ELEMENTS of BUILDING SYSTEMS -Issues of Design 30

Post 708 -by Gautam Shah

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Building Systems have many elements, real and conceptual. Order, Core, Periphery, are the Real or physical elements, whereas Convergent zones, time-space relevance and Domain identities are the conceptual elements.

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ORDER: Order is an inherent characteristic of all building systems. Order begins to emerge as soon as parts and components are selected for inclusion in a building system. Initially, building systems have order that is alogical and loosely definable, and it may or may not be apparent. But it is noticeable when the system begins to perform. At this stage, in simple system the order is obvious, logical and definable. But in nonphysical systems the order can be elusive due to the scale and complexity. Yet recognition of order in a system helps in many ways:

  • It helps the definition of a system.
  • It endows self sufficiency, so that the system can become an ever replaceable component.
  • It provides nodes for dependency so that the system becomes integrated whole.

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In all building systems the primary orders are: selection (inclusion and exclusion) of parts, components, etc. and the process of assembly or manufacture. However, in complex systems there are many levels and categories of orders, chiefly selective time-space relevance of components. Some parts and components remain latent, but become relevant in specific conditions.

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Every human effort follows some intrinsic logic’. Parts of an entity, even before being manufactured and even before physically placed together, have some degree of coordination. The coordination begins within the thought processes of the Designer along with the formation of concept for the object.

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Another important characteristic of building systems is their domain or territory. This is very apparent in physical systems, but nonphysical systems seem infinite with no edges. However, metaphysical systems have a zone where they are adequately active in comparison to sections where such systems are diffused, i.e., partially effective.

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Recognition of order in building systems, are both subjective and objective. Subjective involvement allows the system author to see through the nascent logic, or prevent the recognizing the order. Objective evaluation of the system by an uninvolved person rides over personal biases. Objective evaluation by stakeholders can occur for substantially realized or an operational system.

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CORE OR NUCLEUS: Building systems have a strong focus or conceptual foundation from which other subsystems emanate or converge to. In building systems, a focus like core or nucleus is the zone where one establishes conceptual mooring or begin encounters with the system. The core distinguishes two directions: inward and outward.

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The conceptual systems have no edges or definitive extent. So encounters with the atmosphere as a system begins at the surface of the earth, i.e. technically at the optimum sea level. The core in such nonphysical or conceptual systems is a multi faceted and transient phenomena because some of the subsystems verge here for a while or seem to have a bearing here.

In buildings Core or Nucleus is an exclusive zone, less variable. A core zone is a singular entity and contrasted with peripheral areas, which are of many different types.

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PERIPHERY: In building systems the barricades (walls, roofs, doors, windows, etc.) the periphery zones are well defined. The strength of buildings barricades show the holistic character. Sub systems here have some semblances of independence but within the confines of peripheral barricades. The periphery zones or edges are recognized when a subsystem touches other subsystems of neighbouring domains. During rest of the conditions the periphery may not be perceptible. The periphery is well delineated in systems that exchange information or transfer energy at specific nodes and through some protocols.

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CONVERGENT ZONES: Convergent zones are more apparent in conceptual systems as the intervention areas formed by overlapping subsystems and also by gaps or interludes between the subsystems. The convergence and gaps-interludes occur, both in time and space. A loosely conglomerated system like the transit, courier, etc. consist of several modulated units, occurring across different regions, or across technologies. Here planned or recognized gaps and interludes give all subsystems a component like ‘replaceable’ identity. The gaps and interludes are not completely devoid, but are full of metaphysical things, as in case of solar system. Systems flourishing, at different periods or across geographical regions can have concepts, ideas, etc. that are common, making them universal.

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TIME-SPACE RELEVANCE: These are more apparent in very large systems, more so in conceptual systems. These systems have diffused edges and overlapping identities with other systems. It is a selective and subjective perception, because the large system reveals itself in parts. The perception is conditioned by the location and occasion.

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DOMAIN IDENTITY: Domains form a place, a physical or conceptual one. Real domain s have a territory, whereas conceptual ones have extent of effectuality. The conceptual domain is a belief or a conduct to sustain a myth. The acceptance or confirmation of it gives a sense of participation and control but without any distinctive ownership. Physical systems have a finite edge and so reflect an exclusive domain. All Domains are conferred with certain social, cultural and political ideologies. A domain identity marks what is internal and external to a system. It indicates how a system is part of the larger system. It identifies nodes for dependency or connectivity of the system.

This is the 30th article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN.

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SPATIAL MEMORIES –Issues of Design 29

Post 707 -by Gautam Shah

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Spatial memories are about experiences, encounters and realizations for a place, location, extent and territorial approach. These, at a simpler level occur as sensorial reminiscences and at complex level are construed as constructions, arrangements, patterns, sequences or projections. In spite of being in a real space, often, many of the elements of memories remain unconnected as these are distanced in time and space. The reminiscences of space experiences are rarely comprehensive. To know and understand a space, some reminiscent cues are explored for reliving, reenacting, enlivening, and rearranging the experiences. Spatial memories help to complete the experience of the space.

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Spatial memories are associated with sensorial experiences and environmental conditions. Both characterize a space as a place, location, the territorial approaches and define its extent or effectiveness. The spatial memories belie or seem intriguing when the sensorial stimuli or environmental conditions are not connected to any real elements. Memories, however, strange, need a trace to the reality. The association with real makes experiences contextual and re-collectible. Environmental conditions in spite of variations offer a base that is substantially consistent. But sensorial stimuli in various combinations, proportions and orientations alter the quality of space. So the sense of space emerges essentially from the sensorial manifestation.

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Spatial memories get formed on their own, through conditions of exposure such as the duration, intensity, frequency, elements of surprise, novelty, recurrence, familiarity and coincidental happenings. Classicism or styling, are the essential features, often abstracts, drawn form diverse sources, as singular or unified understandings. Styles are often perceived as new realizations and classicism offer deductive reconstructions. Both distinguish themselves on past reminisces, but are used for moving away from it.

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Spatial memories are intentionally induced to make spaces memorable. Such memories are induced by enhancing the experiences, replicating certain elements through exact copies or with minor succeeding variants, emphasizing identities of select components, building up extreme surprises, intentional mis-sequencing, contrasting the situations with things in time-space immediacy or with known past events.

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Spatial memories persist through the folklore. The spatial narrative of the physical assets, such as built-forms, estates, lands, assets, products, possessions, etc. consist of measures, scale, description of the structure, functions, congregations, processions, orientation, directions, etc. Whereas the metaphysical things such as dance, drama, ceremonies, require metaphoric connections to subsist. Such symbolic endowments are made part of the physical assets. The connections work two-ways, to arouse spatial memories and to give validity to the symbolic content of metaphysical things.

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Memories remain latent, almost on the verge of being forgotten, till a trigger brings them back. The recall, cues are very thin and fleeting but have the potential of developing into a larger affair. The cues need support from the physical forms like art, architecture, performing arts, crafts, music, etc., and from narrations or abstractions that continue to be embedded in our life. The spatial memories have diminishing prospects. As one moves away in time and space, the prospective field diminishes and the chances for recall cues thin out.

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Spatial memories have no permanence, but only changing relevance. One may not derive anything from a fleeting recall but related physical forms and narratives help arrest with some derivative meaning. Spatial memories need confirmation of common experience and becomes a matter of faith. The common ancestral, social, cultural, or national experiences strengthen the bond between the physical forms and narratives.

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When one establishes greater details about a thing or happening, it is to broaden the scenario. A broad scenario allows assessment of distances and directions of a thing or happening from other ones. For both the measures are time and space. Spatial memories are affected by the 1 distances, 2 directions, 3 contextual variability. These help, respectively in I orienting own-self intuitively, II way-finding around complex settings, III concentrating on the essentials among chaos. Such abilities are claimed to be automatic recognition of geometrical order between different elements in space. This is pattern forming and recognition.

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Spatial memories have helped us to map our stellar universe, territorial explorations and sensorial escapades. There are many things that change little over millenniums or change too much to keep a match with biorhythms. We memorize the changes in perceptions of size, colour, shape, movement, direction, growth pattern, etc., The capacity to perceive and means of mapping are two important factors for forming the reminiscences. For these known shapes, patterns, motifs and abstractions are morphed over for image building and memorize the changes.

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Spatial memories allow one to navigate through hyper and real spatial complex compositions like neighbourhoods, cities, deserts and forests. It is easy to recollect the environment conditions affecting objects. With drugs and hypnosis a person can indicate the location and positions of long forgotten objects or happenings. The space users remember most are the meaning, sense and emotion that an environment helped provide. Built forms, performances or narratives force us to do certain things in some explicable (predestined?) manner, but some of the reminiscences initiate a process of learning.

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There was a time when few things were recorded but many things were remembered. Yet, there is a natural limit to remember. Even with information recording tools, the quantum of things to self-remember have not changed but capacity to remind own-self and others have increased. Libraries, few centuries back were operating more as means of reminders. Similarly many built-forms are now more reminders of spatial experiences, due to the loss of associated meanings of those times.

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Humans have been remembering things that really mattered to them and forgot the rest. But writing and documenting made things difficult to forget. The collections in no time became so vast that a new branch of reminding was born. Early museums, post archeological discoveries and colonial expropriation of Art pieces, were accused of uprooting history from their natural surroundings. Here the relics were placed without the natural context but often compounded with new interpretations. All studies are manufactured interpretations and have a tendency to go for extremes. These commentaries have a tendency to make past as rosier or worse than it was. Such colourations are circumstantial. Someone has truly said historical interpretation is always contingent upon the audience’.

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Now the internet is making forgetting a lot harder. The internet and related information technologies of searches are taking the business of reminding to new scales. Forgetting is impossible with consistent reminders. More information is auto connected with links and tags. Spatial memories were enshrined in accessible (stored) knowledge bases, identified relics, manuscript, records, artefacts, arts, fables, folklore, fashions or styles.

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Modern public spaces now have face recognition systems that also trace out the movement in space and nature of engagements with spatial objects. The same systems will perhaps record what we cognize and do so if repeatedly exposed These are also means remembering and learning the spatial behaviour of individual as well as groups.

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Questions that emerge are, if memories reflect the past, are there any equivalent phenomena that connect the future. Future is inevitably bonded to the reality as much as memories are materialities of the past. One can never remember, imagine or construct a thing that is beyond the reality. There is a fear that unless things of the past are preserved, the present will lose the bearing.

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Woman Dresses People Agra Morning Kau Ban Mosque

Physical entities like architecture have the advantage of persistence, in spite of neglect and decadence. Architectural elements are defaced, disfigured or robbed but the space continues. Architecture rarely gets forgotten, but its memories subsist through many means.

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This is the 29th article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN.

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MAKE-BELIEVE in INTERIOR DESIGN

Post -by Gautam Shah

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Prophet_Noah(Nūḥ)_Miniature_book_(Muraqqa-e_Golshan;1605-1628)

Interior spaces result as an organization of spatial configurations for specific conditions of environment, beliefs and group behaviour dynamics. However, for circumstantial reasons, it is not always feasible to achieve a perfect set in a given space, for the available technology and in required time. To overcome such deficiencies Interior spaces are endowed with make-believe inputs or effects.

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The ‘make-believe’ is an economical substitute for the original or hypothetical entity (time, extent, money, effort). The ‘make-believe’ also offers an exciting tool for creation of new experiences.

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We strongly associate specific experiences with entities like materials, technologies, spatial scaling such as size, proportions, texture, colour, illumination, frequency and schedules of occurrence etc. or temporal skewing like enhancing or delaying the event. However, for make-believe, such experiences are created by substituting the nominal entities with different materials and technologies, spatial scaling or time skewing. When the predictable effects fail to arrive in the nominal context, or arrive in spite of a different situation a delusion occurs. Make-believe effects are almost magical or ethereal, and defy logic or reason.

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For example, our nominal experience tells us that dark spaces are cooler and quieter, and conversely bright spaces are noisier and warmer, but such expectations are sought to be replaced in maze and adventure tunnels of children parks. Night clubs are darker but noisier and prayer areas are brighter and yet quieter.

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We are generally conditioned by predictable effects of the traditional or known materials. However, when we discover that any peculiar configuration or additional input creates an experience that is different from the one that is predictable, and we get a tool for a make-believe effect.

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Mirrors play a very important role in creation of duplicate spaces. We are conditioned by the fact that load-bearing walls are opaque, so a glass wall seems different. Till recently transparent material like glass was flat and stiff plate, but plastics now allow two way curvatures, and can also be flexible. Rooms other than the nominal square or rectangular shape provide an unusual experience. Echoes and reverberation of sound provide predictable space dimensions, but different perception gives unusual experience of the space. Lights and shadows mould the visible space. Ionized air endows a garden like freshness in an otherwise stifled space. Indian epic Maha-Bharat mentions of a Laksha Griha (literally a house of Lac or wax), a place where solid looking floors were water surfaces, and water surfaces were real floors.

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A society by a tacit understanding accepts certain words, signs metaphors, and indications as allowable and non allowable actions (warnings, danger, caution, etc.). When such commonly acceptable norms are displayed, they function almost like a real barricade. Signs like Caution, Danger, ‘Do not trespass’, ‘keep off the grass’, etc. operate as barriers. Metaphysical barricades are indicative and unreal, or make-believe. Make-believe barriers exploit the instinctive associations and conditioning of physiological and mental faculties.

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In real life we do use the stage like make-believe and indicative effects. We use these to create situations that are called ‘dramatic or melodramatic’. Discotheques, Night Clubs, Amusement Parks, etc., are places where such make-believe effects are extensively exploited.

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CLAY MATERIALS for SURFACE FINISHES and PRODUCTS MAKING > Part -I

Post 706 -by Gautam Shah

Part -II will deal with ADDITIVES for CLAYS

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Surface finishes and Products composed with CLAY as the prime raw material have been used, for every conceivable purpose and in all parts of the world. Clay is preferred for : Abundant supply, cheapness, universal availability, insulation qualities, ecological value and simplicity of application. Clay finishes and products have some drawbacks like: shrinkage on drying, i.e., cracking, poor weathering qualities, lack of homogeneity in dry state, high water permeability -hygroscopic, poor bonding to a substrate peel-off, vulnerability to white ants and insects.

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The quality of the clay-based surface finishes and products depend on:

  1. Quality of soil
  2. Fillers
  3. Additives
  4. Manufacturing processes

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Quality of Soil

Soil is a product, formed mainly from the decomposition of a rock and ashes of lava origin. The decomposed product may remain at its place of origin or get transported to other places by natural forces like water, wind etc. The product, which remains at the place of origin the Residual clays, are comparatively pure, but have less uniform particle size distribution. Materials that after being transported get deposited somewhere else are the Sedimentary or secondary clays. These are generally contaminated by other materials and have smaller but uniform particle size distribution.

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Principal constituents of clays are Alumina and Silica. Alumina provides the plasticity, and Silica, if free, reduces the shrinkage and warping. Composite silica, though increases the warping on baking. Other elements of clays are Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, Potassium and Sodium. Various compositions of these elements and their crystalline structure affect the quality, colour and texture of the soil. Kaolin is the chief constituent of clays used for Ceramics production.

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Clays used for products making and surface finishing, are either Top-organic soils or Virgin-non organic soils.

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Top-organic soils have substantial amounts of organic matters from the decomposition of vegetation and human, and animals excrete. The presence of organic matters makes a soil light in weight and dark in colour. Organic soils usually show high workability and low shrinkage characteristics. When organic soils are found below an existing layer and are old, contain gallic acid and tannin in small proportions but sufficient to act as fungicide and mild insecticide.

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Virgin or non organic soils have negligible amounts of organic matters, and so reflect the basic characteristic of the predominant constituent element, i.e., lime, silica, or alumina. Non-organic soils, however, do take-on the personality of the other minor minerals present in it. Iron oxide as ferric and ferrous is the most important colourant. Other important colourants are quartz, kaolin, mica etc. Soils show a wide range of colours from off-white to yellow, light brown and chocolate to reddish tones. Non-organic soils unless constituted by colloidal particles show very little plasticity. Some mineral constituents of such soils are reactive to water resulting in swelling and leaching.

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Residual or sedimentary materials available at the top of the surface, or below a certain depth, can be classified as: Clays, Sands, Silt, Shale, Colloids, Hard pan, Hoggin, Loam, Peat-Muc, Humus.

Estructura-suelo

Clays are fine albuminous products formed by decomposition of igneous rocks (lava activity). Clays are tenacious and plastic when wet. Clays are highly cohesive, have high capillaries and no internal friction. Clays are smooth to touch, sticky and plastic. Clays can also be classified according to their plasticity, or silt content. Hard clays or stiff clays have low sand content, and are difficult to excavate. Fine clays have medium sand content, and can be excavated with slight effort. Soft clays have coarse texture and are easy to excavate. Pure clays are mostly useless because of the high plasticity and excessive shrinkage on drying. Plastic clays are called fat clays, and less plastic clays and are also called lean clays.

Ball ClaysClays are black, white, red, brown and yellow in colour. China Clay is a residual material, contaminated with silica, mica, feldspar and decomposed feldspar. Ball clay is a sedimentary material of fine grain size and some organic contents. It is finer than china clay. Fire clays are formed from feldspar as residual and sedimentary deposit. Brick clays are high in iron content, and impurities of calcium compounds and organic matter.

Sands

Sands are of small granular particles, usually of stones. Sands are gritty to touch, with little cohesion. It has high internal friction and very little capillarity. Silts are soils that are somewhere between a clay and sand. Silts are slightly gritty to touch and are darker in colour than clays. Colloids are gluey matter found with clays but of ultra fine particles. The colloids absorb moisture and remain suspended, rather than settle down in water. Shale is a compressed and laminated clay with or without organic matter. Shale is plastic when wet but disintegrates when dry.

Volcanic ash deposition

Hard pan is a very dense accumulated mass of soil, consisting of clay, sand, gravel, etc. held together in a rock like but layered formation. Hard pan does not soften when wetting. Hoggin is a natural deposit of a mixture of clay with small stones, grit and sand. Loam is a soft mixed deposit of silty clay and sand in different proportions. Peat-muc and Humus, have fibrous or spongy organic matters formed by the decay of plants. These deposits are black or dark brown in colour, varying compressible in presence-absence of water and so unsuitable for heavy loads. The decomposition of organic material is more advanced in muc than in peat.

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