ZONING BUILT SPACES -PERIPHERAL SPACES

Post 717 by Gautam Shah

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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SEGMENTING the SPACES -Issues of Design 31

Post 711 -by Gautam Shah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ZONING of SPACES

Post 348 – by Gautam Shah 

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Spaces are characterized by the activities occurring in it. The activities take the domineering position for the time slot, and so have a natural tendency to be singular and focal. Multiple activities in the same time slot do not have specific spatial character, unless the space is well segmented.

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To remain relevant and focused the main activity of the space, must remain at the core zone of the space. In other words the main activity must stay away from the peripheral zones. The peripheral areas of the space are vibrant due to strong external effects. The strong external bearing can be curtailed by opaque edges. The core area, to retain its consistency begins to shift towards the protected edge. The shift to the edge may also occur due the architectural form of the space, local environmental conditions, overpowering functional needs, available facilities, amenities and enrichments. A dominant enclosure on one or few sides of a domain creates an inviolable shield, an identity of belonging, or a sense of orientation.

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Core zones gain strength by the architectural form. Spaces forms like concentric, conical, angular, circular, pyramidal, etc., are focused and so enhance the focus of the core zone. Very extensive domains lack an effective focus.

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A core zone can be formed by the dimensional and cognition reach extent of the occupants. Such core zones are very personal, affirmed by the user rather than the architectural form. The reach extent scales the domain space.

Off centric core zone Interior of the palace of Shauh Shujah Ool Moolk, Late King of Kabul The British Library James Rattray (1818-1854)

Core zone of a space is a work setting, and so it is maintained free of permanent facilities. Amenities are also pushed to the opaque edge to source, the services like power, supplies, disposals, etc. The amenities in core zones need to be demountable, relocatable, handy-mobile, multipurpose equipments, plug in tools, wireless gadgets, miniaturized appliances and modular in design. Compared to these, the amenities in the peripheral zones are strongly dependent on the architectural and structural systems, and so are static.

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Historically a core zone of the ‘Home’ was the ‘hearth’ (literally meaning a focus). It was considered safe, intimate and interactive for the family. The hearth was created often without any abutting elements like the cave wall or a rock face. The ambit of the core zone was determined by the climate, the scale of the space, number of participants and level of interaction, and the degree of personalization required. There was only one such zone in the dwelling. The home in charge -the mother was master of the core zone. Her role and presence had become so obvious that ‘the hearth, the mother and home’ were synonymous. In tribal and aboriginal homes the core area is a female domain. The core zone was the natural center of metaphysical spread, ‘the home’, as much as the mother was de-facto guardian of culture. Today, however the hearth is not an inevitable element for safety, security or comfort. It is the quality of barriers and other gadgets that provide this. Dwellings now have many sub domains each belonging to an individual, smaller group, or configured for a set of tasks. Very few activities of the family occur at the one place and are scheduled in the same time slot. But the family members do share a lifestyle developed through metaphysical markings like beliefs (customs, taboos, etc.) and the metaphoric means.

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MULTIPLE CORE ZONES

Multiple core zones occur in very extensive domains. Such domains have weak central command and so allow formation of groups. The groups separate out primarily due to needs like physical accommodation, need for social intimacy and reach of communication. The groups may not seek a distinct territory or qualitative space segment. However, frequent such occurrences, show the existence of multiple qualitative space segments.

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Multiple core zones also emerge where several overlapping or closely spaced domains operate within a larger built space entity. Such core zones share the same spatial segment simultaneously or are programmed in same time schedules. Here the consistent elements are: spatial characteristics, environmental features, participants, amenities, facilities, tasks and activities. Multiple core zones tend to remain together, but often get separated by strong peripheral areas.

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Arab tents had dual core areas within the basic form of the tent, one occupied by the women and used for main cooking, and the other half is used by men and for preparing coffee, etc. These two sections are divided by a mass of stored elements, such as mattresses, floor spreads, etc. The side flaps of the tent are stretched out to create peripheral zones of various sizes. The stretched width and the angle of the flap are conditioned by the sun’s position, wind direction, nature of tasks to be conducted and the need for privacy.

Cooking and dining once (and still do in many societies) belonged to a single core zone, but were separated as two concurrent core areas. These two core areas were further separated by a pantry area that was a peripheral zone to both. Entrance is buffered by a lobby, foyer, entrance hall, or vestibule from other sections of the house. Yards, verandahs, porches are used to separate out the building from the street.

Single room dwelling units

Small or one room, houses have multiple core zones. These zones exist in terms of activity space spreads, which often overlap in time. The multiple core zones match the space layout characteristics, such as four corners, the area near the door or window, the area abutting the wall, the axis formed between two opposite side opening. Traditional Sarai rooms are two and half man width = 5 Mts or 16.5 Ft. This allows two families or their men or women to occupy a side. The depth of the room is of less important.

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PERIPHERAL ZONES in INTERIOR SPACES

 Post –by Gautam Shah

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Peripheral zones of an interior space are aligned to the edge of the space, and therefore away from the core zone. It is this distance, between the core and peripheral sections that qualifies their meaning. Another qualifying mark is their surroundings. Peripheral zones draw a lot of energy from across the edge or defining barriers whereas the core zone is affected only slightly by the enveloping periphery.

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Peripheral zones are vulnerable to outside influences due to their closeness with the edge and also their distance from the core section. A core zone is dominated by the domain’s main and common activity, whereas the peripheral zones are distinctive escape areas and so have diverse utility. Peripheral zones derive their functionality from nature of barriers. Peripheral zones emerge as an antithesis or concurrent space segment of the core zone. The peripheral zones are affected differently by the directional and temporal aspects of the environment. A peripheral zone is often relevant only for a while, to an individual, or for an activity.

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Once the extent 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 elements (to reduce their intensity and reach). The barriers, wherever available, formed the edge sections of the peripheral zone. These were also used for reclining, resting, hanging personal items and for expression (artwork).

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Peripheral zones are primarily shaped by the core zone, but are more often affected by the nature of the periphery of neighbouring domains and happenings beyond. The edge areas allow a person to selectively taste the happenings of outside-world even while remaining inside. Peripheral zones are flexible, i.e. can be stretched or contracted from their nominal spread. Domain transgression occurs through the periphery. Peripheral zones are dual faced, so one can orient an activity towards or away from the core area. For any other positioning one may require strong metaphysical reason.

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Peripheral zones often develop as an acutely specific zone. Study nooks in bedrooms, coffee rooms with the dining area, hobby zones in kitchens, home offices with vestibules, retiring rooms in private offices, vaults in banks, store rooms with homes and offices, wardrobes, shower stalls, change rooms in boutiques, cashiers’ cabins, pilot or driver’s cabins, reception counter, janitor area, services ducts, podiums in lecture halls, green rooms with a performance stage, ticket booths, telephone kiosks, are all examples of peripheral zones separated from the core zones.

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Peripheral areas mark the end of one space entity and beginning of another one. Peripheral zones are thresholds to other space entities, and occur or are perceived to be an intermediate or buffer state. Thresholds are interactive areas, and alter (qualitatively) the elements transiting through it. Their activeness arises from their level of transparency and thickness (mass of the barrier) both of which control (rate, direction) the exchange. Thresholds also occur as an interstice on the overlapping barriers. Here two effects are simultaneously operative.

headquarters-library-building-725x483The space barriers, such as walls, roofs, awnings, curtains, partitions, ceilings, etc. form a focussed space. Yet these barriers also create segments that are more strongly attached to the periphery. The barriers, however, are always prone to change from outside effects. There are two distinct places for group mechanisms -the focal and the peripheral sections.

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Lecture halls, bed rooms, modern kitchens are single activity areas, and so focussed units, but road side cafes are peripheral. An older style kitchen sourcing its services off a wall was more peripheral, whereas modern kitchens have island workstations, is more of the core centric arrangement. A drawing room like the dining area is focussed for an activity, but a family room is multi functional and so less focal. Fire was the focus of the primitive home, and TV has become the current focus of home gathering. A physical feed-based work station is peripheral, but a wireless notepad computer offers flexibility of being anywhere.

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