Post 566 by Gautam Shah



Design can create specific Life style > Farnsworth house by Mies Van Der Rohe -Wikipedia image by Victor Grigas

Human behaviour is evident in many forms, such as in

  1. Physiological responses,
  2. Environment associated responses,
  3. Spatial encounters,
  4. Space Occupants related responses.

Some forms of behaviour are intentional, in response to a trigger or need, whereas certain biological reactions are unintentional. Behavioural changes are not always apparent to others, unless these recur or accumulate, and get reflected in some other form as secondary changes. A person, when faced with a specific situation or experience, behaves in a unique manner. These are seen in the level of adjustments, adoptions, comfort, need for change, nature of interpersonal relationships and degree of exchanges with the space-environment settings. The behaviour is also conditioned by the culture and geopolitical surroundings, and can project different meanings to others.


Group Behaviour and the Space > Wall street agitation Wikipedia image by Author David Shankbone

1 Physiological responses occur as body-limb movements or postures, discreet expressions through gestures, as overt expressions in forms like speaking, singing, acting, dancing, writings, painting, etc. and involuntary reactions are very subtle.

Human behaviour is also conveyed through art, and spoken or written language. The fear, pain, love, affection, joy, wonderment, admiration, hatred, etc., are intense emotions, that are expressed through art or language. Perhaps physiological tools (body-limb movements and other body language expressions) are too slow, inadequate for the purpose, useless for the need, or unavailable (due to physical disability, age, sex limitations, etc.). Expression on media is longer lasting, and so unlikely to be misinterpreted.

Human behaviour originates from the genetic make up and is further conditioned by the experiences. Experiences enrich one with productive efficiency. Appropriate behaviour allows one to survive and proliferate, whereas inappropriate behaviour gradually makes a being extinct.


2 Environment related responses relate to survival, safety, security and adaptation of the space. Environment is an ever-changing enigma that makes characteristically a static space a vibrant locale. The environment-space setting provides clues for space occupation, possession and inhabitation through the personalization.

3 Spatial encounters are governed by our cognitive capacities. As the cognition is individual, it endows a subjective significance to the space experience. But some environmental conditions and spatial features occur in concert, and that gives spatial behaviour some degree of certainty as well as commonality. Cognitive capacities can be altered with reach tools. The space reach tools also condition our spatial behaviours.

4 Space occupants related responses are with ’live beings’ and also ‘inanimate objects’ that are within and beyond the space. Intra-beings relationships are behavioural responses due to the biological needs, for cultural reasons and social norms. Inanimate spatial objects evoke relationships through size, scale, shape, sequencing, order, proportion etc. The group behaviour dynamics operate between two or more people, mutually familiar or not. It indicates how an individual or group will respond to a given spatial-environmental setting. Responses with other occupants depend on the awareness about sex, age, stature, need, social position, degree of familiarity, distance and recognition.


Space occupants are affected by metaphoric presences of objects and beings. These are reinforced by the historical context (what we have been told or learnt) and associations with space-environment settings and objects. It is also supported by other occupants’ confirmative or even rejective (empathetic, sympathetic or apathetic) behaviour.


Wikipedia image originally posted to Flickr as Day_Sleepers by johnrudolphmueller

For a space designer the study of behaviour is useful, as it indicates how a person or group will respond to a given spatial-environmental setting. The setting carries different notions to different people due to personal effects. The two-way responses between the space and the person are so rapid that is not possible to separate the cause and effects. Habitants accept and appreciate many aspects of space-environment combinations by possessing it, and extending the stay with personalization. It is a way to perpetuate a space, but a well appreciated and accepted space is rarely conserved or sustained in the original form, it continues to get improvised or altered by circumstances and habitants.



This post forms 1st of the sixteen part of Lecture series on Behaviour in Space that I will be offering for the spring semester starting Jan 2016 (to mid April2016) at School of Interior Design, Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India.



Post 565 by Gautam Shah



Terracotta is one of the oldest ‘converted materials’# used by humans. By firing a shaped clay object, it not only gets a permanent form but attains superior strength and properties. Terracotta or baked clay ceramics have been used for cooking pots, storage utilities, artefacts, monetary units, toys, adornments, statuettes, sarcophagi, masonry units like bricks, roofing tiles, and other architectural elements. The art and crafts of terracotta have been practised in almost all regions of the world. Terracotta items of small sized beads to human size statues and jars have been produced. The qualities of local clays have contributed to the colour and density (porosity), whereas the firing techniques and fuel have exploited the baking temperature to impart unique properties.

# ‘converted materials‘ = change their state, but cannot be reconverted back to their original state versus re-convertible materials, which can revert to their original state.


Roof fragment of the Roman bath, at Bath, UK, Wikipedia image by Heinz-Josef Lucking

In archaeology a terracotta is a baked clay product formed by processes other than on a potter’s wheel. Baked clay items used in buildings are called Earthenware goods, whereas pottery items formed on potters’ wheel are popularly known as earthenware pottery or ceramics. Terracotta items are unglazed and created through single firing process. Faience is made from a vitreous frit (baked powdered of ceramic clays), and also called white-earthenware or lighter terracotta when created with the self-glazing process. Fine ceramic beads, figures and other small objects were made in Egypt (000 BC), Mid-East, Indus Valley and elsewhere.


Earliest known ceramics are the Gravettian figurines dating bet 29000 to 25000 BC Image by “Petr Novak, Wikipedia”

Clays show Three transformation stages. First: Clay can take large amounts of water achieving a fluid or watery mass to pasty form. It becomes so plastic that can be moulded to any shape. Two: The formed clay, when dries out, still retains the shape, and its surface can be fashioned to different finishes. Three: The dried form on firing becomes permanent, and the mass achieves greater density. These processes use less energy and labour than the metal forming. The clay processes are, both corrective and additive, unlike wood working, which is basically a deductive process, unless one uses joinery techniques. Clay (earthenware) processes, at a later stage suffused the stoneware, porcelain and glass making, due to involvement of ‘earthy’ minerals and the heat treatments. In architecture clay products competed against stones, and for household items formed with metals. Stones are not available in all locations and metals need higher technology, compared with a universal material, the clay.


Harappa miniature Votive images or Toy models Image by Trish Mayo from New York, US

Plasticity of clay is one its plus quality that is available in no other materials except the flour dough. Clay items can be made by strip or coil stacking, moulding, wet engraving, or shaping on a wheel. Clay can be liquidized and poured into moulds with very fine details such as hair, costume, drapery or facial features. Such details are difficult with bronze casting. Compared to stonework, the finished products of clay are far lighter in weight, and easier to paint. Terracotta products shrink on drying, which is both an asset and drawback. Shrinkage on drying allows easy removal from casting moulds, but the same in heavy mass items, causes cracking. Clay is considered the most sustainable and eco-friendly product.


Terracotta pottery fragment from Mathura sites, Now at Govt Museum Wikipedia image by Biswarup Ganguly


Baked clay products or Terracotta have a tough surface that can last for years in buried or open conditions. It is, however, vulnerable to moisture and salts. Fired terracotta is water absorbent, but surface-burnishing before firing compacts the surface reducing the porosity. Raw clay tablets were inscribed with a cuneiform script, and fired for indelible record keeping. The use of terracotta or earthenware nearly died with the Roman empire. Throughout the world, though terracotta continued to be used for building-brick, roof and wall cladding tiles. This began to change in Europe and at other places past 14th C, with high temperature firing to produce the stoneware. Italy and Germany began to produce moulded and carved terracotta for architectural friezes, column capitals and medallions. Palladio extensively used terracotta friezes, column heads, architraves and other decorative elements replacing costly marble. The use of glazed or unglazed terracotta for free sculpture was revived.




Vaishnavite temples of Bishnupur and other places in Eastern India were entirely built of Clay products like bricks and faced with terracotta figurines and panels.



Modern Terracotta Pottery, India, Wikipedia image by McKay Savage from London UK



Post 564 by Gautam Shah




A sill is the bottom part of a window opening and is relevant till it serves some functional purposes, such as a protective barrier, for resting hands, or works as a reflector of light or rain. It has dual reference, to the outside and inside faces of the window. Functionally it is valued for its height against the floor level, its profile (shape in section), and its depth from the face of the wall. Sills have specific profiles for the intended use.

Sills Ledges Extrados Rue des Hallebardes windows in Strasbourg



Sills also serve the function of a ledge. A ledge is a horizontal projected band, running over the external walls. It indicates the edges of floors, but sometimes represents windows’ bottoms. Window ledges other than decorative function serve many functional needs, like protection to the floor and wall below, and act as a support base for servicing. Window ledges provide a baseline for pilasters, half columns and engaged columns placed on sides of a window opening. Ledges, as projections called ‘label-stop’ work as a weather baffle, gargoyle, decorative carving or form the springing point for arches.


Sills are dominantly connected with internal faces of windows. Doors have sills in the form of thresholds. French doors have characteristic bottom ledges. Old shops-fronts were raised off the road level and from the shop interior floor level, by means of a stall-riser. Stall risers protected the shop-window from ramming by the cyclists. Bow or bay windows have sill-seats and ledges for flower pots and planters. Parapets have wide sill tops, to restrict view downwards. Banks and post offices’ windows have sill-shelves for transactions. These shelves are sometimes of sunken shapes to prevent the insertion of a gun nozzle.


French Door-Window

The windows’ frames on interior and exterior sides have articulated surrounds to increase the apparent size of the opening, which also accommodate a deeper sill. On the interior side, the deep-set windows-sill works as a shelf. It is used to keep small things like combs, hair oils, adornments, and importantly, an oil lamp for night illumination. Similar sill ledges are also formed over bottom of niches in the walls, and are called Gavaksh or Gokh (India). The Gavaksh as a form was the forerunner of the Indian window. Gavaksh with extended sills are used for installing minor deities on internal and external walls of the temple. A Gavaksh is like an aedicule (a minor shrine) of Greek or Roman architecture, a microcosm, an abode for the minor god.


Sills of stones or wood planks, for doors and windows housed the bottom pivot. Sills maintained the width of the frame and provided integrity (square shape and the plumb-line) of the frame. Exterior window sills are often inclined and width-wise projects out to drain of the rain water.


Ground floor windows have taller and lower sills depending on the conditions of the surroundings and the security concerns. Low sills are employed where openings are latticed for security. Low sills for upper floor windows require protection bars at least up to safe or half height. The protection bars are mounted on the outer face or even beyond, so that one can lean out and see sideways. A low sill in tropical building provides a body level circulation of air or laminar air flow. Low plinth buildings with low sill openings gain high reflectance of light and heat from the surrounding ground surfaces. Low sills on an interior side warm up the areas near the window. Sill and plinth level manipulations work better on some orientations then others. Ground surfaces on the South side (in Northern hemispheres) receive solar radiation nearly throughout the day, whereas East and West receives it only for a part of the day.



A low sill or zero sill window ‘opens’ a space as in case of traditional Japanese houses or upper floor windows of a glass curtain high rise building. Openings like clerestory windows and skylights have no functional sills.


A high sill from interior space cuts off the view to the outside as in medieval cathedrals, and reduces the cold draft over the seats of congregation. A high sill in a high plinth building cuts off the interiors from the effects of high surface temperatures of surrounding ground surfaces. A high sill at any plinth level protects the user from cold drafts. Sill levels are also determined for the nature of privacy desired. Higher plinths to an extent compensate the need for a high sill over a street side in comparison with the buildings located within a private estate.


Palatine chapel 3 Mosaic in the Palatine chapel (Palermo) Wikipedia Image by Kamares


Externally, window sills are chamfered to allow greater view, and add to the perceptible tallness. Internally a chamfered sill illuminates sections close to the floor. A rule-of-thumb is that the depth of daylight penetration is about two and one-half times the distance between the top of a window and the sill. Store and other minor rooms have smaller size of openings with raised sill level but with a tapered ledge. The outside tapered ledge allows clear view of the street below, and the inside sloped sill allows more floor level illumination. Confinement cells of jails have openings at very high level and with a flat bottom sill to cutoff the view across, but may have tapered top for greater sky-component. Windows for domestic use require a sill level that an infant cannot jump out that is at least 850 high. Window sills in this respect function like a parapet, barricade or a railing.




Post 563 by Gautam Shah


Design Organizations operate in two sets of conditions. One set is an environment that varies at a faster pace with the times, and the Second set is the work style or culture that evolves as a matured manner of operations. A design organization comes into being over a period of time. Even when its conveners have years of experience before the venture, it needs a maturation period. A design team is a fluid entity continually affected by internal and external circumstances and in perpetual evolution.


The work environment in a design organization is formed by immediate issues, like combination of resources, humans and situational conditions and public concerns. The work environment is also seen as empathy, created with the staff members, clients, collaborators and stack-holders. It is related to the leadership, and their priorities on the basis of current values, available skills, complexity of the assignments and permissible actions. The work environment can flourish well where there are historical precedents in the form of work-culture or style. An individual, a fresh or short term leader can easily vitiate the work environment but cannot alter the deep-rooted work-style of the organization.


Lab at National Design Centre Singapore Wikipedia image source  https://www.flickr.com/photos/maltman23/15966053506/ by Mitch Altman

The work style of the organization represents the effectiveness of leadership beyond the duties as owners or conveners. Organizations trying to develop, core competence or acute specialization, needs to be aware of the work-culture. A leader can hope to mould the work-style of the organization by improvisation of the day to day work environment. Work-style is a historical formation, and must develop from formal and informal systems of past. It cannot be a policy diktat and cannot be enforced from outside.


Manufacture of pleasure carriages Designing room 1879 wikipedia image from Scientific American Feb 8 1879

Each design organization over a time develops its own distinctive response mechanism. Where, the work-style is a synergetic mix of authority and responsibility. The work-style embodies the projectssuccesses and failures, team memberscontributions and prejudices, clientssatisfaction and anger, adhered programmes and failed schedules, Innovations perceived, supported and carried through, and learning from new ventures and shortcomings.


For each organization, the style of task handling is always exclusive, because it is formed by the team members, projects and the times. Some team members persist for a longer period, but many others stay for an assignment or shorter duration. The projects are routine or radical, but carried through the organization for the long-term policy goals. The organization deals with many such circumstantial combinations, but the situations never recur in time or space, and for anyone else.


Wikipedia image by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net) (Perm CC-BY-SA-4.0)

The physical spread of the organization in the society makes it a trustworthy professional entity. The societal pride permeates in to the organization, and impacts the behaviour of its members and the nature projects being offered.

Carpet Selling Lord



Post 562 by Gautam Shah



Space is a built or territorial expanse around a person. The personal measure for the expanse is the fathom (human size) and yet it is fathomless. The space is reached through sensorial affectations. The reach is finite, but with technological tools it can be stretched manifold. In recent years, technologies like satellite remote sensing, geo positioning, electronic enlargements, ‘seeing’ through energy facsimiles; have encroached our spatial domains. The invasion of our privacy occurs whether we are in built space or open territories. The invaders know that reach in space does not mean the capacity to own and control the depth.


Layers for privacy of different levels > Street view of Faza Kenya House Wikipedia image

Spatial privacy encroachments affect our personal actions and our connections with other people, objects and environment. Very often such observance or data collection is not intentional but the same may be used for malicious interpretations. The spatial privacy is for a person to manage, but surveillance by others may be used for altering our actions and responses to other things in space.


Surveillance alters freedom of action Wikipedia image

Privacy is related to location or position, tracing of movement routes, a micro moment capture of changes in posture-gesture, environmental and body functions (temperature, perspiration, metabolism, respiration, blood pressure etc.). These are imperceptible, and would not be noticed, but can be enhanced by technologies like slow motion capture, high resolution, and colour or energy imaging tools. Such processes occur without the person’s knowledge or awareness. Privacy is the right to act without surveillance. Surveillance alters action.


Public spaces under surveillance Wikipedia image by Quevaal


Aerial view of Osama Bin Laden Compound Abbottabad Pakistan by CIA

Privacy has many different interpretations. Spatial privacy for humans in built forms or open territories has been a concern for all designers. Designers consider privacy as an act of isolation by way of obscuration. Privacy means control over space occupation, time protraction, task execution and social interactions. The isolation from people, things and environment is achieved by controlling various sensorial perceptions and expressions. One may close the eyes, block the ears, pinch the nose, reduce the visibility by merging with the background, simplify variations in surroundings, control the exposure in time and space, camouflage with high contrast elements or exploit the barricading situations. Sense of privacy results from traumatic experiences and could be seen as inhibition to certain situations. This can be adjusted to by mental isolation or behavioural counseling.




Confession in privacy Wikipedia image from ru.wikipedia

Privacy and Intimacy are closely related. Intimate conditions reflect interference by others, and so a threat to privacy. Though both, could be expressions of individualization or branding of unique personality. And, whenever these are compromised, one tries to distance from others, adjust the posture and reorient the self. To achieve privacy, a prime attempt is to find a ‘safe’ place in a domain. The safe place could be an anchor of spatial (architectural) element, a person or even a suitable environmental realm. Safe places are familiar, assuring, with a possibility of escape, or occluding. Safe places are transient in time, like a moving object does not allow clear perception. Privacy is perceived in company of a senior person, people of same sex and in a group consisting of both sexes. Environment offers privacy by reducing the clarity perception of the self and of other things.


Privacy as expression of Individualization or Branding of unique personality Wikipedia image of Beyonce Knowle by Tony Duran

One requires many different types of privacy: Physical privacy -against someone making a close approach (touch or near approximations), Visual privacy -to limit others’ view of oneself, Audio privacy -insulation against being overheard and interference from background noise, and Olfactory privacy -that limits to reveal own physiological state or experiencing someone else such a state through hormones-odours. Other privacy parameters are, one tries to conceal the body temperature, breathing rate, heart beats, pulse rate, vibrations of the body, sweating and perspiration, as these reveal the inset fear.





Privacy from distraction Wikipedia image of Michigan State University Libraries USA



Post 561 by Gautam Shah



Traditional documents were once hand written compilations, and as a result the format of information presentation was so abridged and compact that made the interpretation of the text a complex issue. In traditional libraries every work of classical nature was accompanied by several ‘firsthand’ commentaries, interpretations and translations, and even larger number of corollary ‘studies’. The original work and its lineal volumes were connected by referencing the stanza or section identifiers. These methods remained workable within limits of a single author, subject, period of history or a locality, and in many instances the availability of all documents at a particular location.


Geet Govinda  Odisha, India early 18th C

Few of the accesses related problems to traditional documents were solved, when famous libraries began to hand-copy documents for their own access. But, now it is found that every writer (or rather the manuscript copier) copied it by minutely editing a spelling, phrases and expressions. This created variegated versions of original works, making it extremely difficult to determine which one is reliable-authentic one. Printing of documents and wide distribution solved the problems of individualized copying of books, but authenticity of the work remained questionable.



Compiled documents of the past have been fixed assets entities. The pages of manuscripts or bounded books were tied by a thread (French=fil), wire, or metal-rod as a folder to avoid disturbing the order of placement. Manuscripts and books were organized or compiled, where its subsections had some cohesion on two counts: sequential placement and page numbers. So once compiled, it was not easy to add upon it. In future when more information was generated, if small in size, it can be placed as an addendum or appendix, or as a sequential volume.


A book on astronomy and mathematics of 10th C Flickr image by shafraz.nasser  (https://www.flickr.com/photos/shafsky/8680992443)


A Document was perceived to be unitized set of information, Documents such as: Books, manuscripts, articles, letters, reports, drawings, specifications, procedures, instructions, records, purchase orders, invoices, process control charts, graphs, pictures, movies, photograph albums and audio-video cassettes etc. holistically represent a concept or ideology. These are stored as whole entity in their order of arrival, subject matter, author, and format (paper, books, tapes) etc. and the individual content is also identified similarly.


Buddhist manuscript on metal plates


Storage modalities demand some consistency of size, shape and density for the documents, whereas access considerations for the document and its content, require some form of cataloguing. Natural sub-divisions like chapters, sections or parts and preset strategies like, keywords, summaries, content lists, indices, etc. are designed for sequential and restricted random access. Cataloguing for access has changed more over two millenniums, in comparison to very little improvisations in the storage modalities.


A catalogue is pre sorted listing. Such cataloguing was formed within the documents through projected tags, coloured edges, notched pages or insert floats. These methods were widely used for manually accessing sections of database documents such as account ledgers, address books, address registers etc. For very large databases such as police records, library records, census data, such manual access was unmanageable. Such documents first needed sorting to reduce the size of the search. For sorting and search operations, cards with projected tags, notched or marked corners or edges were used, first through manual and later mechanical processing.


Kardex index-card filing cabinet Wikipedia image by Pete Birkinshaw (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Mechanical punched card reader systems were the precursors of digital computing. Database documents gained a degree of transparency when formatted on marked or punched cards. These were used for sorting the information into known classes and search out anomalies of data. Many statistical tools were used for the purpose. Other written and printed documents in prosaic form, however, were too opaque for dissection and analysis. Such documents however, when considered as database with elemental units of letters, words and ‘constructions’, provide new insights into meaning, grammar and syntactical structures. This was the pioneering effort that was to become the word processing of digital technology.


Tabbed files Wikipedia image (cropped) by Pptudela at en.wikipedia

A document was perceived to be a lot of related knowledge which when referred to, provide the intended data. It was ‘a storable format of information’. Like other units of storage systems documents are modulated according to, what it is to contain, where and how it is placed, referred and retrieved. In modern information technology such modulated information lots or documents are called files.


Incoming books identifiers at Smithsonian Libraries Wikipedia image by Metta3001

‘Filed’ information carries several identifiers that help in storage, identification and access. The contents of filed information also carry internal and external attachments (links and references).


Identifiers for files

  • time (of origin)
  • size (of storage, transmission time & effort)
  • author, contributors
  • content (index, key words, summary)
  • place of origin
  • place of destination, identity recipient
  • authority to create, read, write, alter and delete the contents of a file
  • affiliations, linked documents, preceding and following documents
  • references
  • embedded codes
  • signs, symbols
  • language
  • style
  • mode of communication
  • limits and conditions of relevance.


Post 560 by Gautam Shah



Wikipedia image by Ildar Sagdejev (Spacious)

Design Professionals take on assignments for fees, determined by themselves, and sometimes after further negotiating with the clients. Professional Design Fees are very subjective, and vary from a professional to professional, from one project to project, and also from one client to another. There are no standards. Right Fee is judged on following counts :


  • Is one aiming at a reasonable profit?
  • Is one striving for a high return to manage a high risk situation?
  • Is one striving for a high return for a rare contribution?
  • Is one trying to break-even, -operate at a no or less profit situation?
  • Is one seeking to avoid hiring new staff and procuring new technologies?
  • Is one looking for hypothetical – future benefit?
  • Is one, bartering an advantage?

Lawyers and Clients

Relationship between a professional and a client develops very gradually. Client and professional usually have some degree of rapport, even before a job is discussed. A professional and client both, however, may wish to delay a discussion about fees, terms and conditions.

A professional must discuss fees as early as possible, because an Informal Relationship can turn very vicious at any stage. When disputes arise either of the parties may refuse to even acknowledge the relationship between them. In such a situation the Professional will lose all that was spent in understanding, preliminary working, planning of the project. This could include not only labour, stationary but patent ideas. On the other hand, the Client will never recover the time wasted in searching, identifying and engaging the professional. So all Discussions for fees, even if agreeable, must be backed by a detailed communication in writing. Negotiating a fee is not always an inevitable issue, as many clients accept a professional’s proposition, without arguments. But Fees Negotiation could become a long drawn, tiring and worrisome process. A client may not be asking for a discount, but just trying to understand the fees completely.


A professional ethically may not Discount a stated Fee for a promise to get further work or favour. Similarly a (registered) professional must not participate in any tender like procedures, or pay any amount as a Guarantee Money for their services.


Negotiations could be tough Wikipedia image by Dgurteen 


Links to some of my Blogs relating to   DESIGN FEES


MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – IV


MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – III


MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – II


MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – I
























Differentiating COST from VALUE -Interior Design Practice








Post 559 by Gautam Shah



Vinyl is a synthetic or man-made material. In chemistry, vinyl or ethynyl is the functional group. Vinyl groups can polymerize with the aid of a radical initiator or a catalyst, forming vinyl polymers. Vinyl polymers are of many types, all made from monomers in which one or more of the hydrogen atoms of ethylene are replaced by another atom or groups of atoms. One of the hydrogen atoms is replaced to produce Polypropylene, Polystyrene and Polyvinyl chloride. Two of the hydrogen atoms are replaced to produce Poly-isobutylene (a type of rubber) and Polymethyl methacrylate. And when both carbons are substituted, it produces a complex polymer, Polytetrafluoroethylene (DuPont –Teflon).


Vinyl LP records Wikipedia image by CFCF

Vinyl (V) as a term, coined by the German chemist Hermann Kolbe in 1851, derives from Latin word vinum = wine, because of its relationship with ethyl alcohol. Vinyl Chloride (VC) (chloroethene) CH2=CHCl is a gaseous chemical intermediate, a monomer, not a final product. It is composed of two simple building blocks: ethylene, from petroleum and chlorine a common sea water product. Due to its hazardous nature, no end products use vinyl chloride in its monomer form. In popular usage, the vinyl relates to polyvinyl chloride, basis for one of the world’s most versatile plastic material. Polyvinyl chloride is made by polymerization of the monomer vinyl chloride (chloroethene) CH2=CHCl. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is very stable, storable, fine-grained white powder, and not as hazardous as its monomer. Compared with other plastic materials of vinyl formulations use substantial proportion of natural resources, with low energy requirements for processing and release low quantity of emissions.


PVC buckets Wikipedia image by Goolawfredment


Bright multi-coloured water pots of Chennai Flickr image by McKay Savage

Vinyl polymers or Polyvinyl resins are the most common and comparatively less expensive thermoplastic. The properties vary with chemical structure, crystallinity molecular weight, additives and modifying agents. Vinyl resins are non-oxidizing, permanently flexible tough and durable. These are resistant to moisture and humidity. Vinyl resins are resistant to mild alkali, acid, alcohol, grease, oils and aliphatic hydrocarbons. Vinyl resins degrade upon prolonged exposure to heat, and UV light. The degradation products include HCl which accelerates further degradation, leading to unsaturated polymer structure that can get oxidized. This results in brittleness, loss of flexibility, discolouration. Presence of chlorine offers excellent flame retardant properties making it a choice product for electrical conduit and wiring requiring high resistance to ignition and flame spread.


PVC Pipes New Guthrie theatre Minneapolis Wikipedia image by uberculture (Lic. cc-by-2.0) http://www.flickr.com/photos/uberculture/106597452/

Polyvinyl can be made flexible, rigid, semi-liquid, clear or colourful. PVC are of two main varieties: Rigid PVC is used in construction industry and for industrial components. Uses also include, siding, flooring, pipes, extruded sections for doors and windows and hardware. Flexible PVC is softer and pliable due to addition of plasticizes, typically like phthalates. The uses include trims, sheets, sheathing for electrical wires and cables, handrail tops, toys, water buckets, water hose pipes, vinyl music records, imitation leather (Rexine), signage, inflatable products, and rubber replacement applications. PVC resins are used for coatings for metal finishes, collapsible tube finishes, plastic (or Latex) paints, marine and food coatings mastic compounds and strippable coatings. Emulsions based on vinyl acetate are popular compared to many other latex type of paints. Vinyl acetate emulsions are odourless, dry rapidly, durable on outdoor faces and surfaces can be washed easily.


PVC dust bin Wikipedia image by Joolz

Vinyl resins have TWO basic sets of product categories:

Polyvinyl acetate: It is a leathery colourless low temperature softening thermoplastic, with relative stability to light and oxygen. It is mainly used for water-based adhesives, binders (fabric printing) and emulsion paints.

Polyvinyl chloride: It is converted from monomer to a polymer PVC. The final product is in flakes or pellets form, which are used for product forming through solution, dispersion, injection moulding, and extrusion.


PVC window unit Wikipedia image by Mfc3058

Other co-polymer variants include:

1. Carboxy modified Vinyl chloride and Vinyl acetate > Carboxyl modification makes it possible to formulate air drying metal coatings.

2. Epoxy modified Vinyl chloride and Vinyl acetate > Epoxy modification provides ability to cross-linked, with carboxy modified vinyl resins to achieve a thermosetting system. Such thermosetting systems have superior chemical resistance and toughness.

3. Hydroxy modified Vinyl chloride and Vinyl acetate > Hydroxy modification improves compatibility and adhesion, provides sites for cross linking.


Wikipedia image by Asadabbas

Commercially several products of PVC are widely used.

Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (cPVC) is a thermoplastic produced by chlorination of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin. Uses include hot and cold water pipes, and industrial liquid handling. cPVC is resistant to several acids, bases, salts, paraffinic hydrocarbons, halogens and alcohols, but not resistant to solvents, aromatics and some chlorinated hydrocarbons. It can carry higher temperature liquids than PVC. Due to its specific composition, dealing with cPVC requires specialized solvent cement. The cPVC capacity to bend, shape, and weld makes it suitable for many uses.


Various thermoplastics pipes used in Ultra Pure water system Wikipedia image by Wikikart99

Various Thermoplastic Pipes used in ultra pure Water Systems polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), perfluoroalkoxy (PFA), ethylene chlorotrifluoroethylene (ECTFE) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

Unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) has strong resistance to chemical or electrochemical effects, sunlight, and chances of oxidation from water. As this is lead and plasticizer free, is used for potable water supply pipes.

(Molecular) Oriented Poly Vinyl Chloride oPVC is a comparatively a new technology material. This molecular-oriented bi-axial high performance product offers very high strength with extra impact resistance.




Post 558 –by Gautam Shah



Medieval merchant’s house Wikipedia image by Jwkuyser

Selling a commodity or providing a service has been basically a street level business. It needs ‘commercial architecture’ to facilitate it. The seller or provider and the customer depend on prior visual recognition and confirmation. Shop Windows, Shop Fronts or Display Windows are the architectural elements for visual recognition. The architectural character of it is highly climate dependent and very slightly affected by the culture of the place.


Shops Tremont st Boston Mass Wikipedia image

The shop-fronts of tropical and colder climates show distinctive difference. The tropical shop was an entirely open front unit compared to the ‘shop-windows’ of colder climates. The later, were small but regular openings, like a glazed section within a door or window. Of course between the two climate-based extremes there were many intermediate approaches to shop-fronts.


Istanbul Grand Bazaar Wikipedia image by Dmgultekin

 The tropical shop attended the customers at the street edge, and had the entire shallow depth frontage for display. On the other hand the colder climate shop was enclosed space. It managed its business deep inside with a much larger volumetric space for display.


The shop windows made a street lively and began to endow a unique architectural identity to the shops. Different trades, like barber, tailors, butcher, sweets, bakery, fortune tellers, medics, each had unique interior space character and their shop fronts reflected that on the street. In warmer climates shops, the interior and exterior of the shop were one.


Typical old style shop Old Forge New York Wikipedia image

The shop window or front constituted the ‘display system of the business. It was also a manner for typecasting or branding the nature of the business.

Shops along a street tend to be nearly of the same sizes and architectural character. It requires professional design help to be a distinctive entity. But to arrange and rearrange the merchandise visible from the shop-front or shop-window was within the ambit of the owner. These also included festival signages, colour schemas, illumination, all called ‘window dressing’.


China town Toronto Canada Wikipedia image by dbking from Washington DC

Shop fronts were, once not regulated by any building authorities. So upper floors were extended to protect the shop front area. Such unregulated projections often extended to the edge of the footpath, and required support of columns. Over a period entire street had a continuously protected passage like a colonnade, similar to one designed colonnade in Connaught Place at New Delhi. However, later rules did not permit more than 11 inches of projected cover. These very small provision was used for shaping the shop window like a bay or bow window.


Greengrocer’s shop in Gourock, Scotland Wikipedia image Licence cc-by-sa-2.5: attribute user Dave souza at Wikipedia

Shop and dwelling architecture had very little scope for undulating the face. Pilasters and Consoles were used to add a strong edge and a separating feature for the shop front. It also enhanced the shop-front within the building elevation. Fascias and Cornices were other elements incorporated with the shop face. A cornice was purely a decorative element above the fascia, or was used as cover for retractable blinds, folding awning or roller shutters.

Old shops-fronts were raised off the road level and also from the shop interior floor level, by means of a stall-riser. The stall risers provided a higher base to display merchandise and protected the shop-window from ramming by the cyclists.


Shop Dwelling combination at Birmingham Wikipedia image by NotFromUtrecht

Shop + dwelling, or workshop+dwelling have been the most convenient combination everywhere in the world. The arrangements were of front shop and backside dwelling, or ground floor shop and upper floor residence. With development of exclusive commercial precincts, the lower floors of office buildings were devoted to shops. The upper floor shops had a street side ‘frontage’ for display and backside entrances.


Freak st in Kathmandu Nepal Wikipedia image by Holynow

Early Display windows were on the public street level. A customer looked at the displayed items, and in few cases whole or part of the interior, at a nominal eye level. Shops on the upper floors or down at cellar level, offered a different perspective which required a different arrangement. At whatever level the street facing display was extremely important, but occupied a lot of floor space. Display systems were made visible not only from outside, but from inside the shop, to endow double efficiency. Such dual faced display systems also allowed greater view of the shop interior from outside.


Glass fronts dual faced display system at Paris Wikipedia image by S12morela

Boutiques, parlours and showrooms used the entire interior volume of the shop as a display setup. Interior display units were very useful to showcase precious (jewellery) and easily perishable (food stuffs) items. Large departmental stores required exclusive interior display units.

Exclusive display units or cubes with no attached selling facilities began to flourish on heavy public access routes such as railway and bus depots. Such display cubes had premium rents and with too little space for display, so graphical images rather then actual items were placed.


Out door digital display unrelated to the shop Dundas Sq Toronto Ontario Canada Wikipedia image by Pedro Szekely


Early shop-fronts used glass on a very limited scale. The door (as enlarged peep hole) and windows (with checkered panes) formed the window-front. The glasses were of smaller units for THREE different reasons: technological, economics and safety. The glass in the door or window could only be enlarged to the extent of the frame. The small window just gave confirmation that shop is open for business, a glimpse of the business inside, and also an assurance to female customers that the shop is transparent and so safe. For the vision inside, the shop had to be brightly lit even during the day time. In small localities where the nature of a shop is familiar to everyone in the neighbourhood, display may not be important to attract a customer, but a display system for new arrivals or preparations was necessary.

Meknes2 Morocco

Morocco Shop front Image courtesy >  https://www.facebook.com/swee.chuan.7

Glass became a shop-front factor in warm climates when shops needed environmental control such as heat, dust, rain and noise. Privacy was an important factor for some businesses, and ground glass partitions helped it. But these were not display fronts.

Early shop doors were of half glass+half wood panelling, or full glass+ bottom feet knocker plate. The doors had engraved name and logo of the shop. The doors were floor pivoted, so opened both ways. Shop-window became large but initially with mullions divided glasses. The stall risers began to be eliminated.


Stall riser or Foot knocker at bottom Wikipedia image by Simon Clarke

The display section covered the entire frontage of the shop except two major obstructing elements, the entry door for the shop section, and another door for the residential quarter on the upper floor. The shop door was set back to provide a protected entrance bay, and front opening of the shutter. It also allowed the shop front to form a bay shape and increase its perimeter. The bay shape also permitted the view of the interior from an angle when glare over the main face occluded the vision through.


Multi floor shop fronts at Macy’s Westfield Wheaton Wikipedia image by Ben Schumin

The shop front window was tall enough to cover the entire height up to the beam-bottom or the bottom of a projected floor above. It provided ample daylight, necessary for many North European locations. However, in S. Europe and other countries the shop front glass was stopped at door height level, covered by the sloping awning or used for translucent shop sign board.

Exterior shop front display substantially depended on day light for illumination, whereas interior display units were nearly dependent on artificial illumination.


Glass front display of Pasta in Venice Wikipedia image by Sputnikcccp

Over the years the shop-fronts have changed mainly for FOUR reasons:

1. The quality of glass and size, both have improved since Industrial Revolution. Major quality improvements have been for clarity of glass, such as free of colour tinge, specks, bubbles and undulations. The size of glass has increased several times accompanied by strength. Safety glasses such as toughened or laminated glass requires no other protective layer like a metal grill.

2. The store formats have changed from a single owner and specific set of commodities or services, to departmental stores, malls’ mega marts.

3. Neighbourhoods have changed from a street of a row of shops with residence on upper floors to shopping centres like clustered shops, shopping arcades, multi level shopping centres.

4. The illumination technology has changed. From spot lights, diffused lights, neon tubes, CFL, glow panels to fibre optics, LEDs and LCDs.

All these have affected the nature of display windows. Earlier the glass panes were set within a wood-frame and divided by heavy muntins, as glass available then was of small size and brittle or breakable. Heavy mid members obstructed the clear view. Very thin muntins or glazing bars of metal T sections provided uninterrupted look. As larger sizes of glass became available, single unit glass shop-fronts became common.


Small pieces of glass, each reflected light differently so created a very patchy look, but the large piece of glass as a single unit had only one angle of reflection. Large pieces of display glass were engraved or ground with borders and corner patterns to ‘soften the look’. Large glass front require framing only at the edges, which are often concealed in ceilings, side wall panelling and flooring.


Shop front with Awning Wikipedia image by DAVID HOLT

To reduce the glare folding canvas awnings were stretched over and nearly covering above-the-head level section of the opening during sunny days or hours. Tinted glass and polyester film coated glass are used to reduce the solar gain and UV damage to the goods displayed. At places like a beauty parlours, barber shop, it is possible to use heavy metal sprayed glass or overlay films that have nearly one way vision.


This article was originally published @ http://talking-interior-design.blogspot.in/2014/07/shop-windows-shop-fronts-display-windows.html  Now being republished here with few changes. .


Post 557  by Gautam Shah


Design organizations thrive and proliferate on the quality and quantity of data within their reach. Organizations with their capacity to recognize, collate and format the data, develop synergies that in turn sharpen their data use capacity. The data arrives from outside or it is generated within the house. The data have two sets of relevance, for future and immediate purposes. The data for future use equips an organization to deal with larger and complex jobs. Strategic data is more general to the design practice and used for planning and forecasting. In comparison, the information for immediate use is tactical, more specific to a project or an aspect of it. It is used for decision making and problem solving.


Public Data servers Wikipedia image by National archives

Strategic and tactical data are valued and classified for the following qualities:

Brevity (specific to the context),

Accuracy (of the right context or sensible),

Timeliness or up to date,

Purposiveness (capable of causing desired actions),

Rarity (original, novel)

Cost and liabilities (Free of coast, with royalty dues and with intellectual-right protection, with guarantees, warrantees and assurances).


Library of Alexandria

For design organizations, there are TWO types of information resources.

Internal Information Resources (IIR) are: experience and knowledge that comes with owners, employees, consultants, etc. Data generated from the routine activities like project handling. External information once procured by the organization, if properly stored can be a great internal asset.

External Information Resources (EIR) are: media based such as books, periodicals, internet, CDs, tapes, etc., Various input and feedback from consultants, suppliers, contractors and clients.

External data is inter organizational, fraternity level, society, community, national, or of a universal domain. External information is acquired for a payment of compensation in proportion to its quality, quantity and acuteness of need. Organizations, as a result, end up paying a stiff price for sourcing external information.

Internal data is personal, departmental or organizational. Internal resources are nearly free, require only processing at a negligible cost, but are ignored.


2005 Digital drawing Wikipedia image by Hasanisawi

 Operational uses of data are very occasion or situation specific. The data perception helps in creating a structure, media, estate etc. for its storage and forms of presentation. The data arrives in organizations, at on a continuous basis or at periodic intervals, but it arrives in parts, that will:

  • probably form a whole,
  • automatically create a structure with definite boundaries (close ended)
  • form an ever growing matrix (open ended).

Cost of information: Data as a commodity can have an ordinary cost, if it is universally available and not urgently needed. Data of rare or proprietary nature and that requiring immediate access, however, can have a high price. Information is also available in many free domains without any obligations. Cost of information is also formed by absolute factors like the cost of acquisition, processing, storing, retrieval and transmission.

Information systems and emerging form of design organizations: Information systems affect the structure of design organizations and the workplaces. Digitization in design offices has occurred at several levels, such as communication (correspondence), accounting systems, quantity estimating, cost valuation, quote evaluation, hyperlinked specifications formation, drawings, BIM, PERT, CPM, etc.


Digital information resources Bibliotheca Alexandria, Egypt  Wikipedia image by Pfctdayelise

Information networked design organization is more dynamic because its workers communicate among themselves and with other firms. This provides for greater coordination and collaboration for project handling. It allows use of ‘simultaneous or concurrent engineering’ system of participation across day-time zones, thus saving in time. Information networking has also led many organizations to concentrate on their core competence, and to out-source other tasks to specialized agencies. ‘The capacity to communicate information efficiently within a firm has also led to the deployment of flatter organizational structures with fewer hierarchical layers’.

Information systems built around portable computers, mobile telecommunications, and groupwares have enabled employees to work virtually anywhere. Work is the thing you do, not the place you go to. Employees who work in virtual workplaces outside their company’s premises are known as Tele-commuters.”


Bell x-1 sound design studio Paris 2002 Wikipedia image by Gilbert Courtois

With information technology two forms of virtual organizations have emerged: network organizations and cluster organizations. A network of individuals or geographically widely dispersed small companies working with internet and wide area networks, can join seamlessly through specific protocols to present a multi disciplinary appearance of a large organization. In a cluster organization, the principal work units are permanent, complimented by multiplicity of service providers or temporary teams of individuals. A job or project begins to percolate within the cluster and different sub units begin to react to it, providing their inputs. A solution begins to emerge from apparently fuzzy and often unrelated ideas or concepts. Team members, are connected by intranets and groupware.


Packet switching NSFNET T1 backbone and regional network traffic 1991