SPACE PERCEPTION – Issues for Design -4

Post 607 by Gautam Shah 



Faculties of Perceptions > Wikipedia image by Abellman

Perception is becoming aware of Objects and Environment. A person has natural or nominal capacities for sensorial perception. The sensorial faculties, though vary from person to person, and also depend on many other factors such as age, sex, moods, past experiences, sequences of happenings, motivation, learning capacity. The capacities are improved by various means of reach such as spectacles, hearing aids, insulators. The perception is also regulated by conversion processes, which diffuse, hasten, or delay through condensation, compression, enlargements, focussing, differentiation, etc. Perception of Objects in a space occurs as a sequence of events, where each segment is affected by the varying environment and the position of the perceiver.


Algerian Nomads habitat > Wikipedia + Flickr image by Tonton Jaja

The word Perception derives from Latin perceptiō (a receiving or collecting, taking cognizance of, intuitive or direct recognition of some innate quality, obtain, gather, seize entirely, take possession of, to grasp with the mind, learn, comprehend).


Shutting off the vision > Wikipedia image by davric

Perception occurs as congregation of several effects, and mutually compensative processes. We may not be able to isolate few parts of it. As for example, Smell and Taste often occur together. The sensory nodes have FIVE important characteristics that they have specific Location, Capacity and Multiplicity and the Duration.

● The Locations of the sensorial nodes provide information about the directionality, and encourages discrimination.

● The Capacity of the perceptive nodes is range bound which permit selections while providing comfort, sense of survival. Beyond the range bound capacity of the perception faculty, the perception process gets transmitted to other modes allowing different facilitation.

● The Multiplicity of nodes gives a sense of scale and referential positions.

● The Duration of perception gives a temporal scale. In other words The Location, Body capacities, Multiplicity and duration, all together and individually endow a Geo-Spatial identity.

● There are abnormal sensorial perceptions also. These arise from the Location related misinterpretations, Physiological deficiencies, differentiated perception of multiple nodes and time related intensifications and diffusions.


Realization – Cognition > Wikipedia image

The process of cognition reveals how the environment is formatted, organized and represented in time and space. Environment helps in identification, and interpretation of the space, and so gives a measure to it. The measures are perceived because we have different types nodes of perception, where some have multiple and directional locations. The nodes also have a range bound capacity, beyond and under which the reception gets transferred to other systems, or ceases to be operative. With these operants’ one gets a sense of scale, size, gradations like concentration and diffusion, framing, juxtaposing, referencing, linkages, details and orientation.


The Singing Tree (Burnley Panopticon) > a wind powered sound installation at Lancashire England > Wikipedia image by Childzy

Perception nominally means sensorial cognition, but could also be realization through other means. An understanding of a situation, acceptance or confirmation, are also part of the process of perception. There are some realizations that may not be attributed to sensorial nodes. Such non sensorial cognition makes us aware of orientations such as North, East, West, South, Up, Down, Front, Back, movements, acceleration-deceleration, energy flows, gravity, etc. There are other realizations that do not relate to physical perceptions, but are sometimes attributed to psychical experiences. These include empathy, sympathy, links or relationships between two objects and organisms, acknowledgement, familiarity, recollection of past events, fore-sightings, future purposes or utilities of objects and situations, orders in complex situations, hierarchies in multiple entities, etc. Cognition also involves forming expectations, directing the attention, learning and memory retention. At some level cognition is recognizing a thought, intuition, deduction, etc.


Immersion into Virtual reality is a perception of being physically present in a nonphysical world > Wikipedia image

Objects are positioned in the Space, where the Environment manifests as a happening, marking the Time. In this sense a space and time form a matrix of relationship, and perception is becoming aware of such a matrix. Space perception is about recognizing the extent, gaining knowledge and schematising for means for sustaining the occupation. Perception is also regarded as ‘the modification of anticipation’ because some disequilibrium between expectation and stimulus. Designers create spaces that are anticipated, but with elements that are off the expectations. There are continuous process between perception and cognition (knowledge) that defines our expectations and fulfillment. It distinguishes, hypothesizes, bridges and replaces the voids.


ART by Paolo Uccello (1397-1475) Innovative use of a geometric algorithm incorporating linear perspective in painting where broken lances run along perspective lines


This is 4th article of 20 topics series on ISSUES for DESIGN



Post 251 – by Gautam Shah



Human behaviour is evident in responses related to: Body, Environment, Space and the Occupants.


BODY: The human behaviour is seen as conspicuous actions through body-limb movements or postures, discreet expressions of body related gestures, and also as overt expressions in modes like speaking, writings, painting, etc. Human behaviour originates from the genetic make up and is further conditioned by the experiences.

Physiological components of human behaviour are seen in survival, health, well being and comfort, spatial occupation with dimensional accommodation and fitment of the human-body, task functionality. Human behaviour relates to others. It manifests through group behaviour dynamics, expression and communication. Human behaviour can be sensed through cognition, psychology, sensorial perception, response mechanisms, metabolism, past experiences, inherited and learnt faculties.

On the Steps of St Martin's

The response mechanisms could be: accommodation, adjustment (like acclimatization), spatial shifting or temporal rescheduling, biological corrections or degradation. The responses are also assisted by the supportive systems such as tools, implements, gadgets, equipments, facilities and amenities. Body responses achieve task functionality by way of compliance within set confines for nominal to extreme purposes. Body responses achieve both, stability and mobility necessary for efficiency, comfort and security.

ENVIRONMENT: Environmental responses form a process of becoming aware of a space. Environment is the supportive system that moulds our perception and commands the responses. It permeates into a space depending on the spatial characteristics, such as the size, shape, sequencing, quality of barriers, etc. Environment formats a life style that passes on from one generation to another as ethnicity or ‘cultural ethos’. Environment also includes real presence of other occupants. The process environment acclimatization is in way a physiological reaction.


SPACE: Space is the setting where environment and cognition actualize concurrently. As cognition is personal, it endows environment subjective significance. Nature of cognition is one major factor that governs the Space experience. Environment is continually variable and so a space experience is ever expounding. It continues to reveal differently in spite of its scale or spatial features remaining static. Some environmental conditions and spatial features often occur in concert. And so we expect the presence of one to trigger the other. The accommodation of environmental changes makes the process of inhabitation tougher, but always equips one with better skills and greater efficiencies.

Street Football

OCCUPANTS: Occupants of a space are real, and sometimes through the metaphoric presences. Behaviour responses are due to the biological needs and also for cultural reasons or social norms. Occupants show varied behaviour due to factors like age, sex, level of adaptation, familiarity, limb capacity, body-limb coordination, sensorial abilities and reach extension tools, etc. Behaviour (even of lone beings) is substantially in the context of ‘awareness’ of other human beings (and not necessarily the physical presence). Interpersonal relationships among members of small groups are a result of the personality and cultural backgrounds of the individuals involved, their tasks, and the nature of the spatial arrangements or physical settings. Various races and cultures respond differently to the amount and arrangement of spaces. Humans evaluate the acceptability or appropriateness of behaviour using social norms, and regulate it by means of social control. The Sociological responses of human behaviour relate to the social needs of the occupants and awareness of their implications. The space, environment and the occupants together foster a social-contact mechanism.


LONELINESS and Space Design

Post -by Gautam Shah



Loneliness is an anxious feeling about a lack connectedness. It is experienced in absence or presence of people, and in known as well as unknown surroundings. The causes of loneliness are many such as social, mental, emotional, physiological and spiritual.


Causes for Loneliness are: Loss of a relationship due to breakup, travel, death of a person, dejection or withdrawal from a social circle, enforced isolation like jail or punishment like over stay at school or workplace, unfamiliar lifestyle, food and community leading to home sickness, a dysfunction of communication channels at places with low population densities, during periods of harsh climates and fewer people to communicate with due to language, sex, social or other barriers.


Loneliness can be attributed to personal needs, period, place and people. A person when isolated may feel lonely, but to feeling of loneliness is not always due to isolation. Solitude could be by choice, and so loneliness is a subjective experience. People can be lonely in a crowded or public place, because a person may be desiring more intensive social interaction than what is currently available, or the surroundings are not suitable for such opportunities. A person can be in the middle of a party and feel lonely due to inability to participate in it. Contrary to this one can be alone and yet not feel lonely if there is no need or desire for social interaction.


Loneliness tends to depress some but improves the cognition and improves capacity to concentration. Study rooms, prayer or meditation zones, contemplation areas, private consultation rooms, lovers’ corners in restaurants, back seats in assembly halls are designed to be less participatory. Such places of solitude or temporary loneliness lead to enhanced and creative expression. Solitude is also associated with spiritual and religious quests.


For solitude, other then isolation from people, some control over cognition may be necessary. However, complete absence of cognition or by totally filtering an aspect of it (such as sound, light, touch, smell, etc.) in a space may create an uncomfortable situation. Even in jails and study rooms some illumination, background noise, distant odours are desirable to maintain mental health. Loneliness should be considered as an alert that it is time to seek social connections. Connections of this nature, may not occur  with presence of people, but rather by necessary adaptation of the living space.

Building Illumination

Single people keep themselves occupied through intensive work regimen, audio and video intervention, mobile or other means of communication, by seating near a street view window, keeping a pet as company, frequent relocation of amenities, irregular work cycles including physical workouts, dancing, and cooking.