BODY POSTURES – Issues for Design -1

Post 603 by Gautam Shah 



Matthew B. Roller of Johns Hopkins University, defines posture as ‘maintaining the body as a whole in a relatively motionless, stable state for an indefinite period’, and contrasts it with gesture ‘as nonverbal communicative techniques’. Gesture, for him, is ‘a continuous and temporally restricted movement of a bodily appendage’.



Posturing is using own body limbs and sensorial nodes in a coordinated manner vis-a-vis another person or groups of persons, elements of space or environmental effects. To avoid frequent posturing, one can also reposition the objects, reshape the surroundings, change the environment. One can also force recast of the sensorial connections with other beings or group through avoidance or engagement.


A winter party ART by Utagawa Toyoharu (1735-1814) Wikipedia image


Postures are body positions that one adopts, voluntarily or unconsciously. These are to accommodate effects of gravity, exert the body for movement or resist it, to reach-out or drawback or for exploiting the environmental effects. Postures are required for change in the position and orientation of the body, relaxation, transition, exercise, activities, conducting tasks, communication and interaction. One uses body postures with and without the tools, amenities and facilities.

‘Posture is a image that is at one level purely physiological and task based need, but at another level it is the accepted social behaviour, continuously refurbished through exchanges across cultures and imbibed from art-form images’.


Conversation > ART by Arnold Borisowich Lakhovsky 1935

Postures have many variations within a basic position. The variations are micro changes of the body that help tune in sensorial perceptions (including communication and expression). Postures create empathetic and confirming images. Certain body positions, patterns and movements suggest specific emotions. Postures directly and abstractly convey the state of interpersonal relationships, social standing, personality traits such as confidence, submissiveness, and openness, current emotional state and temperament.


Shiva Tandav Dance at Belur Halebidu India > Wikipedia image by Soham Banerjee (& Flickr image by Redtigerxyz)

Body postures are part of exercises and performing arts, in static or dynamic forms. Exercises are self conducted or assisted by person, tools or machines. The postural exercises are for Endurance (breathing and pulse-heart rates), Strength (muscles, postural capacity), Flexibility (stretch and increase muscular capacities) and Balance (safety and removing inhibitions). Yoga exercises, are dynamic consisting of sequential postures with transitory posers, or static meditative one with controlled mental activity and regulated breathing. Chinese body posture exercises Tai Chi also have sequences of postures but all connected by transitory movements rather than posers. Prayer postures have very little transitory positions and are less exercising. Postures in performing arts are linked to music and speech (recitation), and so have rhythmic change. The posturing is one seamless continuity of deliberate movements aided by gestures with breathing. Postures are also used for offensive, defensive and non-involvement purposes (Parades, martial arts).


Tai Chi exercise > Wikipedia image by Rudolph A furtado

Postures are static, transient or part of the movement. For static postures the body remains in same position but limbs are or sensorial nodes are aligned through change in orientation or metal attention. Transient postures occur as shift position between two postures. The transient position may ignore the gravity or safety risks as it is for a short period. Postures that are part of the movement are for the reach in space (walking, running, dancing etc.). Movements occurring with frequent changes in orientation are not stable, but often exhilarating.



Defensive-Offensive postures > Wikipedia image by Shi Deru (aka Shawn Xiangyang Liu)

Postures are axially balanced or skewed. Balanced postures are mirror-image (congruent) postures, such as equally posed two feet, two hands, etc., or are normal like the frontal face, upright torso, erect neck, straight eye level, etc. Skewed postures reflect a readiness to transfer to another posture, due to shift in interest or saturation of boredom. Both, the balanced and skewed postures, can be unstable and cannot be maintained for a very long period.


Zero gravity postures > Flickr image by Steve Jurvetson

Active movements are produced by own muscles to move body’s part, whereas passive movements are made by an outside force, and without the effort by the person. In both cases the distance, speed, and direction are important. Gravity related movements are of three types: parallel, against or towards the gravity. Of these, towards the gravity movements are passive, because these can be made without muscle activity. Other passive movements are like the reverting positions, where a stretched muscle ‘relaxes’ to its normal position. The aid of tools amenities, facilities, structures, etc., are required for passive movements. Infirm and aged people rely on these when their own muscles become weak or are incapacitated. Physiotherapists use passive movements to regain the muscle power. Socially any assistance for active movement hurts personal pride. Similarly physically disabled people do not prefer facilities marked as passive movement’s for them.


Aided posture by a physiotherapist > Flickr image by DFID – UK Department for International Development

A posture often requires support, aid, or simply a physical closeness (as an assurance) of tools, amenities, facilities and structural elements. Support structures may not be versatile enough to provide all the required proficiencies. Some degree of personal adjustments is required to achieve the intended purpose. To attain and continue the posture, one needs support from other means. Real supports are like: tools (walking sticks, shoes, etc.), amenities and facilities (architectonic elements, equipments, furniture, furnishings, etc.). Virtual supports are abstract: such as the required environmental conditions and psychological sureties that in need these are available in the vicinity.


Doug Collins, Coach of Philadelphia > Wikipedia image by Keith Allison ( Flickr image by Collins)

Gestures are voluntary or involuntary micro articulations of the body limbs and sensorial nodes (such as eyes, lips, skin, etc.). These are for expressions, directional perception, metabolic functions and other physiological reactions. Gestures include small moves of the head, face, eyes and nose (winking, nodding, twitching of nose, or rolling of eyes) and hands. Gestures are used to supplement the communication, but could be, either dependent or independent of the speech. Speech-independent gestures have a direct verbal translation, though often very abstract. A wave hello or peace signs are examples of speech-independent gestures. Gestures such as dance Mudra represent very abstracted information that is relevant to a culture specific group.


Courtship by the sea side



Post 602 by Gautam Shah 



These are rules per ISO, and also better methods of writing measurements on DESIGN RELATED DRAWINGS. These apply to manual drawings and also CAD representations.

All decimal numbers must be preceded by a zero if no other digit exists. e.g. 0.121 (and not as .121 )

No thousand or hundred markers are to be used, e.g. 1000 (and not 1,000), but where large number of digits are involved a blank or space (equal to 1 digit or not less than ½ digit in width) may be used as a separator, in place of a marker. However, where only four digits are used no space as a separator need be provided. e.g. 100 000, 10 000 or 1000 (but not 1 00 000 or 1 000).

▪ For Length units recognized measures are km / m / mm which may if at all required must be in small letters. For example architectural plans have nearly all measures in mm, so the mention of mm should be avoided. However, in the same drawing if weight or volume or such other measures are to be indicated, then identifiers for such units may be indicated.


Architectural drawings nominally have dimensions of maximum 5 digits (for mm ) unless a detail requires indicating a fraction of a millimeter, signifying measures up to 99999 mm or 99.999 mts (-but unit identifiers are not to be used). Plans larger then 99mts sizes are considered of Map Category.

▪ Full names of units even when these are named after a person, are written in small letters: ampere, volt etc., with the exception W for watt and J for Joule.

▪ For liquid measure (Litre) however lt may be written as Lt (to differentiate between 1 and l ).

▪ Plurals of measures need not be used. (kms, mts, kgs).

Point or Full stop for abbreviation may not be used, for example as in m.g. or ml.

▪ Where cubic or square measures are to be shown: 3m3 = will mean three cubic metres and not 33 i.e. 3 x 3 x 3 = 27cmt.

▪ Following common units are acceptable

Length  mm m  km (all 1000 factored=103)

Weight  gm  kg  mt or t (all 1000 factored=103)

Liquid  mlt  Lt  klt (all 1000 factored=103).


Where traditionally only one unit is accepted, and if there are no chances of ambiguity, the measure nomenclature (mm, km, gm etc.) may not be mentioned. (E.g. cloth width = 1.200). If in one sheet of drawing (or a document) only one scale and one mode of measure are used, the nomenclature may be mentioned as a general instruction for the drawing.

Where drawings or details are likely to be graphically reduced or enlarged in processing / copying, a graphical scale preferably showing 100 mm bar may be shown. If 100 mm size is not suitable due to micro reduction or macro enlargement, suitable multiples of 100 mm for upwards scaling and 10x fractions of 100 mm for downwards scaling maybe used.



When both mt & mm are used on drawings, it will be less confusing if the dimensions are always written to three places of decimals, i.e. 3.450. No unit symbol need be shown unless a lesser number of decimal places are used; i.e. 3.450 or 3.45 m and under some circumstances 3.5 m, are all correct. Of the options, 3450 and 3.450 both are preferred. Where no ambiguity can arise, symbols may be discarded, according to following rules:


▪ Whole numbers indicate mm

▪ Decimated fractions to three palaces of decimals indicate m (and also by implication, mm)

All other dimensions or measures must be followed by the unit symbol.

▪ Where dimensions refer to different types of measures (lengths, weights, temperature etc.), preferably all units should be indicated or all units other than the major one should be indicated.

▪ Main dimensions and the tolerance (fitments, limits, margins etc.) etc. should be in the same unit system.

▪ Where main dimensions are accompanied by + or – range, both should be in the same unit.


All architectural drawings follow ISO modular preferences and these are as follows:

ISO’s Four Preferences for Modular Coordination:

       First Preference            30 cm or 300 mm = 12″

      Second Preference      10 cm or 100 mm = 4″

      Third Preference           5 cm or 50 mm = 2″

      Fourth Preference        2.5 cm or 25 mm = 1″

First Preference is favoured by the building materials’ industry. Plywoods and other wood products are available in modules of 300 such as 600, 900, 1200, 1800, 2400 etc. Large buildings are designed with 300 as the modular measure. But, for smaller spaces such as Bedrooms, toilets, second preference of 100 is used as a module.

Second Preference is considered to be the most appropriate one for Building components and Planning. Glazed Tiles are available in multiples of 100 mm, with sizes like 100 x 200, 200 x 200, 200 x 300 etc., and also in sizes such as 150 x 150, 150 x 200 etc. as a carry over from the old system. Fabrics have widths of 600, 900, 1000, 1200, 1800 etc. When we order Windows or Doors the width x height are measured in 100 mm increments.

Third and Fourth Preferences are more preferred for objects smaller then 300 sizes. These preferences are not to be used for basic object sizes of more than 300, unless there are strong economic or functional reasons for doing differently.



Post 601 by Gautam Shah 


In ancient age, endeavours like: survival, hunting, farming, communal living, communication, wars, and mitigation of calamities or disasters, required some degree of skilled handling. Endeavours that are unprecedented in nature or first time ever required group action, innovation and commitment. These qualities were fundamental requirements for handling a complex situation. Over a period, many of these activities become routine, and so could be handled by smaller groups, or within the family, and without any distinctive expertise.


Street in Pompeii > Wikipedia image by Paul Vlaar

Wars, disasters’ mitigation and ambitious projects were governments’ forte and handled by a coterie of disciplined experts. These endeavours required new technologies, faster completion and assured results. Such experts were available with the military, and since then technical management has been part of the military’s domain. For many autocratic nations the fact holds true even today. In most of the countries nascent efforts in space, communications, electronics, transport, marine engineering and similar fields are initiated or sponsored through the military establishments. Such devolution of project handling has created perception that construction affairs of the Government are either military affairs or civil matters (nonmilitary or routine affairs), and it is still continuing.


Poulnabrone portal tomb Ireland > Wikipedia image by Jon Sullivan (PD

 The Military affairs versus the Civil matters also divide the ambit of management skills into two distinct streams: Administrative-management and Technical-management. Things or happenings that involve Routine tasks, even if complex, are handled by the Administrators. Administrators are adapt at managing predictable situations like tax collection, governance, law administration, logistics, building or road construction, etc. Technical-management is required for high risk situations of political and climatic nature. These are unpredictable and unprecedented in scale, extensive in affectation, complexity and urgency. The technical management involves three crunching factors: Time, Extent and Resources. Situations handled by techno-experts are, input of knowledge without experimental reliance, successful solutions at the first attempt, involution of diverse conditions, lack of immediate know-hoe, lack of intermediate testing.


Bridge Construction > Wikipedia image by US Army

Civil matters require an input of technology that is with well-established norms and unlikely to see any rapid obsolescence. On the other hand military efforts are occurring with extreme constraints of Time, Space and Resources. And these three elements change their scale during planning, execution and operations requiring tactical corrections. The Tactical corrections, require on the spot decisions, improvisation and strategic insight. The resources’ crunch was not acute due to the exigency of the situation and political sponsorship, but time and space were omnipresent. Military affairs require an unique Engineering Contribution.


Mexican army response to Hurricane Katrina > Wikipedia image by US Army

Technical or military engagement for projects was part of all societies at all times, but early 19th C. saw a different variety of projects emerging. Industrial production units were not planned by political coterie or the civil administrators, but rather rich merchants and entrepreneurs. Industrial projects were conceived, executed and made operational in a very compact time frame in comparison to any other project in the history. The time-compression necessitated new methods of project management.


Factory in Brazil 1880 > Wikipedia image

World war-I and conflicts of that era were spread over very large area, fought in unfamiliar territories, using very heavy equipment and large number of combatants. These necessitated mathematically based planning and forecasting methods, to anticipate the demand, production schedules, and material procurement locations (for food, water and fodder) and coordinating the logistics of supplies at right place on right time. These were mainly military room affairs. The methods developed into a new discipline concerned with the planning, assessment and control of operating systems, such as industrial production, commerce, or virtually any human effort, later known as OR -Operations Research. Interest in the methods for design and logic of these systems, rather than in their operations, led to another subject, SE -Systems Engineering.


Logistic issues during WW -I > Wikipedia image

In today’s world ‘Management has come to mean many things to many people’. Broadly three classes of management are recognized: Governmental, Business and Engineering.

■ In Governmental management, administration, legal frame work and intendance of wealth, predominate. This is reflected in Civil Services that Governments form through selection, training and situational exposure.

■ In Business management, public relations, communication, material and human resource planning, strategy and methodology, economics and financial management, market management, are dealt. These are seen in Business managers that trade and industry inculcate within their personnel or through specialized educational courses.

■ In Engineering management, all pioneering human endeavours are planned, operated and serviced with infusion of technology. Engineering management, however, requires a competence that is substantially different from business management. Designers and Engineers, who have had several years of varied working experience, gain circumstantial administrative and business management skills, but very late in a carrier. Fresh students of Design and Engineering branches, who go through advanced courses in business management, lack the multi-engineering disciplinary exposure.


Dabbawala of Mumbai India (Tiffin -lunch box delivery men) Routine Management > Wikipedia image by Zachs from Pune India

To manage a business commercially or any non business organization administratively, business management training or exposure may be adequate. Substantial technical contribution is necessary for conception of complex entities, design, implementation, production, operations, and servicing of engineering projects, systems, gadgets and components, resource planning, material procurement, environmental engineering, quality control, preparation of specifications, standardization and procedural documentation, some different sets of skills are necessary.


A high Technology situation > Wikipedia image by Siemens Pressebild

 Engineering management skills are necessary when:

  1. An activity is required to be accomplished in a shortest time frame.
  2. An activity spreads out over a vast terrain, and over which physical control is diffused.
  3. An activity is so critical that its non accomplishment or inadequate performance could result into a grave risk, fatalistic hazard or substantial disadvantage.
  4. An activity is unprecedented in nature.
  5. An activity involves such risks that its management or compensations are difficult to handle.
  6. An activity is such that its full comprehension cannot be made till full size tests or actual enactment takes place.
  7. An activity may have to be carried out in spite of resources shortage.

Russian Soyuz Space craft > Wikipedia image by NASA

Engineering-management plays many different roles. Primarily, it helps in efficient infusion of technology in various types of situations. It is true that in fields where the technology has been sufficiently ingrained and conditions are predictable, non engineering experts can manage or administer the situation. Engineering management is than required to provide the `technical’ advice and solution, or interpret the `technical’ feedback to the administrator or manager. High technology situations arise in many areas of government and business. Most high technology situations require a coordinated working of several different technologies to generate a new level of specialization.


Sagrada Familia roof in Construction > Wikipedia image by Etan J. Tal er a caption

Who is an Engineering Management expert? To handle a high technology situation, a person who is a broad-based technologist capable of understanding and integrating several technological disciplines is required. Such a person will also have imbibed circumstantial administrative or business management skills.


Spot welding Robots > Wikipedia image by BMW Werk Leipzig

Fresh engineering and design graduates have no such education, skill or experience to handle a situation that calls for coordinated working of several different technologies. Even where they have had a multi disciplinary exposure through an apprenticeship, have no capacity to comprehend the job, plan a setup for it, to recognize and assign tasks, to monitor the task performance, to develop new specialization or equip the organization for complex tasks.

Students from Design and Engineering have some basic skills of creating and interpreting (‘reading’) technical drawings, and specifications. They have fairly good knowledge of Materials’ sciences, basics of building technologies, logistics of execution processes, integrated working of ‘men, machines, materials and money’. Techno-students today form substantial number entrants for post graduate level Business Management Course, but ultimately end up for top positions in Financial, Economics, Marketing or Human Resources fields. Very few Business management students become entrepreneurs.


Inter-disciplinary approach > Wikipedia image

There is a distinct need to develop an Engineering Management stream at Post Graduate level. Graduate students from Design fields (Architecture, Interior Design, Product Design, Fashion Design etc.) and Engineering branches (Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics, Instrumentation etc.) are cumulatively exposed to assimilated working of several disciplines (Conception, Project formation, Detailing, Implementation processes and Operational parameters). The students can be exposed to identity and requirements of various stack-holders, societal concerns, legal and other responsibilities. To be an entrepreneur or a self-reliant handler of techno-projects core knowledge of business operations such as, financing means, norms of economics (investment, return, depreciation), productivity is required.



Post 600 by Gautam Shah (16 of 16 Behaviour in Spaces)



Objects in space need recast from time to time. Such recast is needed for domestic, commercial and other spaces. The recast interventions by the users themselves are continuous one but in small lots. The user caused changes are experimental and casual but persist to amass as a substantial change over the years in the character or style of the built-space. There are few changes that are beyond the users’ perception, capacity or authority, and so are assigned to professionals as contractual or periodical assignments. The objects’ reorganization in a space by a user, a lay person, relate to the rearrangements or installation of demountable and movable entities. The assignments to professionals, however, are far more encompassing, and may result into re-configuration of the space shell.


Entrance hall of National Air and Space Museum Washington DC Wikipedia image by Jawed Karim

Space planning needs a recast when changes in building shell or structure (planned or accidental) alters the spatial quality. When key elements of the building or its amenities-facilities are technologically upgraded, it triggers new space planning. Historically buildings have seen major revamps, when gas replaced coal as cooking fuel, and electricity provided the illumination. Similarly piped water supply and organized drainage systems have changed, not only location of toilets within the dwelling, but its internal arrangements. Dining once separated from ‘not so presentable kitchen space‘, however now once again merging due to the efficient and clean cooking processes, smaller families and reduced engagement periods. Offices became ‘open plan’ affair from partitioned cabins, but now internet connections let one operate from home.


Payment of Tithes (tax) (also known as village lawyer) Art by Pieter Brueghel the Younger 1564-1638

Domestic spaces are continuously improvised by the users, and for the first decade or more, may not require any radical changes. A user -a lay person accepts a ‘reasonable design’ by a professional, and may not engage a professional for any modifications. The changed circumstances or family profile of the user, such as family profile, age, physical abilities, marital status, financial profile, professional activities, new intra-personal relationships and group dynamics, choices and social compatibility, force a redesign of space objects’ arrangements. Built spaces also see major change when ownership changes. Domestic space planning is mainly self authored, and even where a professional is involved, it is controlled. Professional help is, however, actively sought by users, who are highly motivated with income or comparable social tastes and choices.



The user’s understanding of the space is deep, simplistic, devoid of the technicalities, but a subjective one. The user, primarily, relies on spatial rearrangement and micro adjustments of the space entities. Secondly, the user buys ready-made items, gets it produced, or craft it on own. Thirdly, the user exploits the add-ons and enrichments for micro level space making, while imparting a personal flavour. The persistent engagement of the user with the space, however, alters the spatial arrangements.


Inside of Bomber craft Wk Nr 701152 > Wikipedia image by Dapi89 @ en.wikipedia

Space organization is very encompassing and an adoptive exercise requiring technical skills. Professional designers handle it by developing a holistic strategy or an integrated approach. Designers also have a selfish professional interest of impressing the client and the society at large with an invigorating solution.


Space with potential > Bell Labs Eero Saarinen Flickr image by soadapop

The control over a space derives from the right to perceive, execute, alter, explore and exploit the organization of objects within a space. For this one may not legally own or be a tenant of the space. A visitor to a space causes a new spatial arrangement by positioning own-self or by being part of a group, at some place. Members of a family or a group get a sense of belonging by such an access. Other way around, people feel ‘at-home’ with object organizations that offer semblances ethnic or cultural familiarity. A sense of equality and pride also occurs when the spatial arrangements are similar as in public housing schemes.


Egyptian theme at Harrods for branding London > Wikipedia image by Targeman

Commercial spaces see more frequent changes, in terms of the tenants and business styles. Commercial spaces are rejuvenated by the professionals and the changes could be accommodative. The changes are extreme and overhauling, wherever styles or brand images are to be refashioned. Space planning is also affected due to the user related causes such as: new concepts, aspirations, realizations, technology, variations in usage intensities, repairs and maintenance, optimum standards in society. Commercial spaces see major renovations that start with new space planning. Businesses are becoming subsidiaries or franchises of larger entities, and the space planning is a matter of branding.


GUCCI Hong Kong > Wikipedia image by Kwanyatsw

At domestic level traditions and taboos are followed for placing the objects in space. Commercial spaces and hospitality spaces reflect a mix of local mentality, good practices, and new trends elsewhere. Traditions emerge after years of usage and portray the geographical, historical, cultural, religious and technological preferences. The trends show universal preferences emerging from cross reactions of many art forms. The objects in space and their organization offer several postural and interaction possibilities, affecting the personal relationship as well as group behaviour dynamics.

Obama and Singh meet in Oval office

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India follow strict protocol for seating positions

Space planning and behaviour as political etiquette is a time-tested mannerism formalized in government protocol manuals. It shows how two, equal or unequal status, heads of state or such entourages must meet. It indicates the nature of seats, intervening pieces of furniture, the backdrop for the meet, and enrichments that are appropriate, and ones that must be avoided.

The chairs for personal meeting of two important (equal status) personalities (e.g. Presidents of two nations) are upright single seat units (placed parallel but very slightly angled @140°). But we still find dignitaries taking on micro postures by moving towards or leaning on one hand-rest, sitting cross way (diagonally), leaning forward or backward. The reasons are: one is trying to enlarge or reduce the distance, take postures that imply affability, propriety, esteem, etc. However, the sitting arrangement between two un-equals, like a president and a prime minister (or a prime minister and a foreign minister) have two unequal (size, form, style) types of seats. The person with higher status sits in a single seat unit, whereas the other party is made to sit at a right angle, and on a wider seat (double or triple seat sofa or even stiffer – upright seat). The furniture arrangement, the angle and the distance between them are regulated by set of rules or ‘protocol’. In spite of the strict protocols people through micro posturing do subconsciously express their real attitude. The body language is just one facet of behaviour that reveals the nature of the encounter.

Conference Tables

Recognition is also important for expression and communication. The deficiencies of personality are made up by the surroundings. Some of the tricks, people consciously or otherwise use to draw recognition are: Standing against a wall but little away from it, occupying a single seat rather then share one, positioning against bland background then any clustered or busy face, sitting in a tall, upright and an uncomfortable chair opposed to an easy and low height seat. A person feels secure if protected from at least one side and can control the distance for group behaviour dynamics.


Behaviour for respect of age > Bolivian VP with Noam Chomsky in NYC > Wikipedia image by Mathew Straubmuller from Bethesda MD USA

A person must get the benefit of natural attributes of the personality such as age, sex and social stature. One may not feel confident and so secure, if under a continuous gaze or surveillance. Feeling of security is more enhanced in known spaces or spaces with a familiar set-up. Large spaces with adequate points of anchorage or interventions make a person feel secure. People feel secure with exits points like a door, stairs, passages, aisles near them. A view of outside adds to security but the same could also be direction of an unknown threat. Presence of handling, holding or barricading devices adds to security, even if one may not have intention or need for using it.


Spaces with Potential, Abandoned factory > Wikipedia image by Degrootelulu

Spatial organization of objects is an ever evolving process. Buildings, spaces have had use-specific purpose, with matching architectonic and functional provisions. Structures lasting several decades or centuries, see many reorganizations, but circumspect by the structural elements. Rational Gothic structures offered layouts with minimal occupation by walls and translucent latticed partitions of wood and iron offered visually connected spaces. It was realized that for space organization, functional and perceptual inter-connectivity, were more important considerations, then just the size-volume of the space. Post 20th C. other thoughts were added such as providing for future growth, access for the disabled, safety, security, etc. Corporate organizations replaced the layered system to team or department-based structures which favour classless, transparent or open layouts.


Accounts branch of Government Printing office in Brisbane 1921 > Wikipedia image

Industrial age offered systems that were less bulky, due to use of electric as the source of energy and newer materials. The facilities and amenities that were structural bearing, now multi became independent, mobile or easily relocatable, multitasking miniatures and affordable. This freed lot of space and reduce the burden on structures. The space organization as a planning rationale for task efficiency emerged in this age. These initiated ‘systems’ for spatial organization. The gadgets were conceived as fitments into a space, with planned connectivity and inter gadget relationships. Women’s hobby magazines of the time took it further, creating ‘work efficiency layouts with behavioural considerations. For example, a window over a cooking range and sink were a result of these attitudes. At industrial level the continuous line production layouts were favoured over batch-based systems. Due to lighter steel roofs with North lights and electric illumination, it was now possible to design ‘mega foot print’ spaces for commercial and industrial purposes. Commercial spaces were redefined with electric illumination, piped heating-cooling equipments, telephony and organized document storage. Space reorganization became a frequent affair but with new departmental stores (1950s) it was even a quicker change.


Wall dependent office layout of 1900s > Wikipedia image

Early offices had, peripheral or along the wall work tables, storage systems and cubicles or cabins. This gradually gave way to half height partitioned or ‘compartmental office spaces’. But today, according to the International Facility Management Association, 68% of North American employees work in offices with an open floor plan or open seating. Open offices are space inefficient due to the larger area per employee.

RED # 1835564-NA-193

Office with electric illumination > Wikipedia image from National Archives and Records Administration College Park,

 Offices during and immediately after world war-II period had as much 50% of the total space devoted to storage. These were separated from work areas, and manned by store keepers. The store room volume and traffic to it were reduced with several technologies such as document facsimile systems, telecommunication, automated file access including the mechanical card-index sorting machines. Digital documents with computerization solved the problems of file storage, access and transfer. Now the offices were nearly fully ‘human occupied spaces’.

Older employees and traditional businesses like, law, finance and other professionals, who have worked from cubicles, cabins and corner offices, find it difficult to adopt open offices. Open offices are blamed for affecting privacy, client relationships, employee productivity, loss of sense of belonging, and even compromising the morale.


Personal work area > Wikipedia image by AlainV

 Open office layouts provide a visual cohesiveness and spatial continuity. It also incorporates the concept of compact personal work module, -a work station. Computers had similar work stations or dedicated utility for multi tasking. Earlier crafts’ people like a watch repairer, engravers, a gold smith had such dedicated facilities.

Wireless technology and cloud storage software make it easier for companies to embrace nomadic workstations, says Frank Rexach, a Shanghai-based vice president and general manager at Haworth. Rexach says ‘People don’t want to feel handcuffed to their desk, especially the Millennials’ (= young people who were between the ages of 10 and 20 on September 11, 2001 defined as per Newsweek magazine).

The dedicated work facilities were mainly based on using tapped or sourced connections and exclusive offerings (processing facilities Auto-Cad, audio-video editing, desk-top publishing). With technological advancement these were available on all systems. Mobile phones, Laptops, and tablets were de-linked due to chargeable batteries and wireless connections. The digital processing anywhere allowed work location and schedule of choice. The office space has now turned into a casual place for personal interaction. Of course this function too can be met by video conferencing.


Unassigned seating in the office > Wikipedia image by Jacob Botter

The office space has become an unassigned seating place. The need to personally interact remained as acute, and perhaps emerged more stronger. The meeting rooms are common or rented facilities. Its interior space has high efficiency ambience but does not match the corporate aspirations of a ‘personal space’. In a different perspective, something similar is happening on educational campuses. The teacher-student relationship is missing on personal contacts. The lecture hall is partly replaced by seminar or workshop rooms.

Just like open office plans, many entities such as the partition less residences, self access retail outlets, libraries and kindergarten rooms have transient furniture elements. Glass curtains walled commercial buildings, etc. are also conceived to be boundless spaces. The boundless spaces are assumed to enhance the intra-personal interactions.


This post forms 16 th 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 599 by Gautam Shah 




Malicious use of architectural components, street utilities and furniture, public transport facilities, is fairly common, both, in developed and developing countries. The intention, if any, is to misuse the elements, vent-out dissatisfactions through anger, use the extra ordinary reserve energies, occupy time in some activity or draw attention through behaviour.


Such abuses, of ‘self-harming’ nature occur with persons who may be it “using it as a coping mechanism to relieve emotional pain or discomfort, or as an attempt to communicate distress”. Places where such ‘self-harm’ occurs, include homes, schools, care-homes, detention centres, prisons, hospitals and juvenile offenders’ remand homes. The attempts include using architectural components, hardware, clothes, adornments, ropes or linear elements for strangulation, cause cuts with sharp edges, jumping off a precipice (height related dangers), electrocution and drowning.

Fashion Street Bombay

The acts of willful destruction of private and public facilities and amenities are also abuses. These are not intended for self-harm but physical changes, removal or destruction to parts and components at places such as parks, bus stations, road sides or schools etc. Anti-vandalism strategies are required to make such entities fixed (non -removable), temper-proof and non alterable.


Self-harm was once thought to relate to “Ligature” (word derives from Latin ligatura, from ligare = ‘to tie‘). A ligature is defined as a “thing used for tying something with a cord” Cords of silk, gut, wire, or other materials have been used as tourniquet to control venous and arterial circulation for a very brief period of time. During surgery the blood flow is also stopped by pressure blocking the cut ends of arteries. (In surgical procedures minor bleeding nodes are also hot pinched -by burning the tissue, through a cautery -cauterization).


 The ligature -word was once used for joining two or more grapheme, letters or characters as a single glyph, to help faster writing or condensed expression. An example is the character æ as used in English, in which the letters ‘a’ and ‘e’ are joined. The “&”, ampersand deriving from =and-per-se (since 1st C AD was a ligature of handwritten Latin letters e and t spelling et=and). Ligature is also used in Music for group of notes intended to be played or sung as one phrase or by repeating the same syllable. Tie bars around steel of RCC columns or beams are also called ligature.


From Ligature comes a rather unusual term Anti-Ligature. If the ligature is to ‘tie’ causing a pain or harm, anti-ligature is to prevent situations or conditions where one has opportunity to cause harm. It is used with reference to furniture, furnishings, utilities, facilities and amenities. Anti ligature products and processes are meant to hamper someone from doing a hazardous act by tying, fastening or binding to something. It is a provision that discourages self-harm or suicidal tendencies of a person under stress or with mental disorder. Anti-ligature means prevent people from causing self harm by attaching ligature to door handles, hooks, hollows, apertures, locks, grills, light fixtures, etc.


An anti-ligature product or a composition is one that prevents a ligature from staying secure. The primary function of anti-ligature furniture is to deny anyone from using it as a means from which to attach anything, break it down to sharp-pointed edges, climb over to cause height related hazards, or inflict the parts on others.


Anti-ligature products or compositions are also employed for anti-vandalism. There are, though few basic differences. ‘Ligature’ in its broadest sense is related to self-harm, often non-malicious in nature. Vandalism is intentional and causes harm to ‘public’ properties, but rarely inflicts injuries to own-self or others.


The primary aim in designing this type of furniture is to eliminate the possibility of attaching a wire or cord, disassemble or break it down into smaller parts, use it for climbing or as a reach tool, lick, chew, swallow or ingest its parts or products, or use it as defensive-offensive tool.



The design strategies for anti-ligature and anti-vandalism are to form a product of single material or through substantial synthesis of sub-items. The assembly joints and fixing zones are concealed or made inaccessible. Materials are non strippable, tear-able, breakable, or one can be cut or chipped off. Design elements like sharp corners or edges, apertures, punctures, grooved joints are avoided. Components that require different textures for visually hindered or for holding grips are created from (by way of embossing, engraving, etc.) the same body-material, while avoiding any applique treatments.


Other methods of anti-ligature and anti-vandalism design include by removing access to harmful or harm-worthy items beyond reach. Mono colour and single texture items are less apparent and so less likely to attract attention.

Head Gears



Post 598 by Gautam Shah 



Designers are quality conscious on two counts: their own conscience and the public compliance. Designers are conscious that ‘certain personal quality notions’ must be achieved, and ‘certain other public requirements’ must be complied. But consciousness does not translate as conscience, and conscience does not make for compliance. The confusion between Consciousness and Conscience is due to the same Latin root (Latin word conscius, meaning with and to know).


Coffee Barista at work > Wikipedia image by Christopher Michel

Consciousness is an adjective, for being aware and responsive to one’s environment, but not being judgmental in terms of good-bad, wrong-right, etc.

Conscience is a noun which can have many different meanings, but it is the inherent ability of every human being to perceive what is right and what is wrong. With conscientiousness, one can control, monitor, evaluate and conduct all endeavours.


Water Quality Compliance testing > Wikipedia image by US National archives and records administration

Compliance the act or process of conforming to trade, industry regulations, government legislation, public desire, demand, proposal, regimen by coercion or sense of responsibility. It is often detested or challenged because some regulatory requirements require extra ordinary effort, compromises and investments. The Government and Public agencies rely more on conscience to reduce the dependence on legislation. Some multi-national groups and International agencies do not have power to legislate or implement the modalities of compliance, so depend of self-regulation that is akin to conscience.

Chemnitz, Normierung im Fräsmaschinenwerkes "Fritz Heckert"

Pursuit for Quality > Wikipedia image by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-19361-006/ Quaschinsky, Hans-Gunter / CC=BY-SA3.0

Some consider that conscience as ‘the innate sense of judgement‘ needs to grow and further formatted. It must become a continuing passion of refinement. It is considered as a quality of one’s character and conduct, ‘reflected by the adherence to moral principles and consideration of fairness and justice’. A conscience for quality, requires no outside assessor. Conscience is a social facet of the morality, as it is shaped by the person and the society. In commercial fields, conscience is seen in products and services that demonstrate the integrity and social responsibility. Consciousness is being aware of all processes and parameters where conscience is checked.


Jere Davidson engraving a large knife > Wikipedia image by Daviddarom

 The Conscience as a refinement over the consciousness can be seen in the excellence enhancement and emergence of human relationship. It is assessed at PROFESSIONAL LEVEL, as the compliance to the perceived and declared goals of the endeavours, such as advise, products or services. It is measured, as the original expectations (requirements) versus the product formation, service deliverance or adequacy of counselling. For this, it is imperative to formally state the expected use of the system or service and define ways how its adequacy can be checked.


Pursuing the Quality > Wikipedia image

Conscience and Consciousness are both personal pursuits and together cannot offer the Quality at societal level. Personal pursuits for quality include maximizing the achievements, value addition, and minimize the process effort, resources, wastage to satisfy a client or set of users. But Government and citizens need to see the process of compliance of quality. It becomes difficult to observe it because it is too individual in nature and continuously evolving process. Text books or Hard publications are insufficient as medium to handle the referential modalities. So the stack-holders are given access to declared policies as digital documents.


Documentation and Involvement of stack holders in Design Processes > Wikipedia image by Eleberthon

As per ISO 8402 `The concept of quality is the totality of features and characteristics of a project, product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs. The characteristics of a project, product or service, by themselves, cannot determine the measure of quality. A project, product and services when satisfactory in every respect, can fail, if the external use conditions are drastically altered during its execution. Similarly a project, product and services, however, successful may not be conscientious enough, if the creator is not inspired to do better next time.


Assessing the frontal impacts > Wikipedia image by University of Virginia, National Highway traffic safety administration > Wikipedia image

A designer, as a professional, strives to assure that projects when completed provide the intended benefits with planned level of inputs. Such assurances are needed at many different levels. A designer needs to assure the project initiators, project users (owners or the product buyers), project operators and the society. Such assurances, regarding the project, translate into a pursuit for a quality.


An experiment on a Bird in an air pump > Art by Joseph Wright of Derby 1768



Post 597 by Gautam Shah (15 of 16 Behaviour in Spaces)



Human behaviour, at realistic level is governed by how a habitable space allows various tasks. For conducting work-tasks and other tasks such as social interactions, expression and communication a space needs many provisions. Amenities, Facilities and Utilities endow a sense of belonging while achieving functionality, but Enrichments invest the space with personalization.


Service station at a Chevron gas station San Francisco CA USA > Wikipedia image by  @ BrokenSphere / Wikipedia Commons


Behaviour in habitable space often revolves around the amenities. Areas near the attached amenities attract all the activities. Due to this, users seem to move from one amenity to another. All the intermediate space patches and time interludes between the amenities become sections for secondary behaviour.


Work environment for Stone masons Agra India > Flickr image by Chris Shervey

Amenities are attached to a building shell. The linkage is for structural support through a wall, floor or roof, or for functional support for sourcing a ‘supply or disposal utility’. One of the largest sections of amenities, are for environmental control, such as projections, wind towers, air ducts, sun shades, pergolas, grills, etc. Some of the amenities are conceived to be architectonic elements for enhancing the architectural language.


Amenities could be both, structurally integrated solutions which are difficult to remove without damage to the building shell; and mounted entities that may perhaps be replaced but require an identical or matching solution for the sake of design integrity. Relocatable amenities are sometimes considered as facilities. Amenities are also subsystems, part of a larger system -the building. Such subsystem amenities have well-defined relationships or connectivity.


The structural elements of a building also serve the function of an amenity. An amenity nominally is static, but could also be a mobile, which then is called a utility. A static amenity can have some degree of internal variability like a louver in a window or an elevator in building. The static amenities are designed to take advantage of the location, orientation, connections, etc. Static amenities use their mass for their relevance and so are heavy. Static amenities consume little operative power, and in most cases have no outputs except for disposal or extinction. Non static, dynamic or mobile amenities are difficult in terms of managing the inputs (power, etc.) and outputs (residues, effluents and disposal or extinction).


Environmental amenities relating to the climate (Sun, Wind) operate only for a part of the season, day or hour. Such amenities are also designed to be architectonic elements. Fixed amenities are difficult to reestablish elsewhere or everywhere due to their dependency on connections (power, water supply, entry), forcing one to customize the living around the amenities or accept the inherent deficiencies.


In buildings such attached amenities are platforms for cooking, fireplaces, window ledges, door thresholds, otalas, steps, open to sky Chowks, cutouts, seats along the walls, etc. These are areas with very focussed behaviour, surrounded by a loosely defined zone but worthy of many ‘free’ activities. Amenities are dependent on strong structural elements of the building, often touching the exterior, this creates planning where amenities and related activities to the peripheral areas of the space.


Clothes store Jodhpur Rajasthan India > Wikipedia image by Matthew Laird Acred


Facilities are unattached entities and so demountable and relocatable. The word facility is often used synonymously with an amenity. A space occupier makes some rearrangements to all the facilities designed and sited by an expert. Such personal manipulations are intentional or experimental, either of temporary or permanent nature. Change in form and location of various amenities is also occasional and seasonal. A space grows with age and reflects not only the taste but turmoils and compulsions of the user. The size, shape, location of different facilities is as important as their interrelationships. The siting of a facility in reference to the spatial quality and architectural ambience reflect the concerns for environmental conditions.


Gym Facilities > Wikipedia image by

Facilities have ergonomic characteristics to enhance the human capabilities. A facility is conceived to satisfy the largest section of users via the ‘percentile method’, though leaving the users at the top and bottom highly dissatisfied. This causes behavioural problems that are very acutely displayed in public expressions.


Attic bedroom Skoga Iceland > Wikipedia image by Ben Husmann from Chicago USA

Largest section of facilities consists of various devices for carrying out tasks. These task devices support the body or its parts, facilitate and extend the reach and aid the body movements and motions. Support devices provide a base for utilities like chopping and ironing boards. Posture taking devices like for seating and resting, are created with anthropometrics, but their styling affects the human behaviour. Storage systems are work-organizers and do not affect the human behaviour.


Post Master’s Desk > Wikipedia image by weisserstier from Wien Australia



Utilities are different from amenities and facilities. The utilities include tools and equipment that are handy, though some require a base support for efficient working. Support dependent utilities are often nearly fixed devices. Sourced utilities are tied, requiring linkages for input-output like power or effluents. These are relocatable within a range. Hand-free utilities require very little manual manipulation for operations. Utilities become multipurpose because every variation in its support system gives it a new purpose. So it is, said creativity comes through the crafts-person or technician, and not from the utilities. Majority of the utilities and facilities are preferential to right-handed people in terms controls and operations.


Work-Lab utilities > Wikipedia image by Rory Hyde from Amsterdam Netherlands


Enrichments are means of personalization of a space. Installation or removal of the enrichments does not affect the utilitarian value of a space. Enrichments serve a decorative and metaphoric purpose. Enrichments are extremely personal and frequently replaceable, so are transient entities. Some functional entities like bolsters, cushions, dusters, etc. are accepted to be items for comfort but are accepted as enrichments. Enrichments are items of expression through their shape, form, scale, colour, texture, patterns, composition, symbolism, position or location, relationship with other objects.


Personal space Sherlock Holmes Museum London, > Wikipedia image by user:FA2010

The schema for enrichments originates through several sources like media, inter-personal interactions, print media, TV, cultural heritage, caste, religion, locale, region, pride, leisure time, motivation and competition. It is also supported by desire to add-on the convenience offered over industrially produced standard goods, love for artistic intervention or crafty manipulation, experimentation, innovation, improvisation, upgrade, repair etc.


Enrichments are brought in by a person, members of the family or leaders of a group. The theme, as a result inevitably has one or singular ’authorship’ and consistency of concept. This reflects in the unified effort. There is a continuous thread of concept, form, colour pallet, patterns, placement, symbolism, etc. Occasionally radically different types of enrichments also manifest in such spaces, but over a period of time things gets acceptance. Where a next generation inherits the space entity, their responses are nearly confirmatory, and something of the past survives or is consciously continued. When a person or family migrate to new environments, the new place carries the imprints of the old, in many instances more intensely. Where space designing is outsourced to professionals a new vocabulary of enrichment arrives, but these too get domesticated or personalized. Such personalization occurs through re-siting, re-orientation, and new contextual composition. In few instances it may awaken new lifestyles, but something of the past always reappears.


Desk of Anthony Chekhov > Wikipedia image by SiefkinDR

 Enrichments affect the behaviour very mildly but persistently. The cumulative change over a period of time is far greater in content and extent. The enrichments reflect the personalization, so are very comforting and assuring. It represents the author and an age, and reminds the contribution of the author or the era. Enrichments take away the loneliness and boredom. Enrichments add to the micro levels of comfort without destroying the standard scheme of the space. Enrichments customize a space circumstantially, according to local environmental needs, personal choices and tasks. Enrichments are self-created and self-installed so their repair, alterations and replacement are within the personal ambit of skills and time management. Enrichments are demountable and transferable, so remain personal assets.


Mall space Kolkota India > Wikipedia Biswarup Ganguly


This post forms 15th 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 596 by Gautam Shah



Death of Socrates art by Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)

Balance is a phenomenon that we experience within our body system and perceive with reference to objects beyond the body. Balance is stability essentially related to the gravity. In this, the absence of balance has strong relation to the vertical, and the presence of balance is equated to the horizontal. Balance, we perceive beyond our body is a perceptual composition. Its lack unnerves our sense of regularity, but its oddity excites us. Compositional balances are also related to force de majeure, the gravity. Compositional balance is also related distribution of mass across the perceptible zone. The composition is a time slot of a happening, a frame. The perceptible zone varies in extent, scale and intensity, and so the segment of the experience is very fluid. The perceptible zones have mutually related elements within the field, or are equated with the past experiences. The elements within the perceptible zones have many possibilities of relationships and so balance structures.


Girl on a swing > Wikipedia image by Luiz Carlos

There are several mechanisms in the body that detect, and some auto correct the physical balance. The sensory system involved in balance is called the vestibular system located in the inner ear. ‘These detect head rotation, linear acceleration, and the direction of gravitational force to attain and maintain postural equilibrium and balance’. Senses are locational and some are directional so provide perception data to detect unusual positions and movements.


Composition by Gjelosh Gjokaj 1997 (Oil on Paper 70x100cms) Wikipedia image by Kosova National art Gallery

A composition is a natural or structured occurrence. A composition is part of a perceptible zone, segments defined by sensorial capacities. The sensorial capacities operate individually and coherently and as a result a perceptible zone could be very complex system. Compositional balances manifest within such a perceptible zone. The perceptible zone is ever changing and the perceiver rarely static, and both are continually in a flux.



Complex composition of Spiral stairs > Flickr image by William

Movements are experienced in compositions as actual and apparent changes, former as a varying distance between objects, and the later as an indication or a possibility. The direction of the movement is related to the foreground or background of the main happening. Without the frame of background or foreground the movement in a composition is not evident. While traveling it becomes difficult to perceive if own or the other train is moving.

Asymetrical Balance

A symmetrical or asymmetrical composition can be called a balanced one, so far it persists in time and remains stable. A balanced composition does not trigger an urge to dismantle or reconfigure it.


The Meeting Art by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877)

In art and design, the pursuit of creativity is in combining several elements into a holistic system. A formal’ composition has ‘striking’ arrangement, appreciated for the ‘balanced’ placements, or the arrangement is exciting and discomforting one leading to new possibilities.


Sunday afternoon on island of La Grande Jatte Art by Georges Seurat (1859-1891)

Primarily a composition is perceived to be sitting or resting on a ground, and where none such exists, the bottom of the perception zone becomes one. Elements at the lower half of the field are perceived closer to the ground and perceived to be little more stable. The stability is enhanced by elements with mass wider in the lower parts. Inclusion of lighter elements such as air, water, sky, flowers, develops a sense of ethereal floatation. Some form of equipoise is sought for space occupation between objects and non objects. This is done by extent, weight, massing through sensorial intensities (colour, textural gradients, noise, serenity, axial steadfastness, duration etc.). An object that stands or greater verticality is perceived as post struggle phase. The height of the vertical is always referential to the horizontal of the ground. The depth of perception stretches the ground, and proportionately reduces the vertical.



Notre Dame du Haut Ronchamp by Le Corbusier > Flickr image by Rory Hyde


Interior of a Tavern Art by Brouwer Adriaen (1605/6-1638)

The symmetry in a composition is more balanced, as elements around vertical have same effect of gravity. A similar situation on horizontal is naturally unbalanced, as the lower half is under greater effect of gravity. The symmetry around the vertical, however, is affected by the position of the vertical in the field of perception. Symmetry is more apparent in visual fields as two eyes can focus to a single object. Two ears need some attenuation to perceive the balance. For the sensation of touch balanced localization is difficult to achieve. Smell and taste buds have singular identity but spatially too close for distinctive perception of balance.


Blind leading the blind Art by Pieter Bruegel the elder > Wikipedia image by Curly Turkey

Non symmetrical balance results from several equalizing factors, such as extent, weight, massing through sensorial intensities (colour, textural gradients, noise) etc. and so could have very personal relevance. Non symmetrical compositions are very important for creating visual perspective or depth of field. Non symmetrical balance is used to prioritize and sequence the elements in composition. Stories are stretched from a start to an end, revelation to realization or consummation to nirvana. The story telling relies on asymmetrical arrangements as these add to the movement and passage of time.




Post 595 by Gautam Shah



Design organizations are initiated, by an individual who has some expertise or keen interest in a specific field, or by group of people who share similar or parallel interests. This founding expertise or keen interest must form the formal goal of the design organization. The formality must occur as a declared policy. Design Organizations must work intensively in areas that are analogous to their goals.


Wikipedia image by Injeongwon

Design organizations have a noble desire to cultivate an acute or very exclusive knowledge system over years of professional practice. This is often not attended to adequately in design organizations, but when the need arises, they hire specific expertise through new employees or by retaining consultants. Organization, however, cannot have core competence just by intent, facilities or expertise. Core competence results from expertise with hands-on experience on real projects.


Acute Specialization > Wikipedia image by tainted blue

Organizations need opportunities to build up the core competence. Such opportunities arrive by selection. An organization with well-defined goals would procure projects by approaching appropriate clients, being in contact with relevant consultants, by offering additional services for making the fees attractive, by participating in such competitions. An executed project generates better competence in a field, then handling of several diverse projects.


Wikipedia image by Grant Crabtree

Core competence leads the design organization into specific jobs, by way of excelling in results, efficiency of work procedure or job handling, efficiencies of input-benefit ratio, and client satisfaction. The repetition of opportunities leads to learning, experimentation and satisfaction. Core competence is perceived as an innovative pursuit that can cause enough synergies, to make the organization behave like self correcting, or continuously adjusting biological entities.

Ingenieure mit Konstruktionsplan

Wikipedia image > Attrbn: Bundesarchiv , Bild 183-23805-1665/ CC-BY-SA 3.0

Core competence is also seen as a debate for Generalization versus Specialization. Some organizers believe that generalization, as a capacity to handle all types of projects and under whatever circumstances, is very essential for continuance (survival or professional relevance). And, (they believe) “if the need arises, experts can be hired to meet the exigency”. The generalization allows to handle projects of routine nature, in an efficient, economic and time bound manner. Such ‘generalist’ organizations handle projects that are very large in scale, requiring little innovation, and of repetitive nature. Their service or fee’s are highly competitive.


Wikipedia image by Marcrocs


Specialization cannot be achieved by intent alone. One must grab projects that reinforce the skills, even by discounting the fees or profits. And, if opportunities in the desired field are few, one must strive for excellence in the relevant sections of the routine work. Specialization is often equated with a single person in charge of the organization, rather than group based practices. An Autocratic leader stimulates an organization towards an acute specialization, whereas a Bohemian leader dissipates the energy and de-focuses and strives for generalization. A Democratic leader will continuously review and revise, the aims of the organization, and plan the resources, to make the organization creative.


Temple Singapore > Flickr image by Steve Jurvetson

Creativity is not in specialization (capacity to excel in limited fields) nor in generalization (capacity to handle many different situations) in any field. Design creativity is seen in radical solutions, proficiency in sustaining the technical superiority and learning. Design efficiency is perceived for being productive, cost efficacy and organizational ranking or superordination.