Post 567 by Gautam Shah


All beings show prime behaviour towards possession of space for inhabitation. Inhabitation is instinctive as well as learned behaviour for survival and proliferation. The sequence leading to inhabitation begins as realization, possession and occupation of a space. This is simply a territorial spread, which when delineated for its extent becomes a personal place in the universe.


Marking the territory > Standing stones of Stenness Scotland Wikipedia image by BillC

Inhabitation establishes a Role Locus (a stage or setting). Animals do such branding with urine, excreta or enzymes (odours), Primitive people have done it by leaving traces of occupation, such as the ashes of the extinguished fire, engraving on a tree trunk, stacking few stones or marking the land. The territorial spread is marked by fencing, posts, scoring corners, clearing the vegetation or making changes over the landscape. The branding and delineation often occur simultaneously. The place-identity could be for the individual (or family), community or group. The space possession could be cursory, experimental, notional and transient, till full potential of size, shape, environmental qualities and sensorial characteristics are realized over several visits.


Rhino marking own territory with excreta Wikipedia image by Jonathan GroB

A place has three essential qualities, A location value, as seen in the connections that reflect the proximity and convergence of other places or neighbourhoods. The location features like dimensions, orientations, environment, terrestrial character, amenities and facilities. It also includes associations that personalize the space, such as history, neighbours, precincts, etc. The potential for improvisation is due to the preexisting conditions. The space, environmental features, components and neighbours, all make an inhabitable entity.


A village in Rajasthan, India Wikipedia image by Hamon  jp

The spatial features once developed in a place create place attachment. The place attachment is due to the effort and rarity of opportunity. It soon turns into pride, awe, prestige, discipline, belief, fear, and legacy of personal values, attitudes, feelings and beliefs. A place of inhabitation has neighbours, no matter how few, and far apart. Possession and occupation of the place, immediately offers some degree of social reactivity. One may not have any physical contact with anyone, and it may be just empathetic recognition. The social reactivity regulates the nature of interaction with others, privacy, degree of accessibility or isolation, as reflected in aloofness, loneliness, alienation, participation, leadership, devotion, cohabitation, etc.


Marina Bay sands Singapore Wikipedia image chensiyuan

Inhabitation is a continuous process of improvising the means and methods for living. It involves, forming a space (a built form) with environmental responses, rendering it with required sensorial attributes, provisioning for the functional needs of living. The living includes personal acts like grooming, eating, resting, etc., living with others (including family life), communication, earning a livelihood, and other diversionary activities like revelry, grief, etc.”


Searching a space for inhabitation Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Wikipedia image from source Flickr: Pavao-Pavaozinho favela 

The realm with a spatial organization has an implicit environment. The realm comes into being with functional facilities such as tools, gadgets, equipments, etc. The realm is further personalized by ‘enrichments’. The space-form, environment, functional facilities and enrichments all together create a space for inhabitation.

“As a person, lives and creates memories within a place, attachment is built and it is through one’s personal connection to a place, that he or she gains a sense of belonging and purpose, which then gives significance and meaning to their life”.

“There is reciprocal interaction between people and their physical environment; people affect places, and places (and the way places are affected) influence how people see themselves”.


Three Piegan (Blackfeet) chiefs 1900 Wikipedia image


This post forms 2 of the Sixteen part of Lecture series on Behaviour in Space that I will be offering for the spring semester starting Jan 2016 (to mid April2016) at School of Interior Design, Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India.




Wild Territories

Inhabitation creates a personal realm. All beings create their own realm to survive and proliferate. Inhabitation is instinctive as well as learned behaviour. The inhabitable realm is a spatial organization with an implicit environment. The spatial form and the environment are evident simultaneously as substantial realization of a functional usage. The functional usage is further ‘reinforced’ by tools, equipments, amenities, facilities, etc. The form, the environment, and the functional facilities, all together instill certain sensorial experiences. The sensorial gratification leads to improved form, superior conditioning of the environment and reinforcing of functional facilities.


Moving to unknown lands for inhabitation


The process of inhabitation begins as realization and occupation of a space. The inhabitation is an integrated approach of many interdependent elements, whose distinct identification is difficult. All beings have primarily a tactic (often instinctive) of occupying a spatial entity, which on sensorial gratification (including comfort) becomes a greater strategy (often intellectual) of inhabitation. The legacy of past experiences increases the capacity to occupy and inhabit a space entity. The reliance on intuition and the past experiences assures a ‘fail-safe’ response.

First occupation of a Space


Primary space occupation is cursory and minimal, using only the personal assets such as resetting of the bio-physiological activities. It is easier (being efficient) to adjust own-self rather than cause any change in the environment. However, the capacity to bio-adjust is temporary and limited in effectivity. Such a space occupation (personal- bio adjustments) is experimental, so notional and transient. It only offers realization that the space is survival worthy because it has some potential of size, shape, environmental qualities and sensorial characteristics. There is also recognition that this space can be: improvised in form, the environmental qualities reset and the sensual characteristics enriched for satisfaction and greater efficiency.


A person or a group perceive such potential accidentally or after an intensive search, and so consider it an asset worth hanging-on to it. The desire to own requires that the space remains consistent. However, the environment and the user or the user-group dynamics (interrelationship) vary continually. The original efficiencies (first realizations) may not remain valid in other circumstances. Yet the possession ensures some permanency in the space. The constancy is achieved by domestication of the space. The user converts the space, and in-turn exposes own-self to forces of change. The space adaptation is an elaborate cycle, where the user and the space change each other. The change in one aspect poses new possibilities elsewhere. The exploitative occupation of a space turns into a domesticated domain, and the process persists as inhabitation.


Space inhabitation is a matter of subsistence, so more considerate, realistic and longer lasting. Inhabitation involves devising means such as tools, equipments, plants, facilities, amenities, furniture and furnishings. The devices help build a space entity, temper the environment, and endow task efficiencies by adjusting the reach’ capacities.


Inhabitation is continuous process. The changes are often so subtle that the user may not be aware of it, yet over a period of time the minor changes accumulate to substantial modifications (like Charles Darwin theory of evolution).