should be very specific. It should never be a standard print-out with few filled in blanks.

Students People Talking

A designer must mention as to why (under what circumstances) the fees are being stated in the presentation. For this purpose a Fees statement must mention the name of the client, and some details of the project, including its location.

Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode, Kerala India. A large building complex design has many overlapping design interests and fees for a component must have Limitations Statement.

A typical Starting Line could be > In reference to our meeting / your query of Dated: Date-Month-Year, I/We present our Terms, Conditions and Schedule of Charges for the Design Services1 for XYZ project2 for Client3 at, Location of project4.

1 = Architectural, Interior Design, Landscape Design, etc.

2 = Residential, School, Hospital, Office, etc.

3 = Mr or Mrs XYZ or M/s ABC Co (The Client).

4 = Plot or Building number, Suburb, Town, State, etc. (Location of the Project).


It is very necessary to define precisely the scope of design services and for this Statement of Limitations must become part of Design Fees Statement. A statement of limitation restricts the liability to only the listed nature of services.

Pic from Wikipedia by Author Wolfgang H. Wögerer, Wien > French photographer en:Jean-Pierre Sudre, France, 1975.


1 We offer Design Services in the field of ____ . This statement relates to, our offer for design only services. Design services will mean and include designing, describing, specifying and facilitating (by our selves and other consultants to be appointed for sub services) the total project and its systems that are necessary. Design shall mean all drawn, written or digitally formatted documents, oral or otherwise instructed or implied schemes emanating from our office or the staff. The Period of design services shall nominally last 12 months from the date of payment of first payment of fees. On completion of this period, the Design Services will have to be renegotiated as a fresh project.

2 We offer our services as Designers, and for that we do not sell, supply or help procure any components, units, goods or materials, or provide on rent, hire or provide on any other basis: human resources, plants, tools, equipment, implements or gadgets. We also do not undertake any type of operations or servicing of jobs. We do not provide any operational surety or performance guarantees or warranties for the items, systems, or schemes likely to be generated or formed through implicit or explicit design, suggestion, instructions drawn, described, specified in our design.


3 All payments to vendors, contractors and suppliers shall be made to the party concerned, directly by the client. As a designer our responsibility will be restricted to checking the work bills, and approving for payments, provided such bills or their authenticated copies are presented by the client with appropriate request to us.

President of UW Mark Emmert with an architect Pic from Flickr by Wonderlane

4 The job of Design shall mean designing and specifying all things for a building and its immediate surroundings (if listed in scope of a design project), and apparently for which no sanctions from any authority will be required. However, if any such sanctions / permissions are required, the client shall on own cost arrange them, or negotiate the issue separately with the designer.

5 As a consultant Architectural Designer we operate on our own, providing all such services to cause a building structure. We do not collaborate or agree to take in any help from any other designer or such experts or consultant, working on the behalf of any other agency weather paid by the clients or not. We will not accept or abide by reports, advise or observations offered by such persons or agencies. We will also not allow access or make available any copies of our documents, studies etc. to such persons or agencies.



Post 496  by Gautam Shah


In buildings and landscapes we move around with natural care. The care includes maintaining balance, controlling the speed of movement, knowing which of the body limbs are where, the direction of movement, orientation of the body and postural position. We sense our own body movement and external forces that quicken or slow it down, without using other sensual faculties. We sense the position of our body and the direction of movement. We also perceive the spatial position and orientation with three-dimensional references. And yet within that we attain and maintain the postural equilibrium.

Pic from Fickr through Wikipedia by Author : Bengt Nyman

Balance and movement are two interconnected experiences. Balance, equilibrioception, or vestibular sense is the sense that allows an organism to sense body Movement, Direction, and Acceleration. The organ of equilibrioception is the vestibular labyrinthine system found in both of the inner ears. In technical terms, this organ is responsible for two senses of angular momentum acceleration and linear acceleration (which also senses gravity), but they are known together as equilibrioception.

Exercises using the Interim Resistive Exercise Device (IRED) equipment NASA

The vestibular system, in most mammals, is the sensory system which is the main contributor for the sense of balance and spatial orientation. This serves the purpose of coordinating movement with balance. The vestibular system contains three semicircular canals in each labyrinth, generating three-dimensional sense. Perceptions through the vestibular system are very fast and can generate responses to maintain perceptual and postural stability. But yet compared to sensual perceptions like vision, touch and audition, the responses are little delayed.

Performing with mallakhamb India

Kinesthesis is the sense of the position and movement of body parts. Through Kinesthesis, people know where all the parts of their bodies are, how and which-way (direction) they are moving. Kinesthetic sense, provides the parietal cortex of the brain with information on the relative positions of the parts of the body. Receptors for Kinesthesis are located in the muscles, joints, and tendons.


The sense of balance or equilibrium provides information about where the body exists in space. When the vestibular system gets stimulated, in absence of any other perceptions (like seeing, hearing or touching) we still experience the body movement. In space craft, engineers are checked for their sense of perceptivity of balance and equilibrium in darkness and near zero sound environments. We control speed of movement while going down a hill. The sense of going up or down on a clockwise or anti-clock-wise spiral stair is predictable, because we relate to all those experiences in some other references. ‘A person in complete darkness and sitting in a chair will feel that he or she has turned to the left if the chair is turned to the left’. Similarly, the sense of balance tells people ‘whether they are standing up, falling in an elevator, or riding a roller coaster’.

Tapper balancing act on coconut tree .



Post 495  by Gautam Shah


A front door is a normal entrance and opportunities arrive from it, but a back door is a nominal exit for the luck to run out. A locked front door means missing the opportunities, but an open backdoor mean someone is stealing your secrets. Front doors have protective deities (dwarpal-Hindi), so evil spirits know that this has many possibilities. Back doors do not need a door-guardian, as gossip mongers, never leave it alone, even for a while. Gods may close one door to open another. In Hindi it is said ‘Khuda chappar fadake deta hai’ meaning ‘if God is willing, gives by breaking the roof’. So God does not need an open door invitation to come to your place, but Christ expects, ‘I am the door,’ and ‘no one comes to the Father but through Me.’

Wayna Picchu viewed from Machu Picchu’s access gate > Wikipedia Author Martin St-Amant (S23678)

A door involves a change of state. It offers hope, new life or fresh beginning from the wilderness, but may take one into an unfamiliar realm. On entering a door one achieves a communion with the creator, but most spiritual leaders had to go out of it for the Nirvana. At mundane level, the door illuminates and ventilates a space. It provides visual engagement, but also causes social interference, intrusions, acoustical disturbance and penetration of pollutants.

Mahadeva Temple at Itagi (or Ittagi) in the Koppal district of Karnataka state, India from Wikipedia Author Dineshkannambadi

 A door leads from one space to another space. It should have dual expression of the interior as well as the exterior. The closed or false door of the burial chamber has a hypothetical reality of another world. The exterior or beyond the false door, life manifests as supernatural, unpredictable, full of dilemmas. And to contrast it the chamber interior is made with rich ways of life, virtues, good manners, exemplary behaviour and abundance. Temples and other religious places have elaborate door faces. The doors’ motifs, each represents a microcosm of divine life. There are doors within portals, where one can enter, but unlikely to escape.

828px-Hamilton_Hotel_-_3rd_floor_corridor_-_Portland_OregonIn real buildings a door leads you to other doors. But such halls or vestibules can have few doors leading out. Corridors offer long rows of doors. The doors in corridors, unlike their counterpart in halls, always remain closed, and are full of intrigue and enemies lurking behind. That is the reason why Romans expected every honourable citizen to keep the doors open. An open street door showed a willingness to serve the community participate fully in political and social life. A place of concealment was a place of potential revolution. To keep the doors open and still have some visual privacy the doors were buffered with depth, fauces and atrium. The family members, neighbours and other regular visitors however, used a simpler side or back door set flush with the street, but left ajar. The front entrance door was a decorative entryway flanked by half columns or pilasters to create a picture-like frame. It was without a guard, except drawn or a mosaic motif of a dog.In Roman culture, the front door was always open to a stranger and community but to understand and be treated equal to the family, one had to approach from other means’.

The exterior of the domus depicting the entrance with ostium > Wikipedia by Author Stepan Bakalovich

Early doors were pivoted, and usually without a door frame. The architectural masonry sides provided a portal like framing. This masonry framing acted as a stopper for the pivoted shutter with opening inward or outward. But a door opening outward or inward, has been judged differently. A door opening outward may show that one needs to be more accessible to others. However, an inward opening door may represent the desire for inner exploration and self-discovery. Roman houses had doors that opened inward. Roman society permitted only rare individuals of high honour to have doors that opened out on to the Street. Plutarch wrote that the Romans complimented Marcus Valorous, a founder of the Roman Republic, was allowed a house with doors opening outwards as perpetual recognition of his merit.

Drawing of a typical roman atrium house. From Wikipedia by Author Tobias Langhammer

For the Japanese, ‘the door to happiness opens outward. A door simply imposes itself upon the room when it opens inward. Having the door open inwards has the outside intruding upon the inside’. Feudal schools of etiquette prescribe all kinds of norms for opening a door and coming into a room. Sukisha, well-bred people use the hand, nearest the door to open it a few inches (the length of a forefinger, to be exact) and then switch hands to slide it back the rest of the way. A man is judged by how he opens a door and a woman by how she shuts. This is so because in a room with a group of men, a woman served the food and take a leave. A woman would be observed closing the door behind her with grace. The balanced and graceful action of folding down on one’s knees on the floor, moving into a room, keeping at a level equal to others already in the room, were part of larger ceremony. The skills of opening and closing a sliding Japanese doors are part of reishiki, proper form or etiquette.

5 Uhr-Tee in Japan! In feierlicher Zeremonie wird dem Gastgeber ein Teepäckchen überreicht, welcher von dem Hausherrn äusserst geschmackvoll eigenhändig zubereitet wird.

There have been doors that have defied the explicit facility of inward-outward opening. The sliding doors did not impinge the exterior or interior space, nor did they force a person to move backward. The saloon or bar-doors were half shutters, moving both-ways. In US the revolving doors were marketed with a lot of hype, as ‘doors that always remain closed’.


DESIGN DOCUMENTS and Liabilities – Part II

Post 494  –by Gautam Shah



Design Documents generated by a design organization are of many different types and created for many levels of exposures. Exposure to employees of the organization, consultants, clients, contractors-vendors and public is well-measured, because the documents mean different things to different stack-holders. As a result, design documents can create liabilities of wrong promises. In spite of aspirations to make design process transparent for all stack-holders, some degree of design maturation is necessary before the design is made public. Design maturation process means only one final version becomes part of public to protect intellectual rights such as copyright or patents.


In an earlier article (DESIGN DOCUMENTS and Liabilities – Part -I) several types of design documents and resultant liabilities were discussed. These were: 1 Personal Documents, 2 In-house documents, 3 Documents for Clients.

Consultant interactions

4 DOCUMENTS FOR CONSULTANTS’ ASSIGNMENT are of two levels: 1 Advice, option seeking or exploratory, an informal level of consultation, and 2 Formal or Action level, for the actual finalization of the scheme, and to decide the modalities of execution. In the FIRST case, the interim design documents that are schematically complete, but lacking in finer details may serve the purpose. However, if any alternatives are sought then these must be self-evident and marked with an order of preferences. For the SECOND case the documents must be very definitive and complete. It must also unambiguously state the consultant’s responsibilities and liabilities.

Wright brothers patent plans 1908

5 DOCUMENTS FOR PERMISSIONS / APPROVALS are very much a condensed version of the scheme, as the authorities wish to check compliance with existing rules and regulations. Such drawings have prescribed format of presentation, including content, scale and manner of expression. A practical rule is to show information that is asked for or absolutely required for the purpose.

Presentation of scheme

6 DOCUMENTS FOR PRESENTATION / PUBLICATIONS are created for the design office, client and other public agencies to market, publicize, generate a debate and solicit funds for the project. Preparation of such documents is often handed over to professionals. Provisions (sizes, proportions, scale), facilities and amenities, indicated on such presentations are frequently considered promise. This happens when presentations are created before, or in the early part of the project.

Component Details from Wikipedia, Author: Thorsten Hartmann

7 DOCUMENTS FOR JOB AWARD OR EXECUTION are of many different types, but mainly of 1. Set of working or execution drawings, specifications and quantity schedules, and 2. Site communications and Reports. Even where a job is simple, known or traditional, these must be formally defined. Contract documents have one major problem and that is consistency across the documents. A write-up on drawing sheets may be interpreted differently from the drawing, unless it is properly linked. A detail and component drawings are sometimes at a variance. The trades or the jobs are not distinctly recognizable, generating many quarries from the main contractor or vendor.


1 Set of Working or Execution drawings consist of following:

Layout Drawings, as the name indicates, are used for laying out the work on a site and specifying the whole work. This is the main or starter drawing, and so it establishes links to other drawings and details. It is used for conveying methods of interpretation for this and other linked drawings. Measures (dimensions, tolerances, fitments, margins, and measures like weights /mass /speed /time), which cannot be graphically indicated or linked to any particular graphical view are presented as a common write-up or explanation. Being the basic drawing, it provides a common ground to indicate, when and how a part or parts of drawing become execution worthy. Limitations and responsibilities of various agencies’ work, time schedules and inter linkups for start and completion of various items, parts, etc., are all specified in the layout drawing.

Architectural Details : Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WIS,28-WATO,1-

Detail Drawings are large scale (and so detailed) presentations of (vertical, horizontal or inclined) sections. Sections are recognized for the complete presentation of the building form, space entity, orientation and sequencing. Detailed sections often overlap at the edges, and care should be taken not to duplicate the details and dimension. These drawings are accessed by several trades’ persons or vendors, so delineate the work responsibilities for siting or laying their systems. The drawing also establishes the relationships (such as sequence of assembly) for various systems and component. The detail drawings include legends showing graphical vocabulary used for identifying various materials in sections and on their faces (elevations). It also includes graphical symbols to represent very small parts or standard components.

Component Drawings are accessed mainly by the specific vendor or contractor. The details consist of fitment conditions and operative parameters. Components’ details without siting specifications can mean that standard or the vendor’s conditions apply. Standardized components may also be indicated by referencing the recognized standards’.

Written details are of different types such as: 1. Within the drawings, 2. attached to the drawings, and 3. stand-alone documents that can be used independently, without reference to the drawings.

Written details within the drawings describe quality parameters of the parts or components such as finishes, procedures and schedules of assembly, required work precautions, etc. These are tabulated in terms of trade-job and scheduled in terms of start-end times.

As a separate document but attached or referenced through the Drawings: Where Specifications are not related to any particular drawing or a view, describe common materials and processes etc. relating to the entire work, and when are very lengthy; are supplied on separate sheets of paper accompanying the drawing. If necessary, mention of such sheets is made in the relevant drawing. Such sheets sometimes are bunched together as a catalogue of Specifications of Works.

■ As Memos and Short Messages: Site and Design Office continuously exchange messages of inquiries, clarifications, confirmations, rejections, acceptance, corrections, reporting, etc. Some such communications have an effect equal to a revision of a specification or initiation of a new specification. For this reason all messages, routed through whatever mode of communication must be Dated and Numbered with Author and Receiver’s Identity. It is often more prudent to separate out Communications that could have Consequential Effect, and reconfirm them in the weekly or periodical reports. Communications relating to a specification, must mention the relevant part, component, subsystem or section of the project and exact location (drawing, communication, tender etc.) where it was earlier referred to.

Haines Shoe House in Hallam, Pennsylvania



Post 493  by Gautam Shah



Storage systems have been with us from very ancient times. These systems have helped in spatial organization of living, commercial and manufacturing areas. Organized storage primarily means segregation and stacking of entities for the purpose visual identification and easy access. Storage systems for foods have been conceived for isolation, preservation and maturation. Commercial and manufacturing storage systems serve the same purposes, but for former visual merchandising and for the later goods and tools, access were important issues.

Storage Cabinets have been known by many names. Almirah is a Portuguese word, Hindi = Alamari, describing a free standing closet. It was a place to keep vestments in the sacristy of a church. Almirahs in modern sense are synonymous with cabinet, cupboard, wardrobe etc. A cabinet could be an open or shuttered-storage entity, so may not be equated with open storage systems with shelves in niche, alcove, bay or recess.


The Sandook, Patara, Manjusha (Hindi), Chest or Box, are all storage units of ancient origin, and considered predecessors of Almirah. Manjusha generally means a box for jewels, or treasure chest. These are associated with nomadic life, so were compact but were multi-functional. These were accessible only from the top and so were cumbersome for storing. These storage units, like the almirah, had few compartments or cells to store small things, and secret chambers for the valuables.


An important category of storage systems includes a chest of drawers, bureaus (French word for office), secretary, secretaire, or escritoire, and desks. These were primarily used for home-based offices, personal study areas, as communication console by officers, ministers and scholars. The units were independent entities, placed against a wall, and often on a raised platform of 100 to 200 mm height. The drawers were for minuscule in size for storing pins and pens, to very large ones for books and manuscripts.

Chippendale Desk

The efficiency of access and ergonomic size made them very popular and began to be used in bed rooms, dining rooms, pantry areas, shops, hotel lobbies, restaurants and bars. In bedrooms these were used as personal craft-station, as Lingerie chest for storing socks, underwear, hands kerchiefs, napkins, as a parlour for make-up things. Lingerie chests were of highboys or tall design where a set of drawers as a tall chest of were mounted on legs. Parlour chests were comparatively lower volume chests, of a bureau-dressing table in combination with a pivoted mirror on an integrated stand or as a wall-mounted frame.

Personal work area Sherlock Holmes Museum

In entrance halls the chests had drawers for shoes but low enough to sit on it to tie shoelaces. Entrance hall chests were accompanied by long wall mirror, a coat stand, and umbrella tray. In dining rooms these became cutlery and linen station taking away the functions of silver room.

The bureaus made their formal appearance in 17th C across Europe. These were similar to modern day office desks, with a set of drawers or shuttered cabinets on sides and knee-space in the center. The knee space often had a drawer, or a flat pull out board for writing. Europe bureaus as a writing desk had no knee space, but the top section had a fold-down flap that rested at both edges on sliding vertical supports. The projecting fold-down flap provided sufficient knee space. The fold-down flap covered a set of pigeon holes or micro-sized drawers.


Castle Ward Interior -Classical Palladian Library for J5749 >© Copyright Suzanne Mischyshyn and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

Design and construction of bureaus was considered a challenge for furniture makers of the times. But as the time progressed designs became lighter, hardware superior and finishing techniques elaborate. The nominal inclined top was replaced with an accordion like folding flaps, or a curved tambour top. By 19th C it essentially became either delicate feminine furniture or robust commercial-use facility.

Dining room cabinet

Shelved storage systems were used for storing scrolls, manuscripts and arms. These were mostly open systems, to permit aeration and in colder climates prevent water condensation, but the same need some enclosure in other climates. The enclosure was provided to the entire room containing such shelves, rather then group of shelves. Almirahs were used where storage requirements of smaller volume. Shelving storage systems were in built niches or alcoves and formed within panelling system. From later part of 18th C it became fashionable to stock famous books in tea-coffee rooms, drawing rooms. Real and false libraries (with slices of books spines) were created as part of room panelling design. With availability of good quality of glass in late 19th C these were covered with wood framed glass shutters.


slotted angle shelving Industrial warehousing


The industrial revolution period saw streamlining of production processes. These required huge warehousing systems for raw materials and finished products. New storage devices such as steel-angle racks, steel almirahs, file cabinets, index card drawers, were now available.




Post 492  by Gautam Shah



Thinners are combination of ‘solvents’ whereas a solvent is single liquid material. Thinners and solvents are used for many purposes. These can be categorized in roughly THREE categories: 1 as a solvent for reducing the viscosity, 2 as a diluent an intermediating agent, and 3 as a non active carrier agent.

Stone Conservation cleaning mainly with balanced ph water

As a viscosity reduction agent it is used with resins, coating materials, adhesives, etc. As a diluent it is used as an extender medium in thinners to extend thereby reduce the cost of costly solvents. As non active material it is used with pesticides, chemicals to achieve greater spread. Some solvents of very low boiling point temperature are used as carrier for sprays etc. Thinners or solvents are used for cleaning surfaces such as restoration of artwork, removal of oil-grease deposits, removal of moisture from very thin crevices such as electronic circuits.

Distillation of crude oil at different temperatures

One of the earliest needs for a solvent was to reduce the viscosity of wax without warming it with heat. Wax was one of the best and easily available waterproofing material, but required heat for softening, a highly dangerous fire prone processes. Similar problems were encountered while thinning vegetable oils, tallow and other fats. These issues were solved with some of the earliest solvent materials the turpentine and the spirits (crude ethanol-based products from fermentation-distillation processes). Turpentine has been known as: spirit of turpentine, natural turpentine, genuine turpentine, oil of turpentine, wood turpentine and turps.

Common solvents used as paint thinners – Mineral spirits (US) / White spirit (UK) – Acetone – Turpentine – Naphtha – Toluene – Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) – Dimethylformamide (DMF) – 2-Butoxyethanol, or other glycol ethers. Other less common solvents used as paint thinner  – Ethylbenzene – Xylene – n-Butyl acetate – Butanol.


Turpentine is a steam distillation product from leaves of pine trees which also yields gum turpentine, turpentine oil and colophony (rosin). All these products have been used by artist for artwork and by crafts persons. The primary use of turpentine has been as a solvent for paints. During last century menthol and camphor were produced for turpentine, of this camphor was used for early Nitro-cellulose lacquer (NC Lacquer). Artists preferred distilled Turpentine as paint medium as it was more viscous than white spirit, and for being slow to evaporate. The later property was useful for ‘touching’ the colours, and keep it alive (green or wet) for longer duration. Residues or trace gum rosin in Turpentine prevents fast drying of film and keeps it tacky for along time.

White_spiritDuring the last century Genuine Turpentine has been replaced by Mineral Turpentine. Mineral Turpentine is petroleum distillate and is also known as white spirit, petroleum spirits, solvent naphtha. It is a very efficient solvent for oil and alkyd-based paints and varnishes. It is as low cost as Kerosene and so used for cleaning oil-grease from engineering products and other dry-cleaning (non-water cleaning of garments, wools) purposes. Turpentine has very little or no odour, so for paint thinner of domestic use, little terpene oil or genuine turpentine is added as a flavouring agent.

ethanol1Alcohol is produced through fermentation-distillation. The resultant product is Ethyl alcohol (Ethanol). The word Ethyl derives from French word ether, meaning a substance that evaporates fast at room temperature. Alcoholic drinks through fermentation of grapes, berries, honey and rice were produced since 7000 BC. Spirit or ethanol was used to dissolve plant gums. Ethanol is miscible with water and its presence reduces the surface tension of water. Pure ethanol is misused for consumption, so many countries have made it compulsory to denature it adding 5% or more methanol. This is also called methylated spirit. Denatured spirits are used for dissolving gums and shellac to formulate ‘French Polish’ and Lac and rosinated Varnishes. It is also used as cleaning agent.

Kerosene is chiefly used as a fuel. There are commercial and superior grades available. It has very strong solvent properties. In far off regions where Mineral turpentine is not available, Kerosene is used as oil paint solvent.

Naphtha sold as Camp-fuel

Naphtha is a flammable liquid mixture consisting of hydrocarbons, and it is very similar to kerosene or gasoline. It is a feed material for fertilizer and chemical plants. It is used for cleaning(flushing out) petroleum product tankers and as a tool machine cleaning solvent.

Gasoline is basically a fuel product, but is used for removing grease, tars and waxes from tools, parts and equipment. It is not used for paints.


Water is universal solvent. Water was used for water-based coatings produced from gums, casein, egg-whites etc. and with cementious compounds like lime, gypsum, etc. Water emulsified, polymer paints are able to meet the ecological concerns for VOC (Volatile organic compounds are organic chemicals that has a high vapour pressure at ordinary room temperature). Water is capable of dissolving a variety of different substances, which is why it is the best and universal solvent. Water can dissolve more substances than any other liquid. Water molecules have a polar arrangement of the oxygen and hydrogen atoms -one side (hydrogen) has a positive electrical charge and the other side (oxygen) had a negative charge. Water is attracted to a different molecule, like salt (NaCl), to disrupt the attractive forces that hold the sodium and chloride in the salt molecule together to dissolve it. Rain is generally mildly acidic, with a pH between 5.2 and 5.8.


Acetone is a simplest ketone and called mother of solvents. It is colourless and flammable liquid utilized as an important constituent of lacquer thinner, nail polish remover and grease-oil cleansing. In restoration and conservation practices acetone is often used to clean dirt, soot and grime and old varnishes from paintings and furniture.

Olivia Boteler Porter before and after restoration – removal of yellowing due to dirt and ageing

Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is an industrial solvent which is easily miscible with water. It is used as thinner solvent and as a remover-softener of stubborn paints.

Carbon tetra-chloride fire extinguisher 1930

Carbon tetra-chloride is also known as tetrachloromethane, carbon tet (cleaning industry), Halon-104 (firefighting) and Refrigerant-10 (HVACR). It was very popular cleaning agent for amateur electronics people. It is a colourless liquid with a sweet smell detectable at low levels. It is no longer preferred as a solvent or cleaning fluid.

 Sistine Chapel, the prophet Daniel before and after Restoration

> A decision was made that all of the shadowy layer of animal glue and “lamp black”, all of the wax, and all of the over-painted areas were contamination of one sort or another: smoke deposits, earlier restoration attempts, and painted definition by later restorers in an attempt to enliven the appearance of the work. Based on this decision, according to Arguimbau’s critical reading of the restoration data that have been provided, the chemists of the restoration team decided upon a SOLVENT that would effectively STRIP the ceiling down to its paint-impregnated plaster.

6 Heritage_architectural_features_cleaned_and_restored


BLACK – Part – I

Post 211 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 


Black is ‘no colour’, as it represents the absence of light. Black is the lack of all colours of light, or an exhaustive combination of multiple colours of pigments. It is opposite of white and often represents darkness in contrast with light. Blacks has its origin with fire or its residual product charcoal, ash and deposit as ‘Lamp black’.



Old English blæc =dark, is from Proto-Germanic > blakaz =burned. Etymologically Surprisingly other cognates of ‘blac’ include: Blæc, Bleak, Blake, Bleach, Blanch. Black can be traced back to ancient Greek phlegein =to burn, scorch and its proto Indo-European origins through ‘bhleg’ =to burn with black smoke or to burn black with smoke. ‘Bhleg’ was incorporated into Old High German as ‘blah’, Dutch blaken =to burn.


Black colours are not all equal Black, some are slightly bluish, reddish, and so on. True tinge can be seen on diluting it with white

If BLACK (Blæc) > burning bright, or burning, burnt, blackened by burning, pale, wan, colourless, or albino. The associated word (to Blæc) was BLEACH > burning bright, bright and shining, make shining white. So Black is associated with shining white. In Middle English the word was spelt as “blaec (Blæc)” same thing as the modern word ‘black’, only at that time, around 1051 AD, it still meant a fair skin, or so-called white person.

Lascaux painting with Black

Lascaux painting with Black

The Ancient Greeks sometimes used the same word to name different colours, if they had the same intensity. Kuanos’ could mean both dark blue and black. The Ancient Romans had two words for black: ater was a flat, dull black, while niger was a brilliant, saturated black. Ater has vanished from the vocabulary, but niger has come to country name Nigeria, for Nigger or Negro in English and for black in most modern Romance languages (French: noir; Spanish: negro; Italian: nero). Old High German had two words for black: swartz for dull black and blach for a luminous black. This distinctive usage also occurs in Middle English, swart for dull black and blaek for luminous black.

Ceramic Black

Ceramic Black

 It was in 16th C the semantic broadening of Black occurred, both figurative connotations as well as literal. From ‘blacken’ and its literal meaning ‘to stain black’ came the figurative meaning ‘to stain some ones’ reputation, or defame’. This incorporation of black was beginning of negative intensifier, and meant malignant, deadly purpose and involving death.

Lascaux cave painting in Black

Black has many cognates in modern usage such as for suit of spades or clubs as black, Coffee without milk is black, economic loss as being in black, truth was dilemmatic black or white. Black colour is physically associated with fire, and metaphorically with the night sky. Black is associated with the negative, such as Black market, Black mail, Black list, Black (Fri) day, Black deed, Black flag, Black hole, Black mood, Black fever, etc.

Portrait of Jessica Chambers, charcoal John Murdoch

Portrait of Jessica Chambers, charcoal John Murdoch

 Even though black is associated with fire, it was used even before the fire was used or domesticated. Black was available as charcoal of charred woods of natural fires, ashes, minerals including coal deposits and Magnesium Oxide. Black was one of the first few colours used by artists in neolithic cave paintings. It was used for outlining and for highlighting the image. In neolithic paintings, and later day wall-art Black was used as the contrasting colour to Red, and not the White. What black could cover or hide that weak white could not do, perhaps white, at that point of time was not that intense or opaque. Blacks colours are Carbon, and absorb light, so appear dark in infra-red reflecto-graph scanning, to reveal the starting outlines under the painting.

Spirit_Rover-Mars_Night_SkyCarbon black is very ancient Black colour pigment. It is produced by heating wood, or other plant material, in a closed chamber with very restricted supply of air. Carbon black was used, mixed with oil or water. Lamp black is a form of carbon black, but obtained from the soot of burned fat, oil, tar, or resin. Lamp black has varied tinge, soft brownish, bluish, or pitch-black. It is one of the most stable pigments unaffected by light, acids and alkalis. Bone black has bluish tinge, but is intense than lamp black. It is made from charring of bones or ivory. Vine black was produced by charring desiccated grape vines and stems.

CGA NTSC Colours

CGA NTSC Colours


DESIGN DOCUMENTS and Liabilities – Part – I

Post 491 –by Gautam Shah


Design Documents consists of Views such as Plans, sections, elevations, Write-ups in the form of sheets, files or books, for explanations about things that cannot be adequately represented through views and for people who are not trained to interpret drawings (such government officials and law agencies), Structured Documents such as estimate sheets, reports, etc., and Enhanced Views such as isometrics, perspectives, walk-through to reinforce the perception of elements or their compositions which are generally not used as valid means of execution.


Peter Behrens Tower building

Design Documents created in a design office have a well-defined purpose, specific exposure and so vulnerable to various levels of liabilities.

44730958785_c2d391e674_cDesign Documents are of Following types:

  • Personal
  • In-house
  • For clients’
  • For consultants’
  • For permissions – approvals by authorities
  • For presentations – publications
  • For job award or execution

Manchester Town Hall Drawings

1 PERSONAL DOCUMENTS are created by the designer or scheme formulator. These are concept sketches drawn impressionistically and often like doodles or bubble diagrams. These are for designer’s personal references or reminders. Sketch or preliminary drawings are too small in size, not to exact scale, lacking in details, and do not carry all the graphical views to convey the intentions. These documents are not meant for anyone else, and are thin in content, or just indicative and abstract in nature. Similarly materials, components, procedures and design parameters which have not been fully conceived, or not crystallized into a formal structure, are all placed as notings. The sketches may not have any apparent order, and contain any trade, technique or material specific details. The orientation, scale, format, language, signs, metaphors, symbols, etc., are very much subjective and so illegible to others. This are very personal, un-interpretable or mis-interpretable documents. Yet these are ‘intellectual properties’ documents (copyright, patent, exclusivity).

2 IN-HOUSE DOCUMENTS are created to explore various aspects of the project. These documents always remain within the office and accessible to only authorized staff members. The composition is very casual as the contents are private and not binding to anyone. The contents can be altered at any time without any liability. Here options regarding materials, finishes, parts / subsystems, techniques, are explored. The methods of indication follow the traditions prevalent in the office, and as a result its format and language are very abbreviated. However, some sort of standard format is required, to create documents that are comparable and interpolating with other such documents within the organization. Such documents are never exposed to consultants, clients or anyone else. As whatever is shown or implied in the drawings may be construed to be a promise to deliver.



3 DOCUMENTS FOR CLIENTS are in the form of presentations. Clients’ are shown (and given) drawings and other documents at several stages of the project such as First for the approval of concept, then with intermediate improvisations, and finally for the execution worthy scheme. Besides these clients require presentation for marketing the spaces, which are being, created or altered. Few clients, however, understand all the technical drawings, but in case of a dispute every sketch, drawing or document will be reinterpreted by someone else (lawyer, arbitrator, judge, etc.) and that can create liabilities. The clients consider the design documents as Bench-Mark during the post project evaluation. Presentations should be simple and in non-mechanical form, as the essential purpose is to impress the client and solicit a required response. These documents may additionally convey broad policy of operational modalities and related structure for guarantees and warranties. The presentation format is open, allowing several options and possible interpretations. A client needs two basic things through the initial presentations: 1. A layout scheme that shows how the project relates to the site and 2. A sketch / view showing the form of the building, with reference to the surroundings. On later date presentations other details (materials, colour, textures, etc.) may be included. Clients’ presentations are for information and for initiating a debate. Whereas, a set of all drawings, submitted just before the invitation of bids, is a formal ‘transfer of records’.Wright-Heurtley_House_Lower_Floor


Next part of the article will cover remaining Design Documents such as >> 4 Documents for Consultants’ Assignment, 5 Documents for Permissions or Approvals, 6 Documents for Presentation and Publications, 7 Documents for Job Award or Execution.

And also Layout drawing, Working drawings, Detail drawings, Component drawings, Written details, Written details within the drawings, As a separate document but attached or referenced through the drawings, Memos and Short Messages to and from the site, Certificates for completion of a trade specific item, component, stages, payment of bills, etc.Santelia03.


Post 490  –by Gautam Shah



Openings systems like gaps, doors, and windows are see-through entities. These are transit routes for many purposes. The openings are framed and masked with supplementary elements to doctor the transition taking place. The transitions to be proctored are two-way of people, other beings, goods, illumination, view, privacy, air-ventilation, moisture, rains, snow, dust, smell, noise, etc. Other purposes include, imposition of patterns, grids, proportions, contrasts, styles, make or break monotony of compositions, create or diffuse focuses.

Corner point view from Flatiron Building NY > Wikipedia pic by Author : nautical2k


Framing is distinct from Masking of openings, though at some level they assimilate to serve the similar purposes. Framing is an obvious characteristic of an opening. Openings have their sides and mid members within the view cone depending on the point of observation. In high-rise buildings where an exterior surface is formed of many and extensive windows framing of openings in a coordinated grid and may follow the discipline of the structure, or ignore it, and mount a false facade.

Gate d’Amboise in the Old town of Rhodes, Greece >Pic Author : Bernard Gagnon Wikipedia

The main gate, Schloss Belvedere, Vienna

An opening or a gap, be it a natural one or formed into built-form, has an implicit frame. The frame is defined by the strong surroundings, and through the depth of the gap or passage. For framing, natural openings have only sides and no head, but in built form openings, the head and threshold, both are as essential as the sides. Framing delineates an opening. Gates have dominant bastions to frame its importance. Egyptian temple doors have abutting pylons. Gothic doors are framed with several layers of receding serrations. The frame not only delineates an opening but enhances its size manifold. Fatehpur Sikri Mosque, India, has a real entry door of human scale, but that has been framed by very large portal. Architraves, borders, trims, casings, beading and masonry elements such as pilasters are used to reinforce the framing.

Buland Darwaza gate to Jami mosque, Fatehpur Sikiri, India. Pic Author: Marcin Bialek Wikipedia


Framing effect of opening is enhanced by highlighting the depth-sides. The sides are fluted, serrated or panelled, vaulted or chamfered to increase the surface area. The opening structures such as the frame are placed either on outside or inside the edge to increase the effect of bounding. The exterior niches get enhanced due to deeper shadows in locations where Sun is usually bright. Interior bays must be matched with interior space making elements. Strong interior bay of openings disturb the wall mural painting. Interior alcoves in clerestory openings are not preferred as these arrangement forms highly articulated an interior surface, often diffusing the importance of architectural elements like domes, vaults, etc.


Windows of Secretariat Building Le Corbusier Chandigarh India

Openings are framed to capture, enhance or specify a view, both outside and inside. The framing here works like a mask to mould the view. Nominally a landscape has three horizontal segments, consisting of view down of terrain, straight taking in the horizon and upwards capturing the sky. These three are modelled in the opening gap by way of actual framing or metaphoric clues. View-out presents a wide spectrum, and to model it from an interior focal point is difficult for modelling or framing, however view-in a fixed and narrow scene, framing is easier, provided in-view is brighter like of Chowk or courtyard.

Inside the 360 Restaurant in the CN Tower Wikipedia

Jeronimos Monastery Lisbon Portugal



Post 489  by Gautam Shah


For a young and fresh professional, a new client is like a girl (or boy) friend. You look for the right occasion and mood to propose. And perhaps discuss the terms and conditions. The client may not run away, but will also not indicate any commitment. A fresh professional is always very eager to secure the job, and may not wish to disturb the budding but fragile relationship with the client. But a client detests any formalization of relationship so early with an age-old excuse, ‘does not fully know the professional yet’. That translates to the reality that client wants to delay the decision. Clients are also shrewd enough to have a free taste of thing to come before formalizing the relationship.

When a professional and client decide to establish a relationship, it usually occurs very gradually. An established professional will not show any haste. Rather, express a desire to know more about the project and perhaps the client, before establishing a relationship. All seasoned professionals expect new clients to be familiar with the design field and their projects. This is quite different from fresh professionals who are required to establish their bonafide.

All design professionals (fresh and established) need to know, if they decide to take on a project —what will be their gain, and if they do not take a project —would there be a loss ? To accommodate (accept) an odd project or unusual client, a professional may not only shed profits, but end-up disturbing the routine work and culture of the practice.

Ecrivains_consult_-_Texte_4_mainsFor all professionals, requisition of a formal commitment (consent) from a client, for a job, is a very difficult exercise. Formal commitment binds a professional to deliver the expected services. A professional begins a job, by investing in labour, stationary and intellectual skills. Whereas, a client awaits with uncertainty whether the professional will at all deliver the project with required quality, and in time. When a professional fails to deliver, not only client’s time, but effort expended reaching to this stage are wasted. Clients’ time and efforts both are non-calculable and recoverable entities. And when the client fails to appreciate a professional’s work, all the labour, stationary and intellectual skills are wasted. Few of these can ever be determined.

A variety of problems manifest, till a client formally commits a job to the professional. In case of an individual client (private), only a personal whim can cause a problem in the job. In case of a client representing a formal or informally constituted group, the leader’s relations and position with the group, if changes, it can necessitate recasting of negotiations. In case of group clients or committees, all decisions and actions are necessarily formal, and so job commitment is not a major problem, though there are inevitable delays.

Pic Wikipedia Uploaded by russavia, Author: Richter Frank-Jurgen

Ideally a client and a professional should enter into a contract as per the law of the land. But a contract is a very formal expression of intent. It is too much to expect a client and a professional to formalize their relationship with a contract, when they hardly know each other, or have not formulated the project. Just the same, even in the absence of a contract, they must nurture the relationship. In a normal course this is not very difficult, as both the parties are willing. However, at a later stage if there is a problem, either of the parties may refuse to recognize the fact that there was a budding relationship between them. In such a situation a professional will lose all that was invested in understanding, preliminary working, planning of the project. This could include not only labour, stationary but patent ideas. On the other hand a client will never recover the time that wasted in searching, identifying, convincing the professional and waiting for solution.

Angelo Litrico 1957 Italian fashion designer

It is very natural that clients and professional are extremely careful about things they say and do. For a professional, (who is operating in the absence of a very formal commitment), it is necessary to create an evidence that, a client did commit the job or at least was aware that the professional is working on it. The evidence in such a case is usually circumstantial. Circumstantial evidences are not generally tenable in court of law, unless corroborated by other circumstantial or real evidences.



Best commitment, next to a legal contract is payment of a Retainer amount. A retainer fee, however small, signifies establishment of a relationship, between a client and a professional. (retainer amount or fee should not be confused with retention money). Ideally a retainer amount should be large enough to cover not only the labour, stationary and skill, but the cost of patent (original or exclusive) ideas required to generate a schematic design (or such other stage when fees again become due). The cost of patent or unique idea is collected at first go, because a unique idea or a concept once exposed to an outsider like a client, loses its originality and so the value.