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.


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