Post 690 –by Gautam Shah


1 Geometrie Proportion Portal

2 Door Geometrical Divisions

A door has some fundamental significance, Proportion (of Width vs Height aspects), Size (anthropometrics) and Scale (relative size to things around it). And all these imply different meaning on the exterior and interior faces. The door size, proportion and scale, relate to the architectural schema, fore-space and contours, interior of room, and functional passage requirements.

3 Door Portal 6871718107_ca75c3be89_z

Doors have shutters, gates, frames, portals, surrounds, heads, thresholds, and other architectural adjuncts. These elements affect the form of the door. The doors could be really or perceptively narrow, wide, tall, short, small, large, thin or deep. But proportion is one character that remains consistent in all scales.

18 Chapel Door by Sigurd Lewerentz


Most common set of proportions (Width : Height) have been: Two squares 1: 2, and Golden proportion 1:1.61. Other shapes include Square (Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp Doors), Horizontal Rectangle (Air hanger’s shutters). Sliding doors have a horizontal rectangle form. For twin shutters, each is of square shape. Multi panelled shutters have to maintain the horizontal bias for ease of movement. The real proportion of a door is seen when the shutter is open. A mid-pivot shutter may divide the opening in equal or unequal gaps. A door opening is more prominent if it is deep-set in the portal, or has contrasting colour+texture from its surround structure.

5 Square Ronchamp door by Le Corbusier

4 Entry Gate to Assembly Building Capitol Complex Chandigarh India Wikipedia Image by Lillottama

The vertical rectangular form makes the opening taller then its width. Small-width doors are technologically more efficient to construct and operate it ergonomically. Such narrow widths reduce the load on the hanging devices such as hinges and so are easy to open. Horizontal sliding doors, for easier movement, need to be wider then their height. Square doors are favourite with designers, but cannot be hung on side-end hinges. A square gap mislays its form when opened on mid or offset pivots. Very wide doors use vertical or horizontal pivots (garage doors) or sliding mechanisms (Japanese doors, Shop Rolling shutters).

Lincon Main Entrance

Historically Door Goal Portal Input Gate

22 Notre Dame Paris Multiple entrances

Instead of a wide door, multiple (ganged) doors used at railway station are multiple units in a row. Similar effect occurs for multiple folding or stacking shutters for verandahs. Multiple doors and shutters provide spaced control for simultaneity, location, orientation. Where multiple tracks are not, feasible, shutters are joined together like the bellows of an accordion to form a sliding and folding stack. Folding or collapsible doors were first used in cabinets and cupboards, and diffuse the exchange over a wider zone.

7 Multiple Doors httpspixabay.comendoors-open-series-input-3798125


9 Olympic Park Railway Station Ticket Barriers


A door is primarily sized for passage of humans, but often designed for mix of purposes. Some doors are exclusively for passage of goods and animals (hoppers, trap or flap doors), and so may not have any size relevance for human passage. Doors are functional elements of optimal size yet economics and technology govern its size and details. The critical aspect of door design is its width aspect. An insufficient width retards the speed, or even makes it difficult or impossible to transit through. But small width enforces discipline on chaotic traffic of entrants. Narrow width openings increase the integrity of the load-bearing structure. A very generous width fails to. Such wide openings need extra dividing barricades to channelize the traffic, or multiple narrower sub-gate systems. Bunker doors must be carefully small sized for increasing resistance to blast pressures.

Médinet-Abou. Porte du Grand Temple (Égypte) _

Door portal size and the size of the shutter, are two different things. Doors of extra ordinarily large sizes or monumental proportions have been used through ages. A large door metaphorically denotes unrestricted transit, grand reception, fearlessness or power, affluence, and dominance. Technologically a door shutter cannot be very large, so doors placed in large portals and with adjunct structures.

18 False Door dawn of civilization Egypt and Chaldaea

As a social concern in modern times, it is essential to provide doors widths suitable for disabled persons, using walking stick, crutch walkers, a wheel chair, stretcher or assisted by others. Widths of doors for, toilet, elevators, closets, store rooms, change rooms, and such other lone user utilities are considered more critical for such users.


Some famous doors > Treasury of Atreus, Mycenae 9′-0” x 18′-0″, Parthenon, Rome 0′-0″ x 24′-2″, Erechtheion, Athens 8′-0″ x 17′-2″, S. Martin, Worms 5′-8″ x 11′-3″, Palazzo Pietro Massimi, Rome, main entrance door 6′-10″ x 13′-8″, National Archives in Washington, DC, Constitution Avenue bronze doors 37′-7″ x 10′ (and 11″thick), Vehicle Assembly Building VAB of NASA door height 456′.

10 Vehicle Assembly Building VAB of NASA door height 456'

Simple sliding doors allow variable and exact control over the width of opening. Automatic sliding doors such as for elevators and for entrances of public buildings open to width governed by the density and frequency of traffic. Revolving doors have optimum opening size to maintain the air lock and prevent anyone forcing a reverse movement. Folding shutter doors allow incremental width of the opening. Garage doors sliding up were devised to get a maximum width of opening.

11 Shutting-Opening-Pushing a hinged, pivoted or sliding Door if large sized, can be a technological issue

Height of a door is checked for three parameters: the height available within the opening, the height of the door head, and the height of the threshold. The actual passage height of a door is affected by the level of terrain immediately inside and outside the door. Low level doors have been used to reduce the heat gain or loss (e.g. igloos), the storm water (e.g. sea front warehouses in America).

12 Multiple stacked doors for floors of West India Quay Canary Wharf Warehouse served by single pulley lift


The scale of a door is governed by the architectural scheme, impinging built mass and the surrounding terrain. The scale of a door is also referential. Proportionately a door or gate opening seems smaller, if the adjacent wall or barrier system is very evident. On the same scale a large or multiple openings make barriers less effective. The exchange occurring across a small opening is very intense, compared to a large gateway.

13 Door and Portal Buland Darwaza Fatehpur Sikri India Wikipedia Image by Diego Delso,, License CC-BY-SA

14 Adjunct structures Gwalior Fort Entry Gate Wikipedia Image by Divyarthsuryavanshi httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwikiFileGwalior_Fort_Entry_Gate

Adjunct structures enhance the perceived scale and significance of the door. Fort gates and other gateways have not only very large doors but also have elaborate adjunct structures like portals, abutments, ramparts, bulwarks, bastions, Bastille, battlements, belvederes (Chhatri), buttress, campaniles (bell towers). Historically, very large (wide and tall) doors have been a necessity, for functional passage as well as for splendour. Doors are intentionally made smaller, if these are insignificant (backdoor, servant door, supply door), or need to be concealed, such as the secret or escape doors. Mid town gates are designed as multiple (three or five) openings to serve different levels of traffic. Doors are added with side and top lites, pediment, surrounds, free columns or half-pilasters to enhance the scale.

20 Hypostyle Hall of the Hathor Temple at Dendera (XI)

Egyptian temples had very tall openings, the lower section was shuttered and the upper section was a left over gap, which allowed entry of early morning Sun God Ra. Gothic churches had upper section of the door converted into a Rose window. Very tall doors, unless required for passage, are turned into transom lites. Very tall doors require a visual correction. Romans constructed tall doors with a wider base and narrower top. For very tall doors, the construction of strong shutter and relevant opening control mechanisms have been the greatest deterrent. Tall opening like effects are created with architectural door portals and alcoves where the functional door is very much smaller.

15 Pantheon Entrance Wikipedia Image by daryl_mitchell from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Low level doors have been used to reduce the heat gain or loss (e.g. igloos), the storm water seepage (e.g. sea front warehouses in America). Romans constructed tall doors that were wider at the base than at the top to correct the visual perspective.

16 Lateral stiffening of Dam Gates in Matsumoto city, Nagano prefecture, Japan. Wikipedia Image by Qurren

Large door shutters require lateral stiffening, as the usual thin shutter leaf construction is insufficient against buckling forces such as the wind, blasts, and often sonic boom pressures. Aircraft hangers’ and spaceships’ assembly workshops (Apollo, Columbia, USA) have very large doors with additional lateral framing. Hanger doors are designed to be sliding from top, bottom or both. Similarly dams and canal gates have to resist not only the pressure of retained water but dynamic pressures of waves and eddy currents. Such doors are designed as 3D entities. Stadia and such public spaces where people are likely to push against the gates, extra lateral stability is required.




DISTANCE as an ELEMENT of DESIGN -Issues of Design 26

Post 689 –by Gautam Shah


11 544px-An_artist_measures_a_model_of_the_human_body_from_a_distance_Wellcome_V0009476

There are several ways ‘distance’ impacts a design. The physical distance is essentially scaled to human body measures and work capacities. The sensorial measure of the space is the reach in space. All these, help us to equate the suitability and adequacy of spaces for different purposes.

18 640px-Il_Palazzo_Reale_Milano

The distance, refers to a physical measure, a separation, and perception of proximity or remoteness from an extraneous location.

1 Measure Between

2 Separation

3 Perception

A physical space has filler elements like, people, objects and environmental affectations. These elements have their own sizes and also have medial spaces. The scale of the physical space, and the relationships between objects-objects, people-people and objects-people, are factored by the distance.

9 Piran19century

7 626px-Tartini_Square_from_above,_Piran,_May_2009

ONE      We measure the space in terms of distances, at realistic level, between ‘us’ and things (A to B). Inversely, we also measure the space for the perceived (likely) distance (B to A) between things and ‘us’. The objective (A to B) and subjective (B to A) assessments, together, provide a comprehensive experience of the space. The spatial experience is a maze of relationships and directions. But a constant reference is provided by the Environmental affectations that mark the time and movement. The environmental affectations cause many aberrations of perception of spatial distances and relationships, due to the mix up of the actual and perceived distances. We can exploit such changes to project or contract our presence in a space.

10 9662-050-BD0D8230

TWO    When the perceiver is a separator, if somewhere between the two ends, or objects. Distance comparisons ensue, to find out the disparities. The physical distance on either of the sides defines the nearness or remoteness of a thing in space. It helps to know which one is available, useful, required size, intensity, etc. Such distance assessment is often personal and comparative as it depends on reach capacity, need, experience and group behaviour dynamics.

3 8036094634_b8f54bc044_z

THREE    Observing anything in space from an external location, the distance is realized as the degree of clarity. The clarity is governed by physical distance from the location of observation. The same distance, however, gets occluded by the intervening activities (chaos, noise, echoes, bounce-back, reflections, disturbances and intermingling of effects) and the environment (fog, smoke, dust). But these also offer a referential spatial scale. The field of perception increases or decreases with the mediating distance.

1 winter-nature-season-trees-65911

Temporal distance refers to distance in time. Something that is temporally close is something that is near in time, whereas something that is temporally distant is far in time. Temporal distance to imagined future events modulates our evaluative representation of them. The greater the distance, the more likely the event is to be conceptualized in terms of a few abstract features. This is relevant in case of potential dangers or risks because this mechanism cognitively separates us from the reality of likely undesirable eventualities.

Psychologists from Walter Mischel to Nira Liberman and Yaacov Trope have labelled the psychological distance: that is, gaps between you and other people social distance, the present and the future temporal distance, your physical location and faraway places –spatial distance, or imagining something and experiencing it -experiential distance.


When psychological distance is large, we tend to think in more-abstract terms, focussing on the big picture, the desirability of certain options, and why we want them. In contrast, when psychological distance is small, our thinking is more concrete: We focus on the details, the feasibility of options, and how we will use them -Rebecca Hamilton


Distancing is a prime mechanism of offense and defence when methods and means of survival are inadequate, or unavailable. The distance operates at real level, as realized by us, and also as we feel the opponent is perceiving it. Shortening the distance serves an offensive role and enhancing the reach, a defensive purpose. The spatial depth is affected by the separation through occlusion or camouflage. It helps in fuzzing the identity and recognition.

13 4008974887_e60f2a2b9c_z

Anything that lies in ‘front’ (of sensorial nodes -eyes, nose, ears) is always at a ‘shorter distance’, compared to askew encounters, which have ‘greater distance’ (straight, up or down level exchanges). Short distance leads to possible physical contact with intimacy and often breach of privacy. Long distanced contact offers wider space for other actions including time for escape.

14 41d480458ab16799aa1f

The distance, direction and angle of eye contact affect the intimacy and so privacy. Executives want broad and deep tables to ‘keep the distance’ with the visitors. At a meeting or on a dining table, the chief occupies end-position, and with that no one can take frontal confronting stand.

15 21378548110_bb1d7fca8a_z

Any position against a static and closer backdrop is more assuring, then a backdrop whose depth cannot be fathomed. And for the same reason activities on the backside (stage, podium, office table, information kiosk, reception tables) are not desirable. In a space, one looks for anchorage in the presence of people (even, if unknown), architectonic elements, objects and opaque surfaces. Fixed and familiar things in space, even if physically distanced are better as support. Similarly the location and direction of an exit (door or any other egress point), or a path to it, at whatever the distance, are preferred.


For an individual, a space segment that allows one to control the distance from others is a safe, predictable and reassuring territory. Here the occupants and objects have intense relevance to each other. In interpersonal relationships the distance delineates isolation, accessibility, domination, submission, agreement, dissension, insulation, engagement, etc.

16 640px-Minding_ones_own_business_(38097651011)

The distance and space, both form the notions of Intimacy and Privacy. One physically manipulates, or sensorially perceives the distance from other beings and objects. The sense of vision, hearing, smelling are dependent on the distance. but touch and taste.

17 25893976046_a99e2e33f4_z

Intimacy is also a biological need, as it relies on compatibility, sexual needs, glandular secretions, social acceptability, etc. It is an attitude, mental conditioning or mental posture. Intimacy could be one-way feeling that is without reciprocal response. Intimacy is not always a function of physical proximity. One can feel close to a person who is long dead -an illusory presence or through notional links (clothes, odours, recorded sounds, etc.).

5 pexels-photo-301930

Distance Etymology > Distaunce (13-14 C) =a dispute, controversy, civil strife, rebellion, disagreement, discord, strife. Destance (Old French) =discord, quarrel. Distantia (Latin) =a standing apart. Distantem (nominative distans) = standing apart, separate, distant. Distare =stand apart, from the root ‘sta’ =to stand, make or be firm. Modern Distance =remoteness of space, extent of space between two objects or places, an interval of time (originally distaunce of times).=remote part of a field of vision.

This is the 26th article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN



Post 688 –by Gautam Shah


Bay Casement Boothbay Maine Ocean Harbor Window

Casement windows were the most common house-windows, before the sash windows were devised. The shutters of casement windows are hinged on the side, and open either inward and outward. Casement windows provide a full open aperture compared to double hung or sliding windows. The casement shutters could be solid, opaque panelled or glaze panelled. Glazing panes are fixed to the shutter by beading or putty compounds.

Window Wood Rustic

Casement shutters opening inward cause obstruction if there is insufficient parking space for the opened shutter. Inward opening shutters also interfere with window treatments such as curtains, blinds, etc.

The shutters, if of small width open with a handle cum locking device, and if of large width require a crank or lever to open. A wind stay, or a friction hinge is necessary to keep the shutter open in windy conditions, and an espagnolette is used for locking. A casement window is easy to operate with its long armed handle mechanism and so ideal for difficult to reach situations, such as places above cabinets or counter tops. Casement windows open out on nominal hinges or offset hinges that open the shutter little away from the side to allow cleaning, glazing fixing and painting of the exterior face. These are critical issues for casement windows that have protection bars, or are located on upper floors.

Curtain Mountains Window Architecture Outlook

Single casement windows are used on side lites as besides a door or fixed window. Average width of wooden casement windows is 400 to 500. Larger widths up to 600 are possible with friction hinges. Very tall casement windows require patent bolts at both the top and bottom ends to shut a window or keep it open in heavy winds.

4 window-1644844_1280

Double casement windows are of two types: one where two shutters meet over a mid member, and the other, where the two shutters meet over each other. The later is called a French window, it opens unobstructed in the centre.

6 Lustron_Three section Window

The casement shutter could be single, opening on left or right side. Casement windows with double shutters, open on left and right sides, or in the middle like the pages of a book. Multiple casement windows have even numbers of shutters divided into sets of two each, all shutters open on one side, or symmetry is created by opening half numbers of shutters on either side.

7 Casements

Casement windows typically are hinged at the sides, but if top hinged are called awning windows, and if bottom hinged are called hopper windows.

12 14589607127_12114b7e5d_z

Hopper Windows: A hopper window is a bottom hung a casement window that opens similarly to a draw bridge or a coal-pit receptor or hopper, typically opening to the outside. Hopper windows are used as cellar or subterranean opening.

Hopper Light: Hopper Ventilator: These have inward-opening shutter hinged at the bottom, usually forming the upper section of a door or window.

8 Wien_Hofburg_Reichkanzleitrakt_2009_PF_ed_20091007_001

Awning Window: An awning window is a casement window that is hung horizontally, hinged on top, so that it swings outward like an awning or a weather shed. Awnings are transom lites, used in upper sections of doors and windows as a ventilator.

9 French Windows 6853387755_6000dff2c0_o

French Window: A French window is really a type of door with a small threshold. It is also called a French door. Two casement sashes hinged on the sides to open in the middle. The shutters nearly extend to the floor and also serve as a door to a porch, garden, verandah, gallery or terrace. It is double shuttered, and both of which for the full height of the shutters, have single or multiple panes of glass. It may have a secondary set of solid or louvered shutters opening to the interior or exterior side.

11 window-89030_1280

Folding Casement: Casement windows hinged together so they may fold into a confined space, such as within the wall thickness. Small width shutters also makes it easier to close without stretching out too much. Folding casements are often auxiliary shutters, such as storm shutters or Venetian shutters on the outer face or fly-mesh shutters on the inner face.

10 windows_shutters_architecture_broken_wood_old-698964.jpg!d

All types of eaves and window casement shutters, projecting out, were banned to prevent spread of fire along the wall, after the great fire in London in 1707. And these forced adoption of Sash windows (opening upward or downward).

13 geograph-2825199-by-Mike-Kirby