ARCHITECTURAL vs COMPUTER WINDOWS

Post 668 by Gautam Shah

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The first independent version of Microsoft Windows, version 1.0, was released on 20 November 1985. It was originally going to be called Interface Manager, but Rowland Hanson, the head of marketing at Microsoft, convinced the company that the name, Windows was more appropriate.

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And this was the beginning of unlimited harassment to all architects (and even lay persons), first from the Encyclopaedias and later by search engines. This happened when a nominal word of day to day use, became almost an exclusive intellectual property. Many of the Microsoft ‘windows’ features were already tried out by Apple computers.

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The ‘Windows’ was (or ‘were’, no grammar Nazis have raised the issue) was an opening to look into data. There was earlier a nearly invisible dot as the command ‘prompt’ to interact in dBase and other programme, and it never prompted anything except that the entered command is not right.

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Windows_2.0

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But here the ‘computer industry’ (Microsoft, Macintosh or some less known entity) was offering an Icon like a door within a door. The icons or windows were displayed as tiled on the screen, that is, they could not overlap or overlie another, but icons interacted with others in time and space. There were active and latent icons in terms of time reference. ‘Spatially the icons on a screen were more relevant then others that were not seen’. The icons were perceived to be windows or peep holes that allowed one to see through it.

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For many, the icons are still like the 36th Chamber of Shaolin. One is aware that there is something of higher order inside, but too scared to cross over. The unceasing efforts are to form 36th chamber where ordinary people can enter and learn the “art of self-defense.

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In the movie 36th Chamber of Shaolin, “San Te wants to create a new chamber where he can train ordinary people in the basics of Kung fu so they can defend themselves against their oppressors, the temple officially banishes him in a surreptitious way to allow him to carry out his mission. He returns to the outside world, namely to his hometown, and assists the people.”

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This was a view in a window (like a shop front display), but, it was destined to become (with internet) an architectural entity for viewing out, whatever is happening in the world. The earlier version of Windows was little better than dBase like programmes where the software creator and user both were instilled with unspecified fear ‘do not push a wrong key’. The user was perceived to be an alien, and better remain outside.

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The computers gradually became Janus’s gateway (Janus -a dual headed God of antiquity) with an interior world and an exterior cosmos. This was a virtual window or rather an entire building of its own, which could be shifted around, pushed away to obscurity, shrunk or enlarged.

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Some of the basic functions of a computer system have been storage, processing power and programmes. Now one more is added, the communication or linkage. With live linkage one can source storage (cloud), computing power (parallel server processing) and dynamic programmes (in place of static loads). These make for a ‘home’ out of an architectural ‘house’, where the opening systems (‘windows’ or any other) make connections. So Microsoft windows may need to be renamed “Doors”, as doors are more functional (for passage, delivery and dispatch) than any other openings’ systems.

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The smart ‘Home’ (computer or such devices) will need lot more individualization not through configuration efforts but through commonly shared (floating around) intelligence. These include the languages, intonation, choices, history of preferences, behavioural characteristics, biological patterns and capacities.

Multi-level ghorfas, as seen at Ksar Ouled Soltane in southern Tunisia..

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SPACE USE

Post 506 by Gautam Shah

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A space encounter, first ever or with familiar ones, actuates a search for the most appropriate location, orientation and body posture, amenities, facilities, supports, and environmental conditions, one needs to establish own-self. The search also includes many personal factors such as other people present and level of relationship with them, mood, past experiences, personal attitude (extrovert or introvert) and the purpose of visiting the space. The natural choice is some focal point of the space. It may not be the architectural-con-center, but has distinct affinity to the core zone of the space. To arrive and immediately reach a peripheral section, one needs to be extraordinarily purposive, almost like a service personnel who intentionally avoids any interaction with the happening in space.

Pritzker Pavilion Wikipedia Pic by Author TonyTheTiger

The reach in space, and anchoring to some point does not last very long. One begins to absorb the space, and shifts to another body posture, sensorial connections, orientation and even moves to the next location. The shift continues till the search is satiated with the perfect spatial and environmental conditions, required amenities, facilities and other supports are available. All these are disregarded, if some known person or group is available for communication and participation.

Airport Lounge waiting Wikipedia-Flickr image by Author Phillip Capper from Wellington, New Zealand

Space occupation is achieved by

  1. Positioning own self at some important location (a Cris-cross point of many spatial lines), from which many activities can be sensorially perceived.
  2. Orienting to some dominating feature of the space (like an entrance door, window).
  3. Staying closer to some presence (wall, column, furniture, person).
  4. Establishing associating with other people by closer distancing or intra personal communication.
  5. Continually shifting, reorienting, to conceal the discomfort arising from inability to occupy the space.

Ben Yehuda Street pedestrian mall in Jerusalem, Israel > Wikipedia Pic by Author Yoninah

For space occupation important operative factors are: Range of cognition (capacity to perceive, project and communicate), Physical proximity (level of social interaction), Scale of relationship (age, social status), Nature of relationship (sex, familiarity) and Possibilities of exploiting amenities, facilities and other physical supports.

Party > Wikipedia pic by Author Infrogmation of New Orleans

A space user needs some control over the space:

  1. Multiple opportunities to change the location and position (including the posture) within the space.
  2. Choice to interact with others or refrain from it
  3. Freedom to adjust to the spatial quality and environmental conditions at micro level (like moving towards an outward opening, seat, stand, rest) and thereby achieve an equilibrium and comfort.
  4. Be noticed, or ignore others.
  5. Use sub-core or peripheral zones to form intimate groups.
  6. Shift to peripheral zones to conduct exclusive tasks.
  7. Ways and means to leave the space either in full knowledge of others or without being noticed.

Chennai Central Railway station India > Wikipedia pic by Author w:user:Planemad

In very large spaces there are multiple points of anchorage for space occupation such as: the adjacent walls, hedges, mid columns, flower pots, water fountains, lamp posts, flooring, ceiling, and such patterns and objects. Spatial configurations like a stage, podiums, projection screens, speakers, singers, vivid objects, also hold interest by providing involvement.

Ball of City of Vienna (1900) ART by Wilhelm Gause

In parties, hosts make a conscious effort to break intimate formations by removing or adding key or active persons, or re-positioning and rescheduling the activities. In clubs and places of entertainment the environment (change in lighting, furniture, equipments) and programmes are reset to shift the focus off certain space segments. Group gatherings are designed to occupy different space segments (hall, terrace, lounge, coffee room, library, garden lawn, etc.), variegated environmental conditions (bright vs diffused illumination, change of music, etc.) and diversions (toast by the host, magic shows, musical renderings, dancing, etc.).

 

 

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DESIGN PROJECT MANAGEMENT

DESIGN PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Post 414 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 

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A design project is carefully planned set of activities to achieve a comprehensive objective. Design projects handling aims to achieve the objectives within the defined scope, time, and costs. The fourth parameter of the project handling is the quality of the delivery. This requires advance management of the effort and required resources.

Every design project is a unique endeavour. Design projects are of many different types such as form a concept, create a product or render a service. A design project could be an idea or concept taking shape in mind, being readied for an outward expression, a strategy to actualize an idea, to recollect a happening, reckon the scale of an event, reproduce an experience or a search for a match or fit.

Managing a design project is distinctive activity from other more traditional, routine and administrative efforts. Design projects emerge out of circumstances –aided by all kinds of debate and analysis, by managerial or political policy decisions. It embodies not just strategy and solution to solve a problem in its physicality but is also a unique way of addressing social, business and organizational issues, within increasingly complex environments.

Design project handling is circumspect with time, money, people, other resources, and conditioned by the available technology, and by legal, social and such obligations. Design project take time for physical realization and during the period any change in its scope, time schedules, costs and quality requirements requires tactical reformation.

Design projects are so Scope or Extent dependent that an increase or decrease affects the scaling of the project, changes the cost profile or compromise the quality. A Time dependent design project, when gets delayed impacts the benefits or losses out of it. With early or accelerated execution, extensive benefits could be derived. Cost generally determines the extent of a project in the early stage, but costs are extremely variable and can change the perception of extent. On the other hand when conditions are abnormal and survival of an individual or the society is threatened, such as during war, natural calamities, catastrophes etc. the quality parameters are worst affected. Though best or most challenging projects planning methods have emerged in such acute conditions.

Traditional Korean home

Projects sometimes have a dual personality, technical, and procedural. Some projects are predominantly either technical or procedural, but not exclusively one or the other. Interior Design is an example of the former, whereas marketing or the training of personnel would be an example of the later. In design project management what is unfamiliar and non routine, invariably necessitates all kinds of learning, adaptation as well as problem solving, and technical projects need more of it.

A design project must always be treated as a first-ever effort. A sub-task or phase of such an endeavour may involve some degree of repetition, but one sets exclusive conditions for all such repeats. This is very different from processes or operations that are looped (to do the same thing) for productivity. A designer trying to repeat details at sub-task level for efficiency can never be creative.

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SPACE PLANNING and NON VISUAL CUES

Post 397 – by Gautam Shah

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Space planning achieved through visual means is obvious, as much as it is effective. Non visual sensorial effects are however, difficult to perceive, and so difficult to express, communicate or record. These are though equally effective, but very subtle. At specific positions and in certain circumstances, many of the visual means also provide, non visual sensorial effects. Professional designers, in their conventional space planning, give consideration to parameters like auditory, olfactory, tactile and atmospheric factors such as the temperature and moisture, etc. A lay person finds it very difficult to replicate these in a personal space. The judgements on these counts are speculative, because effective results derive from accumulation of many factors.

Southampton Medieval Merchants House Hall

A lay person considers non visual sensorial effects, at best as the reinforcing elements to visual means. Other parameters such as the privacy, intimacy, well being, safety, security, seclusion and participation, are achieved through sensible space planning, but need space and time reinforcement through indicative means.

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TASKS AND SENSORIAL PERCEPTION

Space planning, relates to managing the tasks. The ability to see is one of the most important requirements of task handling. The critical factors are visibility, legibility and recognition. It also includes differentiation of spectrum variations or in other words the colour perception. Vision also helps to mark a scale for objects (perspective + distance). Persons with deficient or no vision, find it difficult to comprehend the environment. Hearing is critical as it affects our ability to communicate. The important factors in human hearing, are the sound levels (db) related audibility, intelligibility, signal-to-noise ratio, and the capacity to attune the preferred frequencies, selectively (back ground noise and noise annoyance). Perception through touch is locational and varied, which gives a choice as to what should be done and with which part of the limbs (fingers’ tips are more sensitive then any other part) and how close one should be with objects and other people. Perception of taste and smell seem to go together, but smell has a directionality. Taste activates metabolism and other systems. Task handling makes use of perception faculties to be productive, creative and without boredom.

Dingy space and The Potato Eaters, 1885. Van Gogh

SPACE PLANNING and USE OF NON VISUAL SENSORIAL EFFECTS

Non visual sensorial effects are: mainly Auditory, Olfactory, Tactile and Gustatory.

Auditory sense (relating to sound) provides the scale of distance, direction, and time. It indirectly reveals the quality of absorption and reflection.

Visual and Auditory senses work in consonance, because both have a sense of scale and direction. In space planning one provides the clue about the other. The selection and placement of furniture, furnishings and enrichments can change the visual space perception, as much as the surface treatments of the same elements can change the audio quality of a space. The purposes of space elements, their placement, composition, shape or size, are not very apparent to a lay person or a casual visitor. However, such effects become apparent as the satisfaction or comfort.

Tactile sense (relating to touch such as texture, temperature, moisture, electrical charge). It is a pervasive faculty, though some parts of the body are more sensitive. It is locative and part of the defensive mechanism. Tactile sense requires one to be in proximity of the surface, yet the textures, nature of construction (hollow, foamed, micro undulations), etc. prompt an auditory response from a distance, and so preempts the perception.

Seated Iron Vairocana Buddha of Borimsa Temple

Olfactory sense relates to smell or the odours. It is closely related to quality of air and so instinct of survival is intimately linked. It is highly frontal and directional. It also gives the idea of distance. Odours are perceived with air and its movements. Enclosed rooms filter the noise but reduce the chances of fresh air. This creates a ‘smelly’ or stagnant space. A designer has to perceive a space planning layouts with all these overlapping sensorial effects, and also notions people have. Odours are considered as issue space personalization.

 

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Odour control: Odours occur and persist in commercial spaces. Odours are generated by materials, processes and human occupation. Confined spaces such as underground car parks or basements, garbage areas, passages, etc. have poor air-change. Offices where coffee, snack and meals are allowed in work zones have greater degree of air fouling. The odour can be controlled through basic three methods: Greater dilution with fresh air, Finer scrubbing of odours, and Larger exposure to natural sunlight UV rays. Odours from surface finishes, cleaning compounds, treatments applied on furnishings and degeneration of plastics, etc. are controlled best by proper selection rather then any processes. Human skin scales, biologically degenerate very fast, and it is a major problem for spaces with large human traffic. Here again regular vacuum cleaning is the best method, but for this smooth and hard floors, in place of fiber or synthetic carpets are required. Odours of slightest measure are detested by first time visitors. However, masking an odour with deodorant is only delaying the effects of odours.

Gustatory sense (relating to taste buds) It is closely related to olfactory sense. It provides no sense of scale, distance or time unless with the Olfactory sense.

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Atmospheric parameters: For good ventilation and dilution, adding fresh air, is the best technology. Next method is to use various types of non-chemical techniques of scrubbing the air (ion charging, micro filtering, etc.). Ventilation system adjusts the temperature, replenishes proportion of oxygen, removal or addition of moisture, diluting or scrubbing the air to remove odours, smoke, dust and airborne bacteria.

HVAC and other experts take care of these aspects of atmospheric comforts in space planning. The air movement in large spaces have few problems, for example, in humid climates. Very high air movements ruffle the papers, hair and hangings like curtains. These are both visual and noise distractions. There always are few pockets with poor air circulation. Such pockets are more prominent in open office plans which are partly compartmentalized. Open office-plan can be well sustained with a distributed machine aided cooling or heating systems. The floor touching partitions of open office cubicles and comparatively low ceilings hinder air circulation. It creates areas with poor air change, uneven cooling-heating, poor moisture control, inadequate dilution of air borne pollutants and odours. Presence of mosquitoes in the lower sections of cubicles due to stagnancy of air is a great health hazard.

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INTERIOR DESIGN PROFESSION

INTERIOR DESIGN PROFESSION

Post 351 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 

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Interior Design as a profession is changing at a very fast pace. There was a time when a designer had to specify raw materials and the process of assembly or manufacturing to generate a product or a functional system. To check the suitability of the delivered product, and operative validity of the system, a series of tests and check parameters are also required. Very often these parameters remain worthless, because neither, the required level of manpower and testing equipments are available at a site, nor is it feasible to take the product or system from site to such locations. Design needs are now documented in terms of ‘performance specifications’ or optimum operative functionality to be attained by the vendor or contractor, with their choice technological input (materials or manufacturing). This type of modern design documentation requires high level of skill input, technological knowledge-ability and professionalism. Amateur or untrained (hobbyists) interior designers do not have such proficiencies.

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Iron work details

Today many different forms of interior design practices exist, ranging from

Pure design (only),

Design + Supply,

Design + Supply + Execute (install-fabricate-operate).

In very large, complex and remotely located projects, however, it is not feasible, for the designer or their representative to be present on site and conduct projects. Interior Designers, as a result, are gradually limiting their work to design matters only, and let other agencies handle the supply and execution. The practice of employing or appointing ‘third party venders or contractors’ serves varying degree of efficiency, reliability and satisfaction, for corporate or government types of organized clients.

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Interior Design Drawing

The separation of design and execution, is also favourable arrangement from point of view of Taxation. Pure Design practice is liable for simple taxation like Service Tax. In Design + Supply practice, a designer may be liable to pay other taxes (sales Tax, etc.). Design + Build practice, is though an accepted norm in many countries of the world. Typically Building Organizers/ Estate Developers, do both.

McElroy Octagon House on Gough St. San Francisco, California 1861

Interior Design like any other Design profession, is a dependent profession. Interior designers work in conjunction with other design professionals, needing interior design inputs in their projects, such as Architects, Building engineers, Landscape designers, Furniture and Product designers, Exhibition and Event managers.

Interior designers also use expertise of other professionals for their work. These include environmental engineers, ecologists, furnishing experts, textile designers, painters, sculptors, and an array of crafts persons.

Some degree of specialization is becoming apparent in Interior Design. Some of the major fields to have distinct identities within the ambit of Interior Design are: Hospitality or hotel design, Entertainment facilities, public space design (air ports, railway stations), Exterior design or Street architecture, Exhibitions and events planning, Retail designing, Transport interior design. These fields naturally demand a varied manner of design approach and handling.

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GLASS and PERCEPTION

Post 170 – by Gautam Shah

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Glass has been used for Doors and Windows as translucent to transparent glazing pane, and occasionally as glossy or opaque panel. Glass has had TWO different facets, of the day timelit from the front or outside, and that of the night time –lit from the back or inside. Both of these facets, daytime and night time are viewed from either of the sides and offer different experience.

Glass screen over old façade of Strasbourg Railway Station Wikipedia Image by Cha già José from Vienna, Austria

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DAY TIME VIEW -from outside, in early days had a grayish -metallic surface. It was a dull and muddy pane with wavy figures (due to flattening of a disc cut out of a bulb). In later periods, it had lesser impurities, fewer surface undulations, but was ground to a glossy finish. Modern glass is comparatively very glossy (unless specifically ordered or treated), which allows reflection of the surroundings and the sky. The reflectivity, with additional treatment, often excludes the interior view (mirror glass and photo framing glass). Polyester films and surface metallizing adds one-way opacity, permitting unhindered view from the other side.

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DAY TIME VIEW -from inside, the glass of early days, and its later day modern version have had issues of colour coordination with other surface finishes. Both types of glass had a tinge that strongly affected the colours of the interiors. Fresco and other drawn art work could be re-calibrated, after fixing of the panes (or during re-installation later with superior glass). The ceramic or coloured stone mosaics of floors and walls, however, did not allow such corrections. Such interior colour schemes had to be pre-planned in consideration of the glass tinge. Colour coordination with window frames and members such as muntins, mullions, jambs, etc. with the metallic-grey tone of the glass was difficult.

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Poor quality of glass was to an extent solved by colouring it. Pot glass had dark-colour presence that was effective when back lit very brilliantly usually after the sunset. Such intense interior illumination was not available in that age. The stained glass was comparatively light coloured but still filled the interior profusely. Later part of Gothic architecture saw the required sobering with use of grisaille painting technique, or use of the non stained cristallo glass.

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Saint-Denis_(93),_basilique_Saint-Denis,_abside_3In stained glass treatment the need to stretch the story board across many sections of the window was so strong that all framing and dividing members like muntins and cams were made slender, at least on the face side. These were also dissolved by colouring them with the same tone as the outlines in the picture.

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Early modern-day architects had to overcome the fuzzy view through poor quality of glass. As a result small pieces of glass were used, and contrasted with the white painted mullions, muntins, jambs and rails. The typical US colonial window had subdivided glass panes which did not offer a clear or un-distorted view, so were used for illumination, and covered with translucent curtains to occlude the view. Later, at the end part of Industrial revolution period as the glass became clearer, the mullions were thinned or made of metals, This dissolved their presence.

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NIGHT TIME VIEW –from outside was important to register the presence of the building. Visibility of the Churches and Cathedrals and Places at night provided an assurance of protection. The main problem was cost of illuminating the structures, whether from outside or inside. The presence of small interior light visible through a roof light, lantern window, rose window or pinnacle, was assuring. It was an economic and effective device. When windows of lighter stains and white glass became popular, it was easier to provide a visible illumination from inside.

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NIGHT TIME VIEW -from inside has been a problem in the absence of street or public illumination in the vicinity of buildings. The urbanization now provides illumination to back lit the glass of the buildings. Historical monuments or modern buildings always have some background illumination. Some important buildings are specifically lit outside and from within the building to enhance the architectural quality.

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ANTI-LIGATURE

Anti-ligature 

Ligature derives from Latin ligatura, from ligare = ‘to tie‘.

A dictionary defines Ligature as

  1. a thing used for tying something tightly.
  2. a cord used in surgery, especially to tie up a bleeding artery.
  3. Music a slur or tie.
  4. Printing a character consisting of two or more joined letters.

 

Anti-Ligature is rather an unusual term. It is used with reference to furniture, furnishings, utilities, facilities and amenities. Anti ligature products and processes are mainly used to hamper someone from doing a hazardous act by tying, fastening or binding to something. It is a provision that discourages self harm or suicidal tendencies of a person under stress or with mental disorder. Anti-ligature means prevent people from causing self harm by attaching ligature to door handles, locks, grills, light fixtures, etc. Anti-ligature is also increasingly used for ‘anti-vandalism’. Anti-vandalism strategies are required to prevent wilful or malicious destruction caused by removal or destruction of units or components from public or private property such as parks, bus stations, road sides or schools etc. Anti-ligature technology makes such entities no-removable. Continue reading