POST 730 -by Gautam Shah



2 INDOOR AIR ( 20May2014)

8 CLIMATE and BUILT-FORM (5July2015)
12 173 INDOOR HUMIDITY (18May2018)
14 Temperature related Comfort parameters for Interior Design (20Apr2014)

15 PASSIVE VENTILATION in Buildings (3July2014 )
16 MICRO VENTILATION in Buildings (8March2016)
19 158 DRAUGHT (draft) AIR MOVEMENTS (28Apr2018) ttps://
21 49 Indoor Air Pollution (3Dec2017)

24 BMR and BODY TEMPERATURE (5Oct2018)
25 CLIMATE and our BODY (26Jul2016)

26 CLIMATE and CHANGE (10Aug2014)
30 DEALING with ENVIRONMENT (10Jan2015)
31 WINDOWS and VENTILATION (20Dec2014)

ILLUMINATION and SHADOWS -Issues of Design 34


Post 727 Gautam Shah


#1 Looking_down_from_The_Eiffel_Tower,_Paris_8_April_2007

Shadows are formed by illumination, but require something to ‘fall’ on. Some of the formative factors for shadows are, nature of illumination (solar, terrestrial and man-made), distance, intensity, direction, multiplicity of sources (original and reflected), etc.

Solar or moon eclipses cast shadows. In a solar eclipse, the Moon’s shadow falls on Earth. In a lunar eclipse, the Earth’s shadow falls on the Moon. A solar eclipse could be total, partial, or annular, whereas a lunar eclipse may be total, partial, or penumbral. Umbra, is a simple shadow, the darkest centre portion, cast by a point source of light. Penumbra, is cast by a light source with a larger surface area than the object. Antumbra is formed when the light source is covered by the larger object.

#2 Full Moon Light

We deal with Three types of natural illumination. The illumination from sun is extensive and distanced, yet strongest and so seem to be a cascade of parallel rays. The illumination from the moon is feeble and arrives like a cone. Minor planets like Mercury, Venus and stars create insignificant amount of illumination for any Design environment. Natural illumination cannot be switched off or its source position changed. The intensity can be filtered and orientation redirected. Illumination from artificial (man-made) sources are strong to diffused, but with an identifiable ‘pointed’ origin at a measurable distance. These are switchable and manipulable sources.

#3 Nightsky_in_himalayas(binsar_wild_life_sanctury)

The natural and artificial sources of light, get redistributed through refraction, reflections and diffractions. These occur are due to the micro particulate matters in atmosphere, changes in the mediums that transit the light, and various interventions of atmospheric elements.

#4 1015538568_640x360

Three things are needed to perceive a shadow. The first is light. The second is an object that blocks the light. And third, another object (rather its surfaces) for the shadow to ‘fall’. Objects, except those in the air (floating-flying) have attached shadows. Attached shadows ‘fall’ on grounds that are horizontal (parallel to the gravity) inclined or undulated. The quality of a shadow, such as the length and intensity, however, depends on the angle and direction and multiplicity of the sources. We are accustomed to shadows on horizontal grounds, cast by the solar or top down lights. But shadows of bottom-up lights or reflected lights are less predictable and so intriguing. Shadows provide cues about the depths, direction of illumination, the nature of ‘fall- grounds’ and and objects’ edges.

#!8 Akko-Harbor

#17 Twilight Port Illumination port-5788261_960_720

#6 Artificial illumination for day-night cricket match

A shadow is an area with absence of light, and so darker than the directly illuminated zones, and non illuminated surfaces that lie on the opposite (back) side of the illumination. Back-face surfaces continue to receive secondary light of reflections from illuminated surroundings, though in smaller proportion. Such bak-face surfaces are lighter than the shadows.

#S hadowsin front and back side

Illumination, causing the shadows offer a range of tonal variations, some with distinct edges, some with little flutter at the edge and others seamless diffusions. Objects in solar illumination (and feeble illumination of moon etc. at night) are in the presence of ‘blue’ skies, which provide secondary brightness. The blue sky reduces the stark contrast of the shadows.

#8 Lunar shadows

Lunar environments are without the blue sky (there’s no air to refract light), the dark shadows are set against the pitch black skies. When the moon skies have presence of the Sun or Earth, due to their fortnightly passage, the regions directly illuminated seem extra ordinarily bright. The lunar surface presents varied effects of textures, at different lighting and viewing angles. It is very difficult to collate these images into a single comprehension. Moon visiting astronauts, Aldrin said that ‘continually moving back and forth from sunlight to shadow should be avoided, because it’s going to cost you some time in perception ability’. Armstrong also noted, ‘it is very easy to see in the shadows after you adapt for a while’.

#9 Lunar Darkness

Neil Armstrong, the astronaut has said ‘It’s quite dark here in the shadow, and a little hard for me to see that I have good footing.’ Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had to conduct their scientific work in these unusual shadows, which often made parts of equipment that fell into their deep black invisible.

Long before, a person saw own reflection in water (and, later, mirror), shadows have been following like an attached tail. The shadow on the ground however were seen only as a silhouette, a solid mass, without revealing the body features. The reflection in water or mirror was better, it showed the features, shifting the left-right. Both It were existential and yet perplexing phenomena, ‘only real things can cast a shadow, and also be seen in a mirror’.

#10 Shadows in water httpspixabay.comphotosczech-republic-czech-budejovice-750417

In folklore a shadow, like a soul can get detached from the body. This reflects the belief in the shadow as being either the soul itself or a guardian spirit of the soul. Incidentally, there was also a belief that selling your soul meant you had no shadow. ‘In quarrelling about the shadow, we often lose the substance’.

1 In a story, Peter Schlemihl (character of 1814, novella, Peter Schlemihl’s Miraculous) sells his shadow to the Devil for a bottomless wallet (the gold sack of Fortunatus). But he finds the society including his love shuns him. When the devil in a new bargain wants to return his shadow in exchange for the soul, he is in dilemma, but prefers to throw away the wealth.

2 In a fairy tale, Peter Pan loses his Shadow, and makes frantic effort to find it and have it re-united with himself.3 A Wolf, in the evening felt elated on seeing his own elongated shadow but soon a larger shadow of the lion blotted it out.

#11 Donkey and the shadow

4 A Traveller hired an Ass. For siesta, the traveller wanted to use the shadow of the Ass. The ass owner, objected to it saying you hired the ass not the shadow.

#12 Indonesian (wayang) Shadow Puppet Theatre Performance Wikipedia Image by PL 05 SIGIT

The shadows are earthly matter, so metaphorically a divine body carries no shadow. The shadow-less divine figure in art-works seemed ethereal, floating in the air. Divine figures, though continued to have ‘graded shades’ for three dimensional effects of the body shape, postures, and gestures. If divine body carries no shadow, can the architectural spaces or environments (trees, rocks, mountains, water bodies) that surround them have shadows? Vampires are said to have no shadows and are said to be afraid of shadows. The gods of death are also afraid of shadows. When a human being is protected (followed) by a shadow, the person cannot be attacked (in presence of illumination) by demons or other evil supernatural entities.

#15 895 LIGHT and DARK

Kumi Yamashita -The Artist With a Fascination for Shadows I sculpt using both light and shadow. I construct single or multiple objects and place them in relation to a single light source. The complete artwork is therefore comprised of both the material (the solid objects) and the immaterial (the light or shadow).

NEXT few articles in the series



Post 723 by Gautam Shah


1A Unidentified-people-at-Wing-Lok-Street

Corners are affairs at street turns and junctions, formed by land-road configurations and architectural built-forms. The street corners mature historically or are arranged through intensive planning.

1B Piccadilly Circus, London, England - PICRYL Public Domain Image Lib of Congress

Building corners result largely due to the shape of the plot and its alignment to the abutting street. But building corners are also formed for architectural oddity through the obliqueness. Odd-shaped plots and flawed-alignments of streets (front and sides of the plot at odd, non-90° angles), are historical consequences or adventurism in the city planning.

1C Berlin_-_Potsdamer_Platz_-_2016

Historically streets developed over a very long period of functional moderation and visual maturation. The imposition of a diagonal pattern was to break the regimented monotony of the iron-grids of streets and generate variegated visual interests. Squared streets’ junctions have predictable quality, where one can see three opposite corners, and all have the same character, except the architectural form. The odd angled streets, however, offer outward (acute) and inward (obtuse) corners.

2a Turn in Street houses-old-the-walls-of-the-stone-3771884

The skewed corners, are more expressions of the road edge, sidewalks, curbs, streetlights or road sedge trees, and less of definitions emerging from the architectural design of buildings. Buildings are often, stubbornly unconcerned of the street lay. It is very common to see acute or obtuse cornered buildings imposing their ‘majestic effect’ on the right angled (90°) streets. Similarly buildings, with inward corners are placed on outwardly cornered streets.

2d corners and angles

2 e Building Corners

Very large street junctions were formed as public spaces. How to occupy, the extensive space has remained a problem. The low density and slow traffic (carts, etc.), crossing the extensive central-space was a chaotic, requiring-marked path. For managing the heavier and faster traffic, a turn-around was needed. The turn-around and its centric architecture (of memorials) fail to enliven the junction or connect the distanced corners. A corner flourishes, only in conjunction with other corners. But, that concurrence is dulled by very wide distances at the junctions. Very extensive centric spaces at road junctions, edged with tall architecture can reveal the corners, provided their design follows the street lay.

2d Barcelona panoramio Very wide junction non effective perception of the corner

In case of heavily built street junctions, the perception of the corner configuration, is more definitive due to the tall facades or their visual continuity. But at ground level, the forms of corners, however, are affected by the surface, colour, texture, reflections, occupation (storefronts, entrances, etc.) and street facilities (street light poles, signage, barricades).

14 View of Gran Madrid Wikipedia Image by Eric Chan from Hollywood, United States

Corners are formed by Vertical surfaces split-croatia-sky-blue

Corners gain a meaning, when the shape-contributing vertical surfaces are larger or taller than the perceiver. But, if the form, size and scale of the corner-forming vertical surfaces, all have the same colour, texture or pattern, the Iron-Grid pattern becomes boring. To avoid the tedious scenery of the 90° iron-grids, some cities have opted for hexagonal or floral grids.

22 Surface colour texture Saint_Pancras station London

Older towns and cities have naturally curved streets, and with the same or varied widths. Curved streets ‘turning away’ seem mysterious or less revealing, in comparison to streets ‘turning inward or towards’, which slowdown the movement and so are divulging. A curved street, or one with many crooked corners results from the illegal encroachment, and inversely street corners, gaps or setbacks are engulfed, both actions occur gradually over many years.

4 Deshaping through encroachment kimolos-cyclades-greek-greece-island-mediterranean

It is said that the curve form of the street has strong ‘perception-effect’ with the ‘left or right handed traffic movements, and culturally the prevalent script writing manner such as left to right or right to left”. But no one knows, how the East Asian (China-Japan) scripts flowing from top to down, can affect the perception of the curved streets.

4a Left - Right Turns

Street corners are also formed on straight roads with setbacks of buildings. However, when the plot width is narrow, and if the front street face is not right angled, the square form of a building does not fit into the plot shape. Such, plots have forced setbacks. Building setbacks are also enforced (for the entire form or just the upper floors) to meet the height regulations (calculated as an incidence of the angle from the opposite edge of the street).

9 Set backs Randa, village, Mallorca, road, alley, church, village center

Street corners of historical towns are multifarious junctions. The complexities arise due to the variations of mid-angles (axiality) between the adjoining streets, and their different widths. The front-edge of adjacent streets also follow their own angular convention. It becomes a polygon of unequal and differently angled faces. The Polygon, becomes non-centric, when one or few buildings, functionally and architecturally dominate the space. The streets serve not just singular way for feed or exit, but turn dual traffic channels with other back of the artery connections. Varanasi, India is a classic example of such confusions.

16 Road junction without any architectural designs for corners but with strong elements of street architecture Barcelona, Spain Wikipedia image by Benjamin Voros vorosbenisop

Buildings designed for very narrow corners (Grid-Iron building in central plaza, NYC), often face two unequal street environments. The differing environments exist due to the unequal widths of the abutting streets. The street width affects the allowable building height, the rents or sale values, degree of commercial development and the density of foot-falls (traffic). So should one adopt different architectural styles for each face?

44 different faces at Corner Collingwood Buildings corner of Pudding Chare & Collingwood Street

There have been two sets of buildings, squared and angled fronts. Squared buildings follow the street line, whereas the angled ones result to conform the sides of the plot, rather than the street. The angular front faces may manage the situation through their own articulation, typically serrations or some bizarre endowments. The street line compliant or squared-front buildings are commonly axially symmetrical.


The corner of a building, plot enforced or concept-formatted are exploited as an element for design. Acute cornered building offers little design freedom but obtuse (wide) cornered buildings have larger periphery for commercial exploitation, broader visual face and greater scope for form manipulation. Squared shape-volume buildings are sometimes, strongly affected by an askew neighbouring building, more so, if added later-on.


Buildings at street junctions, pose a design quandary, what to do with, inward or outward varieties of corners? A corner as a simple ‘union’ of vertical facades does not justify the happening of the change. An emphatic mass is used to intervene. Such a mass just separates the two faces, but will not allow the change of the character of the facades. The intervening mass, if too massive the side-faces get belittled, and if too flimsy, its capacity to interpose is lost. So, the intermediate-mass rise up as a cylinder, several floors, above the side-faces. The cylinder is capped with a crown, clock or ‘a steeple like a lantern’. No one seems to have separated the cornered edges, with emptiness (like the Brazilian Congress, Petronas Towers, Malaysia, or Time Warner Centre, NYC).

18 Corner to corner proximity a rare design phenomena people-walking-near-brown-concrete-building-during-night-time

23 Natural to Cast-Iron Grids as Corners


REVERING THE NATURE – Part-I Human-Plant Lineages

Post 721 by Gautam Shah


23 Sacred Groves of Kerala KAAVU

14 Sacred Green places calm water_trek peace tranquility pxhere image 1193814Natural elements in various forms have been revered in all cultures and ages. The reverence for natural elements was due to both, fear and appreciation. Natural entities have been venerated in their original whole, parts or representative adaptations. Natural elements, like the flora and fauna were worshiped in original forms, and also by equating to human body elements like arms, hands, legs, fingers, head, face, blood, semen, etc. Similarly terrestrial features like rivers, water-bodies, stones, hills, mountains, valleys, sun, moon, planets, stars, air, winds, light, rains, clouds, etc. have awed humans by their scale and power. The life processes like birth, death, fertility or procreation, growth, rejuvenation, pain, joy, love and compassion, feelings, remembrances, etc. are happenings that roused curiosity.

12 Worshiping_nature_

In India and elsewhere, unchanging patterns of far off stars were sensed as the consistency in nature, but over that imposition of certain other patterns, like the movements of moon and other planets, showed the anomalies of seasons causing floods, dry spells, earthquakes, storms and hurricanes. Man has worshiped everything real on earth, in the skies, and their symbolic representations. These astral forms over the period became extremely abstract, with no trace of the original.

18 Akhenaton-wife-Nefertiti-rays-daughters-sun-god

There were many abstract and un-explainable happenings that were challenges, like the omens, good or bad luck, irrational punishments. These experiences were formless, but associated with contextual things and that became objects for veneration. One universal belief was living beings having a soul that transcended the various body forms. The transition of a soul from one body form to another, or to a body-less ghost was accepted as the realm of existence. Souls needed places to go to, like, the underworld, heaven, hell or ethereal, and also as many animal-human body manifestations.

19 Celestial Microcosm

The mundane body forms did not adequately express the extraordinary powers that some of the souls were endowed with. So, it perhaps began with the human body gaining the heads of other beings. These body forms were of many realms and created a bizarre mix of reality, unreality and even virtual reality. Why was the first body transmutation of the head? Was there realization that the head controls the body? The Egyptian Isis, Hindu Ganesha -Son of God Shiva, many reincarnations of Vishnu, were all with modified heads. The mutant heads expressed the anger, cruelly and grotesque expressions. Reverse mutation with body of an animal and head of human were exploited to endow strength, running speed, flying or jumping powers. Wining a fight against a monster was another such expression in Sumerians, Chinese or Indian mythologies.

20 Tree Monsters Image by wallpaperflare

Attributing qualities of a living or dead person, to plants, inanimate objects or natural phenomena, is a form of Animism. It is perhaps, the most ancient form of worship. In many societies totems or emblems part of animism. In India Kalpa-Vriksha, also known as kalpataru, kalpadruma or kalpapādapa, is a wish-fulfilling divine tree. Animism perceives all natural things as ‘animated and alive’. All objects, places and creatures, and even words, sounds, smells and other sensorial expressions have spiritual significance.

13 prayer-flags-candles-prayer-buddhism-preview

24 Tree of Life God and Goddess From Sumer around 2050–1950 BC Wikipedia Image

In ancient periods of Europe, trees or especially groves of yew and oak were objects or places of worship. A sacred grove, a natural holy place, is known as alka (Lithuanian) and elks (Latvian). In Kerala, India sacred groves are known as ‘Kavu’, and Devrai (gods’ forest) in hilly range -Ghats of Western India. Such clusters have associated water bodies such as rivulet or pond and a presiding animistic deity (often a serpent or cobra -Naag Dev).

1 Chandod Sacred Grove

2 Sacred Groves ART by Arnold Böcklin

Trees have been worshiped both as Male and Female forms, and through the parts like the trunk, branches, twigs and sap representing the human arms, fingers, blood etc. Trees have been symbols of rebirth, cycle of growth in spring, fertility or procreation. The trees were associated with death and rebirth, because of their capacity to regrow from almost dried and dead condition.


While Muslims (Arabs and Bedouins) consider sacred trees especially as an abode of righteous figures’ (Wellis’) souls or as having a connection to their graves, the Druze relates sacred trees especially to the events or deeds in the lives of prophets and religious leaders’

‘According to the Druze religion only people like prophets could be ‘sacred; physical objects like, trees may be regarded only as ‘blessed’. A plant species all of whose specimens, are worshiped owing to religious tradition (regardless the exact background) has to be treated as ‘holy. Amots Dafni


10 pagan-3892831_1280

The term Druid, possibly derives from the Celtic word for oak. Druids were the ceremony masters, who organized worship, sacrifices, divination, and judicial procedures at Oak groves. Many religions, like Christianity and Islam were very suspicious of the tree worship, but had to concur with the public belief that groves were sacred places of the ghosts. First public gatherings and later the churches, though first occurred in such groves. Earlier saints were buried under already accepted sacred trees. Later the saint’s graves under a tree became a beatified place. With larger buildings, Kings and high priests were buried inside the churches. The Trees and the graves seem to have usurped each others position.

21 Cult of Druids The Druids; or the conversion of the Britons to Christianity'. Engraving by S.F. Ravenet, 1752,Druids were banned by the Roman government from 1st C AD., as they opposed the coming of Christianity. It was then said that ‘Jesus’ was ‘better than a prophet, more knowledgeable than every Druid, a king who was a bishop and a complete sage’. With Christianity, the focus on trees changed fromrebirth’ to ‘resurrection‘. Christianity.

16 Tree Sucking Egyptian Deities

Osiris was the green skinned deity of vegetation, agriculture, fertility, afterlife, death and resurrection. Osiris was in charge of the underworld of the dead. The Hebrew word for ‘die’ is used only in relation to the death of a person or animals, but not for plants. Former two have the breath of life. In Arab folklore, sacred trees are haunted by Jinn. In many folk-lores, trees were homes of spirits and where the deceased find blissful repose. Trees are places where sick and dying are placed for blessings. Objects like wreaths, ribbons, threads or rags are hung on trees for sick humans, livestock, or for good luck.

Folk Village Wish Korean Folk Village

8 Holy Threads 4400391261_f3583b3fe0_c

The World Tree, Cosmic Tree or Tree of Life is a conceptual form that exists in many cultures of the world. It occurs as description and also as a mystical image. One of the oldest records of the World Tree is of Babylonia (about 3-4 Millennium BC). Such trees have an image with foliage (heaven), trunk (earth) and roots (underworld) and a spatial presence (position and metaphysical imagery). The position was the axis Mundi (axis of Earth’s rotation between the celestial poles) and the imagery that connected the heaven, earth, and underworld (or past, present and future).

7 Kalpataru,_Kinnara-Kinnari,_Apsara-Devata,_Pawon_TempleIn Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, ‘Kalpa-Vriksha or Kalpataru’ is a wish-fulfilling divine tree, and also associated as the tree of knowledge. The Vedic Aranyani, the protector goddess of the forest is a daughter of Shiv and Parvati, who was raised by Kalpa-Vriksha. VanaDevi is worshiped in rural India by Hindus as VanaChandi, and BonBibi (Bon=jungle) by Muslims in Sunderbans (West Bengal) India. In Hinduism, the Goddess Vrinda (holy basil plant =Tulsi in India) was blessed by God Krishna. Shakambari, the mother of all vegetation, is a form of Goddess Durga. She represents nine plants of medicinal benefits. Buddha and Mahavira (Jain) attained wisdom and salvation under trees (respectively the pipal and sal).

9 Banyantree

25 Adam-Eve and the Tree httpspixabay.comphotosbremen-historic-center-historically-4689974

22 Japanese Tree Spirit Kodama from the Gazu Hyakki Yakō

17 Nils_Asplund_-_Heimdal

Next Article in this series > REVERING THE NATURE – Part-II Green Man


DEPTH and DISTANCE PERCEPTION -Issues of Design 33

Post 720 by Gautam Shah


11 trier_porta_negra_left_outside_outsider_feeling_melancholy-531710.jpg!d

Depth is ‘the most existential dimension’. It is the dimension of dimensions, most inevitable experience of the world and being. Merleau-Ponty (1968) considers depth to be the primary spatiality that grounds experiences of the world. Depth designates the primary dimension that defines the distance between one’s self and other things. In this sense the depth allows the ‘coexistence’.

4 lamp-chandelier-light-souvenir-preview

Depth is often considered as the third measure. Width and Length, both are parallel to the gravity, but depth is usually vertical. Depth is measured from a high to a lower point or from front to back side. The bottom point of depth is the gravity. Depth and Height are synonymous, except that Depth is downward and Height is upward. Other terms for depth include altitude, elevation, datum, thickness, etc. Depth relates to a point, that is less accessible or fathomable, like depth of water, drawer, field or someone’s feeling. Depth differentiates the front from the the background and so reflects the intensity.

2 depth-of-field-4397882_960_720

Depth gives an ‘additional dimension to a two-dimensional (Width and Length) representation, and revels other qualities of the field’. The perception of depth, indicates information like the position of the perceiver, target and the mediating context. Depth is the distance between one’s self and other things, even, if the later are unreal. Distance gives a wider perspective, but Depth offers better or detailed insight.

15 scary-spooky-night-street-horror-fear-creepy-dark-gothic

Depth of measurable Distance, implies a Direction, which in turn reflect concentration, assimilation, densification and comprehension. Depth nominally relates orientation towards the Gravity. But, we say looking inside the space though it is up and away from our gravity. Similarly, we say viewing deep inside the microscope or telescope. The measure of deepness is down or inwards, like a deep place, deep waters, deep winter, etc. Emotionally depth means abstruseness, extent of sagacity and penetration. Depth of expression have intensity, density, complexity, strength and seriousness.

3 tunnen-shaft-depth-deep-people-hiking

Visual depth defines the position of objects by connecting and separating them in space. Audio depth has many facets, the sound could be of high or low pitch, direct or reverberated. Depth of smell and Taste, both reflect the intensity of experience. Tactile Depth is the reach of experience to subcutaneous level. Depth is a measure, perceived through the sensorial faculties.

6 geograph-1489323-by-Hywel-Williams

The presence of dual (two eyes-ears) or multi-nodal (touch) perceptions define the direction, to make the depth-measure more accurate. The movement of eyes and the ability to shift the focus create a sense of visual and aural perspective. Here the far-off objects become duller and the intervening distances proportionately change.

1 perspective-3609052_960_720

Depth perception leads to judgement of distance. Depth constitutes a perceptual horizon that places the body with other things, as well as the world, such ‘interconnection is indispensable to understanding of the depth’.

9 Calgary_Tower,_Calgary,_Alberta,_Canada_-glass_floor-20June2010

Depth and Distance are different. Distance is sensed between two objects, as a multi sensorial experience and also as a contextual phenomena. Depth offers the distance and sense of volume. Distance is between two objects, and for that both the objects need to be experienced simultaneously, or alternatively bridged through several mediating things like time delay (motion picture frames) and spatial proximity, through convergence, divergence and interventions. Depth judgements can be personal, but the Distance, once measured is real. Distance manifests as remoteness or work-reach.

13 pexels-photo-326423

12 coronavirus-distances-distance-hands-metro-keep-the-distances-love-love-at-a-distance

All depth perceptions are distinguished by the primary experience of third dimension, followed by delayed or spaced out realizations of the ‘after-effects like traces, shadows, context, front-back, etc. The visual shadows occur mainly due to illumination and recognition of tint-hue of the colour. The depth of visual shadows formed with illumination, have two qualities, the orientation (angle) and the intensity (degree of brightness). Through the phenomenon of visual perception, the other concealed depth aspects of objects emerge. Effects of surface illumination are visually perceived as change in the brightness, intensity of colour and texture. The depth dimension continuously changes, yet over a period with persistent exposure and past experiences, together, form a reliable measure.

7 carpaccio_st_jerome_lion_monastery_1509

The depth, is the realization of spatiality of objects and the realm between objects. The depth and space are synonymous. A space exists for the person, where the variable measures of depth form a dynamic and subjective experience. So depth is not a Euclidean definition or element geometrical space, but a personal rapport with the world.

14 aerial-view-of-city-buildings

This is the 33rd article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN.



Post 717 by Gautam Shah


9 Saint_Joseph_Higher_Secondary_School_-_North_building

A space is an affirmed entity, a domain. Spaces have two segments, the Core and the Periphery. A space domain may or may not have any bounding marks, but the core is distinctly surrounded by the periphery. Real or ephemeral peripheries are existent, as both are intimately tied to the core. But real peripheries have the edge forming barriers. The interaction with neighbouring domains forces the edges to be breached.

2 people-gathering-inside-building

A core zone is too specific for the task and nearly self-sufficient. A core zone demands extreme dedication. Core areas are serene, remain unaffected by the vivid happenings in or across the peripheral zones. Peripheral zones, as aligned to the edge of the space, are distanced from the core zone. It is this distance between the core and peripheral sections that invests distinct identity and meaning to each. Peripheral zones draw lots of energy from across the edge or defining barriers, and so become escape areas. Peripheries serve diverse purposes, but only for a location and occasion. It can never have permanence.

3 cathedral-interior

Peripheral zones are non committal, so preferred places for escape, ideal for personal encounters and casual discussions. In very small domains, a core takes away substantial space, leaving little for the periphery to exist. The core zone than, shifts to the edge, away from the entrance. This helps to form a peripheral zone near the entrance. Small dwellings, temples (Garbha-Griha or inner sanctorum) and Buddhists Chaitya in Ajanta Caves India, have such long front areas. Fireplaces and now TVs have off-centric interest and so form elongated rooms. In absence of a periphery insincere participants have no option but to leave the space.

10 channel-restaurant-dining-tables-menu-lonely-alone-venice

Peripheral areas without unfilterable edges are ineffective. Peripheral zones derive their functionality from the nature of barriers. In space domains where the core zone is functionally insignificant for any reason, like airport lounges, the peripheral zones emerge as an antithesis of the core zone. At another extreme, the peripheries with ephemeral edges need an extraordinary strong core zone. Earth has atmosphere as the ephemeral barrier, effective only due to the strong gravity of the core. The core is like a faith in a leader that makes followers to converge to some identity marking the focus.


The spatial connection between the core and peripheral area, is ambiguous one. It is continuously shifting. The core area gets enlarged, so far it retains its centrality. The core zone can stretch its reach through better means of communication and impressions. In religious places like temples and churches core areas are brightest and loudly decorated. But in case of mosques and unity temples or multi-faith Bahai’s the core is intentionally subdued by diffusing its edges and physical characteristics. In airports, lounge and other public spaces, condensate activities like inquiry-information, booking, check-in etc. to the peripheral areas.

4 escalator-stairs-architecture-shopping-centre-preview

Buildings that are enlarged by additions over their periphery, like industrial complexes or space stations, have interconnected multiple core zones. These formations are very similar to internet service providers’ hubs, connected to each other, by band width capacity (or time measure) rather than spatial distancing.

The peripheral zones are affected by the directional and temporal aspects of the environment. Such affectations are relevant only for a while, for a location and so for an activity and few individuals. The affectations also depend on quality of the external barrier. Peripheral zones are primarily shaped by the core zone, but are more often affected by the nature of neighbouring domains.

14 Yoyogi_national_1st_gymnasium_20120103

A physical domain is a unique spatial entity where other domains converge onto it. The convergence is experienced as inward and outward transgression at the peripheral areas. The transgressions alter the spatial character to take advantage of the neighbouring or converging domains. Peripheral zones are flexible, i.e. can be stretched or contracted from their nominal spread. Ariel windows, Bay windows, Chhatris, Balconies, Verandahs are typical outward transgressions, whereas, Chowks, cutouts, shafts, courtyards, are examples of inward transgressions. Such transgressions, change the peripheral areas and reposition the core zone.

5 Interior_of_Christchurch_Art_Gallery,_New_Zealand_2

One can exploit peripheral zones by facing the core zone or turned around and ignore it. For any other position (sideways), one may require strong metaphysical reason, because a core-zone on left or right side is unbalanced and so unnerving.

7 cooking-kitchen-process-restaurant-preview

The barriers over the edge peripheral zone are used for resting, reclining, hanging embellishments, storing etc. The edges are thresholds to other space entities and are perceived as intermediate or buffer areas. These areas mark the end of one space entity and beginning of another one.

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Small spaces, where distancing is not effective (other than intimate or body-touch proximity) cannot be any distinct periphery-based activities. Similarly single activity places like personal offices, lecture halls, bed rooms, kitchens, are focussed units and so dominantly core zones. But areas like road side cafes are peripheral. Medieval kitchens with alcove fire places were peripheral. Compared to it modern island kitchens are conceived to be independent-entity, but cannot function without peripheral storage.

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The extent or depth of the peripheral zone was determined by the concern for safety, warmth from the fire, the need for privacy, scale of the task-activity and distancing from inclement elements (to reduce their intensity and reach). Peripheral zones with adequate widths turn into acutely used areas.

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Work stations were supposed to have several modules placed together for multitasking functionality. But once the modules get technologically integrated (such as in music studios for playing-recording-editing consoles), these can be placed anywhere, and so no longer enforce the character of centrality. Once upon a time CAD tools were offered as work stations, but with switchable windows the culture has died. Fire was the focus of the primitive homes, and now TV has become the focus of the family and now individual devices like mobiles have diffused the core or centrality as the focus.

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Peripheral zones are used for acutely specific or single purpose activities such as store rooms, study nooks, hobby areas, coffee rooms, home offices, vaults in banks, wardrobes, shower stalls, change rooms, reception areas, podiums in lecture halls, green rooms, ticket booths, display kiosks.

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Post 716 by Gautam Shah




These SIX articles are from my Micro Blog site  The articles are listed in terms of their publication sequence.  The Topics relate to #Minimalism, #Functionalism, #Frugality,

#Brevity, #Abstractions, #Reductionism









An Expression to be effective requires condensation and rearrangement of the content. The minimalism takes many different forms, in Art, it takes abstraction of form or story, in Writing, it turns to recitable poetry, and in Built forms (product design and Architecture) it needs to remain steadfast with sheer functionality.

In audio-visual expression, the reenactions are never faithful to the original, and yet the improvisation can be creative. For minimalism, the productivity is just the frugal use of means, but efficiency of the process. Minimalism is the distinctive impression created through the space and time scales. ‘In design, clarity trumps the brevity’.

The word Frugality stands against Substantial. A thing, substantial, is more ‘down to the earth’, but conversely a minimal entity is infinitesimal or spectral.

Bauhaus was about rejecting the unnecessary things that had begun to undermine the functionality of designed objects. Minimalists ask, What can we strip away without losing the purpose and identity? This is in stark contrast to Redesign Engineering ideology, which ask, What can be redefined? And the search is not a “Eureka”, but adopting and improvising the operative efficiency available in competitive offerings.


Brevity in Design relates to two fundamental measures, the TIME and SPACE. And the calibration of both, leads to efficiency. Brevity in architecture is a reflection of minimalism. It comes from a yearning to ‘shed weight’ so as to be less ‘substantial’. In architecture (and also other forms of design) ‘substantial’ translates into monumental or elaborate. A monumental entity, must confirm to the stabilizing force of gravity, and so should be large and wide-based. An elaborate entity could be multi-functional or multi-faceted, satisfying many needs.

The superfluous ‘becomes intense and dense’ in ‘classical ages’ that reappraisal becomes necessary not to discipline it but to discover the ‘new’. But such pursuit for Brevity starts at personal level, and is initially a preconception. By the time the originator and followers understand the means and methods of it, it may become a style weighed down by ‘substantial’.

Brevity as a doctrine has many subscriptive forms, like, ABC art, minimal art, reductivism, rejective art, De Stijl, neo-plasticism, Bauhaus movement, minimalism, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’ Less Is More and Traditional Japanese art.

Brevity (First attested in English in 1509)has origins from Latin -brevitās or brevitātem, Anglo-Norman brevité, Old French brieveté (=br -brave + evity -evidence).


Aparigraha means non-possessiveness or being non-greedy. Aparigraha is the opposite of Parigraha, which means, to amass, crave, seek or seize material possessions.

Aparigraha is one of the virtues in #Jainism. It is also one of the five vows that both the householders (Sravaka) and ascetics must observe. Aparigraha is a desirable self restraint and sincerity (as a fellow citizen) for possessing what is absolutely necessary and so minimum.

(#Jainism -a religion in India, originating in roughly the same time span as Buddhism).

American scholar Richard Gregg coined the term ‘voluntary simplicity’ to describe a lifestyle purged of the inessential. My space is small but my life is big.

The concept of minimalist design was to strip everything down to its essential quality and thereby achieve simplicity. Thereafter nothing can be eliminated ‘to simplify or improve the design’. Minimalists not only ‘reconsider’ the physical qualities but spiritual meaning also.

This usually creates a design statement that is very frugal and personal. And it requires converts, who can understand, believe and accept it. If you are a design service provider that needs spirit and energy of a crusader.


In the wake of World War I, an international functionalist Design movement emerged, riding on the wave of Modernism. This was triggered by consumer product periodicals that had wide base of female subscribers.

The movement was for achieving purity in design of a product through functional relevance. This was gaining momentum with a similar trend in art, architecture and craft-artefacts. It was for reduction and restrain with the aim to remove the unnecessary and put the essential in the spotlight. These trends in Design were confirming to than current ideas of socialism and humanism.

Louis Sullivan’s 1896, idea of ‘form ever follows function‘ was more metaphysical than being practical to users’ needs. It was more reflective of ‘lack of (‘excessive’) ornamentation. Some treated as ‘bald and brutal’ manner. Philip Johnson daringly ‘held that the profession has no functional responsibility whatsoever’. The postmodern architect Peter Eisenman was more extreme, ‘I don’t do function.’

From all these personal interpretations products, art and architecture began to rely of structural stresses as expressed through straight line and right-angled geometry. This was bereft of emotion, as good design should be ‘clear and unobtrusive.’ The success of functional design was in the rationality and cost effectiveness, as it removed wastage of space and materials.


Communication occurs through writing, orally, gestural deliveries and through metaphors or graphics. Authors usually have some knowledge about the target audience.

All communications use spatial or temporal assets and so need to have minimal content. The tradition is ancient one, as knowledge was conveyed orally as Shrut Gyan (Vedic mantras are in easy to remember and in recitable form).

For content rationalization several strategies are resorted to. The contents are abstracted by removing all time-space gaps and less important information. The language in Internet chat-rooms, whatsapp, etc. shows the nature of abstraction spreading across the world. Here common words are shortened by eliminating vowels and are denoted by their phonemes. Symbols and metaphors are also used to squeeze the contents.

The contents are sequenced, with time as the operative element. Oral or gestural deliveries are sequenced in time and so are lineal. Writings can have non-lineal arrangement if aided indexing. Graphical formats are impressionistic, rely on the holistic effect.

The focus of abstraction and communication are through the retrieval and re-enactment of content. So what one strongly feels, desires, believes, becomes the force-de-majeure.

For frugality of expression beginning with a pre declaration or concluding with a definitive statement

The contents can be minimized by forming bridges (e.g. hyperlinks, bibliographies, index) to create a seamless statement or a larger concept. A well linked or cited content vouches its authenticity through circumstantial referencing.


Abstraction is a process of removing irrelevant appendages from the idea, thought or concept. This reduces the complexity and increase efficiency.

Abstraction in Art began with the removal or de-emphasis of the background or the context. This allowed the thematic concept to be perceived not just distinctly but in a different manner. The abstract Art was more concerned with the later. The newness of the object independently of its associations or attributes provided an exciting option to impressionism and expressionism. Both the -isms were substantially dependent on negation through colour, texture, form depiction, foreground-background delimitation, depth representation with intensities, perspective or scaling, and environmental connections like light and shadows.

Word Abstract derives from the Latin Abstrahere =to divert and Aabstractus =drawn away, drag away, detach, pull away, divert. It is an assimilated form of Ab =off, away from + Trahere =to draw.

In computer programming abstraction hides all but the relevant data about an object.

Acute abstraction takes away the reality. The subject is not sought or to be recognized. It has no bearing of perception like top-bottom, left-right, real or mirror. But on massing the abstract creations, do reflect the creator and that becomes the style. It is the mannerism that becomes universal. But before that universalism sets in the Art moves to something New.


The word ‘anekaāntavāda’ is a compound of two Sanskrit words: anekānta and vāda. The word anekānta itself is composed of three root words, ‘an’ (not), ‘eka’ (one) and ‘anta’ (end, side). These three together connote ‘not one ended’, ‘sided’, ‘many-sidedness’, ‘manifoldness’ or ‘many pointedness’.

According to ‘Jain’ (Indian religion that originated in roughly the same time span as Buddhism) doctrine, there is no absolute truth or reality. Anekantavada has also been interpreted, to mean non-absolutism. It is said no single concept can describe the nature of existence and the absolute truth.

Every truth is incomplete, and at best a partial truth. The ultimate truth and reality, if any, are complex and multi faceted. All knowledge must be qualified in many ways, including being affirmed and denied. Anekantavada is a fundamental doctrine of Jainism.

According Jainism reality has many facets, which are difficult to be perceived by one person or through several cycles of life. Different people interpret different aspects of it. Their conclusions are good for them and in the time-space context.

Reality is what we perceive and also of what we do not perceive. We cannot understand the reality unless we are ready to accept both. So all conditions have potentials of many truths.


CORNERS and Public Spaces

Post 696 –by Gautam Shah


This is the 4 th article of series: ‘CORNERS’.

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Public spaces turn impromptu arenas with political, social and cultural interest, accompanied by some economic activities. The spaces manifest as gathering places, where events recur on specific days like full-moon days, low tide days, Sundays or annual days. Such places occur with some preexisting location cues like a built-form or a natural feature. A gathering place is the starting element of a larger concept of a social space. Defined passageways or casual pathways feed these places. The ending faces of such feed points, give unique and lasting shape to the form. The architectural contour may take ages to evolve on its own, or is remastered for a style by a ruler or plutocrat. In both the cases the essence of social place and shape of the form are sustained.

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The words plaza, place and piazza have the same Greek origin, with plaza being the Spanish adaption, place in French, and piazza the Italian one.

3 La piazza vista dalla Torre Grossa Wikipedia Image by Luca Aless

4 France Sarlat La Caneda by Dennis33053

Public spaces subsist on enclosures. Enclosures occur first by barriers of natural elements like terrestrial masses, water bodies, edges of terrain contours, silhouettes. Public spaces are realized as the physical reach, limits of power or sanctimony and the sensorial perceptibility. The public spaces are delineated by the facade planes and mass of the built objects. Facades’ perimeter becomes extensively lineated when the space is multi-angular, and the connecting passages do not abut at right angles. Compared to these, variations in ‘squared public spaces’ are too few, flat and uninteresting from any spatial position and at any time of the day. The multi cornered irregularly, shaped public spaces create vivid spaces. But straight roads converted into public or pedestrian space just by eliminating the vehicular traffic create a static space.

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Squared public space is rarely a natural development. The improvisations touch only the main level, but other floors continue to operate with their unrelated businesses. The public is expected to get the relief of participation by coming here out of their ghettos. The space making barriers of plants and shrubs, architectural contours, or street occupations like stalls or fountains and furniture, forge the visual depth and physical reach, but behind it, the enclosures of the facades remain unchanged. Squared architectural public spaces remain sterile entities, in spite of occupational interventions.

Different Illumination Conditions Change Functional and Visual character

The enclosures of public spaces occur by a mix of circumstances and situations. The variations of sunny and shadowed sections through the day and across the seasons are recurrent, and so taken for granted. But sunny and shadowed zones affect the functional spread, and define the usage schedules of public spaces. These also promote the use of moderating devices like awnings and screens, which in turn create vibrant edges. The varying sunlight brightens up the facades, more so when these are oriented at acute angles. The daylight variations in morning haze and in evening twilight the change the perception. The edges recede or advance, and add new effects of diffused or enhanced silhouettes. Night illumination of public spaces was once spotty, but by contrast highlighted the warmly lit interiors. Modern outdoor illumination of the floor and facades transform the spatial definitions. At night the unseen undulations, angles, depths, reach of interiors, scattered elements of space, all reveal new formations.

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The environmental variations in ‘squared public spaces’ are prosaic and uninteresting, because the spaces, facades remain constant. The illumination is without any variation and consistent from all locations. Lack of angles in the space fail to create dark-light contrasts. There are few surprises. What has been formatted on the ground was perceived through as a ‘site-plan’ or site-model’, always viewed from above. Nowadays ‘walk-throughs’ as 3D modelling are attempted, yet the comprehension is extremely narrow, selective and subjective. The squared public spaces remain naive ‘compositions of horizontal and vertical surfaces which create volumes of vacancy’.

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11 Palacio de Bellas Artes, preeminent fine arts hall in Mexico, Fore areas of Important Public buildings become spaces of gathering Wikipedia Image by ChaneekPhotography

Public spaces are of three basic types: naturally evolved, remastered with buildings or landscape design, and freshly planned. The considerations are visual edges, skyline or silhouettes, spatial interventions through elemental positioning, barriers, scaling, mastering patterns, perspectives, etc. But corners are rarely ‘designed or exploited’, yet they are omnipresent and unassailable. Corners remain, characteristic essence of the space.

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The enclosures, of long walls facades, make the area finite. But the feed streets or lanes serve as reference points and with their depth increase the perimeter. The corners at feed points are inclusive, because here the change is noted, but open to negotiation. The sited elements do not form the public space, but the movement of light, shadows, sources, strengths and spread of illumination, people moving around perceiving the changing orientation of objects, visual changes in colour, texture and scale, all give a temporal scale.

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grand place Brussels

In this respect, Cullen made a valuable distinction between ‘enclosure’ and ‘closure’. Enclosure, he argued, provided a complete ‘private world’ that is inward -looking, static and self-sufficient. Closure, by contrast involved the division of the urban environment into a series of visually digestible and coherent ‘episodes’ retaining a sense of progression.

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Vertical enclosing elements strongly scale the open spaces. The difference is acutely realized when older open spaces begin to be surrounded by tall structures. It is also true that denser and taller surroundings provide more footsteps. Public buildings like places of religion, court of law, or government offices, older monuments with large fore-spaces are compressed by taller surroundings.

Light Up Public Square

In public spaces, a dramatic change is experienced when architecture and environment, together differentiate the exterior versus the interior. The realization is spatially extreme and temporally sudden, in terms of scale, temperature, and illumination. It is something akin to what Peter Zumthor has described, the transition as an incredible sense of place, an unbelievable feeling of concentration. We suddenly become aware of being enclosed, of something enveloping us, keeping us together, [and] holding us.” Crossing the threshold from outside to inside bring the sudden feeling of being confined, and in reverse direction it is a relief. The thresholds are well marked and easily sensed, though some allow a slowed transition.

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In Western India, areas beyond the Fort gates of towns and cities are impromptu public spaces, formed by traders and others who have no visitation rights. But the gate leads to narrow road branching out at a point called ‘Chakla’. Chakla is a smaller scale public space as commercial hub for the insiders. It was also socially safer.

8 Chakla and Gates Ahmedabad 1855

Public spaces are more envisioned by the spread of the floor. The floors unless contoured and with patterned colour and textures, do not offer any divisions. The floor patterns have been explored as coalescing and regimenting factor. The imposed geometry of the pattern connects diverse and askew elements in the open space. Floorings are free flow or with bounding the perimeter, but are not the physical edges. Other important elements of floor occupation are the shadows of sunlight and night illumination. Both of these, cast visual and functional zones.

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477 AGORA and FORUM -as public spaces

The terms public space or gathering place is often used for large spaces that are mere cross road junctions. The surrounding areas have high commercial activity. The users are business visitors, tourists or commuters, but no local users. The movements are of Two types: One set is between adjacent feed points generating peripheral traffic, and other consists of cross traffic dividing the space into various sections. The First, creates impinging circumferential pressure on near by buildings, whereas the Second, scales the space, till the density and intensity are low remains low, giving it a perception of ‘manageable zones’.

19 Urban connection with Neighbourhoods or Tourist Traffic Puerta_del_Sol_(Madrid)_04

Distinct urban connections are desired for public places, but not ones that create the impinging circumferential pressures or divide the space into various sections. The simpleton urban design strategy is to devise ‘traffic free spaces’ by blocking and diverting the movement. The plan should be to favour the local residents over the business visitors, tourists and commuters. In many of the public spaces the local residents are shifted out in favour of non resident visitors.

26 Trafalgar Square Public area London Rodrigo Silva

‘Piazzas feel like being in human-scaled outdoor rooms; very large courtyards, not like the aforementioned parking, cars and sometimes skyscrapers that are associated with plazas’.

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Post 695 –by Gautam Shah


Glass Building Glass Dome Berlin Reichstag Dome

Masking and Framing of openings, have many diverse purposes but both are substantiated by their edges. Openings have their own definitive closed ended edges, but masking and framing redefines these many times with open-ended edges. The edges, not only isolate a segment of the opening, but always make the view more emphatic and relevant. The edges of the mask, such as, sharp, frayed, fuzzy, angular, curvilinear, etc. create interference, but offer qualitative change. The edges of the frames, such as, inward or outward chamferring, angular or ‘stream-lined’ rounded profiles, strongly vertical or horizontal emphasis, etc. provide a sense of enclosure. Masking and Framing, have some overlapping functions and serve complementary functions.

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Masking and Framing, have been elements of imposition to alter the conditions of the openings. Both have a secondary role of structural support. The structural support becomes real when these are integrated with the openings’ system. But the treatments may remain superfluous impositions. Such impositions include LED insertion within the glazing, or over the surface projection of images (like speech readers used by anchors). Masking and Framing, are made antithetical. These are now eliminated or diffused for simplicity, clarity, minimalism and even delusion.

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Masking has to be a smaller entity than the opening, for it to be meaningful. Masking is inhibiting or a restrictive element that resizes the opening and so controls the view, passage, effects of environment. Masking is both, planned and incidental. Planned masking offer superior conditions and perception, whereas incidental masking has surprises and new lessons. Openings are intentionally masked by architectural elements, items of furniture and furnishings, occupants. Openings get incidentally masked by growth of plants and trees, neighbouring buildings and environmental conditions.

Old Home Window Glass Architecture Within

The sizes of openings are affected by the depth aspect. Visual depth induces a perspective view. Wherever the sides are visible, add to the extent of a visual surface, and creating a frame within frame view. Imposed architectonic elements shield the opening with shadows that are more articulated than the original shadow casting elements. This overshadowing is a type of masking, reducing the apparent size opening. Similar effect occurs with deep-set and square-edged openings.

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The framing, however, became really dominant with the chamferred sides, sills, ledges and lintel bottoms. The chamferring of edges enhances the depth aspect of the opening. It adds to the extent of a visual surface, and creating a frame within frame view. The chamferring increases the view of exterior from inside, and if on inside face, it adds to perceptual illumination.

Window Barcelona Stained Glass Baroque Fanciful

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Framing of opening mainly occurs as a surround element. But the surrounds are rather too thin as jambs, and so need casing and architraves for emphasis. Reshaping of openings in the frontal plane was tried with pointed arches in Gothic period. Real reshaping of the openings and curvilinear bending was tried out in the Baroque and Rococo architecture. With the reshaping and curvilinear bending of the openings, the architectural walls were also reformatted.

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In Art Nouveau style, the openings were reshaped, and to heighten that effect, masking grills were used to de-form the rectangularity. The openings, with some restrains, and the grills, with complete abundance, used free flowing asymmetrical forms. To this vocabulary, glass patterns by way of frosting, etching, grinding and stained colouring were added.

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Early glass for windows was produced as cut bottom of a bulb or cylinder. These had residual ripple patterns, imparting a fuzzy view. The defect was subdued by masking it with translucent sheer curtains and by framing it with a grid of muntins and mullions as in Colonial sash windows.

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High quality modern glass has extra ordinary surface gloss, making it a mirror like a surface. The glossy glass if placed on the edge without sun-shading reflects the surroundings, and also reflecting sunlight as bounce-back, causing a nuisance to neighbouring properties and blinding with the glare the moving vehicles. This is now being controlled through building regulations. The solutions are masking the glass with polymer films or polychrome treatments.

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Openings are occluded by stationary and mobile objects that manifest on the inside and outside. Objects occluding a brightly lit opening are seen as silhouette or outline. A person sited against an opening can see gestures of others, but in reverse direction others fail to perceive the expressions and ignore him/her. For correct modelling some illumination or reflections from other sides are required. But this can also happen if the object has multiple planes oriented differently. The scale of occluding objects is its absolute size and relatively the distance from the opening as well as the perceiver.


Framing and Masking, have relevance of nearness. The framing becomes irrelevant at closer distance. Masking for visual screening is more affective at a distance, but for illumination control, it is affective at all distances.

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Post 682 –by Gautam Shah


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Wall structures have been prime structure for community purposes like, flood protection, irrigation, defense, terrain contouring and against erosion of land. These, perhaps preceded the walls erected for construction of dwellings. The builders from ancient times, were innately aware of the difference between a wall carrying side thrusts and bearing vertical loads. And accordingly the forms and techniques of constructions were different. The walls carrying side thrusts followed the natural angle of repose (the steepest angles at which a sloping surface is formed of loose material remains stable). The walls carrying vertical loads were designed with concern for lateral stability, and to a lesser extent worry about load bearing capacity.

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The idea of a column, as a ‘zero-sized’ wall, (like the Stonehenge) and of pillars (obelisks) may have come from tree trunks. Wood scaffolds were used for painting tall cave walls and ceilings. A series of props or poles, were used as piles or spikes for quicker formation of linear structures, such as in under-water constructions, floods, wet soils, or support against sand like loose soils.

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15 Walls

2 Double lined Groyne Schobuellbuhne042006


Earthen Wall structures for embankments or dams, for water flow regulation, storage, prevention of land erosion, against flooding, access-way (road) construction, for irrigation or navigation channels were constructed by combination of deposition or cutting-dressing. But the skill rested in exploiting the existing contours of the lands. Such structures were large and affected the entire community. For participation of large number of people, clear perception of the project and its benefit was necessary. It is apparent that such projects were executed during certain season. These were continuing efforts as added upon and improvised by several generations. Such lasting efforts can occur in societies that are politically and socially stable.


Other walls were erected in the form of city-town walls to protect the community, and monumental structures related to burial facilities. These walls due to their extent gave impression of monumentality, and were gravity-stable and invincible forms against the invaders or marauders. Walls defining passageways are for land mass retention and ceremonial demarcation of walkways. Town walls and monumental walls, both were not ‘load-bearing’ structures. Both also related to access by large number of people, often in processions. The inevitable entry point was well marked in scale and position-location.

16 Passage tomb of La Hougue Bie by © Copyright Bob Embleton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Protective walls were often constructed as tall fences. These were made insurmountable by various means like an enhancement of height-width factors. Width was increased by forming a ditch on the face of the wall, and height was added by constructing the wall over a natural steep edge of terrain. City walls in some areas were constructed of tree trunks or wood lattices.

5 Pallisade like fence as a wall against calalry United States History Civil War, 1861-1865

Palisade in Celtic village Wikipedia image by Zureks

A palisade, was a defensive fence (also called a stake-wall or paling) formed around the military camps by Greeks and Romans. It is formed of wood stakes or tree trunks placed in a line. A groyne is a similar, but low height wall structure, a hydraulic entity for interrupting the free flow of water and restricts the movement of soil-sediments from coastal area.

7 Groyne at Mundesley Norfolk Wikipedia Image by MichaelMaggs


A levee, dike, dyke, ditch, embankment, flood-bank or stop-bank, are naturally occurring long ridges or artificially constructed walls to regulate water. These are usually of stone and earth, and follow the course of a river. Levees and other structure require constant care by organized society. Some of the earliest levees were constructed by the Indus Valley Civilization (2600 BC), Egyptians to manage the floods of river Nile, in Mesopotamia and China. The word Levee or F. Lever, literally means ‘to raise’.

Stone lined trench bach_meadow_away_railing_walk-746630.jpg!d

The Greek geographer Pytheas noted in 325 BC, that ‘more people died in the struggle against water than in the struggle against men’.

The word Dyke (dijk) indicates, both trench and bank for water management. The word Ditch derives from dic, dick or dig, meaning to digging a trench and raise the banks with the excavated soil. Such earthworks acted as horizontal walling to deepen water channels, enhance the flow-rate and water carrying capacity. The water channel shaping by the side walling structures provided reliable lanes for waterways. These wall structures were formed to reduce the erosion by water flows, waves and winds.

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The first dikes and water control structures were built and maintained by those directly benefiting from them, mostly farmers. As the structures got more extensive and complex councils were formed from people with a common interest in the control of water levels on their land and so the first water boards began to emerge. These often controlled only a small area, a single polder or dike. Later they merged or an overall organization was formed when different water boards had conflicting interests. The original water boards differed much from each other in the organization, power, and area that they managed. The differences were often regional and were dictated by differing circumstances, whether they had to defend a sea dike against a storm surge or keep the water level in a polder within bounds. In the middle of the 20th century there were about 2,700 water control boards. After many mergers, there are currently 27 water boards left. Water boards hold separate elections, levy taxes, and function independently from other government bodies. -Flood control in the Netherlands Wikipedia

Mycenaean city walls

City walls are elaborate ‘fencing structures built from stronger materials to fortify a territory. The fort walls were symbols of power, so the scale was grandiose. These walls were planned at most select location, adding upon whatever natural defence features were available. Appropriateness of the site also rested on logistics of supply, of which food-fodder and drinking water, even during seizure condition, was very important. Forts housed a populated community and to sustain it, also included structures for defense preparedness and for offense capacity like ditches, gates, embankments, watchtowers, crenelation, etc.


A moat is a ditch or long pit around a settlement with or without a fence or fortification. Moats were created by reforming the existing terrain features, or dug as a new one. Fortified structures, like castles were once sited over difficult terrains, where some natural features such as hills, elevated lands or rocky landscapes were available for some protection. Moats were additional defence provisions, formed at vulnerable spots. The difficult terrains, however, make it difficult to reform existing terrain, or excavate a new trench. Digging a moat was not only labourious, but the management of the excavated material equally difficult. The excavated stuff was used to back support the fort walls, or raise the level of internal grounds. Moats were formed along with construction of fort walls.

Linear Defense wall GorganWall

Some of the earliest defensive walls were linear formations and not any surrounding or enveloping forts. These were long barrier walls with open ends or terminating into hillock or large water body. These linear walls marked a territorial edge or boundary of the kingdom. Such edge walls had to be very extensive to be effective.

Sumerian King Shulgi of Ur, 2038 BC., built a wall that was 250 Kms long, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, to keep the invading Amorites out of Sumerian lands. Great Wall of Gorgan (restored and renovated by the Sasanian Persians in the 5th or 6th C) was 195 Kms long, and included more than thirty forts along its length. Great Wall of China was built as several small independent units, possibly first at vulnerable points, which were ultimately joined together during the Ming Era. It was as a freestanding regional scale defensive structure. Similarly the Anastasian wall (the Long Walls of Thrace) of the Byzantine Empire (469 C) located in modern Turkey was also not anchored at either end to any terminus. All such walls proved to be ineffectual as enemy army marched around the ends. The most known wall structure, Hadrian’s wall of Britain was built by Roman Emperor Hadrian (122 AD) to prevent frequent incursions.

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