DISTANCE as an ELEMENT of DESIGN -Issues of Design 26

Post 689 –by Gautam Shah

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 https://hbr.org/2015/03/bridging-psychological-distance

12 TERMS for DISTANCES

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.).

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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

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CASEMENT WINDOWS

Post 688 –by Gautam Shah

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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DYNAMIC CURVATURES -Issues of Design 24

Post 684–by Gautam Shah

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13 Barcelone - Detail of a Gaudi building

A curvature is the synergetic dynamism of a line and the external forces, unlike a straight line which is the path of a force. Antonio Gaudi stated that ‘The straight line belongs to the man, the curve to God.’ All curvatures on earth manifest under two basic forces, the gravity of the earth and the current stresses resetting the earlier status. The curvature reflects the forces, form and ensuing functions. But Dynamic curvature is a live story, telling us How a form changes under stress. Dynamic curvatures are found in spiral coils, serpents, water ripples, plasticity of wet clays, free movements of flying birds, bending of bamboos, sand-dunes, clouds, etc.

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A line occurs across two things. As per Euclid’s definition ‘The extremities of a line are points’. A ‘line’ in literary sense, had no distinction, It needed an appendage ‘straight or curved’. In this sense a curve is a generalization (stressed or stress-free?) of a line. Historically, the term ‘line’ (perhaps from linen, lino or flex) was used for, rope, hawser, series, row, rule, direction, rope, flaxen cords, thread, cable etc. -many indicating curved forms of line. The difference between a line and curve is of scale.

Curvature, in mathematics, is the rate of change of direction of a curve with respect to distance along the curve. At every point on a circle, the curvature is the reciprocal of the radius. For other curves (and straight lines can be regarded as circles of infinite radius), the curvature is the reciprocal of the radius of the circle that most closely conforms to the curve at the given point’.

11 Golden Gate Bridge. Most suspension bridge cables follow a parabolic, not a catenary curve, due to the weight of the roadway being much greater than that of the cable. Wikipedia Image

Over a longer distance, all lines are parallel or meeting in infinity. The earthly spatial geometry has latitudes as the parallel lines but longitudes converge at poles. Latitude and longitude both at smaller scale are ‘straight’ otherwise curved. Such spatial geometry lines are implied, but their curvatures are real and experience-able. A line, Earth’s horizon is seemingly straight, but in reality a curvature. A plane travels between two points, in shortest and a straight path, but following the curvature of the earth’s surface, an implied line.

12 at Broadway and Cortlandt Streets in New York in 1883, shows a nation exploding with its first communications.

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A line is a connection, where the intrinsic transfer of energy makes it straight, but extrinsic or abutting energy deforms it to a curved line. All types of energy transfers are revealed in the direction. Lines and curves with substance get stressed due to their own weight, and yield to the gravity. Materials yield or resist tolerable deformation. Such visual flections also occur over short distances. Our eye visually bends a straight line, and so facade of the Parthenon required several calibrations. In reality the tops of the towers of a suspension bridge or transmission pylons are further apart than at the bottom, due to a curved surface of the earth.

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There are many different forms of line. The transition from one to another medium reveals as an angular bent. Water-submerged section of a stick is a visual aberration of a line. Crystals are molecular level entities with the linear-angular structure. If the same are formed over a curved surface such as a liquid droplet, the crystals take the shape of the surface. Gravity has a tendency to distort the way crystals form. Outer space with nearly zero gravity allows creation of complex, three-dimensional proteins. Here the gravity and convective forces do not interfere in crystal formation. It is always advised to aim ‘higher’ to let the ‘bent’ trajectory reach the spot. So nature has both, the lines and curves, the former as intrinsic, and later as the extrinsic effects of forces.

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Curvatures, like the lines, also have a direction, as measured for the angle of the straight line formed by connecting any two points on the curvature. Such a presumed line could have horizontal, vertical or inclined angle, with reference to the earth. Curves that have a known or mechanical method of origin are Geometric, but if irregular or complex and cannot be defined using any equations, are Phantomastic.

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Curved lines come back to their point of origin to form a closed or determinate form (circle, ellipse). Closed curves have no beginning or end, but could be spiral, where the ends merge but in some other time or space. But, it could go to infinity to form an open or indeterminate entity, losing the essence of the curvature to a parabola, and eventually become a straight line.

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Circles have easier sense of movement, but spirals give a sense of completeness, but without any restrain. Spirals are natural shapes in shells, snails, water-whirls, cyclone or tornado. Spirals are boundless and open, going to outward or inward eternity. Spirals arrive back, but bring in positional and temporal change. Spirals represent the notion of growth, evolution and often confusion. Spirals move in clockwise of anticlockwise directions, that perhaps the persistence of initiating and sustaining energy. A spiral as a curve represents time, metaphorically better then lines do. A spiral curve is not a closing circle, but turns around to arrive back at a different elevation (or position). Essences of spiral are the pull and push, and both are linear. Structurally a spiral is linear entity for compression-tension. So spiral, a curve, is a line.

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Curves with a single stroke can have one bridging line passing over any two pints on it, but multi-strokes curves can have as many bridging lines. Single stroke curve, create forms open on a single side, with an area asset on one side of it. Multi-stroke curves, on the other hand, create alternating open side form area assets that alternate on either side of it.21 Optical,_Corrections_in_Architecture_95

Silhouette, outline, skyline, horizon, shadows or contour lines, are all edge lines of real or ephemeral entities. The silhouettes are accumulative projection of several objects. The outlines define extremity of an object, if strong, subdue the object by framing and limiting its extent. Skylines are the human formations, a unique horizon-impression of the urban scape. A horizon is an ephemeral line between the sky and terrain. Shadows follow the object but occluding the details of the object-body. Contour lines are curvilinear, unless of man-made mass like roads and trenches. Borders demarcate the domain differences in terms of social, political, beliefs, but usually reinforced by the terrain. Borders are linear dividers or closed ended protectorates (if, squared framed or full curved forms).

The Lines start and terminate to a point, whereas the Curvatures have uncertainty about their ends. Lines as edges of angular planes show cleaved faces (diamonds, crystals), but curves of a streamlined product have ‘continuity’.

A streamlined shape lowers the friction drag in the medium it moves, air or water. Drag is a force that slows down movement. Many animals, birds, and machines, such as aeroplanes, trains and submarines, have streamlined bodies to reduce friction drag’.

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9 Oak Park Il Hills House

During the Great Depression of the 1930s America had new style of Art-Deco architecture (late), product and graphic design. The Streamline Moderne or Art Moderne, favoured the curvilinear edges, accompanied by horizontal lines (parallel to gravity rather then up against it). Industrial designers stripped the Art-Deco design ornaments to implement the aerodynamic design. Long ribbon windows and cylindrical forms were new vocabulary of the ultramodern. All consumer products such as clocks, radios, telephones, cars, furniture, and other white good appliances were redefined to fit in the new concept. But these were sought to be replaced with modern materials of the age, steel, concrete and glass, and these had angular traditions.

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4 Dutchess of Hamilton, re-streamlined https www.flickr.comphotosbiscit19723558479803

This is the 24th article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN

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SPACES and PURPOSES

Post 683–by Gautam Shah

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Design for a Stage Set_ A Dungeon with High Vaults and a Staircase at Right.

A space is either real or abstract. The Real one is contoured in geometry and so well founded. The Abstract one is coalescence of many perceptions, or a fuzzy imagination, and so transient. Spaces have a natural affinity for location and environment. The location related factors are static like the spatial character, size, shape, ergonomic accommodations, and connections with the outside world. These are substantiated by structures, amenities, facilities, utilities, tools and enrichments. The environment endows many variations. As the environment is substantially directional, the orientation becomes a key determinant of the space lay. Other important factors are the energies affecting all things on earth. Gravity endows the stability.

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Spaces derive their purpose with the users’ concerns, like: sense of belonging, ownership, access, privacy, security and safety. A space for an individual, becomes functional, by the distance from edges, interpolation (of other spaces), connections and presence or absence of others (beings). A space, is relevant to an individual and groups, by the preferment of the core or verge. The core is intensely purposive to the ‘idea of space’, whereas the verge has many non-spatial connections and so motives are tempered.

36520624965_cfbfd6514b_zTo concern a space, one needs to possess it, by way of perceiving or occupying it. For both of these, one needs to possess it through a position in it. The possession of space is an indication that it is amenable to changes like size, shape nature. The position in a space makes it possible to explore a space consistently and differently. It reveals new potentials of the space. Possession and position are followed by the ‘next move’, the conditioning of the environment.

office-1094826_640Spaces are set of perceptions or experiences. Some are of real conditions, but many others are supplemented by the mind. Perceptions occur from positions in space and sequences of change between positions. Real positioning is framing in time and space, and the abstract one may have cause and effect (cause is partly responsible for the effect, and the effect is totally dependent on the cause). Space positions are taken for greater reach and cognition in space. Positioning is a biological as well as circumstantial conditioning. Spaces are places that reflect the necessity for gaining and maintaining a commandeering position. Positioning in space ultimately gets reflected in the cultural inclinations or biases. People prefer left or right preferences for turning, reading, sleeping or social interacting.

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Spaces are occupied for two main purposes, for various actions, and to keep materials and means to conduct the same. Actions are closely connected to spatial features, such as the environmental facilitations, architectonic elements amenities and facilities, and to other people. Activities relate to our being a biological entity like the metabolism, safety, security, privacy, comfort, rest, communication, expression etc. Actions are either routine or unconventional but productive or satiating. Routine activities occur with predictable spatial features, but compulsions of space size and group behaviour dynamics force unconventional settings for the actions.

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Routine purposes of spaces are day to day affairs. These are fixed to spatial segments, time schedules, environmental conditions, and utilize the same amenities, facilities, utilities. Spaces used for routine purposes reveal little that is exciting or new, because there is no need or time for exploration. Such spaces are predictable but very productive. The location related attachments are maintained, because these offer some flexibility for the spread of activities. Such segments due to their consistency and permanency are marked or named architectural units (bathing area, hay chopping area, etc.).

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Unconventional purposes of space emerge due to the compulsory and explorative shifting of activities. Such shifts occur only occasionally, because space-efficiency occurs when wait for the right occasion or search for the right location is minimal. Unusual purposes of space are realized first within the same space segment and when scheduled in the same time section or sequentially. In single room dwellings, tents and non-formal work areas the schedules and space requirements are well matched. But when one or both come under stress, unconventional means are sought or results delivered. Inconvenience of non-functional spatial or environmental features may be ignored, if group behaviour dynamics demand it.

geograph-4053627-by-Ben-BrooksbankActions occur at places from where some degree of command can be continued over a larger domain. These places are geometrically centric and environmentally favourable. Places of actions have strong cultural association, like public versus private, allowable versus sanctimonious spaces, or orientation taboos of directions.

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Casual repositioning and deferments of activities are required to relieve the tedium, and for experimentation. Activities due to their scale, required amenities, unfavourable weather or group dynamics require different space spread. Such activities need spatial shifting or time switching, or both.

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Customs and taboos result from the local perceptions and experiences, and so same activity could have different time and space setting (ethnic variations) across societies. This is apparent in satiating work like craft, than productive jobs.

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Spaces derive their purpose with the postural flexibility (capacity to gain and leave). The number of sub-processes, which can be handled without shifting, depend on the physical reach. The dependence on tools, equipments, structures, amenities, facilities though enhance the spatial purposiveness, do restrict the variations a space can offer. The expectations for the next lot of work, preempt the purposes a space offers

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To an outsider, the purposes spaces serve seems intermingled or chaotic, but real users know the order of sequencing. The processes occur in lots or streamlined movement. Spaces with streamlined purposes reflect the high efficiency through optimized postural changes, minimal location shifting, coordinated use of amenities.

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EAVES

Post 681 –by Gautam Shah

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Eaves, is a curious word. It has a dilemma hung on it. It is both singular and plural form of the word. It derives from Old English ‘efes’ =edge. It cognates, with words like, Old High German ‘obisa’, Gothic ‘ubizwa’ (hall), Gothic ‘ubizwa’ (porch), Greek ‘hupsos’ (height) and German ‘oben’ (above). Eaves are not just the roof edge up-above, but overhanging edges of a hat or forests.

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Eaves-dropping and eaves-dripping are etymologically related, but serve vastly different meaning. Eaves-dropping is listening to a private conversation, standing under the sill outside the window, and that sill ‘drops’ under the eaves projection. Or is it trying to over-listen idiosyncrasies of eves. Eaves-dripping is the dripping of water falling off the roof edge, and sometimes causing land washout.

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The eaves are projected roof edges or additional structures at a lower level, but both primarily conceived to throw rain water clear of the walls. These were required to protect softer wall materials or the masonry joints, like mud. Eaves help throw rain water away, not only because of the depth of the projection but its angle. These prevent erosion of the footings and plinths.

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Deep eaves shade the walls from sun-rays. The shaded areas of eaves form a buffer air zone to protect the walls from convective heat. Eaves as projections add to the upward load on the undersides. Projected eaves of wood, are fire prone elements. Modern buildings are constructed without any type of overhangs, because it hampers servicing-cleaning of facades, enhances efficiency of disaster rescue and evacuation, and reduces chances of irregular fire-spreads.

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Eaves are formed of cement-concrete, and as framed structures of steel and other metals. The framing is covered with a soffit made of materials of poor fire resistance (less than one hour of fire rating), and therefore is ‘susceptible to ignition by embers and hot gases’. Once the eaves catch fire it spreads to the exterior wall and roof.

13 Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D. Martin House, in Buffalo, NY.  Wikipedia Dave Pape.jpg

The eaves of any depth (Chhajja, cornice, cap, ledge) form a small to large, functional or decorative overhang as an architectural entity. Eaves and other architectonic elements like lintels, arches, head formations, floor ends, are all variously fudged to create new vocabularies. FL Wright began to open up the interior spaces with clear glass doors and windows as in Prairie houses, by using the darkened space below the elongated eaves. Taking advantage of the dark formation under roof overhangs, Wright began to negotiate the corners with windows, and broke the box like Victorian architecture of the age. He added bands or elongated windows to add to the horizontal effect of the eaves’ roofs.

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According to Japanese mythology a door portal is formed by the Hisashi (usually means eaves), whose character has the meaning ‘a space to see’. It is a connection with the outside. So a door occurs when a horizontal element like the eaves is formed. The essence of a gate comes into being through the eaves. Torii is a metaphoric gate, formed by head bands, the ‘eaves’. The eaves are free floating elements, seemingly have no side supports. The Torii gate has such eaves lines. The Sanchi Stupa Gate also has three emphatic horizontal bands of eaves. The Toran, buntings, streamers, banners, all are forms of the eaves.Gates

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The eaves not only protect but mark an ambulatory pathway around a building. The moya, or main room of the shinden, was surrounded by a secondary roofed veranda, or Hisashi. The moya was not partitioned, privacy being secured by low portable screens. The area surrounding the *moya or core of a temple building was a narrow aisle-like area, usually only one bay wide. It can extend around the moya or on one, two or three sides. The floor of the moya and the Hisashi are at the same level throughout. Hisashi may also refer to an unenclosed veranda or corridor protected by either additional eaves underneath the main roof, or by the extension of the eaves of the main roof over the open Hisashi.

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Eaves-drop or eaves-drip, is the width of ground around a house or building which receives the rain water dropping from the eaves. Projected eaves have been matters of tenancy-rights disputes between neighbours. An ancient Anglo-Saxon law, a landowner was forbidden to erect any building at less than two feet from the boundary of his land, and was thus prevented from injuring his neighbour’s house or property by the dripping of water from his eaves.

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● A proprietor may build as near as he pleases to the confines of his property, provided the eaves drop from his building does not fall on the adjoining property. It is enough, however, that eaves-drop actually falls within the building’s property; and the conterminous proprietor has no right to complain although the water, following the natural inclination of the ground, should afterwards run into his property.

● The Roman law required a proprietor who had no servitude stillicidii to place his building two feet and half within his march.

● In Scotland there is an express statute on the subject; but by custom nine inches, at the least, seem to be necessary for the eaves drop.

-Dictionary of the Law of Scotland, Volume 1 By Robert Bell

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Eaves projections and Fires: The building act of 1707 in London and other towns of England banned the projected wooden eaves to prevent spread of fire along the wall and to the roof structure. A 18″ thick parapet was required and the roof edge was set back. The roof was set back little more to provide drainage of rain water. Parapets over the roofs were made taller, shaped, decorated and pierced.

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PROJECTED OPENINGS in BUILDINGS

Post 679 –by Gautam Shah

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Openings often transgress the nominal edge of the architectural entity. Such outward, and occasionally the inward push occurs on the wall faces, roofs, corners and floors. Outward pushes mainly add to the floor spread. But it also facilitates the side view and breeze from the street. It also offers greater opening size. Outward push of a building element is used to architecturally undulate the surface by projection and its deep shadows. Outward push from the roof has formed interesting silhouettes by varying the skyline. Outward transgressions have occurred in occupy-able buildings like homes, palaces and also in other structures such as fort-walls, gates, estate walls, barricades etc. Inward pushes like chowks or cutouts are basically climatic relievers. But these also serve as space dividers, isolators and privacy-security elements.

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OUTWARD TRANSGRESSIONS: Examples of wall face transgressions are: Oriel, Bay-window, Bow-window, Zarokha and Mashrabiya.

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ORIEL WINDOWS are polygonal bay windows, but with a larger perimeter and so allow wider view of the outside. Oriel windows are usually placed on the upper floors of the building, but siting on ground floors is common. The windows as a projected bay is supported off the base-wall by column, piers, corbels or brackets.

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The word oriel is derived from Anglo-Norman oriell and post-classical Latin oriolum, both meaning gallery or porch, perhaps from classical Latin aulaeum =curtain. Oriels developed in the 15th C, when under the Tudor kings. Merchants and artisans, generally living over the shop in a narrow and tightly-packed town houses, added space by building oriel encroachments. This often resulted in extremely dark streets. Oriel windows were also placed over gateways or entrances to manor houses and public buildings. Oriel windows once again became popular during the revival of Tudor style in the 19th and early 20th C.

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BAY WINDOW forms a projected bay or bow like polygonal shape. Bay windows became popular with Victorian architecture (1870’s). A typical bay window consists of three windows, the middle unit is parallel to the house, and adjoining two units are set at 30 to 45 degree angles. There are three basic types of bay windows. In full bay windows the opening stretches from floor to ceiling level to create a nook in a room. In half or part bay window, the window starts at seat or nominal sill level and reaches head height level or full ceiling level. In the third version the bay is more of a flower box projecting out.

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BOW WINDOWS are curved or polygonal bay windows. Unlike the bay windows, there is no middle window unit, parallel to the room. Instead several small width window units (fixed and shuttered) are joined to form a bow shape. Bow windows first appeared in the 18th C in England, and in the Federal period in the USA. Bow windows are also called compass window and radial bay windows.

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ZAROKHA originated from the Gokh or Gavaksh (Sanskrit), a form of articulated wall niche for storage. It became more of a projection with a seat or a window form. A Zarokha or Baithak (seat) is a raised platform from the room floor. Zarokha is often partly ow wholly latticed. The Zarokha as an ornamental element was part of the architectural composition. In tropical architecture Zarokha compensated the need for an intermediate element like a verandah. The Zarokha and the derivative window forms, as Chhatri (belfry or umbrella), were further refined as pavilions and other roof level facilities.

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MASHRABIYA is a projected window on upper floors, in buildings mainly in the urban setting. Mashrabiya is used in houses and palaces although sometimes in public buildings such as hospitals, inns, schools and government buildings. It is commonly placed on the street side, but occasionally on the internal courtyard ‘sahn’ side. Mashrabiya windows are presumed to have evolved during 12th C in Baghdad. Iraq and Egypt are two countries where many examples survive. Mashrabiyas are enclosed with carved wood latticework. Mashrabiya has been used for correcting the shape of upper floor front rooms. 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. Mashrabiya also has originated from verb Ashrafa =to overlook, ignore or to observe.

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4775158313_71d4c3be87_zProjecting an opening has taken many different forms where glass is used as a supporting or structural entity. It counters the perception that structural entities are nominally opaque. Projected openings have had opaque floors and now replaced with glass. Original intention of projected openings system for stretched or unlimited view is now being re-purposed.

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CORNERS and Neighbourhoods

Post 678–by Gautam Shah

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This is the 3 rd article of series: ‘CORNERS’.

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Neighbourhood is a realm of certain scale, resilient extent, variable sensorial reach, activities, intra-personal contacts, diverse implications and ever-revealing spatial character. Neighbourhoods have no particular pattern or shape. There is no formal arrangement of spatial entities, like buildings and objects. The spatial entities, building and objects remain static, but the mediating spaces carry different personal relevance and meaning. The neighbourhood represents a sentiment of people formed by the spatial character. The character, where small changes are noted and relished.

Lisbon Street Image by Paulo Guedes (1886–1947)

1 The scale in the neighbourhood is defined by the sensorial reach of the person such through the physical reach capacity, vehicles or means of conveyance, routing, climate, obstructions and the linkages such as bridges, access conditions etc.

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2 The extent of Neighbourhood is a resilient factor, because the reach capacities and needs are personal and so different. Senior citizens cover only that distance, which can be traversed back. A road with high density traffic reduces the spread of a neighbourhood.

3 The Sensorial reach is variable as it relates to the perception faculties like touch, smell, taste, see and listen. A child is required to be within the visual field, but a little older one can stretch it to distance of shout call.

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4 Activities in neighbourhoods, have an excuse and purpose, as these manifest due to people, space, and season. These are as casual as calling on new settlers and offering help, introductions and directions, or formal like parties and celebrations.

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5 Intra-personal contacts flourish at spatial locations like shops, corners, seat-out places and near objects in space, but facilitated by the sensorial reach (of touch, vision, hearing or smell). The reach defines the functional adequacy for interpersonal relationships and related behaviour. Intra- personal contacts occur as encounters, of recognition, casual gestural and verbal greetings and durative exchanges. The routes, space use occupation, time schedules are very deliberate. The spatial character of the neighbourhood is formed by the intensity of activities, which in turn foster the intra-personal contacts.

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6 Implications of neighbourhoods are evident with how people realize the spatial features. This is vitalization that formats the space as the place. This is always a synergy, impossible to inculcate through design, or difficult to bring in about by outsiders. Neighbourhoods are about dwellers of the place, and not visitors to market places or parks. The dwellers have certain attributes like age, social status, economic activities, cultural-religion affinity, duration of stay and sense of belonging. These form diverse sets of human interactions and compatibilities.

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7 Neighbourhoods continue to reveal their spatial character. One becomes more comfortable with the functional potential and variety it offers. New sensorial connections emerge from smell of foods, sounds of speech and music, visual accent of colour and texture) and the tactile liaison through handshake, caress or hug. These connections are embedded in the people, environment, built space and objects.

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The essence of a neighbourhood is the spatial character that is natural, and not a designed one. When people begin to associate the spatial configuration as a participatory extension of their home, it offers a wider sense of belonging. Neighbourhoods are vicinity where people, place and the objects have empathetic connections with synergetic interaction system. The shared identity and related spatial significance are not rationally grasped by many, but all do understand the new experiences that continuously evolve here. The neighbourhood as empathy grows over a period of time, maturing as a distinctive personal domain, different from other settlements.

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A neighbourhood is a community place, where the dwellers or ‘locals’ acknowledge the co-residents. This leaves out the gathering or visiting places of ‘non-locals’, and which may be at some distance, like the parks, zoos, markets and malls, etc. A neighbourhood is always a space with uncertain markings. Its extent is fluid, depending on the person’s physical reach capacity, vehicles or means used, routing, climate, obstructions and the linkages such as bridges, access conditions etc. On the other hand gathering or visiting places of ‘non-locals’ are zoned and regulated spaces, strongly defined by barricading elements or contained within set of other places. These places flourish due to the connections with the outside world but neighbourhoods thrive on the internal strengths.

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The neighbourhoods have reach regulated by distance. Reach is accessibility to people and objects through familiarity, reliability, predictability and security. ‘These references have historical traces in the race, cast, craft-activity, food, dresses etc. of the dwellers.

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Observation is participation in a neighbourhood place. A mother will not allow a child beyond visual field or shout-out reach. A youngster reaches out, to go to known places like friends’ house, school, or playground. Buildings and objects on daily routes of travel seem part of the neighbourhood. Objects beyond the cross barriers, such as busy roads, water-bodies, railway-tracks, hillocks etc. are considered parts of other neighbourhoods.

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Historically, small neighbourhood spaces had characteristic commercial component in the form of small stores and services (tailor, barber, laundry) shops. The traders with shop-home combination were also the informal watchdogs (policing) and communicators (gossip). Such places within the neighbourhood formed the loitering places and play areas for children. The commercial component was dissolved with shops and services being pushed to the main roads by zonal regulations. In towered apartments the population density is often great, and shops and services requirements are greater. But these are also pushed away in non-organic layouts. Loitering and play areas for children are vacant lots, used except for few hours. The tall tower dwellers with cars are encouraged to do intensive Saturday-Sunday shopping.

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Every little change is not only noticed, but routinely probed. People recognize the spatial changes. Around the corner or beyond the nominal perspective’ the changes are more apparent. A turn is a reversible change cutting off or initiating the connections. The change is worrisome, both by its presence, if sudden and extensive, or through its absence like when not of expected scale and quality. The neighbourhood fabric is disturbed by faster change in dwellers’ profile, new buildings, zoning laws, access to media and means of communication, rapid changes in urban-architectural character beyond the neighbourhood.

 

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Turning around ‘a corner is a limit of the home precinct for the child, but an additional adventure for a youngster’. To the elders, the corner is interesting from the opposite side, as it allows a wider perspective. Street-corners are good locations to observe and passively participate in social activities. Street corners are not always road junctions, but estate or plot edges that are shaped acute, obtuse or diffused. The old planning dictum to always hold the street Line’ or else time will erase all the spared space on the edge. ‘Put your building right out at the sidewalk, instead of behind one of those dreary concrete plazas’.

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The street corners are the ‘territory break lines’, not just for dogs and gangs, but also for the users. Within the personally ‘felt’ territory or limits, people move around without explanations, embarrassments or fear. Such ‘discretion’ are helped by the multi-angled-toothed layout of the neighbourhood, rather than a long straight street or squared edge layout.

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In Ahmedabad, India the genesis of the neighbourhood was in the ‘Chakla’. It was the first multiple road junction after entering the fort gate. The road from the fort gate was straight, whereas the Chakla had multiple nooks and corners, to be a place for everyone. Neighbourhoods were also formed as the gated communities such as the Pols of Ahmedabad, ‘for the purposes of defence, group preservation, sociality and convenience’. And within the Pol, there were other public or community spaces, in the form of Chowk and Khancho (literally a setback). These were irregularly shaped relief-spaces, identified by the temple or important dweller or the caste-community.

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‘A good city street neighbourhood achieves a marvel of balance between its people’s determination to have essential privacy and their simultaneous wishes for differing degrees of contact, enjoyment or help from the people around’. (p59 The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs).

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An existing convenience store in Toronto, Mimi's Convenience Store

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Corner bars, cafes or grocery stores were places of convenience, and preferred ‘joints’ because of the commanding view they offered. The owners of such commercial entities were not outsiders, but residents who dwelled up-above or on the back side of the ‘joint’. But with zoning regulations, these were pushed out to the main roads on the edge of neighbourhood or exclusive commercial zones. The ‘joints’ of the neighbourhood were not always in the corner, but known as: 7to11, 24×7, Morn-Eve, Bodega (from Latin apothēca, or apothecary =storeroom or wine-cellar), konbini (Japan, approx abbreviation of konbiniensu sutoa =convenience store), Arabe du coin (Paris), packie, delis (delicatessen), dépanneur or dépanner (French) shortened to a dep, party store, offy for off-license shop, sari-sari store (Philippines), milk stores or bars, Mama shop (Singapore).

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