TRANSGRESSING the BUILT FORM

Post 620 –by Gautam Shah

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Built form designing begins with a neatly defined geometric shape, and it evolves into a very complex form. The built form becomes an architectural adventure to gain new spaces, experiences and uses. The built forms are transgressed to the exterior for many different purposes. The purposes are to enlarge the interior space, open out the omni present sense of enclosure, bring in airiness of the exterior, enhance the built mass by stretching the internal and external surface areas, add a textural architectonic element, add thresholds or intervening spaces and provision of sideways view, aeration or daylight facilities.

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Puerta Principal del Catedral Basilica de Zacatecas > Wikipedia image by Juan Ignacio Chavez

Outward transgressions of the architectural elements occur as overt attachments or integrated additives. The attachments remain overt when these are visually very distinct, over emphatic in scale or treatment, and singular in presence. Integrated additives are multiple in numbers and so schematically well arranged, visually less apparent and diffused in scale or treatment.

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Gables at St Mary’s Church in Berlin > Wikipedia image by Bild : Ajepbah / Wikimedia Commons / Lizenz: CC-BY-SA-3.0 DE

Outward Transgressions and Projections are two different entities. The former enlarges the spread to add utilizable space, whereas the later, just stretch the space for weather shading. Transgressions have volumetric mass of space in comparison to Projections articulate buffer or threshold spaces. Projections undulate the surfaces as add-on or engraved-etched elements. Some of the common projecting elements of classical architecture include: Pilasters, engaged columns, entablature, pediments, friezes, rusticated masonry, foliated capitals, lintels, eaves and cornices.

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Frauenkirche, Dresden > Wikipedia image by SporkPhotos

Add-on elements are included in buildings for two main purposes: To vary the silhouette or the skyline, and to format terraces, which otherwise would have remained plain planes. Corbusier achieved both simultaneously. A skyline is made of translucent elements like lanterns, chhatris (umbrella shaped pavilions) canopies, cupolas, caboose (usually over inspection or guard’s wagon in railways), spires, gables etc.

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Corbusier Terrace > Flickr image by vincent desjardins

Buddhist temple courtyard in Qingyang, Chizhou, Anhui, China

Openings have been the most prolific space transgressing elements in buildings. Openings are stretched outward for view and illumination. The expanded form increases the surface area exposed to the exterior, and adds to the solar gain. In a warmer climate breeze is preferred to solar gain, and so devices like lattices, shading projections and smaller but spaced openings were used. Choice of view to the busy street, water body, or a private garden is preferred to any climatic orientation.

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Transgressed openings have of many forms. Openings stretch outward at floor level, increasing the interior floor space. Little higher from the floor level, allows formation of a raised sill, seat, or platform. High sill openings reduce the net available open gap but provide space for a study or craft console, or storage bureau. The head-side configurations of the projected gaps are different. These terminate at lower, human head or reach to the ceiling level.

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Zarokha at Nathmal ki Haveli, Jaisalmer, India > Wikipedia image Attribution Daniel VILLAFRUELA

Zarokhas are outwardly extended opening systems in India. These have derived from Gavaksh or Gokh (niche in the wall for storage or display). A zarokha is often called a baithak, a place for ‘sitting out’, though one remains in the privacy of the interior space. The Zarokha as an ornamental opening has a centric and dominant position in the room space and important part of external facade composition. Zarokhas are placed on terraces, passages, palaces, public buildings, residences, mosques and step-wells.

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Rani Rupamati Mosque Zarokha, Ahmedabad India > Wikipedia image by Bernard Gagnon

A typical zarokha, on the interior face, has a raised platform off the floor. The raised platform has one long front and two small width side faces. The face has two or more columns and is surrounded by short height tapering parapets. The projecting platform and the width of the wall, together provide sufficient width and depth for two or more people to share the space. The inner most face of Zarokha is masked by a bamboo strip roll curtain. The outer face of the wall may be open or latticed.

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 A Chhajja is an Indian shading device over any opening, like doors, windows, zarokhas or verandah and may cover plain walls for architectural continuity. Chhajjas reduce the sky component of solar radiation and reduce the glare. Mughal Chhajjas are inclined slabs of stones placed over the lintel stone, but super-loaded with some masonry and parapets. Wooden Chhajjas with intricately carved wood brackets are common in Pol houses of Gujarat. During British raj Chhajjas of galvanized corrugated sheets supported over a wooden frame became a cheap and lightweight option for Bungalows and Government buildings. Chhajjas work like canvas awnings, but are heavier and more durable.

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Bay Window at Casa Pomar – Catlan Modernisme (1904-1906, Joan Rubio i Bellver) > Wikipedia image by Mutari

Bay or Bow windows are common on ground or upper floors. Bay windows are formed of three or five angled planes, whereas a bow window is a polygon or segment of a curve. In full bay windows the opening stretches from floor to ceiling level to add a seamless but shaped space to the room. In a part bay windows have a raised sill with a lower roof at a lintel level or topper blank bay. In the third version there is no bay or bow formation in the interior space, externally a shaped flower box projects out. In case of a bow window there is no parallel to the room, a middle window unit. Bow windows first appeared in the 18 C in England and in the Federal th period in the USA. Bow windows are also called compass window and radial bay windows.

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Corner window of Hauenschild palace in Olomouc (Czech Republic) Wikipedia image by Snek01

Oriel windows are a form of polygonal bay windows, but often placed at the corner of a building. Oriel windows, have a larger perimeter and so allow wider view of the outside. The projected bay is supported off the base-wall, or by columns, piers, corbels or brackets.

Mashrabiya is an extended opening system, and was very a common entity in mid East or Arab architecture. Mashrabiyas have carved wood latticework and often stained glass.

Mashrabiyas were placed on street faces of upper floors of urban houses, but occasionally in palaces, public buildings such as hospitals, inns, schools and government buildings. Mashrabiya windows are presumed to have formed during 12th C in Baghdad. Iraq and Egypt are two countries where many examples survive. Such openings were introduced in France from the colonial sources, and called Moucharabieh.

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Mashrabiya openings in Muizz street Cairo District > Wikipedia image by Joonas Plaan from Tallinn Estonia

Mashrabiyas are enclosed with latticework of a lathe carved sections called bobbins. Lower sections of the opening are opaque or with denser lattice work. Lattice designs differ from region to region. Mashrabiya work as an independent enclosed balcony or as a space attached to a room. Egyptian Mashrabiyas project out at a slightly raised level, providing for a Dakkah (a Dakkah is also a masonry platform attached to the front part of a house, covered with a rug, it is used for informal talk and tea in Arab rural areas, an arrangement similar to Ota or Otla in a traditional Indian house). Mashrabiyas have been used for correcting the shape of upper floor front room.

The word Mashrabiya has varied origins. It denotes drinking or absorbing. The name perhaps has derived from a wood lattice enclosed shelf located near a window to cool the pots of drinking water. The shelf evolved until it became part of the room with a full enclosure. Mashrabiya also has originated from verb Ashrafa =to overlook, ignore or to observe.

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Mashrabiya Opening Old Cairo, Egypt >  Image on Flickr by Sam valadi

Shanashil (shanshool or rushan) is a porch, verandah or gallery like features covered with fine wood lattice work. It is found in old Iraqi houses of Baghdad. It is also a net or wood screen-covered verandah or porch over looking a street or garden.

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COLOURS and BUILDINGS

Post 311 – by Gautam Shah 

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Colours of Buildings affect many spatial qualities of a built space on both, the interior and exterior faces. Colours used in buildings once were mostly of the natural material surfaces or as applied on it. On exterior face the colour distinguishes a building among many other nearly similar ones. It also emphasizes the architectural elements. In early ages of a street without intensive night lighting, the colour of the building allowed it to be perceptible. Sides of the openings with lighter tones helped the night interior light to have a wider glow. The choices for exterior colours were fewer then on the interior sides. Colours of the naturally available materials were smartly exploited in several buildings across ages and locations. Natural materials like timbers, stones, soils, or materials processed out of these from the local region have phylogenetic relationship. There is an equality of hue and tone across the local materials.

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The colour palette began to change with trade across distanced places. The adventitious effect began to occur when minute quantities of materials such as minerals, pigments, and dyes were bought from other regions. The first use of these additives was in the form of painting or colouring of leather, cloth, timbers, art work, ceramics, fabrics and body make-up. The colour schemes of ceramics, paints and fabrics were drastically altered. These colour-effected materials were initially used in palaces or religious buildings. The effects, however, percolated to ordinary buildings and people in different way. Here art and craft objects of exotic colour schemes were used as a rarity and as gesture of modernity.

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Knossos Porch ch Exterior colours

Exterior sides of buildings for a very long time (as much as 9th C.) had colours of the natural materials. The surface variation was through the inclusion of architectonic elements, textures and joints’ patterns. Greeks used streaks in natural materials, mosaics and joint’s pattern for surface variations. The Ordinary Romans exploited debris of old buildings for variegated marbles. These colourful marbles were not local as came from distant lands. The Romans, on the exterior surfaces also used calcimine type of water-based coatings with iron oxides as the colourants. Romans created borders and central patterns with mosaics and inlay pieces of colourful stones and glazed ceramics. Byzantinian used marbles from debris of buildings but their intention was contrast and pattern definition, rather than a unified colour scheme.

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Interior spaces once had dominantly natural colours of wood, plasters, terracotta, marble, granite and other building stones (like slate, sandstone, quartzite, etc.). These colours were enhanced or supplemented by embellishments made of metal and furnishing fabrics. The interior spaces were stucco or fresco painted. The walls and ceilings had decorations of paintings, murals, carvings, and colourings. The colours of embellishments and decorations though substantially of natural range were much intense tone and purer hues. Interior spaces were protected spaces so lot of non-sun-fast colours and bleeding coatings (water soluble) of natural gums could be used. Ceramics were the next lot of exotic colour materials.

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Colours in Egyptian Dendera Temple

In early ages metals like bronze, brass, copper, iron, tin, gold and silver had natural colours. It was not possible to re-colour these substances, except the patina formation on bronze was a controlled process. Metals were ‘colour’ altered by processes such as metallizing, chasing, inlaying. Tin, gold, and silver plating was effective way adding a ‘coloured’ identity. Metal’s own colours or altered with plating were very distinct from the ‘earth’ colours of minerals, glowing hues of dyes or ‘fired’ colours of ceramics. The metal colours were soon challenged by glass. Glass with its impurities had many different ‘Metallic’ shiny colours. These were now pot coloured or stained. The Metals and Glass were successfully coloured in multiple hues at the start of middle ages.

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FLOORING COLOUR (earlier Blog article)

PATTERNS in FLOORINGS (earlier Blog article)

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GLASS in WINDOWS – Part • II

Post 202 – by Gautam Shah 

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Glass has had brilliantly glossy surface. The glossy surface resulted from grinding out the irregularities of surface casting-flattening the blown glass. The glossy surface often called a glassy face, presented variegated glimmers. The glass was produced in small pieces, and was rarely perfectly flat. Its composition within mullions and muntins, as a leaded pane, consisted of several small units, each at slightly a varied angle. It produced a very vivid surface, but one that was more opaque then transparent one.

Leaded Panes

Leaded Panes

Glossy surfaces in architectural exteriors were available on highly polished marbles and granites, but these soon weathered to a matt or dull face on exposure to weather. Ceramic mosaics were the only long lasting glossy surfaces, for the exteriors. On the interior face the glossy face of glass was rarely perceived, as the daylight filtering through it, made the surface gleaming or translucent. The gloss of the glass on the interior face, however, was seen against the polished marbles, granites, wood polishes, ceramic mosaics and gilding or metallizing.

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The glass as Gothic stained glass was placed against the painted dull surface of fresco art work.  Former was back lit surface and the other was front lit by the opposite side openings. Both, the stained glass and the fresco were prone to weather. Stained glass weathered to brittle or crumbling surface and frescoes were susceptible to moist weather. As against both of these surface treatments ceramic mosaics were glossy and longer lasting.

Glass metallic grey surface

Glass metallic grey surface

In architecture on the exterior side, the glass was treated as a mass forming surface rather then the mass dissolving surface. During day time, on the interior face the glass was mass dissolving surface. Perception of night interior glass face, was not overbearing due to lack of high intensity of illumination (in early periods). The low level night interior illumination however was sufficient to highlight all the glassed and trellis opening faces against the dark building mass, over the exterior.

Strong window elements

Strong window elements

The glass-covered faces were of metallic-grey tone, without much tonal variations, except created by the visual aberration of due to multiple reflective and continuously varying tones of the surfaces. The interest, however, was framed by strongly patterned divisions of the window sub-units such as mullions and muntins. The contrast was very marked as the window framing elements were dull and of darker colour, whereas the glass was glossy and vivid.

Glass dissolving the mass on interior side

Glass dissolving the mass on interior side

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The ‘mass’ perception of glass face was very different from all other materials that were used in early architecture. Glass helped dissolve almost indissoluble relation between the mass and gravity. The mass and gravity always occurred in architecture with inevitable simultaneity. A stable built-form was massive, and so perceived to be gravity-compliant, whereas any attempt to transgress the form by puncturing it or through an expansionist modulation was considered defiance of the gravity.

Glass Architecture Gravity defiant & Mass dissolution

Glass Architecture Gravity defiant & Mass dissolution

Glass provided a skin that was ethereal but form constituting. It was light in weight and yet un-massive due to the glossy face. It was ethereal because it allowed the transgression of the other side. The effort to de-mass the built-form through the de-materialization occurred in many different ways. The discernibility of the architectural elements was dissolved through the glossy surface of glass. The light passing through the glass suppressed the darkness that was enhancing the massiveness of corners, edges and ledges.

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QUALITY OF INDOOR AIR

Post –by Gautam Shah

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Defilement of internal air occurs mainly due to the occupation of space by people, plants and pets (exhalation, body odours, excretion products odours, food preparation), gadgets, equipments, and building and furnishing materials. The quality of air is usually determined by people’s sensation to various odours present in the air. But certain harmful pollutants like carbon dioxide and radon cannot be perceived by people at even high concentrations.

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Scooters_in_Taipei_street_06Quality of air is determined in two ways. There are Absolute standards that provide for ideal conditions for comfort and bio-survival. Relative standards provide ways for determining the qualitative difference between out door air and indoor air. Quality of outside air is generally superior because an infinite space and high speed winds are available for dilution to occur. Quality of internal air can be improved by diluting the proportion of pollutants in air, by replacing part of the fouled air with comparatively cleaner air; or by various mechanical and chemical scrubbers.

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Particulate matter is a major source of air pollution, which mainly but not necessarily, originates outside and penetrates inside through various cracks and openings. Particulate can be dust, fumes, mist or biogenic matter. Particles of diameters greater than about 75 microns settle down rapidly and are termed Grit. Particles of smaller than 50 microns may remain suspended and constitute Aerosols. An aerosol is a liquid or solid particle which is in a quasi stable suspension in air. Very fine aerosols may remain suspended for weeks, whereas larger aerosols may get deposited in minutes. The deposition (and movement) of very small particles (2 microns) is influenced by temperature gradient (through convective currents). The effect on health due to airborne particulate matter of biogenic origin such as fungi, moulds, bacteria, viruses, pollens are well known.

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In modern artificially controlled environment buildings are well designed and sealed to eliminate waste leakages. Such spaces function well so far as the environmental systems operate. However, pollutants arising from building materials, aerosols settling down, degradation of biotic materials, evaporation of condensed moisture from air handling plants, etc. continue to be added to the internal environment. The process of addition becomes severe when the environmental systems are switched off, such as at night time, on off days and when there are power breakdowns. This situation also occurs when there is no casual ventilation of the space due to shutting of nominal openings like doors and windows.

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