Post 620 –by Gautam Shah
Built form designing begins with a neatly defined geometric shape, and it evolves into a very complex form. The built form becomes an architectural adventure to gain new spaces, experiences and uses. The built forms are transgressed to the exterior for many different purposes. The purposes are to enlarge the interior space, open out the omni present sense of enclosure, bring in airiness of the exterior, enhance the built mass by stretching the internal and external surface areas, add a textural architectonic element, add thresholds or intervening spaces and provision of sideways view, aeration or daylight facilities.
Outward transgressions of the architectural elements occur as overt attachments or integrated additives. The attachments remain overt when these are visually very distinct, over emphatic in scale or treatment, and singular in presence. Integrated additives are multiple in numbers and so schematically well arranged, visually less apparent and diffused in scale or treatment.
Outward Transgressions and Projections are two different entities. The former enlarges the spread to add utilizable space, whereas the later, just stretch the space for weather shading. Transgressions have volumetric mass of space in comparison to Projections articulate buffer or threshold spaces. Projections undulate the surfaces as add-on or engraved-etched elements. Some of the common projecting elements of classical architecture include: Pilasters, engaged columns, entablature, pediments, friezes, rusticated masonry, foliated capitals, lintels, eaves and cornices.
Add-on elements are included in buildings for two main purposes: To vary the silhouette or the skyline, and to format terraces, which otherwise would have remained plain planes. Corbusier achieved both simultaneously. A skyline is made of translucent elements like lanterns, chhatris (umbrella shaped pavilions) canopies, cupolas, caboose (usually over inspection or guard’s wagon in railways), spires, gables etc.
Openings have been the most prolific space transgressing elements in buildings. Openings are stretched outward for view and illumination. The expanded form increases the surface area exposed to the exterior, and adds to the solar gain. In a warmer climate breeze is preferred to solar gain, and so devices like lattices, shading projections and smaller but spaced openings were used. Choice of view to the busy street, water body, or a private garden is preferred to any climatic orientation.
Transgressed openings have of many forms. Openings stretch outward at floor level, increasing the interior floor space. Little higher from the floor level, allows formation of a raised sill, seat, or platform. High sill openings reduce the net available open gap but provide space for a study or craft console, or storage bureau. The head-side configurations of the projected gaps are different. These terminate at lower, human head or reach to the ceiling level.
Zarokhas are outwardly extended opening systems in India. These have derived from Gavaksh or Gokh (niche in the wall for storage or display). A zarokha is often called a baithak, a place for ‘sitting out’, though one remains in the privacy of the interior space. The Zarokha as an ornamental opening has a centric and dominant position in the room space and important part of external facade composition. Zarokhas are placed on terraces, passages, palaces, public buildings, residences, mosques and step-wells.
A typical zarokha, on the interior face, has a raised platform off the floor. The raised platform has one long front and two small width side faces. The face has two or more columns and is surrounded by short height tapering parapets. The projecting platform and the width of the wall, together provide sufficient width and depth for two or more people to share the space. The inner most face of Zarokha is masked by a bamboo strip roll curtain. The outer face of the wall may be open or latticed.
A Chhajja is an Indian shading device over any opening, like doors, windows, zarokhas or verandah and may cover plain walls for architectural continuity. Chhajjas reduce the sky component of solar radiation and reduce the glare. Mughal Chhajjas are inclined slabs of stones placed over the lintel stone, but super-loaded with some masonry and parapets. Wooden Chhajjas with intricately carved wood brackets are common in Pol houses of Gujarat. During British raj Chhajjas of galvanized corrugated sheets supported over a wooden frame became a cheap and lightweight option for Bungalows and Government buildings. Chhajjas work like canvas awnings, but are heavier and more durable.
Bay or Bow windows are common on ground or upper floors. Bay windows are formed of three or five angled planes, whereas a bow window is a polygon or segment of a curve. In full bay windows the opening stretches from floor to ceiling level to add a seamless but shaped space to the room. In a part bay windows have a raised sill with a lower roof at a lintel level or topper blank bay. In the third version there is no bay or bow formation in the interior space, externally a shaped flower box projects out. In case of a bow window there is no parallel to the room, a middle window unit. Bow windows first appeared in the 18 C in England and in the Federal th period in the USA. Bow windows are also called compass window and radial bay windows.
Oriel windows are a form of polygonal bay windows, but often placed at the corner of a building. Oriel windows, have a larger perimeter and so allow wider view of the outside. The projected bay is supported off the base-wall, or by columns, piers, corbels or brackets.
Mashrabiya is an extended opening system, and was very a common entity in mid East or Arab architecture. Mashrabiyas have carved wood latticework and often stained glass.
Mashrabiyas were placed on street faces of upper floors of urban houses, but occasionally in palaces, public buildings such as hospitals, inns, schools and government buildings. Mashrabiya windows are presumed to have formed during 12th C in Baghdad. Iraq and Egypt are two countries where many examples survive. Such openings were introduced in France from the colonial sources, and called Moucharabieh.
Mashrabiyas are enclosed with latticework of a lathe carved sections called bobbins. Lower sections of the opening are opaque or with denser lattice work. Lattice designs differ from region to region. Mashrabiya work as an independent enclosed balcony or as a space attached to a room. Egyptian Mashrabiyas project out at a slightly raised level, providing for a Dakkah (a Dakkah is also a masonry platform attached to the front part of a house, covered with a rug, it is used for informal talk and tea in Arab rural areas, an arrangement similar to Ota or Otla in a traditional Indian house). Mashrabiyas have been used for correcting the shape of upper floor front room.
The word Mashrabiya has varied origins. It denotes drinking or absorbing. The name perhaps has derived from a wood lattice enclosed shelf located near a window to cool the pots of drinking water. The shelf evolved until it became part of the room with a full enclosure. Mashrabiya also has originated from verb Ashrafa =to overlook, ignore or to observe.
Shanashil (shanshool or rushan) is a porch, verandah or gallery like features covered with fine wood lattice work. It is found in old Iraqi houses of Baghdad. It is also a net or wood screen-covered verandah or porch over looking a street or garden.