INTERVENTIVE CONSERVATION

Post 531  by Gautam Shah

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Conservation is a practice of continuing the present condition of an object. The present condition of the object, like artwork, artefact or a building, is due to natural influences and human machinations. The formation of the object as it exists today is an interpolation of many changes. The changes are so conflated that it is almost impossible to trace them spatially or temporally. Objects to be conserved are often so old that appropriate records are not available to define its conditions at different periods. Conservationists have to operate on layered past with multiple depths of affectations. And one may not know whether these were due to natural influences and human machinations.

Coventry Cathedral ruins Wikipedia image by Andrew Walker (User:Walker44)

Ideal conservation starts as a preventive practice to minimize further damage or deterioration. It means some influences must be terminated, reduced for their extent and intensity, or isolated as representative sample. Such exercises have undeclared motive to shift towards the original condition, which to begin with is an unknown or uncertain concept. Conservation work begins at two levels: the environment and the object. The environment can be modified by creating envelope or shield where the object is finite and can fit into shielding structure. Environment can be altered by macro-spatial intervention, such as effects of winds, rains, moisture, solar radiation, etc. Human presence affects an object, and may be controlled by barriers or spatial distancing.

Imprisonment buildings at Auschwitz Poland Wikipedia-Flickr image by Paul Arps

Conservation is interventions of some nature. Intervention is nominally intended to make things better, but conservation as a concept goes against it. Conservation is the care provided to improve a situation to relieve likely deterioration or damage. But as precursor to such interventive actions, one needs to predict, if this will at all yield a result. Interventions must remain retrievable or retractable. Actions that remove the cause of damage are preferred, than the removal of a layer of bye-product or past failures of interventive actions. Removal of such layers, may be necessary when these obscure or obliterate the identity of the object or its important segments.

Furniture interventive conservation Wikipedia image by Author Etan J. Tal

Interventive conservation often precedes the preservative conservation, or it is part of it. Interventions are inevitable where the object or the building cannot survive or stay in equilibrium. Temporary interventions such as supports or scaffolding disturb the perception of the object or use of the structure. Similarly interventions that generate make-believe or pseudo effects are not considered ethical. Interventive Conservation in spite of it being a circumspect action may turn out to be an act of restoration.

Buddha during conservation – restoration by Dr. Faltermeier Wikipedia image by Author Faltermeier

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COLOUR MODELS (RYB)

Post 530  by Gautam Shah

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RYB MODEL Subtractive colors

The search for ‘truest’ or ‘purest’ colour has been a story of revelations. Some of the purest forms of colours have been available in nature, as flowers, body colours or spots over insects and birds. These were sought in applicable forms such as pigments and juices or dyes. It was realized from very primitive times that both the forms have distinctive applications. Pigments are good for wall-arts and juices or dyes are good for body colouring, fibres and leathers. Beyond this it was also known that pigments were comparatively opaque in comparison to nearly transparent juices or dyes. Primitive age craftspeople had typical understanding that very ‘pure colours shades’ were less lasting than slightly compromised shades. This realization was due to the fact that oxide and natural pigments were longer lasting or non-fading. A ‘richer’ shade of colour was sought by methods of purification or concentration through separation, grinding, washing, floatation, sieving, calcination or sintering.

Centre Le Corbusier, Zurich Wikipedia image by Author Absinthe.

Since prehistoric period it was also clearly known that richness of the colour lies in the contrast it creates with the nearby colour. Such an understanding of colour value is known only to the actual user of the colour and not to lay persons who can philosophize the effect. Realizations are not necessarily visual percepts. Through such attempts of definition first theories of colours began to emerge. Greek philosopher Aristotle related colours (as maintained in De colouribus) to the four elements: air, water, earth and fire. But then he was not a visual art practitioner.

Aristotelian world of Colours Land Sky Water Wikipedia image by Author Ikhlas Qassmi 13336

“For air and water are naturally white in themselves, while fire and the sun are golden. The earth is also naturally white, but seems coloured because it is dyed. This becomes clear when we consider ashes; for they become white when the moisture which caused their dyeing is burned out of them; but not completely so, for they are also dyed by smoke, which is black. In the same way sand becomes golden, because the fiery red and black tints the water. The colour black belongs to the elements of things while they are undergoing a transformation of their nature”. -Aristotle’s realizations of colours.

Since Aristotle’s time such ‘subjective realizations’ have found little favour with the art painters. Their triad of colours was of Red-Yellow-Blue of pure colours or un-creatable shades. But for many years, black and white remained baffling ‘colours’. One could mix few colours to match a ‘near-black’, but the same was not possible for white or ‘near-white’. The ‘disappearance of colours’ on a flying wheel and perception a white was not yet logically connected to this perplexity. It had to wait for Newton to explain it. Many painters before 1600s have written about creating and using colours, their ability to consistently reformat the same colour and also their inability to reformat the same shade in spite of all care and documented formulations. Describing a colour was even harder than creating it. The writings fail on how to state a colour shade. Colours have had only metaphoric interpretations.

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ColorTriad

Colour chart by Franciscus Aguilonius (1567-1617)

The Red-Yellow-Blue colour triad was the painters’ logic of defining the colours as per the visual experience. Franciscus Aguilonius (1567-1617) a physicist disputed Aristotle’s theory or rather the philosophy of colours. He devised a better method of identifying and arranging the colours. Colour arrangement was of placing 5 colours White – Yellow – Red – Blue – Black, at the bottom, and mixes of these forming the riser. He included the Red, Yellow and Blue which became the forerunner of other systems that function in a similar way. This was a chart, and not a colour wheel.

Wikipedia image > Goethe’s symmetric colour wheel with associated symbolic qualities (1809)

 

Runge_Farbenkugel

From Wikipedia

Aron Sigfrid Forsius (1611), a Finnish born astrologer, priest and neo-Platonist, and contemporary of Franciscus Aguilonius, derived a drawn colour arrangement with five main colours: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue and Grey, all placed for their affinity to Black or White. This, however, was going to change some 60 years later. In 1672, Newton showed the optical quality of colours, as a spectrum of seven colours. This was very different from earlier attempts of visual gradations of colours. This interpretation was challenged, by Goethe in the ‘Theory of Colours’ (1810). For him it was important to understand the human reaction to colour, compared with Newton’s science supported explanation. But at that time there were few takers for it. Newton first divided the spectrum in five main colours red, yellow, green, blue and violet but later included orange and indigo, to analogize with the seven notes in a musical scale, and perhaps the solar system, and days of the week.

A linear representation of the visible light spectrum wikipedia image by Author Gringer

Richard Waller in Stockholm published a list of 119 colours arranged from ‘dark to light shades’ in seven columns each topping with a basic colour. Jacob Christian Schäffer a German a natural historian and inventor wanted some standard format (Table of physiological colours, mixed and Simple, in 1686) that would permit unambiguous descriptions of the colours of natural bodies. This was the beginning of naming, identifying and graphically specifying the colours.

probably Claude Boutet’s 7-color and 12-color color circles Wikipedia image

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MEANING of CRAFT – 2

Post 529  by Gautam Shah

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profession of thatching is learned through apprenticeship in Germany Wikipedia image by Author Joachim Müllerchen

Craft has been considered an activity involving skills of making things by hand. The use of hand and the output product have been collectively called the handiwork. Where the products reflect the creative crafting, it is called a handicraft. The process of doing things by hand has two essential facets, One: converting the raw material, and Two: processing (crafting) it into a product. Such distinctive identifications, perhaps in terms of persons handling it, have existed from very ancient times, One person’s product was another inspiration to intervene and innovate. The material producer and the object manufacturer, both used their hand-skills and experience for making things. With experience not only the materials but resultant products continued to evolve. The handicraft has been synonymous with an effort where the material and forming processes offer a seamless sense of creativity. This perception, over the years has grown stronger. And the Craft has been considered an activity involving skills of making things by hand. Purists have felt that craft cannot be but by hand.

Indus Priest/King Statue 175mm carved from steatite or soapstone from Mohenjo-daro Now in National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan Wikipedia image / Source world66.com by Author Mamoon Mengal

Since ancient times the craftsperson did not have time and resources to scout materials and further process it. Metal ores and other minerals need to be searched, collected, refined and sintered or smelted. Similarly stones require mining, dressing and transportation before could be used for construction. Fibres like cotton, hemp or linen, all need several different grades of processing, spinning before could be used for fabric-crafts. Material procuring and processing allowed production of raw materials that are used for different crafts. There were several layers of material processes, and each handled by different set of people in different regions. There was a time the material producer and the user or the craft’s people were directly linked, but soon the traders became the agents.

Leopold Reichling prehistoric collection Wikipedia image by Author PlayMistyForMe

The raw material processing is production, and was not qualified as craft work. Historically material processing was ‘hand-work’, but the output products though innovative as a range, was not necessarily creative at individual level. Craft has had many different interpretations over the ages and in instances across societies and cultures. A crafted item ends with the user or the connoisseur. This link remained very strong for several centuries, but somewhere the craftsmen began to rely on traders to market the craft-products. There were yet many ‘living-crafts’ that were useful as part of living, but not a deliverable product. These were life-style things that were important as the process of creation, such as the craft of building dwellings, public structures, farming cooking, building, painting, etc. Here the hand-skills of the creator, improvisations and deliverance were important.

Roman theatre of Scythopolis, Beit She’an, Israel. 2nd C BC Wikipedia image Author Tango7174

Crafts gained a sharper meaning with emergence of Guilds in medieval period. The guilds were formed to protect the tradition where the craftsmen designed, executed and traded the work. Guilds were able to do this by suppressing internal competition, but more by focussing on their regional exclusivity. The regional exclusivity of a guild gave rise to folk-craft of the place. A folk-craft had TWO strong characteristics, exclusive access to processed raw materials, and restricted training of skills within the family or clan through ‘close-door’ apprenticeship. Raw materials were supplied by traders across regions, but the secondary processing was local, in terms of the tools, techniques and materials used. This was ardently supported by local crafts-people, through their clan or guild.

Saint Eligius in his Gold-smithy workshop Wikipedia image by Master of Balaam (fl. circa 1440–1550)

During medieval period the consumers or the connoisseurs also knew the value of exclusivity of the crafted product. The monetary value and pride for the local but exclusive items were immense. Crafts became branded with regions, cities or towns of origin, as much as with the identity of the craftsperson and craft centre. The connoisseurs also established their production units. The production was designed for single commission for a specific user, or sometimes in batches with minor variations. The creations were ‘craft-products’ because it involved use of individual skills, had scope of improvisation and it did not use many “automated” processes.

Craftsman selling Cases by a teak wood building Ahmedabad Wikipedia image Painting by Edwin Lord Weeks (1849-1903)

In modern times we have access to many automated tools and equipments to do things far more efficiently and creatively. These facilities are used in two distinct ways. In pre industrial age the use was in batch processing. Each batch and tasks within it, were amenable to innovations. During industrial age and thereafter, continuous or on-line production set-ups emerged. These arrangements required jigs, dies and other fixed facilities with specific tooling. The continuous productions allow very minor changes or improvisations in production style. These were than not considered craft items. Such dialogues were occurring mainly due to the Arts and Crafts movement of the times. It was perceived that an industrial product or use of machines to format it, dilutes the essence of craft.

Chocolatier preparing Easter eggs and rabbits Wikipedia image by Author Oriel

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INDOOR AIR QUALITY

Post 528  by Gautam Shah

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An interior space is finite and a well-controlled entity. It is a safe place against many of the threats to survival, but for the quality of air. The finite volume depends on outside environment for dilution of contaminants that are generated internally. It depends on controllable openings to filter out the external fouling elements. The interior space is a finite and predictable place and so both the processes can be managed. Indoor air pollution is often 2 to 5 times as bad as outdoor pollution. In few cases it is as worse as 100 times than the outdoors. Same holds true for Humidity, indoor humidity levels are higher then outdoors, except during the rain or just after a downpour, when it can be more for a while. When both, the internal and external environments are not appropriate, one has to rely on electro-mechanical or chemical filters or scrubbers.

Photograph of a model of the ancient city of Linzi in the Museum of the Qi State (The Qi city of Linzi was one of the largest and richest of the Spring and Autumn Period) > Climate dominated dwellings group Wikipedia image by Author Rolfmueller

One of the best and passive way is to continuously refresh the interior environment with the exterior air. Nominally an exterior air has proportionately lesser pollutants due to greater volume and dilution. But that may be highly contaminated at certain times, seasons and places. One of the major fouling factors of external environment is the street level condition. High speed moving traffic, even where non-fossil fuels are used, raises the dust level with air turbulence. Street level doors such as entrance foyers are used as escape points for used air, to reduce the casual intake of street level contaminants.

Jorasanko Mansion – Kolkata where Indian poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was both born and died >Warm humid climate hard surface courtyard. Wikipedia – Flickr image by Author Mark Kobayashi-Hillary

An interior space is perceived to be safe whenever there are excessive external pollution and associated discomfort. The interior space, however, has a finite volume and can support human occupation for a while, before it gets fouled up. One has to depend on dilution exchange with external environment. The external environment can be locally conditioned with use of elements such as green foliage or plants, water bodies, built baffles, better oriented and comparatively taller intake openings.

Gandhinagar City Gujarat India Planned with NS axis at an angle to facilitate macro air movements.

Passive air movement is one of the best means of diluting the interior pollutants. For air movements, the human settlements are planned with macro wind-breeze movements over the terrain. But, when air movements within the buildings are considered, the scenario changes substantially. The micro air currents that help interior exterior exchange are chiefly governed by pressure-temperature differential across a profile of set of openings. The local pressure-temperature gradients arise due to the colour and texture of surfaces, shapes and sizes of architectural elements, size, shape and level of openings, and shadowing effect of projections. A water body or greenery outside an intake opening adds moisture and cools the temperature of intake air. Similarly a hard and dark surface on outward opening accelerates the ventilation effect.

Fatehpur Sikri, Near Agra India: Daftarkhana (Old Dak Bungalow) High ceiling room of Tropical architecture Wikipedia image by Author Anupamg

Passive air exchange works due to the difference across the exterior and interior air pressures and temperatures. In tropical areas and on warm days the exterior air replaces the interior air, but with few disadvantages. Exterior air is drier and can remove the interior moisture. It is warmer and so warm up the interior temperatures, and the high pressure air current can cause irritating skin sensation and affect the elders’ and infants’ body temperature mechanism. The air exchange can also advantageously reduce the high proportion of moisture, the temperature, and offer skin-feel comfort. For colder climes and colder days the air exchange through openings or leakages can decrease the room temperature, evacuate the moisture and cause localized body cooling through air draughts.

John Looney House Ashville, Alabama (The dogtrot, also known as a breezeway house, dog-run, or possum-trot, is a style of house that was common throughout the Southeastern United States during the 19th and early 20th C.) Wikipedia image by Author Chris

The interior air gets contaminated due to various activities of human (and animals) occupation, and in many instances even without it continues to get contaminated. Building materials, finishes, furnishings generate high volume of pollutants in their latent state. These are in the form of unwanted gases, moisture, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), odours, particulate matters, etc.

Indoor air quality control is achieved with reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and microbial impurities. Buildings depend on passive and mechanically powered means to achieve adequate exchange with cleaner air of the outdoors. Screen filters, scrubbers (water, air and active solid particles) and methods of isolation, are chief means of dilution. Proper selection of building materials, surface finishes, furnishing materials, and the maintenance techniques and products go a long way in upgrading the interior air quality. The degradation of building materials and residual products of maintenance increases several times when the surface temperatures are high such as near stoves, heating elements, thin body materials exposed to solar heating.

Low ceiling Rooms > Wikipedia-Flickr image by Author Rob Koopman

High volume rooms (such as with higher ceilings) are preferred in tropical dwellings, because these offer greater volume per (person) occupancy and so higher dilution of contaminants. The high volume also offers greater internal air movement or turbulence for better mixing of fresh air with contaminated air. Low volume rooms (such as with lower or barely adequate ceilings heights) are found in modern multistoried apartments and air-conditioned offices. Such low volume spaces economize on cooling-heating costs, but these are not working or adequately operational the quality of air deteriorates. The mixing effect due to turbulence is not able to ventilate all pockets, such as undersides of desks and cabinets. Such spaces have stagnant, moist and warm air, breeding ground for mosquitoes. Spraying mosquito repellents or insecticides only adds to the pollution.

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HOW do we SITE BUILDINGS

Post 527  by Gautam Shah

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Acropolis

We may conceive a building in complete disregard of its location, as a holistic form, but sooner or later it has to be grounded. The site formats a building form in size, scale, shape and linkages to the surroundings. The siting, however, demands a building to match its topography. It needs an environmental confirmation through placement that includes the alignment, contextual positioning, climatic appropriateness, and access modalities. The orientation defines how the form is perceived through various sensual faculties. The sensual faculties are highly directional and that makes orienting a building an exercise in angle, level (datum) and bearing.

Open Hand monument Chandigarh

Grounding a building makes it an inevitable entity for the location. A holistic form is subjectively conceived and its only bearing is the specificity of a building. It is a conceptual but a transient entity till it is justified on several counts. The form gets a ‘make-over’ with realities of Siting, Placement and Orientation.

Hadrian's Wall west of Housesteads

mountains-691512_640

SITING a building to a very extensive land, substantially occurs on the basis of impressions of first encounter or visit. The land reveals itself primarily from the direction one enters it, and secondarily due to the engaging features beyond its territory. For small urban lots, partly developed plots for landscape design or built spaces such as for interior design, all reveal something how these are connected through the cuts, gaps and openings. These not only stretch the extent of the realm but endow a unique spatial character.

Pan Am Building NewYork

PLACEMENT of a form or conceptual entity onto the site needs alignment and accommodation of the boundaries or edges. The irregularities of the site edges are possibly historical effects that require functional and visual adjustments. The site boundaries or the edges are formed of many neighbouring properties. For contextual positioning, one may confirm the scale, size, shape, and style, or go against it, but it must confirm to the larger discipline of the urban setting. As soon as placement of the conceptual form on to the site emerges, the macro climatic appropriateness becomes relevant. For urban locations the wind directions, dust turbulence, a solar ingress etc., are substantially altered by local conditions. For interior design the glare from glazing of neighbouring buildings, visibility of shop fronts against solar reflections, varying light-shadow on openings and open spaces must be checked.

New housing development area Luanda

A site offers certain Access modalities. These modes define quality of experience to the built-form or an interior form. The modalities are defined by depth, elevation and angle of access. All these can be changed to gain new insights to the site. Sites have had downward, upward, straight, skewed, direct or long-winded entries. The shortening or extension of time and distance is used to add or reduce the introductory interlude to the site.

National Mall Lincoln Memorial

ORIENTATION relates to directional functions of the environment and selective sensorial perception of the designed entity. Orientation works as linear connection to a real or metaphysical thing. Strong presence of an object at a distance creates a point to which things are directed, such as trees, mountains, valleys, chimneys, lighthouses, towers, pylons, forts, etc. Such strong elements in smaller or interior spaces are created to ‘hold inescapable attention’ such as searchlight, throbbing or pulsar lights, signages, brilliant colours, high pitch sounds etc. The environment effects such as solar radiation and breeze are highly directed, which in turn make illumination and climatic comfort a location specific matter. Buildings are not only opened or closed but the form is transgressed inward or outward to manage the gains or losses of it. Projections, galleries, cutouts, chowks, are such transgressions that stretch or shrink the building.

Assisi St Francis Perugia Basilica Of St Francis

Orientation also relates to cardinal points N. S. E. and W. with the solar inclination, magnetic forces and spiritual beliefs. Indian traditional building design canons prescribe rules for placing architectural elements and functions in various corners. Orientation helps to connect the sensorial faculties to stimulative aspects of form. We orient or directionally connect ourselves to sources sounds, visual stimulation, tastes and odours. Spatial arrangements use such linear connections of orientation for creating relationships through proportions, scaling, series, hierarchy etc. Patterns, textures and grains are strongly directional and so used for creating oriented layouts. Other means of the directionality are angles, contours and slopes. Stairs, escalators, elevators, corridors, long passages, boulevards, avenues, walkways, parapets, are all linear elements that establish oriented links.

Paternoster Square

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POSTURES and MEANINGS for design

Post 526  by Gautam Shah

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Posture is a body position that is taken with or without a support system, but always in consideration of the gravity and any accelerative or de-accelerative momentum of the body. We take postures consciously, fully knowing how it impacts others, subconsciously, reflecting the internalized or suppressed emotions and strains, by exploiting the body support and body-rich mechanisms like chairs, handrails, walking-sticks, etc. and to facilitate gesturing. Postures could be flitting or longer lasting with many sub postures and gestures.

PX 96-33:12

Postures are fundamental form of visual communication but also expression of biological and psychological activities. Postures also occur as a response to a threat to personal security, survival, intimacy, privacy, etc. Postures occur in response to others present in the vicinity, such as direct one to one interaction or a group of people, elders and other people of deference or juniors, familiarity with people and space, eye level, angles of exposure, occluding features such as glass, curtains, screens, illumination, distance, duration, and possibilities offered by support systems (furniture etc.).

1280px-HKUST_香港科技大學_Library_圖書館_interior_waiting_room_Sofa_visitors_Sept-2013

Support systems like furniture, offer many possibilities of posturing. Furniture pieces or architectural elements (parapets, railings, steps, ledges, etc.) are designed to facilitate largest number of users (by percentile method of accommodation). And yet some combinations of measures and angles, and quality of resilience of materials changes that facilitation.

Posture and furniture height define the status

Certain postures (where hands are free and upper section of the body or torso can be turned around) allow for greater degree of gesturing, as the head, neck, shoulders, hands and palms have greater freedom. Seating on a tall stool encourages social interaction, but a member may escape the gathering, whereas very comfortable seating makes a person less participating. Gesturing gets a boost when one perceives that such expressions are perceived and acknowledged by others.

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A deep chair seat enforces in several different postures. One may push inward to secure the back support, and thereby not only increase the distance from the opposite person but reflect a very relaxed position when attentive posture may be necessary. A short depth chair seat makes a person sit upright shorten the distance from the opposite person, which may perhaps violate the personal intimacy. A chair with slightly a higher seat than required (for the person’s stature) will make the person push leg inward (backwards) and body stoop forward. Contrary to this, a slightly lower seat level makes a person push the feet forward, reflecting informal, nonchalant, or conformist attitude. Dining chairs need to be slightly taller to make the seating formal.

Indian_travelers_waiting_at_a_railway_station_in_Calcutta_due_to_wartime_transportation_priorities_in_1945

Similarly the height of the hand-rest and the height of work-surface or table define if you are going to cross the hands, place them on the table, keep them in the lap or use them for gesticulation. A sofa-chair seat angle, if flat makes a person alert and ready to get up quickly (necessary for waiting areas), but an incline inwards adds to comfort as well as lethargy. A senior person prefers others to sit on a flatter seat, so that they are more attentive and subdued in behaviour.

woman wearing kimono performs a tea ceremony.

Readiness to serve or be useful is expressed by standing position. It is more attentive than a seating one. Teachers, receptionists, speakers and others who use both postures and gestures for expression and communication prefer standing position. Bosses and superiors expect a junior or employee to remain standing (to communicate) till asked to a sit-down. A standing position has a center of gravity at a higher level than a sitting position. So where frequent changes in body postures are necessary, a sitting or lower body posture is better. Bar stools and platform both are taller, because transition from standing position is effortless and suits the escapist. A stool with small seat size allows an easy turnaround. A snack-bar stool is designed with a smaller seat that unnecessary seating is not prolonged.

Claiborne_Avenue_Relaxing

An adequate width of the chair-seat allows one to select one of the hand-rests to lean on, and opt for micro changes in posturing. Contoured seats do not permit such changes. Bucket seats for vehicle drivers and aeroplane pilots are movement-restrictive. Passenger seats are designed, narrow for economy of width and to curtail sideways (and backward) communication. The width and height of the chair define how one can position the legs, such as cross feet or knee. This in turn also governs where we position the hands, such as on the armrest, in the lap or on the sides of the leg.

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