COPYING and TRACING -Issues of Design 39

Post 753 -by Gautam Shah


9 An anonymous draftsman combined Four figures (copying-tracing) in a single composition

Copying is a natural phenomenon, where we pick up some impressions of sensorial nature, such as visual, aural, smell, taste, touch etc. Copying may be an instinctive act. It occurs as some form of behavioural expression. When a child begins to understand that certain actions, responses, sounds from the environment, if emulated, triggers some actions. It becomes a language of action-reaction.

2 Emulating expression of a collegue Wikipedia Photo Credit C. Todd Lopez

The sensorial effects have two fundamental scales, temporal and spatial. For example, Hearing is structured with beats (marking-representing the passage of time) defining the temporal scale. Similarly Seeing is structured with traces, which help to understand the spatial scale. Artists, Crafts-persons and Designers cannot survive without copying and tracing. In both the cases, the sequence of origination and affectations, however, often gets disarrayed.

3 A young boy mirrors the gesture of his grandmother Matera, Italy Still unaware of despair

We perceive many things and wish to remember them. The retained image can only copy the effects close to the original. To retain a visual impression, it should carry some potential for recollection and production. Here one, needs transfer protocol. Same way, we can remember smells, tastes and tactile feelings. These are even more difficult to structure and retain, so we associate such experiences with their conditions of origin or encounters and with reference to time, space, and the environment.

1 Art Painting Copying for learning

There are broadly two ways of copying. These are either contagious or noncontagious. The former, is used for objects that are touchable or accessible, whereas the later, is used for very large or small things.

10 Jin Jaswadi, wayang kulit figure from the epos Serat Menak Sasak Wikipedia image by Antareja

Contagious copying was made from flatter forms like shallow carvings, metals engravings, fabric designs, etc. The method only copied the selective forms, from the images like the pattern, structure, etc. Contagious copies are exact scaled replicas. These are sometimes formed by bridging randomly marked (real or imaginary) points to generate a skeleton frame.

4 The camera obscura principle as illustrated in James Ayscough's A short account of the eye and nature of vision (1755 fourth edition) Wikipedia Image by James Ayscough

5 Sheiner Viewing Sunspots 1625 Illustration from Rosa Ursina by Christoph Scheiner

Noncontagious formations occur from what we retain as remembrances (from an exclusive observation or accumulation of multiple experiences over period). These are collections of points or linear strokes, retained over graph, grid or reference motifs. Non contagious images are drawn-images that are often impressionistic, and in the form of facsimile or surrogate forms.

6 View of Delft is one of the paintings by Johannes Vermeer where a Camera Obscura was used.

In visual arts, copying the works of the masters has been a standard way for students to learn to paint or sculpt. Copying of three-dimensional works (models) in easy-to-use materials like clay or wax was a primary method. Such models or 3D renderings (perspectives) were also used for scaling, on site-positioning, visual confirmation, and for duplication. Such images were used for visual confirmation (presentations) of the donors or sponsors for the proposed buildings, sculptures, artefacts, murals or stained glass compositions.

11 Giorgio Vasari Last supper Thanks giving celebration sketch (used for the main painting) 1546 Staaliche Graphisce Sammlung Munich Germany

Forms copied through contagious and noncontagious routes are distinctly different. Contagious duplication is more elaborate but accurate, Noncontagious imaging matures after multiple attempts. It though, allows upward or downward scaling. A noncontagious image is done instantly, or if, remembered, must be immediately transferred to some media, sketch, model or narrative. There is some inevitable generative deterioration of details, interference of ‘noise’ and personal interpretation. But, when noncontagious images are collated through several individual experiences, at different occasions and locations, a reasonably acceptable image emerges. The process of improvisation must occur continuously to prevent deterioration or ‘cultural’ improvisations, which accumulates with each generation.

12 Camera Lucida in use for drawing small figurine

8 Part of James Watt's sculpture copying machine

Non contagious deduction through the impressionistic mode also result into doodles. Doodles are too personal and frugal, so are meaningful to the authors. Others have to wait till something concrete emerges out of it, such as a model, set, building, art composition, a strategy or film. Doodles can provide the cues about thinking of the author. On a performance stage the cues are discreet indications or prompts for reminders like, specific sounds, beat or mime acts and gestural expressions.

7 Giovanni Canaletto (1697-1768) who used Camera Obscura for many drawings of Venice

Copying was once done through pin hole boxes and camera obscura. Unlike sketching, the early image capturing devices substantially truthfully captured the colour and texture, shades and shadows. Such images were only reversed (upside down) views, smaller in scale, but needed some storage system. For Scenes with depth (perspectives) were renditions over the graticulate frame. It was a square marked frame to facilitate the proportionate enlargement or reduction of the image. Portrait drawings were prepared from the silhouette as captured on the glass board (19th C). With digital imaging, the copying is ‘nearly’ scalable. Upward-downward conversions are carried out with the aid of the tracing instrument called the pantograph. With each ‘new generation of technologies’, the older copies seem ‘out of date’. Frequently copying from the copies, the deterioration accumulates with each process.

31 Roman building Imagination Chicago Museum Prints and Drawings Giovanni Battista

Teachers teach by writing on the board, speaking up and by actions (gestural-postural), asking students to take a note of it. The note-taking, is copying the lesson. Dance teachers ask students to follow a regimen of steps accompanied with beats. The dance steps and the sound of beats, ultimately get transferred to production with music and positions on the performance stage. These are copying processes in parts that ultimately form complex image.

32 A Narrative is Tracing An Indian artist is painting in sign language, on buckskin, the story of a battle with American soldier

Squaring up, is a simple technique of dividing an image into the grid, which allows easy and accurate copying (at the same, reduced or enlarged scale) of the image. The same method was used to transfer small size sketches onto canvas or wall murals. To perceive a visual image, lines and grids, have been used for ages. Such implants, as a superlative pattern establish mutual relationships and distance. Early images of constellations, territorial forms, caricatures, facial expressions, etc. are such captures. Squaring for transfer technique did not damage to the original sketch.

27 The Virgin and Child with Saints by Vasari Square grid

24 Giorgio Vasari grand duke cosimo de medici reviving the city of volterra sketch Squared in lack chalk for scaled reproduction

Tracing has a basic purpose of duplicating and imprinting an image. Tracing is a tool for reproduction of an expression. The image needs to be ready on some media (opaque, transparent or translucent). The image gets transferred (transfer print). During tracing, one has a choice to manipulate the image. It is a quick rendition that carries only the essential or the sketchy impression, and so minimal. The reproduction is also a manner of interpretation and improvisation.

25 Full sized sketch Vasari

25 Sketches like these are sold or rented as replica cartoons to other artists

Tracing was used for copying drawings, signatures, writings and maps, and often for reproducing them. It was a tedious and inaccurate way of copying. Only larger details could be accurately traced. During tracing, the craft masters often improvised few of the details.

22 Objetification by image projection

Tracings have limitations, as can be delivered mostly in visual or aural transference. In tactile tracing visually impaired persons sense the surface through their hand, feet or walking stick. This, of course, is reinforced by the spatial acoustics. Smell traces can lure or scare (smell of tiger urine) the animals.

21 Sighting the object for scaled sketching

14 Silhouette drawing over a transluscent screen

The copied images have a characteristic axial setting and so changing the original is not easy, but traced imprints make it possible. Copied images are traced by maintaining the original, varying the axial setting, purpose, in part or whole or in repeated formats. The tracing, if on transparent or translucent media also allow manipulation through mirroring in horizontal, vertical or inclined directions.

16 Albrecht Durer, Female Objectification, Drawing a Woman Through a Perspectival Frame 1525

Tracing retains something of the original characteristics like scale, proportions, etc. But, may intentionally miss out many things like, finer details, colour and texture. Tracing is a selective follow-up of the image. It picks up important switches in any configuration, like ends, edges, junctions, angles or cross overs of lines-plane and marked interchanges in the contours. Tracing may select specific colour zones and create colour separated versions (multi coloured printing overlays). Tracings, if part of a larger composition, are marked with indicators to establish the continuity and orientation connections.

32 A Narrative is Tracing An Indian artist is painting in sign language, on buckskin, the story of a battle with American soldier

17 Stereographic Image of a floating gallery J. P. Doremus. 1872.

18 Stereographic Image

Tracing requires running a pencil, stylus, pointer or pricking wheel (a pouncing wheel is called a tracing wheel) over the lines or dots of the image. Pouncing has been a common technique for centuries for oil paintings, engravings, murals etc. Tracing is by impact impression or pricking holes in the media. A powder such as chalk, graphite or pastel is forced through the holes, to leave an outline on the working surface below. Tracing images over the fresh lime Plaster for Fresco painting of very large mural surfaces, was fairly common. The image outlines were macro zones filled with colours by apprentices and details overdrawn by the master painter. Tracing as a shadow or silhouette capturing, were done for portrait drawing. Similarly, star constellations were remembered by endowing a superfluous image.

13 3D scanning of the skeleton of the fin whale female Lenora in the Natural History Museum of Slovenia SWikipedia Image by User TadejM

23 Reverse Engineering A mould insert that was captured using a 3D scanner and is now available as a CAD model for further adjustments Wikipedia Image by SCAN IT 3D

Tracing is nominally used to copy an image for imprinting it, at some other place in a different reference, in original or varied axial settings, purposes, part or whole and repeats. In case of sculptures, copies have often been made using devices such as the pointing machine, the pantograph or 3D cameras or a computer guided router systems that can scan to generate a model through 3D printing.

15 A pantograph milling machine, with a parallelogram the tracer stylus (with roller tip), machines were especially important before CNC became ubiquitous W im

A scrivener or scribe (often called a copy master) was a person, who could read, write letters to court and compose legal documents. These people often translated and also improvised the content to please their masters.

30 Orthodox Jewish scribe writing the Torah on parchment

A mimeograph machine (often abbreviated to mimeo, or a stencil duplicator) was a low-cost duplicating machine that works by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper. Mimeographs, along with spirit duplicators and hectographs, were common technologies for printing small quantities of documents. From 1960s, the photocopying gradually displaced all duplicating machines and technologies.

19 Gestetner Rotary stencil Cyclostyle London, around 1920, Wikipedia Image by Dr. Bernd Gross

Cartoons are full scale or part size sketches made on metal, parchment, fabric or paper. These were used to transfer an entire image, or parts of it for multiple duplication. These were pricked with pin-holes for imprinting a copy for mural fresco, wood boards or canvas. The Cartoons (from the Italian word for a large sheet of medium material), were also test replicas for checking on-site suitability, composition format, details of figures and other embellishments. Cartoons (since 1500s) were used for approval of donors.

26 These faces serve as place making sketches, where the faces may get replaced by pictures of sponsors, donors, etc.

The cartoons had restrictions, as it was not possible to create as large as the intended artwork, so select important elements such as body postures, faces, dresses, architectonic elements, decorative features and motifs for embellishments, etc. were prepared. These encouraged rearrangement, repositioning, or mirroring of the content. Cartoons also allowed placing of the figures on plain and curved surfaces (like ceilings). But with cartoons it was not possible to enlarge or reduce the scale. Cartoons did not offer the colour shade scheme (unless the original artist has indicated by naming or patch). Usually the dress, ornament, skin colour and illumination-shading were decided later on.

20 Cartoons --Pin Holes -pricks for copying the image from a parchment --all figures and other details may be copied directly, manipulated separately in different context and by different artists

The cartoon mediums (parchment, paper, silk and other translucent fabrics) were fairly fragile, deformed through stretching and frequent pin hole punctures, so had to be carefully maintained. The Cartoons were precious possessions of the artist, and were well secured to prevent misuse or thefts. But many such pieces, after the execution of the painting, were rented or sold off to others for reuse at other sites. Cartoons were called Khaka (Urdu). Disney studio, in the pre computer age used a set of cartoons for facial features and backgrounds. Cartoons could be repeated at different positions within a composition, on curved surfaces, or inclined surfaces such as over the arches and ceilings.

28 FAÇADE 2015 on September 5th, 2015 (Projection Mapping) Wikipedia Image by GoToVan from Vancouver, Canada

32 Tracing Two repetitions of a walking sequence of an individual recorded using a motion capture system Wikipedia image by Lars Lau Raket

A trail is a series of marks left by a person, animal, or any thing in action. Many of the GPS systems trace trails of movements (through multiple satellite images or recognition by multiple mobile towers). Trails form an image or reflection by combining a series of impressions or recognise a sensible geometric pattern out of random data. Animals trace smell or heat as a trail. A meander, derives from ‘turning path of the River Maeander, in Asia Minor’ or ‘the meander is the figure of a labyrinth in linear form’. Scrolling is design structured over spirals, rolling incomplete circle motifs, but incorporating copied images. Terms such as, the interlacing or arabesque, are used for such linear use of repeated images. Computer Mouse allows trailing and selection.

29 Tracing with laser engraved sandstone


ILLUMINATION and COLOURS in SHADOWS -Issues of Design 38

Post 737 -Gautam Shah


This is the FOURTH article on series Illumination and Shadows

1 Claude Monet Garden at Sainte-Adresse 1866-1867

Monet said: ‘A Colour owes its brightness to the force of contrast, rather than to its inherent qualities’. He also said that primary colours look brightest, when they are brought into contrast with their complementaries’.

2 Alexander mosaic Absence of shadows (except at the bottom) by Magrippa at English Wikipedia

Colour contrast has drawn attention in drawn art forms as well as architecture, sculptures, ceramics, textiles and craft items. Colour contrasts emerge, when a different and lighter or darker colour is placed next to the other one. But colour contrasts also emerge, when a colour comes under differing levels of illumination or shadows. This realization was conspicuous in 3D forms. Such colour contrasts perceptions under natural or other illuminations and related shadows are affected by the ‘local’ reflections. The subtle grades of contrasts emerge due to varied brightness, from objects in different directions and in intensities due to many colours of the reflecting surfaces.

Colour Tones

8 Lion hunt. Mosaic from Pella ancient Macedonia) late 4th C BC, depicting Alexander the Great and Craterus. Housed in the Pella Museum

3 Fresco from the villa of P. Fannio Sinistore in Boscoreale, currently located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Colour contrasts were realized, first in mosaic arts as a form of ‘highlighting marks’. To make a mosaic figure or image to stand out from other similar entitles that needed emphasis (wider and darker-lighter edges). But mosaics had limited size and colour range, and this was not easy. Early drawn arts like Mosaics were equally ‘flat’. This was perhaps, as the medium of art Fresco, was a method of pigment impregnation onto wet plasters. The colours were zoned with scratched outlines and had little scope (time) for colour mixing or edge diffusion. Details were added in Tempera, for which one had to wait for the surface to thoroughly dry out. As a result fresco artist, used intense contrasting colours in demarcated zones of the fresco.

4 Terracotta funerary plaque 520–510 B.C.

7 Frescos in Cubiculum -Bedroom from the Villa of P Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale No shadows or Perspective

As the interiors became brighter with larger clerestory windows, there was a clear need to ‘add drama and mystery to the paintings’ through high contrast of colours. Painting themes were now not just depictive but narrative, and in the background included architecture, landscapes and non religious figures (political sponsors and donors). Holy figures were distinguished by bright ‘halo’. These halos and backgrounds, in brighter colours or gold gilding, made everything else seem darker, often gloomy. To lighten the perceived dark effect, many levels of sobered contrasts were added, and the result was a ‘flat’ composition. For the contrasts, the body contours, folds of fabrics, highlighting marks, differences between near-by and far-off objects, were formed of black or darker shades. The use of darker shades, for edge making, however, taught the value of shadowing with illumination.

9 Ajanta Cave 1 Ceremonial bath of Mahajanaka frasco India

10 Little or no use of body contour shadows Scene from Mahajataka King denounces worldly life at Ajanta Cave frescos India AD 475-500 Flickr Image 16580719987 f515f2b6fe_c

The shadows formed better depth contrasts. The shadows (related to illumination) were first placed with respect to the local needs. These ‘local needs’ in theme, created many shadows and sources of illumination, and also had as many directions. But soon shadows were modified as related to single the source of illumination. Such ‘related shadows’ made paintings lively and realistic.

12 ART by Fra Carnevale 1467 Light without source , but the shadows on the right side wall defy the logic.

5-1 Duccio di Buoninsegna Jesus opens the Eyes of a Man born Blind

Single source shadowing was very difficult in mosaic and very large mural paintings. There were few issues here. FIRST, Shadows were predominantly cast with a source of illumination from the left-top corner. This made objects towards the right-bottom corner suffused with long shadows. SECOND, The shadowing style adopted in artworks, did not match the actual illumination from the openings of the architectural space. THIRD, There was the belief that holy figures do not cast a shadow. These factors required a lot of experimentation. First, the problem required a painting to be narrow or the source of illumination shifted away from the extreme top-left corner. Second required a composition in consideration of the existing conditions of the architecture and the viewers’ position. Third issue was solved by forming graduated dark-light areas for body or dress contours and ignoring the shadows falling on the ground.

13 Jacopo Tintoretto's Wedding Feast at Cana at church of Santa Maria della Salute in Venice. The window sides remain dark but the illumination on the table is brilliant

From the days Painted Roman interior Murals, the Perspective was used to arrange ‘built or spatial’ elements in compositions. These were scaled for depth, but not specifically illuminated. Objects with visible sides were made darker towards the receding edge for greater effects of the depth. For greater perspective effect some of the parts of buildings or the spaces between the buildings were back lit, but shadows followed the front-based illumination. Illumination and shadows, did not come together in any purposive manner.

11 Feast in the House of Levi Paolo Veronese 1573 Use of Shadows for depth and contrast

21 Canaletto Venice Capriccio of the Courtyard of the Doges' Palace with the Scala dei Giganti AND 21 Viviano Codazzi and Domenico Gariguolo

It was from 1700s that Capriccio style of art for drawing fantastical architectural buildings and ruins, with inclusion of occasional staffage (figures), truly began to exploit the perspective. Areas of painting were illuminated through a direct single source of illumination or atmospheric distributed light. Areas that did not get illumination were treated to be mildly darker, thus creating a sense of contrast for depth. The illumination and shadows depended on tonal gradation, and this can be recognised and executed, if the areas are fairly large. Tonal gradation cannot be included in micro architectonic elements.


In Asia, perspective did not occur, though some inclined planes indicated the depth. Scaling of elements and figures was extremely illogical. The depth was through spatial zoning, like, frontal areas filled in with elements, dominantly involved in the narrative. The next mid-zone was for supportive elements like architectural and landscape features. The background, was used as a contrasting plane of lighter tones. The ethereal elements included here, served to balance the composition, by their ‘white space’ presence. There was complete absence of graded or directional illumination, and colour shades for shadowing.

16 Multiple sources of Illumination resulting in utter chaos Jacopo Tintoretto Last Supper 1592 1594

16-1 Joseph Wright of Derby 1768 An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump

28 Dramatic Colour Contrast

Illuminated and shaded areas are nominally differentiated with the tonal variations of the same colour (monochrome) or with different hues. But this effect was enhanced by texture contrast of physical roughening of the surface, like the gesso and impasto in art. Gesso is the base or foundation treatment, which imprints a texture on the art surface. Impasto effect is created by laying the paint in very thick layers, so that it can allow brush or painting-knife strokes to be visible.


It was in 1600s that artists were able to create textures, not just by scrapping the surface, but through directional or random texturing, as a simulated visual effect. The directional texturing became art of intaglio or gravure, and became style of impressionist art. The art of texturing a surface, also became Sfumato style of art, as forming a soft transition between colours and tones to achieve distinct realism.

17 Georgio de Chirico Shadows (without tonal variations) and Colour Contrasts 1913-1917

Shadows depend on the strength and distance of the source of illumination. Candle, Lamp, electric or fire illuminations, unlike the Solar light, are at finite distances and of limited intensity. Both, however, form shadows with respect to the elevation of the objects. Solar light offers vast grades of reflections from nearby surfaces, but, other illuminations can provide small cone of receding strength. The skill to represent the colour tonal variations in shadows from the reflected light was grasped post Renaissance period. The nature of the colour within a shadow is mainly due to the intensity of reflected light and the colour (from the reflective surface).

18 Andrea Pozzo Plafond Ceiling Art The Apotheosis of Saint Ignatius

The ceilings (flat, dome, vault or other configurations) get illumination from windows and clerestory openings, in many directions. The ceilings and upper sections of tall walls were used for illusionistic paintings, with features like floating angels and clouds, foreshortened figures and pseudo architectural elements. The details were seen from distance, so drawn in an impressionistic manner with wild brush strokes. Such ceilings, known as Plafond art, had the lower edge, drawn in dark and contrasting colours and shadows, but the top central portion forming the upper limit of the room, were made with blue of the skies to look ethereal. Plafonds (17th to early 19 C) offered great lessons for treating architectural spaces with illumination and shadows.

24 Variations in Illumination through day-night

23 Single souce harsh Illumination George C Ault and Hopper

Mannerist painters and later Baroque artists used extreme intense contrasts between light and dark, almost obscuring their subjects to lend drama and mystery to the paintings’.

19 Monet art Without Shadows but colour differentiation between main and side faces

When Monet painted his series of haystacks, his main concern was to show that in reality, the colour of light and the colour of shadow, depending of the time of day, both, change simultaneously and dramatically. Artists of 19th C used comparatively, stronger dark shades for heightened impressionistic realism. This began to change with the onset of next century, when lighter colour shades (perhaps due to the Titanium Dioxide) were available. The subject matter changed from realistic to ‘objective’ abstraction. Here the source of illumination was unrecognizable, and so the shadows were nonexistent.

20 Edouard Leon Cortes Twilight hours illumination


MOTIF PATTERN and DESIGN -Part 2 -Issues of Design 37

Post 735 -by Gautam Shah


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A Design comes into being with the realization of the order that forms the composition. Architectural drawings are not designs, but media for representation. A design is the comprehensive experience of sensorial, emotional or functional nature that one derives from an object. Some designs are simplistic that their experience is holistic.

6 Orchidiarium_-_Medellin_Botanical_Gardens

A Holistic composition itself, may present as a single entity. Such exploits are not common. Holistic compositions are ‘superfluous’ with extraneous body and no dissect-able content. Holistic compositions are too personal. It is not easy to convey to others, except as the sensorial experience (visual, aural, tactile, olfactory or taste). A Holistic feel does not convey or have any utilitarian purpose. The creator of the holistic entity may experience the design-order conceptually (mentally or schematically), but for others, to perceive that feel, it must wait for the actualization. Private creations tend to have holistic ideation, like an abstract thing or a sculpture without any capacity to convey a meaning.

10 Deconstructivist Gymnázium v Orlové

11 Vitra Fire Station Deconstructivist Architecture 5402353925_29ec3f4cc4_c

Formal Designs are very large and complex organizations, serving many functions. A formal design serves functional, technological and, stylish relevance, besides being sited to a place. The conception of a comprehensive structure serving all these is not possible within a practicable period. The exigency of solution achievement does not allow it. The urgency derives from the fact that some other slightly superior solution can outpace it. In the circumstances, a design remains a workable entity, an assembly, where at any given moment ‘some sections may work well, and others remain time-space compromises’.

5 Fale_-_Spain_-_Cordoba_-_51

Actualized designs have size, shape and other sensorial attributes. The composition in an actualized design emerges through these basic characteristics. But most importantly actualized designs need to confirm to some compulsions. Without this, a design remains a defunct sculpted form, or an assembly of materials.

4 ceiling_glass_roof_structures_patterns_modern_interior_curved-1359376.jpg!d

At Design ideation level, a solution may seem comprehensive and so nearly holistic. There, however, are some compulsions which must be considered before a design actualizes.

1 L'estremità_di_una_via_cieca._Casa_di_Gilda,_bozzetto_di_Mario_Sala_per_Rigoletto_(1903)_-_Archivio_Storico_Ricordi_ICON000120_B

1. A complex design entity is conceived with many systems, some of which are fairly independent, but most others are not only mutually dependent, but spatially convergent.
2 The convergence also occurs due to the few nodes that connect various systems to the outside resources and systems.
3 A design encounters directional solar and other environmental elements, and these have zonal identity.
4 A design creation to be stable and secure must affirm to natural forces like gravity and structural integrity.
5 A design, where possible will be conceived of replaceable elements that require fitment facilities and protocols. The replaceable elements, fitment facilities and protocols, need to be universal and modular which force continuance of traditional or time-tested things, rather than new ones. A design emerges as a dilemma between old and new things.


Cubists, Modernists and later Deconstructivists tried to take a reverse route to reach the state of ‘abstraction’. They tried to reach a state of Holism by elimination. To this end, attempts were made to ‘eliminate’ (often just cover-up, hide or dis-regard) ‘what was plausible’. It is not possible to escape the reality and create any thing unimaginable.

Design documented schemes and actualized entities reveal Patterns, at three levels, as holistic, sectional or part identity. The revelation of a pattern is related to the scale of the design. Design documented schemes are scaled to manage and manipulate the composition, whereas, actualized designs are experienced in varied conditions and references. In documented design the perception of a pattern depends on the quality of presentation, and in case of actual design, the pattern can be sensed depending on the quality of environment (intensity of background interferences like glare, noise, persistence of past experiences) and conditions of perception (distance, angle, occlusions, reference to past remembrances, framing, personal sensorial capacities, etc.).

8 The_exterior_of_the_Baron_Empain_palace

9 Brighton_royal_pavilion_Qmin

Patterns have primary relevance, if, its body can be realized, and the potential for reuse manifests. For the later intention, a pattern must be traceable. One must sensorially realize its presence or remember its body and be able to copy, recollect or recreate it. In the process, many things get lost, but what gets carried is the essence of the pattern. A pattern may recur in some other time-space conditions.

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The patterns, as a ‘pure design or image’ has no raison d’etre (cause or purpose of origin). Patterns may be entities independent of the surroundings and also flourish as attached to some context. Patterns are arrangements, oriented peculiarly, but could still remain relevant from many other sides.

13 Pattern recognition on steps Flickr 41093653282_f1300f9d88_c

Patterns are sectional or part identity of a design composition. The formation and recognition of the Pattern, is the first order of founding a Design. Some ‘designs’ not offer an ‘unusual pattern’ as a take home essence. Such patterns are often in holistic in form. Patterns can have the potential of being joined with similar or dissimilar patterns, reduced in scale and repositioned (reoriented). Patterns also have the inherent possibilities of becoming part of larger compositions. At this stage holistic compositions do not remain personal things.

12 Enhanced Pattern Recognition 8697403826_8b3c8b2e49_c

Patterns nominally have multiple Motifs, and all integrated in some manner. But a Holistic pattern is a motif. Such motifs (holistic patterns) are self-sustaining elements and stay unaffected by the happenings in the surroundings, so some order of connectivity is required. The order of connection is the manner of touch or overlap, scale, direction and orientation besides the physical commonality and partial distortions. These are the essential characteristics that offer inexhaustible possibilities of bridging. The bridges, have two ends and a ‘structure’ in between. In case of a pattern, the structure may be physical, but generally just hypothetical recognition.

14 freudenberg-4572410_960_720

A Pattern may look like a familiar object, but need not be a representation or symbol. It may not have any abstract conveyance, yet may carry an associated or interpretive meaning. Our cognitive processes surpass the sensorial perception, and so redirect the sensorial search. Pattern recognition is a matter of perception, and so a personal affair. Recognition of a pattern in nature remains impressionistic, and remembered, noted or expressed for posterity.

17 Sagrada-familia-arches2

The Pattern style is omni present but becomes valid with a culture (terrain, climate, religion, customs, technology). Nikos Salingaros for example considers ‘regularity to be a key property of a pattern whether the pattern is the external stimulus itself or some other percept residing in the mind of the perceiver’. Is the pattern objectively observable and measurable or is it a subjective experience?

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Pattern in Noise: The phenomenon of finding meaningful patterns in meaningless noise is called patternicity , and conversely, not perceiving patterns that are present in the visual stimulus is called apatternicity.

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In general terms, “a gestalt is a form, a figure, a configuration, or a pattern.” The Oxford dictionary defines form as “the visible shape or configuration of something.” The psychologist Gibson argues in his paper titled –What is a Form? -that much more precision is needed in the definition of such terms if they are going to be useful. He laments the fact that “the term form is used by different people to mean different things and by the same person to mean different things on different occasions.” According to Gibsonshape, figure, structure, pattern, order, arrangement, configuration, plan, outline, contour are similar terms without any distinct meaning”.

19 Pinakothek_der_Moderne_frontal



Post 729 -Gautam Shah


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8 marcello-gennari-KA89yJKYtjE-unsplash

Architectural objects are stationary, but their shadows move and shift around them. The directional variability of the solar illumination offers many different light-shadow conditions. The intensity of solar illumination varies during day hours, seasons and atmospheric circumstances (like cloud cover, mist, dust, etc.), and creates many grades of dark surfaces. These has taught the architects, how to exploit the utter darkness of the cast shadows along with the many grades of intermediate darkness of the back-face surfaces. There are other grades of darkness over surfaces re-illuminated with reflections from surroundings. Such variable contrasts conditions were exploited in many ways. It helped in scaling the darkness of deep set spaces, to grade the near and far-off distances, and add greater realism to nearer objects.

2 simon-launay-0lvWTBqsoZA-unsplash

3 tiplada-mekvisan-n_vdmdtNh6M-unsplash

Architecture is an inside and outside place of visitation, allowing many sided experiences of the object, with cast shadows and intermediate grades of darkness over the ’back-face’ surfaces. These was unlike the Art, where only a fixed extent of intended image is represented, be it a canvas, book page, wall fresco, stained glass, mosaic, or architectonic decorations. The shape of an object and size and form of its shadow, though continuously variable, reflect each other.

9 ehimetalor-akhere-unuabona-iRaeBSeh4uQ-unsplash

Within an art work, the objects’ shape and the size-form of the shadows may not proportionately reflect each other. The selective framing and point of scene capture, chops the objects and their shadows. As a result, proportions, if any are not revealed. The process of selective elimination from art paintings began to be exploited further in architectural creations.

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In architectural works, extensive shadows conceal objects or architectonic elements that must be nominally seen for realization of the composition, form, size and proportion. The dominant and extensive shadows could, however, may be ‘concealed’ behind objects that are placed in the frontal most planes. Such dominant and extensive shadows, though are relevant for fixed hours and points of views. One of the classical examples of this is the Greek Columns forming the facade.

Column heads

25 supreme_court_building_usa_washington_front_columns_courthouse_government-770070.jpg!d

Shadows massing form building fronts of two classes. Buildings that are comparatively of flatter plane, though with pockets of shadows of various depths (depth read as the downward length of the shadow). Some of the shadows indicating the depths get mixed up with darker colours of the facade surfaces like glass. This is an area, where seasoned designers fail to perceive the true dark-light play over the facades. Another class of shadows massing over building fronts occur due to the projecting out mass of elements. These projections over the facade are well illuminated but their shadows fall on plane surfaces as well as on undulating masses. The uneven masses, if, angular or with inclination, the complexity of the shadows increases manifold.

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Shadow massing affects the buildings’ around public or open spaces. Such buildings, if form a flatter plane, whether, due to the repetition of architectural motifs (elements of facade language) or due to the extensive scale of visual perception, dilate the surface shading effect of the sunlight. Buildings forming such ‘visually flat planes’ were socially throughly failures.

17 Puerta_del_Sol_(3)

The ‘fixed-view’ or panoramic architectural configuration for the Plazas and Public spaces are of two basic types, 1 a large open public space dilutes the surface shade-shading effect of the sunlight, because of the large scale, whereas, 2 a very compact frontal space, seems spatially so articulated that there are too many varieties of surface shade-shadings of the sunlight. In the later case few designers had resources, experience, opportunity or time (historically, decades, if not centuries, for the long process of improvisation) for any corrective action. So whatever, was locally plausible, was accepted.

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26 Brussels grote markt-belgium-1546290

In case of an architectural entity, the field is infinite but can be visually scanned by movement of the eyes, forming a seamless scene. But that was not so, with older style cameras that captured visual scene that seemed jarring. In case of human eyes the proportion of object to shadow is variable, but with artificial devices the object to shadow is shifting and so jarring. To reduce such variability of scenes, architects have resorted to selective framing for fixated observations, through windowing or deep set perspectives (that focussed the points of views). In architecture limited observations were also enforced through smaller or occluding openings, open ended-deep spaces, overhangs, serrations, cavities, etc. The selective framing chops the objects or their shadows.

18 Almoina

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At a first glass, the shadows as dark entities seem very dark in the context of bright exteriors. Eyes however, soon dilate themselves and begin to perceive finer details within the shadows. Architectural features, human beings and their shadows often create captivating compositions of scale and proportion, but this can be perceived by an observer or camera. So scene capture like photograph remains a ‘neutral’ observation.

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Shadows have natural relationship with the source, direction and type of illumination, but more importantly, it is the quality of objects and the surfaces on which shadows occur. Cast sun light shadows show a horizontal line as horizontal, but a vertical line as an inclined entity. Consistent exposure to these has come to be accepted as nominal phenomenon. But shadows of inclined elements such as stairs, ridge of the roof, etc. have a different character.


11 City Center, Fort Worth, Texas Site plan with shadows] - PICRYL Public Domain Image

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Architectural shadows are defined by the geo zones. Nominally between 23° N and 23° S have brighter sunlight. The strong light here gets reflected in darker shadows, but that again is affected by the dominant colour of terrain, density of vegetation and surface colours of building materials. Tropical areas such as Southern countries of Europe have had deeper and elaborate architectural elements. The shadows are used as an architectural instrument of form, composition, and visual effects.

32 ART by Ottavio Viviani Capriccios of Light and Shasdows

This is the 35th article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN.


ISSUES of DESIGN -List of 34 Blog articles


Post 728 -Gautam Shah


This Blog Series ISSUES of DESIGN began on 30MARCH 2016 with plan to include 20 Topics. But, later 20 more Topics were planned. Now, after FIVE years it has reached to 35 Blog articles. 6 More articles will be included by JUNE end 2021. –Gautam Shah

01 (603 30 Apr2016) BODY POSTURES – Issues for Design -1

02 (605 13May2016) INTERVENTIVE SPACES – Issues for Design -2

03 (606 17May2016) PERCEPTION through SCALES and CONVERSIONS -Issues for Design -3

04 (607 24May2016) SPACE PERCEPTION – Issues for Design -4

05 (609 6Jun2016) MOVEMENT and BALANCE – Issues for Design -5

06 (610 10Jun2016) NON VISUAL LANGUAGE -Issues for Design -6

07 (612 20Jun2016) DESIGNERS and QUALITY -Issues for Design -7

08 (614 28Jun2016) ANTILIGATURE -Issues for Design -8

09 (617 22Jul2016) SCALING the SPACES -Issues for Design-9

10 (621 18Aug2016) REAL and VIRTUAL -Issues for design-10

11 (623 Sep122016) METAPHOR Issues for Design -11

12 (629 8Nov2016) CONTEXT -Issues for Design -12

13 (639 4Feb2017) SOLIDS and VOIDS -issues of Design -13

14 (642 4Mar2017) OBJECTS in SPATIAL FIELDS -Issues for Design -14

15 (649 9Jul2017) REFERENCING buildings -issues for design -15

16 (653 6Jun2017) RHETORIC in DESIGN -issues for design -16

17 (654 14Aug2017) SCALING the SPACES -Issues for design -17

18 (659 2Oct2017) PERCEPTION of CONTRAST -Issues for design -18

19 (661 4Nov207) SOUND and SPACE -issues of design -19

20 (662 16Nov2017) MODELLING of OBJECTS in SPACE -issues of design -20

21 (661 3Mar2018) GEOMETRY -Issues of Design -21

22 (669 27Mar2018) SUPPORT SYSTEMS -Issues of Design-22

23 (674 14Jun2018) SIZING and SCALING the SPACES -Issues of Design 23

24 (684 14Dec2018) DYNAMIC CURVATURES -Issues of Design 24

25 (686 9Jan2019) DESIGN, MOTIF, PATTERN -Part 1 -Issues of Design 25

26 (689 15Feb2019) DISTANCE as an ELEMENT of DESIGN -Issues of Design 26

27 (692 15Mar2019) VANDALISM -Issues of Design 27

28 (702 26Nov2019) DISTANCE MEANINGS -Issues of Design 28

29 (707 19Nov2019) SPATIAL MEMORIES –Issues of Design 29

30 (708 28Nov2019) ELEMENTS of BUILDING SYSTEMS -Issues of Design 30

31 (711 23Jan2020) 711 SEGMENTING the SPACES -Issues of Design 31

32 (714 24Mar2020) DESIGN PROCESSES -Design Handling –Issues of Design 32

33 (720 3Sep2020) DEPTH and DISTANCE PERCEPTION -Issues of Design 33

34 (727 15Jan2021) ILLUMINATION and SHADOWS -Issues of Design 34

Other topics likely to be included >


36 ILLUMINATION and ART WORKS SHADOWS -Issues of Design 36

37 ILLUMINATION and COLOUR SHADES -Issues of Design 37

38 TRACING -Issues of Design 38

39 DESIGN, MOTIF, PATTERN -Part 2 -Issues of Design 39

40 COLOUR HUE TINT -Issues of Design 40


DESIGN PROCESSES -Design Handling –Issues of Design 32

Post 714 by Gautam Shah



Designs occur as a concept, idea or theme, expressed in the form explanation, process of creation, or representations like drawings, models, surrogates, samples, digital images. All Designs are documented briefs for realization. Design also carries a meaning of forming a pattern. Creations by artists or craftsperson may occur as experiment or improvisation, and are not truly designs. Designs need not be realized as a physical reality. A design can be a strategy for operational management or conducting services.

Structure at Kabah 4707705100_82facac70a

For a designer, knowing means to achieve a specific end are very important. Proper record keeping of all design processes helps here. It is very difficult to register dreams, intuitions or inspirations. One needs to recall them in a different time and space context. All intuitions or inspirations, however, absurd, have some physical context of origin. Designers unlike a lay craftsperson or artist, are trained and disciplined, to record their design related thought processes. The thought processes thin out or obliterate completely with passage of time, so must be recorded as early as possible.


Design Processes for a Lay person and a Designer are very different. A creative lay person simply goes on creating (assembling, modifying) things without being aware why certain things manifest in a certain manner. For a creative person the end is important and means irrelevant. A Designer, on the other hand, tries to discover the logic behind it. Selection of an element may be initially intuitive, but there is always a later effort to justify the actions intellectually. A designer justifies all actions like selection, rejection, inclusion or composition of various elements. In doing so the designer refines the intellectual prowess by equipping with an experience that is:

  • definable
  • repeatable or recreate-able as a whole or in selective parts
  • recordable -its perceptive aspects
  • transferable to another person
  • increase or decrease its intensity (time scale) and diffuse or intensify its concentration (space scale).

Scaffold structure-construction-pattern-line-electricity-531489-pxhere

For these (above) purposes Designers rely on documents. The expertise of documenting all aspect of design helps a designer to handle extensive or more complex intuitions or inspirations. Personal and impulsively formed systems tend to be Holistic, with few or no recognizable sub systems and being very unique require more extensive definitions and so complex documentation. On the other hand, planned systems, whether personal or evolved through multilateral effort, and over a longer period of maturation, consist of many sub sets. Planned systems have subsets that are already formed by vendors and well prescribed.


Documents are personal method of transmitting a design to stage of realization. In large projects designs are transmitted to professional executors and in different locations. Design transmission and interpretation, require ‘culture’ of protocols. Many such protocols are not defined but accepted as the traditions. Such traditions make a Design transmission and interpretation fast, but are prone to errors.


Designers create both, Closed and open-ended systems. Closed Ended Systems are intentionally made holistic. Closed-ended systems are planned to protect the intellectual rights of the innovators. Closed systems are improvise-able only by the author or inventor, whose capacity to update it continuously is finite. Proprietary computer software may be used by a licensee, but its code remains restricted. The closed systems cannot be dissected for inspection or repair, the form is compact and rigid. Closed ended system need nodes of connectivity or gateways to be useful. Such gateways may or may not allow access to others. Such systems become irrelevant as soon as an open-ended option is available. In the world of mutual dependency, closed systems cannot survive much longer.


Open-ended Systems evolve from multilateral effort or multi trial endeavours. Where large number of people are involved in design and execution, and where these processes are likely to take place at different time and locations, the system automatically becomes Open ended. The subsystems usually offered by venders, to be replaceable, are conceived as substantially independent systems, by their vendors. Open-ended systems have a ‘design-architecture’, formed through common measurements, materials and procedures. To allow these, open-ended systems have a skeleton type frame structure (infrastructure) and fit-in modules. Open-ended systems have built-in reserves or additional safe capacities, often wasteful, but such reserves make systems more persistent. Open-ended systems allow replacements, improvisations and up-gradations of their subsystems and components.

Overhelming spaces



SEGMENTING the SPACES -Issues of Design 31

Post 711 -by Gautam Shah


17 train-seats-transportation-travel-trip

Spaces are divided with partitions and also segmented through ephemeral means. The spatial definitions formed by partitions or physical barriers are permanent units, whereas the segmented spaces are mere recognitions that are transient and symbolic. Spaces need to be divided into smaller parts, as much as combined into a greater whole. The sub-unitized spaces are sometimes recombined by selective dissolution of the partitions and zoned identities are re-comprehended by redefining their purposes.

Patient recovery post-anesthesia care unit

6 Interconnected Rooms 16993145099_06b36824e3_c

The spatial entities have two sets of characteristics. 1 – A space with personal identity is a centred spread. It is focussed to the core and with variable peripheries. 2 – A space with identity of a group is of precise extent. It has an emphatic periphery. In the first instance the spatial quality emerges from the physiological and sensorial reach to others and objects. In the second instance, the group dynamics like customs of social distancing, sensorial responses for interactions and in recognition of age, sex and relationships between the people, define the space.

2 Amsterdam_Theatermuseum_chamber_theatre_backstage

The structural divisions in built-forms are finite zones for identity, isolation, privacy, security and environmental exclusivity. But these can be often too large or small. Small spaces need to be enlarged by transgressing to adjoining zones or even outsides, through the openings. These form convergent spaces with the adjoining zones, like verandahs, galleries, bay windows, etc. Large spaces have the scope for inverse or inward transgressions. The inward intrusions change the functional character and sensorial qualities by forming mew peripheries. Where sub-spaces are consistently used, these may be distinguished with built partitions.

5 GeneralFederation_of_WomensClubs_ca1910s_interior_LC

Partitions brand a space for exclusive use, private access and status quo. Once palace and manor kitchens had many roomettes like for cutlery, crockery, linen, cream and milk, bakery items, poultry, meat etc. The primitive cooking place was also meal taking place. These were structured storage units, but now have become segmented parts of kitchens, with better cabinets systems. And nowadays with continuous supply chain system very little storage segments are needed. Dirty kitchens forced dining to separate room. In modern times cooking is no longer dirty and cooking is not necessarily cook’s or housewives’ domain so cooking and dining both impinge on family rooms.

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To coalesce two structured spaces, the prime strategy is to relocate, resize or add openings between two. Next strategy is to combine the functions of two spaces. Family rooms and drawing rooms are no longer separate entities.

15 Venezuelan_Kitchen

Ephemeral divisions relate to delineation of areas for people, tasks, amenities, facilities, orientation and environmental affectations and sanctimony. Such delineated areas are customary and respected by the members of the family as much as by the community. Some areas are considered sacrosanct and require affirmation to rituals. The tasks conducted here in ephemeral divisions are variable in spread and transient in time. The spread is defined by the physical reach and the tools’ assisted range. Postural capacity and adjustability both rationalize the spread.

9 kitchen-fifties-sixties-seventies-style-retro

Ephemeral segmentation of space occurs with both, the Time and Space interventions. Time interventions allow use of same space for many different purposes. This avoids the conflicts of privacy, sanctimony, security, territorial ownership or access and sensorial mix-up. The Western Wall, Wailing Wall, Kotel or Buraq Wall, are different ephemeral divisions of Holy place in old Jerusalem. Spatial distancing and time delay allows reenforcement of individual identities but when at excessive scale creates alienation. The appropriate balance can have different meanings for the concerned persons, objects, activities, intentions etc.

10 Turkish culture-architecture-old-home

Defined or Abstract, space segments are recognition of the edges. The edges reflect three distinct spatial characteristics, namely, –Edge or Periphery, Core and the Adjunct.

In case of defined or structural divisions of a space, the edge as the barrier has a peripheral character. This is more so when the space spread is large enough to distinguish the core versus the periphery. The adjunct areas here have relevance, wherever the barriers are breached. In case of ephemeral divisions of a space, the edge is not real but just a recognition of extreme part of a spread. All ephemerally segmented spaces have unreal edges that converge with other domains. For segmented or partitioned spaces the periphery becomes the area of connections and variations. Besides the environmental variations and communication, it is also a point of control.

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The housewife chooses a space segment, usually a verge, from where everything can be observed and controlled. The services area, cooking, dining and the entry, form such connected segments. In single room spaces like Bhunga or huts the door is such a control point.

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The core is the place of task-handler, equipment or source+direction of environmental affectations and possibilities of control over other spaces. The core defining elements could even be sited abutting a structural element. Every other section beyond the active core is peripheral. A space gains a personal meaning when the activity conductor is the focus and everything is distanced from it.

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The societal intention of a space is not necessarily circular but rather a concentric one, where the periphery is the greatest distance before becoming irrelevant. The core and periphery are distinguished by the social distancing as a recognition of age and sex of the people. It can be personal at one level and also as accepted tradition or taboo. The personal need for segmenting a space is to accommodate the self, include other people.

11 Compartmental spaces india-rural-home-scenic

The personal space may not need compartmental divisions except for safety and security against displacement. Personal spaces flourish better with opportunities of interaction and participation in activities of others. This is possible if the spaces are only ephemerally segmented. The public spaces, if extensive, allow several segments to thrive.

8 Adjunct areas anguillara-rome-drying-laundry-housewife

13 Inward Adjunct spaces temple-ladakh-india-tibet-shrine-mystical

The adjuncts are sub core sections, which impinge the main spread, but in different time and space. The adjuncts spaces have nearly distinct identity and so are separable. Adjuncts share a similar architectural ethos, common sensorial experiences but with variegated environment. Verandahs, chowks, courtyards, terraces are such locations. Off-centric core areas occur for one person or point focussed concentration. These are cornered entities that only flourish with adjuncts acting as escape areas. Performance stages function only with side-wings and backstage support. Public spaces and plazas cannot survive without the adjunct streets. Public buildings exist with attached foyers. Multi-room homes are served by the lobbies.

1 Partitioned Stage theater-546611_1280


This is the 31st article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN.



Post 708 -by Gautam Shah



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. A building has some relevance related to the site or surroundings. A building that outlasts other surrounding structures and spatial elements, however, is required to rediscover-redfine its relevance. These may include alteration of architectural character, urban patterns, additions and subtraction of the mass, functional use, orientation and social-cultural justifications.

7 architecturaldesigngreektemplerepetitionofcolumn

8 Hong Kong 9278832806_e514bd6610_c

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.

cour napoléon du musée du louvre avec pyramide 75001

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.

3 geograph-6245178-by-Rob-Farrow

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.

6 Germany,_Berlin_-_Reichstag_-_panoramio

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.


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.

11 Burj_al_Arab_lobby_March_2008panob

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.

1 fortpoint_fortpointsanfrancisco_brickforts_underthegoldengate_civilwarforts-443769

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.

Old Architecture Building Facade Window Hauswand

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.


SPATIAL MEMORIES –Issues of Design 29

Post 707 -by Gautam Shah


10 Liberty Bell 462864892_f2f1d35e70_c

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.

1 Spooky Place 2871375188_4cdefc27fc_c(1)

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.

15 lonely-alleyway

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.


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.

2 The Rage of Achilles by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1757, Fresco,

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.

18 Musical Instruments 29743081007_8d7167d461_c

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.

11 old-stone-church-architecture-in-cyprus_800

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.


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.

3 Plague

5 London Travern 11250424876_b5d9697bed_c

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.

9 Malay

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.

4 Wayang_Pandawa

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’.

21 Pergamon_Museum_Berlin_hm

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.

17 Remembarances

22 ART by Pieter Brueghel the Elder - The Dutch Proverbs

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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.

Houses Street Buildings Old Strait City

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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.


VANDALISM -Issues of Design 27

Post 692by Gautam Shah



Vandalism is willful destruction of property and culture. Property and culture are spacious words. Property includes buildings, structured public assets, art, artefacts etc. Culture covers political, religious, economic and social systems, and institutional arrangements. A property can subsume culture, so any danger to former is a threat to the later. Vandalism is as much a personal act and common act of individuals, as it is conduct emulated by individuals with some commonality, so group-based conduct.

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Vandalism is interpreted as criminal damage, misdemeanor mischievous behaviour, malicious or otherwise trespassing, breach of privacy, felony offense intentional indifference. Vandalism laws are designed to prohibit and discourage the such conduct.


Vandalism is an attempt to change the existing set of things or order. It may not involve annihilation or removal of things. On occasions, the actions are directed to the owner, authority or God. And even if the search for them is solvable, but the vandals may have nothing to correspond except the intense desire to register their presence.

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Destructive actions can be ascribed to anger or envy, or to spontaneous, opportunistic behaviour. The action may be for peer acceptance or bravado in gang cultures. The cause of disgruntlement with a person or society could be absence of a target. Private citizens commit vandalism by willfully damaging or ignoring the damage to the property of others or the common assets.

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Vandalism against the common values of the group or society may arise for not being included or invited. It may be that the opposed values are too prominent and so the target. Values enshrined in properties are challenged when changes for betterment or creative interventions are made without due permission or authorization are made. Values are compromised when subtle or explicit ideological ‘messages’ are conveyed through public expression or conveyance through social media. The vandalism may occur when values conveyed through a declaration may be subjectively interpreted as harmful or annoying.

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In the world of internet and social medial vandalism takes the shape of ethical and revengeful hacking of domains and data there in. It may also include persistent and massive ‘trolling’ through hash-tags.

9 Burning of the Euromaidan headquarters in the Trade Unions Building.

Political vandalism is ideological ingress leading to protests, riots. So far it remains an expression it can be tackled through debate. But it can turn an expression of hatred and intimidation. Vandalism can be perceived as a legitimate act, and a social warning for course correction. So minor action may be ignored.

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2 The_Crooked_House_of_Sopot,_Poland_(3173810231)

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In Design and other fields, plagiarism of concepts is equated with vandalism. Similarly altering, correcting, extending, renovation, removal of someone’s creation is always debatable, and borders to an act of vandalism. These include morphing, photo-shopped images, edited videos, etc. Other acts of design barbarism are ‘under or short’ designing a brief, overshooting budget, ignoring the stakeholders, generating non-performing solutions and infringing other professionals’ duties.

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12 Bad additions to building geograph-3841100-by-Peter-Barr

The name Vandals is connected to that of Vendel, a large East Germanic tribe or group of tribes initially from the name of a province in Uppland, Sweden. It is believed that Vandals migrated from here to establish kingdoms in Spain and then North Africa in the 5th C. Renaissance and early-modern writers characterized the Vandals as barbarians who sacked and looted Rome. This led to the use of the term vandalism to describe any senseless barbaric defacing of artwork. The etymology of vandal may be related to a Germanic verb wand -to wander.


This is the 27th article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN