Post 703 –by Gautam Shah


8 BMW Welt, Munich, Germany Wikipedia Image by Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa)

In art and design, we deal with forms, as holistic or composed entities. The holistic entities also turn compositions, when these are expressed through contexts like media (frame or the extent), setting (site, environment, landscape, illumination), or referenced (orientation, location, sensorial exposition). The pursuit of creativity is at several stages, in realizing the holistic form or graduating to a state of holism after the composition. The assimilation of several elements into a ‘formal’ composition creates a ‘striking’ arrangement, ‘balanced’ placements and an ‘organization’ with synergy and potency of new possibilities.

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For holistic forms, the creator, if the scale permits, can roll the entity to have an all-around experience, but the moment it is rested or delivered it gains a setting. For holistic forms that are too large, the roll around occurs over a ground, and that becomes its defacto rest. Holistic forms like sculptures or art installations have no functional livability, but as a static structure must rest and get set. Dynamic entities like balloons, space capsules or stations are rotated axially and sometimes three dimensionally to create a ‘dynamic equilibrium’.

9 Experience Music Project, Seattle,WA,USA Gehry Wikipedia Image by EMP-SFM

For composed entities it is necessary to have a bearing. Primarily it is the ‘ground’ where these sit, tie up or rest. And where such provisions do not exist, the bottom of the composition (closer to the omnipresent gravity) becomes one. Elements of the composition at the lower half of the field are closer to the ground and so perceived to be more static. The stability is also enhanced by elements of composition with mass wider in the lower parts. Inclusion of lighter elements such as air, water, sky, flowers, develops a sense of ethereal floatation. Surreal art has not escaped the gravity.

13A Michelangelo ART Ethereal floatation The Creation of Adam

13 Jeremy geddes defying the Gravity

Holistic or composed entities of art and design can remain personal, if are fleeting expressions. But most other expressions, to reach a wider community, must persist. Grounding is the first step towards the persistence. Grounding is related to the force de majeure, the gravity. Grounding creates a balance. Its lack unnerves our sense of regularity, but its oddity excites us. The balance is about distribution of mass around the vertical and across the perceptible zone. Vertical is the post struggle phase of gaining the equilibrium.

11 When Horses Gallop by Andres Barrioquinto

The height of the vertical is always referenced to the horizontal of the ground. The depth of perception stretches the ground in perspective, and proportionately reduces the vertical.


Some form of equipoise is sought for compositions. The balance with equipoise forms symmetry. For equipoised balance the elements around vertical must remain with it, bearing the same effect of gravity, but their repositioning can cause un-equipoise. The symmetry around the vertical, however, is affected by the position of the vertical in the field of perception.

Delhi, Lotus Temple

7 Holistic form Matrimandir Temple of The Mother Auroville Pondichery India

Symmetry is more apparent in visual fields as two eyes can focus to a single object. Two ears need some attenuation to perceive the balance. For the sensation of touch balanced localization is difficult to achieve. Smell and taste buds have singular identity, but spatially too close for distinctive perception of balance.

15 Paul Klee

The zone of perception varies in extent and over time, mainly due to changes in contextual conditions and environment.

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The holistic entities are of many types, copycats, metaphoric or abstract. Copycats duplicate the original in altered scale, sensory (colour, texture) effects and purposes. The metaphoric expressions could be literal models or images of human or other beings (in natural or grotesque form). The abstract presentations remain obscure for their imagery or meaning.

5 Escultura de Frank Gehry El Peix, fish sculpture located in front of the Port Olímpic, in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain 1992

The composed creations, unlike the holistic ones have many elements, some are mutually related, due to the purpose, proximity, similarity, counter balancing, scale, massing, etc. These constituents individually or in combinations evoke the past experiences. The past experiences are subjective and fluid. A composition remains a frame in a time slot of a happening.

14 VR offers a way out of the inhibitions for Surrealist Art Movement relativity-escher




Post 434 –by Gautam Shah



The most important approach that affects the quality of output is the Technique of Design or the Design Approach or Process. Component approach  is discussed here.

  1.          Holistic approach
  2.          Component approach
  3.          Redesign or Re-engineering
  4.          Concurrent engineering or Simultaneous design


There are many ways Design is conducted. The Technique of Design or the Design Process determines the nature of output. There are obvious factors that are common to all design processes such as Nascent effort or routine application, Human and other resources available, Technology involved in design, Presentation tools and methods, Scale of detail, Execution methodology and Operations systems.


Eden_Project_geodesic_domes_panoramaSome of the important Design processes are: 1 Holistic approach, 2 Component approach, 3 Redesign or Re-engineering and 4 Concurrent engineering or Simultaneous design.


COMPONENT APPROACH is one of the oldest approaches used for designing slightly complex entities. Here an entity is perceived, as if composed of several components or subsystems, each of which are optional or replaceable. The components or subsystems are universal as are relevant for other conditions.

Four stroke single cylinder engine components

A design is a continuum, and one improvises it, by changing a component its method of joining, placement or context. Component approach (parts to the whole) provides systems that are reliable, and well connected to the existing one. Where situations demand a radically different or a novel solution, parts to the whole design approach are often inadequate.


Ghetto-blaster family of Audio tape decks -replaced by Sony’s Walkman

The component approach requires one to have a complete overview of the functions the parts and the objects are to serve. This also translates into understanding of relationships between various components. Components are mutually related in time and space, and this makes it easier to devise a replacement. Replacement components are superior in form, function and their association with other subsystems. Replacements modify a system forming a new system.


Khajuraho Kandariya Mahadev Indian Temple Components

Components with high degree of mutual connectivity are less affected from conditions beyond their boundaries. Component approach creates systems with some regimen where subsystems have predictable dependency and yet are replaceable.Component approach systems’ are fairly fail-safe because individual segments, parts, or components are continuously and concurrently being evolved in the society.


Modern day automobiles, computers are examples of Component approach to design. For ages large number of buildings are being created through Component approach. ‘Monuments’ and highly stylized architectural works intentionally and intensively negate the component approach for the sake of Holistic image.



Post 415 – by Gautam Shah


Zytglogge Movement_from_1530_by_Kasper_Bruner

When a designer conceives an object, it is either as a whole, or as a composition of parts that form the whole. A composition of parts has an inherent but distinct order of coordination within it, whereas objects conceived as a whole may not project such an order.

InSight lander in assembly


Parts of an object, even before being manufactured, and before physically placed together, have some degree of coordination. The process of coordination starts within the thought processes of a designer along with the concept of the object.

IDF Caterpillar D9

In a continuum, designers consciously (intellectually) or subconsciously (intuitively) identify elements relevant for known situations; or inversely identify situations where known elements can be fitted. Elements and situations are mutually relevant to designers. Most universal context, for both, the element and the situation, to be relevant is the user.Mechanized conveyor lines

In a design process, the components, the situation, or the orders of context are initially not obvious, logical or easily identifiable. The design process for a creative lay person and a trained person or the designer is very different. A creative lay person simply goes on creating (assembling, modifying) things without being aware why certain things exist in a certain manner. For a creative person the end is important, means are irrelevant. A trained person or a designer, on the other hand, tries to discover the logic behind it. Selection of an element may be intuitive initially, but there is always a later effort to justify the actions intellectually.

Subcontracting. Bogie-wheel assembly. Facing, counterboring and milling operations are performed on bogie-wheel levers in the machine shop of an Eastern subcontractor. Painesville Machine Company

A designer justifies all the 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:

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


For a designer, knowing means to achieve a specific end are very important. Proper record keeping of all design decision 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 crafts-person or artist, are trained and disciplined, so record their design related thought processes. Thought processes thin out or obliterate completely with passage of time, so must be recorded as early as possible. Documentation of every aspect of design process is very necessary. Such expertise helps a designer to handle extensive or more complex intuitions or inspirations.

Italy Milan Gothic Travel Tourism Cathedral

Prefabricated house construction




Post 412 –by Gautam Shah 



Railings are barricades against height related hazards, guides for pathways and grabbing elements for support while ascending, descending or any other physically difficult passage (such as slippery floors). Railings have a main holding or grabbing elements in the form of a continuous bar or rail, other in-fill components and support structures. The support structure is often designed as a spanning structural beam to reinforce the bridge, a waist of the stair or escalator. In very steep stairs such as ladders the sides of the stairs allow grabbing, and so are railing by themselves.



A railing is nominally a safety barricade used in a standing posture and so needs an optimum height provision. As a result the space between the passage and the railing requires some fill-up panel. This fill-up or in-fill could be of opaque, translucent to transparent material or a lattice. In stiff structures the in-fill could be of stiff construction, but rope bridges (catenary spans) need a flexible in-fill. Railings on roads are designed to take the impact of moving vehicles, and allow it to skid along it, but without an overturning. Railings in public places are designed to resist side thrust in case of pandemonium. Railings are designed with anti-ligature features to prevent suicides or unintentional injuries.

Railings are made of timbers, wood-composites, wrought iron, cast-iron, mild steel structurals or sections, stainless steels, glass, plastics, composites and masonry.



The components of the railing are identifiable in terms of their distinctive form, position and function. In some instances each of these has a perceptible presence, but it may not be a requirement of design. A proximate building element or an architectonic element may serve the functions of a railing. Railings, are bottom supported panel structures, wall supported linear elements, or suspended space entities.

Soft Rails



Rail is the main grabbing and body support element of the railing system. This is a functional element which may not be the top member, but always at the optimum (for adults) height of 900 to 1200 mm. The rail may have an accompanying higher or lower barricading element. A rail could be an independent element of the other components of the railing. Rail can be a bar or an ergonomically conceived section or profiled top (cap-rail) of the in-fill panel or the barricade system. Rails are used with hand and so-called handrails, but a rail could support other parts or limbs of the body such as the buttock (metro trains and stations) or a foot (drink or snack bars). Informal rails are fabric or synthetic stripes that demarcate specific areas. Grab bars are placed in toilets, slippery or wet areas.

Bradbury Building Stairs ironwork

Support for Handrail: A handrail may be supported at end to end of flight of steps (usually negotiating 2 to 2.5 mts height) or may need intermediate supports called banisters.

Vienna state opera stairs Newels

A newel is a large picket or post that supports the handrail at the start and end or landing level. Newels are anchored to the floors or stair waists. Nominally the newel rests one step measure away from the last step. Newels may project upward then the rail level, and may be capped with an urn or finial. Volute is the end of a handrail, shaped like a spiral in a horizontal plane. A rail may not end as a free corner support of a newel, but may terminate into a wall or column as a rosette. A wall return is a bend that turns around a wall, column or a tall newel. Easement is the curved piece in the same plane or rising to form a turning transition of a rail. Similarly a goose-neck is a section between two differently sloped rail systems.

Villa Saint Cyr Staircase Newel Cap

Rail sections carved out of wood are curved against the normal grain of the wood, such as for the volute, rosette, goose-neck or easements. These require additionally under the layer support of wood.

Iron balusters

Baluster is a moulded shaft, square or circular, traditionally in stone, wood, metal, and now in plastics, supporting the coping of a parapet or the handrail of a staircase. The assembly is called the balustrade. Balusters are vertical mid pickets or members that hold the handrail. Sometimes these are simply called guards or spindles. Treads often require two balusters. The second baluster in such cases is closer to the riser and is taller than the first. A fillet is a decorative filler piece on the floor between balusters.




Post 314 – by Gautam Shah 


Buttresses Flying Buttresses Cathedral Gothic

Systems are purposive entities qualifying the togetherness of parts or components and smaller systems. It is a qualification by which the whole is recognized along with its constituents. Systems have sub units that are well orchestrated in time and appropriately placed in space. For every change in the constitution, composition and positional value of any of the sub unit, there is a corresponding change in the system. Some changes, though, are insignificant, and can be ignored.

MicroAirVehicleIn a designed (intentional) system nearly all sub units have a purpose of their in being with the others. In designed system the sub units are selected, prepared, modified, manufactured, for being together in a particular format. In a complex system only a few sub units are relevant to other units. Some sub units occasionally and due to their position remain latent. In a very large system such as of nature, the sub units do not reveal themselves, unless their order is probed. A system composed of apparently irrelevant or latent parts can still continue to be relevant as a whole.


Simple systems have strong edges, and are like buildings, newspaper or a computer programme. Complex systems can have diffused boundaries due to convergence of other systems such as our own body, city administration or internet. Nature’s systems are very extensive spread reaching to infinity, and include atmosphere, planetary or food chain.



A system’s sub units are classifiable as parts, components and subsystems. The components by themselves function as a simple system, and are replaceable entities, though have connection formalities. Subsystems manifest through their order. Order is an inherent characteristic of systems. It is the system organization.

Star system

In designed systems when elements are gathered, an order can be recognized. A budding system can have order that is alogical and loosely definable, and not apparent to others. Just the same as soon as the systems begins to function the order becomes obvious, logical and definable. 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.

Paul Klee > Revolution des Viadukts -Abstract system

In all designed systems the primary order is that of assembly or sequence of manufacture. However, in complex systems there are many orders. A system is the web of relationships that creates emergent properties of the whole. These properties of the whole may not be found in any analysis the sub-units.




Postby Gautam Shah




In our day to day life, we use many different types of objects. At a very simple level an object is made up of only one or few materials. Such objects though have variety of sizes and shapes, and serve similar purposes. Parts could be elemental units that form assemblies or composition but need not become functional components. Such efforts may however, lead to abstract systems, essentially revealing relationships.

Parts are always replaceable, and similar parts are affected similarly.Parts may not be similar but gain a value by being in certain position for required purpose.


When we recognize an object as a part, we know that a whole range of nearly similar objects, worthy of being a ‘part’, are available. A part has universal character, but when assembled into a component, it acquires a different personality, due to the placement, location and function. 640px-Bihar_bullock_cart_parts


A part is that elemental unit to which the whole can be reduced or resolved.

A screw, nails, handles, a razor blade, buttons, are examples of parts. These are destined to become members of a larger entity -the component. Cement, sand, water and bricks, as parts, form a masonry wall, which in turn is component of a building. Parts like a tube, tyres, air, rims, together create a component -the wheel. The wheel with many other components makes up a system of movement.

Within a composition, parts exhibit an active to passive interactions with other parts, as determined by the design. But parts dealing with the environment (including the user) often show indeterminable behaviour.




A component is unique composition of many parts, to serve a specific purpose, it must remain steadfast to a function and yet to be relevant. Components have a specific identity, compared to Parts, which have a universal character.


A component is more intimately linked to the larger composition-the system, than a part is. Components are conceived to be within a larger composition or system, and derive their identity on the nature of their role within the system.


Some components remain static and so are useful, but many others are dynamic and only for that reason, become members of the functional system. Components manifest at very specific location and occasion, so can be easily identified and separated. A part is also a component when it becomes exclusive due to the placement, location or function. Components show reactivity to presence or elimination of energy by becoming dormant, active to hyperactive.

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