Post 650 -by Gautam Shah







CORRIDORS AND PASSAGES -as Transfer Systems in Buildings (Part – II) DESIGN PARAMETERS

CORRIDORS and PASSAGES Transfer Systems in Buildings (Part – III ) Passages

CORRIDORS and PASSAGES .Transfer Systems in Buildings (Part – IV ) Vasari Corridor of Florence


VERANDAHS and equivalent architectural forms

VERANDAHS and equivalent architectural forms Part – II

Perspective Arches Arcade Corridor Passage



CORRIDORS and PASSAGES Transfer Systems in Buildings (Part – III ) Passages

Post 276 – by Gautam Shah



A passage is narrow space, defined by its consistent sides. Its linearity endows a sense of discipline and directional movement. Long processions have been part of ancient rituals, and the paths for it are defined by curbs, barricades, intermittent flag-masts, columns, statues or obelisks. The top side was bridged with buntings or hangings. Additional markings for passages were formed through steps and ramps or fronting objects like a building, gate or natural objects like a hill or mountain top.


The megalithic passage tomb at Newgrange in Ireland covers over an acre and was constructed around 3200 B.C. It has a long passageway formed by the side wall. At the winter solstice, the rising sun shines down the long passage and lights up a cross-shaped chamber.

temple of Hatshepsut

Egyptian Labyrinth whose only literary reference is by 1st C BC Greek geographer both had called it a great palace composed of many palaces. In front of the entrances are crypts, long and numerous winding passages communicating with one another. Egyptian temples had axial passages, stretching almost infinitely in front. Pyramids have had inclined passages, some leading nowhere.

Secret passages, also commonly referred to as hidden routes for stealthy travel, usually for emergency escape. The route, its entry and exit point, all require careful planning, construction, upkeep and secrecy.


Passages have occurred due to sheer massive movement of people. Roman amphitheatres and stadiums were designed for efficient ingress and egress of audiences. Entrance arches (marked by number) lead to a corridor that ran uninterruptedly around the building. The corridor led to staircases and passages to sections of seats. The passages were called the Vomitorium (plural: vomitoria). These were situated below or behind the tiers of seats through which the crowds could spew out at the end of a performance.


Buildings of Medieval and Renaissance period, mostly followed the Roman dwellings, with entry through Andito (small entrance area) or vestibule leading to a hall or courtyard. The courtyards were more prominent in Southern Europe but did not distribute the entry to rooms. Rooms were accessed from one to another. The courtyard and the corridor came together in southern monasteries, to create all sided circulatory space.

ref: PM_073858_E_So_Domingo_de_Silos; Claustro bajo o procesional, pilar del àngulo nordeste, cara oriental: relieve del Enterramiento de Cristo y la visita de las Santas Mujeres al Sepulcro, SXI

Vatican has a passage that is similar to Vasari Florence corridor. The Passetto di Borgo, or simply Passetto, is an elevated passage that links the Vatican City with the Castel Sant’Angelo. It is an approximately 800-m long corridor.




7 1024px-Rome_passetto_night_outside

Passetto, called in Roman dialect er Corridore Wikipedia Image by Carlomorino

Buildings of Medieval and later period began to reform the entry spaces, or more specifically the Halls into longer passages or long halls. The longer hall allowed several branch corridors or even rooms. The corridor was a long interior space, which needed illumination, ventilation and in colder climate warming up. It was a dreaded space, often haunted due to its capacity to prolong the reverberation. Yet, it was a preferred style of space. The gallery built by Francesco Borromini in 1635 Palazzo Spada, in Rome was, for a corridor much shorter. It sculpture much smaller. It was a false corridor of an optical illusion in only 8.5 mts of depth.


11 IMG_0403_-_Sant'Ivo_alla_sapienza

12 Antiquarium_residence_munich_hdr



Post 261 – by Gautam Shah


The word Corridor has derived from Italian Corridore =place or space to run, which in turn has derived from correre or Latin currere=’to run’. By association courier, meant a man or horse who could run to deliver messages, money or documents. Italian word corridoio is a place, or rather space for the courier (man or horse) to run. From later part of 16th C. Corridors were strategic spaces or routes of access in fortifications. Used for quicker deliveries.

640px-Corridoio_vasariano_da_uffiziCouriers and corridors were used for faster deliveries by the military. It had military ramifications for defence or offense, but no civilian relate. The space for a faster messaging, the corridoio was not a marked territory or a facilitated ground within a fortification or dense urban setting. It was simply a familiar-well travelled precinct. In late 16th C it denoted a military term for a narrow strip of land along the edge of a ditch or fort-wall sometimes protected by a parapet. It was also a narrow walkway along the slope of a hill and sea. Trails are marked passageways but in the wilderness. Trails are so narrow that most vulnerable or unafraid ones lead the way, and others must trail.

Corridor Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Delhi Wikipedia Image by Jasleen Kaur from USA

Alleys, arteries, aisles, channels, lanes, couloirs, tunnels, paths, lobbies, vestibules, avenues, all have one common element: A linear passageway. A labyrinth and maze, both are entwined complex of passageways, where the former one ‘has a single path -unicursal, reaching the centre; and the later is a complex branching -multicursal puzzle, with choices of a path and directions’.

Labyrinth Chartres Cathedral France Wikipedia Image by Maksim.

The Jubilee Maze, an octagonal hedge maze near Symonds Yat in the Forest of Dean Wikipedia Image by NotFromUtrecht

Unknown paths and passageways pose as corridors of uncertainty, not due to the unfamiliar ends, but due to the monotonous, dark and acoustically spooky feel. Walled corridors are personal spaces that one wants to cross over in haste. Corridors are conceived for direct and fast access to a destination, but in public buildings these are used for delaying, waiting and lingering. Corridors may hasten the movement, but retard the creative pursuits. No one uses corridors for contemplation or any purposive activity.

Berlin Germany underground passages > Image by James A Barkley ( ( )

The corridor is like a threshold, an uncertain space, which is not a public, or participatory space, or even a private or isolated place. Corridors have no identity due to its extraordinary length and un-specifiable character, but there is an acute sense of exposure of being seen and linked to a cell. Students asked to stand in a corridor, outside a classroom or headmaster office, and patients’ waiting in a hospital; know the loss of dignity. The offices, chambers and rooms create places of vulnerability in the corridor. The expression corridors of power come from the distinct delineation of cell and passage, or as architects argue the Master and service spaces.

The acoustics of the corridors are uncertain, as the internal sounds of steps, whispers, rustling, shuffling etc. reverberate in the space without providing any clue to source or direction. Some corridors have an eerie silence due to complete isolation of background noise of an outside world. Corridors, as a result of acoustic ill-definitions, are considered places of ghosts. Foot-stepping in a corridor has a multiplying effect, where the past trails behind you like a shadow. To detach the past, one may walk lightly, only enhancing the effect of a ghost moving in the air.

Visual characteristics of a corridor is very fuzzy. The darkness does not allow visual clarity, and the glare against the end of the passage opening occludes visual perception. The repetition of side wall faces or columns of the passage distorts recognition of distance.


Enclosed corridors and open passages serve nearly same function that of transit, but have different architectural character. Both could be space demarcations, recognition or enforcement without any physical structure. The essence of corridors or passages is not in their straightness but linearity. The height profile and roof, if any, place them on a different lineament.

Corridors denote heavy density of traffic, usually with dedicated lanes and purposes. A dedicated freight corridor (DFC) on railway lines, or an air corridor for landing or take off by aircraft are simply designated space routes and not any physically marked entities. Routes are designated for special purposes carriages. Ports have buoys to mark the channel for ship to traverse.

Buildings on ‘distributed campus’ are connected with links, passages or lobbies. The side open passages (long-verandah) are cold or warm, and a maintenance nightmare. Passages require glass cover or need to be walled in. Glass cover is a costly installation and needs high degree of upkeep. Walled corridors have been perceived to be dark, poorly ventilated and haunted spaces. This was in stark contrast to Asiatic tropical architecture. Here the temple complexes had vestibules and ambulatory areas, in the interiors as well as on edges of exteriors. The inner long hall like vestibules were dimly lit, but climatically cool spaces, whereas the edge side ambulatory passages were airy, but sun shaded. The ambulatory spaces have walls of a sanctum sanctorum on one face dotted, but with several small deities installed in niches.

Samayapuram Mariamman Hindu Temple, at Samayapuram, near Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India Wikipedia Image by TRYPPN, P.Periyannan, Tiruchirappalli

Precursors of corridors are presumed to be Halls or Hallways, a common area near the entrance of a large house. Halls are abutted with doors to several rooms or sections, and in later periods a grand stairway to upper floors. Residential or commercial buildings of Europe had no corridors till the beginning of 1800s. The Building was an entwined complex of rooms.



Post 230 – by Gautam Shah 




Corridors or Passages, for one person passage, in one direction, require a discipline enforcing width of 630mm (such as queue space at a bus stop), for less acute needs (such as at Airport check-in 800mm. Enclosed corridors as suggested in most residential building bye-laws, should be minimum 900mm wide, for short length runs of 5mts. For greater lengths a width 1200mm is advisable. For wheelchair traffic minimum 1000mm width in straight sections, and more in angles or curvatures, is required. Where movement is likely to be intense, bidirectional and with hand carried luggage, a width of 1500mm should be provided. Where corridors are likely to be 1500mm or less in width the doors should be placed in a recess, and must open away from the corridor space. Preferably doors should not open out into the corridors, unless a recess equal to the full swing of a door shutter is provided. On a corridor opposite doors should be staggered. In hospitals facing doors, however, are of help in turning in stretchers and Fowler beds. At the end, start or junctions, corridors should be plain, there should be no opening for a length equal to the width of the corridor. Cross corridor junctions, if any must happen in a wider lobby or foyer. Corridors should have a secondary escape point for every length section beyond 15mts. Longer corridors tend to be boring so should intermittently terminate into a hall or foyer, before being continued.


streets-2480304_640There should not be any projections, or fixed or loose furniture in the functional width of the corridor. Where visually impaired people are going to transit, the projection off the wall must not be more than 100mm, and furniture including the space for knee or leg of the user must be accommodated in alcove or niche.




Illumination in corridors requires careful planning. Windows at the end of a corridor, or doors on corridors opening out to an exterior, create a glare. Artificial compensative illumination is very necessary to counter the glare. Side openings in a corridor provide a visual distraction, but unless fairly intermittent or properly designed, create very patchy lighting. Illumination fixtures on wall and ceiling fail to provide the desired effect when corridor height is low and traffics density high. Illuminated ceilings provide very poor modelling and social recognition. In such situations a lighter colour scheme and indirect glow not only on the ceiling but upper section of the side walls helps. Illuminated steps and side hand rails provide a functional definition. Illumination level in corridors should never be consistent as it creates boredom, It should be high enough near openings to counter the glare and in some situations (drama auditoriums) even feeble in contrast to the interior. Illumination fixtures that are visible like shaded lamps, diffusers, chandeliers etc. create a visible physical dimension.




Paintings on corridor side walls must be smaller and with details that can be enjoyed at a closer distance (often less then 450mm) such as miniature paintings or photographs. Large paintings with very extensive colour or form patches are hardly visible in a corridor like narrow space. Artefacts in corridors must not encroach upon the functional passage width, so have to be in niches. Such niches have to be arc form to increase visibility from sides. Artefacts at the end of corridors are perceptible, if the traffic in the corridor is thin or intermittent. Cut out or double height section in the roof or ceiling section, are great relievers in straight jacketed spaces.



Corridor floors are visible in low traffic corridors such as hotel lobbies. These can be treated with long direction patterns. Corridors often have floor-finishes with running stripes on both the edges. The method extends the length aspect while reducing visual width. Stripes or flow of motifs in the shorter direction is unnerving, due to repetition and visual compression in perspective.

Perspective Arches Arcade Corridor Passagewooden-72863_640



Passage and corridors cut across spaces in a very logical manner and often as the most economic route. Compared to room spaces corridors require lesser height provision, so carry services such as ducts, wires, etc. in the ceiling plenum. The ceiling space of the corridor is easily accessible for servicing the utilities. The ceiling surface is designed to absorb the locally generated sounds, and also mask the sounds that leak out from the rooms, through the joints and crevices along the installed services.



Passages, (as unbounded corridors) require side edge definitions. Such definitions could be in terms change in flooring colour, texture or pattern. Alternatively definitions could be through change in the floor level, or side barricading of 600mm to 1200mm height level. The barricades could be ceremonial or representative only. The barricade may not be continuous but could be intermittent like planters, boxes, ash-posts, poles etc. Passages need floor and other definitions to indicate the direction of the flow or movement, destination, and nearness to a point of change. These are formed by flooring colour, pattern, gradient, illumination, lamp posts, and visual axises or connections.





Post 229 – by Gautam Shah

CORRIDORS AND PASSAGESas Transfer Systems in Buildings (Part – I)


Corridors and passages denote mostly permanent transfer zones in buildings, but sometimes passages get formed due to peculiar one point to one point movement.


Corridors are architecturally well articulated built forms, whereas passages are delimited sections by barricades, flooring difference, sensorial markings, graphics and signage. It would be difficult to breach the discipline of a corridor, but passages can be overstepped. A corridor is a passage, but a passage needs to be well modulated to become a corridor. A corridor without the traffic, will still remain a corridor, but a passage without movement just merges in the surrounding space. Corridors are more formal then passages, but passages allow greater public participation, and so ceremonial.



Corridors and Passages, as transfer systems in buildings are well defined and functionally supported by other systems. Such transfer systems become ineffective, if design definitions are improper, have inaccurate capacities, or lose the validity due to the changed circumstances. When a transfer system becomes ineffectual, many other systems in the building become useless.



Corridors are defined or recognised passageways, connecting a point to point location, or several ones on the way. Corridors are defined by architectural features, distinctive materials and environment, sensorial recognition of their existence, signage, and preference for the shortest and easiest access route.

Curved Corridor

Curved Corridor

Corridors originate at points of transfer like doors, other branch corridors, stairs, elevators etc. Corridors also occur where conditions for superior and efficient transfers are available, such as: shaded or protected areas, finer floorings, smoother gradient, pleasant surroundings, promise of fulfillment, expectancy, escape from hazards.


Straight corridors provide a very efficient mode of transfer, but tend to be monotonous. Straight corridors allow continuous acceleration, which may pose problems to other transferees. Corridors with zigzag or variable movement directions heighten the expectancy. Circular or curved corridors tend to align the movement concentrically. Bidirectional movement corridors increase the social interactions among the users. Multi directional and multi velocity movements destroy the character of a corridor.

article-2051702-0E74EDD700000578-262_634x483Corridors are heavy movement areas, compared to many other spaces used for casual transit. Corridors, due to heavy traffic create environmental interference of noise, vibration, dust and spread pollutants and infections. Corridors enhance the fire hazards and security risks; however, if properly designed, may curtail such risks. A straight corridor can be policed from one point, but so an intruder (terrorist) also can command the entire corridor.

Hospital Corridor

Hospital Corridor

In complex buildings variety of work spaces, each with specific environment and controls are required; corridors as buffer zones isolate such spaces. Corridors create an intermediate or equitable zone of transfer for all such connected units. Corridors provide a strong cohesive identity among apparently very unrelated cells.


Corridors are ideal, if without any encumbrances, like cross passages, doors, and architectural transgressions (projecting out or receding in). But very long corridors, such as at Airports and underground metro services, without intervening interests become boring. Corridors are common utilities, so have several services attached to them, such as, toilets, drinking water fountains, fire fighting systems, emergency exits, air handling units for air-conditioning systems, seats, electrical mains, bulletin boards, exhibitions, first aids, security check-up systems, food and beverage dispensing systems and signs. A Tirupati temple (India) corridors are also used by devotees as a place to sleep, rest, eat, bathe and pray during the long wait for the Darshan.

Tirupati Temple India Corridor-passage

.Tirupati Temple India Corridor-passage



Post 153by Gautam Shah



A building has many types of systems such as openings systems, services systems, structural and non-structural systems, etc. Transfer Systems denote a very large group of subsystems used for transferring goods and people in various directions, levels and in different modes. These are intentionally facilitated by architectural design or naturally occur irrespective of the adequate provisions in the building fabric.


Two way system defined by L-R preference for passage But this could be culture and country specific behaviour > Durga Puja festival in Kolkata Wikipedia Image by Biswarup Ganguly

Transfer Systems mark the routes or spaces where concentrated or repeated movement of people and goods occur. Stairs, ramps, elevators, escalators, corridors, passages, bridges, etc. are elements or systems that can be identified as transfer systems. The transfer system denotes an exclusive one or the most efficient node available, leading to concentration of traffic.


Mixed traffic crates chaos

The efficiency of a transfer system is determined by the fact whether the system is parallel, inclined or perpendicular to the gravity. The additional effort required to work against or towards the gravity, respectively retard or add to the efficiency.

Le Corbusier Ramps -inclined transfer systems

Transfer system denotes movements which start and terminate somewhere. Simple transfer systems have one to one point articulation. Branched transfer systems have one to many points configuration. It may start or end at multiple points. The third option where many to many points transfer start or end, it results in chaos, and there is no system identity.

Transfer systems are parallel -horizontal to the earth, perpendicular -vertical or inclined towards -downwards or against -upwards the gravity. Passages, Roads, Corridors, Automated walkways, are almost parallel to the gravity. Stairs and Escalators are inclined towards or against to the gravity. Elevators are perpendicular to the gravity. All these are designed to allow greater concentration of traffic, compared to many other parallel to gravity areas like Chowks, compounds, plazas, etc.

Walkway or Travelators at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi Wikipedia Image by Vineetmbbsat

All movements are essentially bidirectional, though through design the movements may be bifurcated in time and space. An unidirectional or segregated system is more efficient than any bidirectional or multi-directional (mixed) movement systems. In a built environment too many multi-directional movements confuse clear identity of a transfer system. Within such chaos ultimately all movements cease.

Transfer systems are open-ended or looped. Open-ended systems have finite start and termination points. Start-point is one where the first transferee element gets on the transfer system. The end point is one where the last of the transferee element gets off. It is also a point where another system such as the reverse, or parallel movement system begins. Looped systems are continuous systems and have no start-points or terminal points. Looped systems have a circular formation, or part of the segment is connected by straight (point to point) transfer system.

Circular spiral -but nor a looped transfer system

The intensity of transfer depends on whether the system operates continuously or intermittently. Continuous systems such as the escalators, automated walkways, are governed by the speed of movement, while the intermittent systems such as the elevators, buses, railways are affected by the frequency of movement’s module. Both systems however have a traffic capacity limitation.


In a transfer system, people move depending on two counts, anthropometric design of the system, and orthopaedic functionality. On other hand vehicles or goods modules are carried by use of external energy through mechanical devices. Variable capacities of the transferee also affect the speed of transfer, and as a result the intensity of traffic.

Escalator as continuous inclined transfer system

Transfer systems are disturbed when elements moving at different pace cause an unwanted change in the speed or direction of the general moving mass. Transfer systems become invalid when all goods and people reach their destinations, or when there is nothing left to transfer.


Transfer systems necessarily have start-end nodes, but most transfer systems have multiple intermediate exit and entry nodes or points of transfer on the route. Some points of transfer are very clearly defined, like a door in a corridor, railway station, but many others nodes are not clearly delineated such as path or footpath without a barricade.

Multiple transfer systems -too close

Transfer systems that are exclusively directional, with high speed or of mixed traffic, require highly defined points of transfer. At every point of transfer goods and people have to alter the direction and change the speed of movement to embark or disembark the transfer system. Such variations in movements at every entry or exit node reduce the overall efficiency of a transfer system, unless points of transfer provide necessary definitions. Points of transfer provide visual and other information about the available options. A subsidiary system often allows a slow-moving transferee to adjust the speed and direction before moving over to the fast-slow moving system.


Straight transfer systems have greater efficiency, than any sharp twisting turning system. Transfer systems directed towards gravity or any superior environment such as towards promising – enticing situations tend to have greater efficiency. Point to point systems are superior to continuous systems with many points of transfer on the route. Transfer system with designed points of transfer operate better.

Railway -well defined transfer system