ANTI-LIGATURE –Issues for Design -8

Post 614 –by Gautam Shah


Anti-ligature products and processes are mainly used to stop 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.


Pediatric patient bed > Wikipedia image by Binodkpn

Abuses, of ‘self-harming’ nature occur with persons who may be ‘using it as a coping mechanism to relieve emotional pain or discomfort, or as an attempt to communicate distress’. Places where such ‘self-harm’ occurs, include homes, schools, care-homes, detention centres, prisons, hospitals and juvenile offenders’ remand homes. The means include using architectural components, hardware, clothes, adornments, ropes or linear elements for strangulation, cause cuts with sharp edges, jumping off a precipice (height related dangers), electrocution and drowning.


Prison cell amenities > Flickr image by Global Panorama

Anti-Ligature is rather an unusual term. Ligature derives from Latin ligatura, from ligare = ‘to tie‘. A dictionary defines Ligature as:

  • a thing used for tying something tightly.
  • a cord used in surgery, especially to tie up a bleeding artery.
  • in music a slur or tie.
  • in printing a character consisting of two or more joined letters.

A ligature is defined as a ‘thing used for tying something with a cord‘ Cords of silk, gut, wire, or other materials have been used as tourniquet to control venous and arterial circulation for a very brief period of time. During surgery the blood flow is also stopped by pressure blocking the cut ends of arteries. (In surgical procedures minor bleeding nodes are also hot pinched -by burning the tissue, through a cautery –cauterization).


Child-proof fence > Wikipedia image by I,Tony Wills

Anti-ligature Design is implemented for safety and security in jails, mental asylums, hospitals, children’s areas. Anti-ligature design is used for public spaces to prevent malicious damage to the property. It is used with reference to furniture, furnishings, utilities, facilities and amenities. Malicious use of architectural components, street utilities and furniture, public transport facilities, is a concern for all designers. The public misuse occurs with many intentions like: to misuse the elements, vent-out dissatisfactions through anger, use the extra ordinary reserve energies, occupy time in some activity or draw attention through behaviour. This is phenomenon common to both, developed and developing countries.


Signage at Burra Bazar (Harrison st) and Strand road Calcutta India > Wikipedia image by Clyde Waddell

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.


Knocked over dummy newspaper vendor in Munich > Wikipedia image by LepoRello

The acts of willful destruction of private and public facilities and amenities are also abuses. These are not intended for self-harm but physical changes, removal or destruction to parts and components at places such as parks, bus stations, road sides or schools etc. Anti-vandalism strategies are required to make such entities fixed (non -removable), temper-proof and non alterable.


Water colour ART by John Orlando Parry ‘A London street scene 1835’ Wikipedia image

An anti-ligature product or a strategy is one that prevents a ligature from staying secure. The primary function of anti-ligature furniture is to deny anyone from using it as a means from which to attach anything, break it down to sharp-pointed edges, climb over to cause height related hazards, or inflict the parts on others.


Wikipedia image through National Archives and Records Administration 548273

The design strategies for anti-ligature and anti-vandalism are to form a product of single material or through substantial synthesis of sub-items. The assembly joints and fixing zones are concealed or made inaccessible. Materials are non strippable, tear-able, breakable, or one can be cut or chipped off. Design elements like sharp corners or edges, apertures, punctures, grooved joints are avoided. Components that require different textures for visually hindered or for holding grips are created from (by way of embossing, engraving, etc.) the same body-material, while avoiding any applique treatments. Other methods of anti-ligature and anti-vandalism design include by removing access to harmful or harm-worthy items beyond reach. Mono colour and single texture items are less apparent and so less likely to attract attention.


This is the 8 th article of 20 topics series on ISSUES for DESIGN

DESIGNERS and QUALITY -Issues for Design -7

Post 612 –by Gautam Shah


Designers need to follow quality parameters for their Projects, Products or Services. A designer, as a professional, strives to assure that projects when completed provide the intended benefits with planned level of inputs. Quality represents the fundamental economics of the input-output equation. The emphasis is upon maximizing the achievements, value addition and minimizing process effort, resource wastage.


German Space-Lab used for D-1 and D-2 missions > Wikipedia image by Kozuch

Designers wish to project their professionalism through their deliverables, and also attitude, both of which converge as pursuit for quality. The conscience for quality has THREE facets, a Personal need, Governmental requirement and Social obligations. In the first case, it just too subjective and changeable. In the second instance, it is often compulsory, restrictive and punitive. In the last case, there are many stakeholders.


Documentation and involvement of stakeholders in Design process > Wikipedia image by Eleberthon

Quality in Design results from an interaction between `what the product is‘ and `what the users do with it. There several primary issues, against which quality judgements are made, like: comfort level, variety, novelty, prestige, economy, size, ergonomics, anthropometrical possibilities, other or secondary uses, etc., and the secondary issues of social, cultural, psychological, political and other relevancies. The issues that face vast economic, cultural and racial variations, may not meet the specific quality perceptions.


Quality of Coffee > Wikipedia image by Christopher Michel

Quality is an issue how the projects, products or services are carried out or employed, and also how the external conditions support the usage. A product that is satisfactory in every respect may fail, if the external use conditions are drastically altered. A designer needs to assure the project initiators, project users, project operators and the society.

Chemnitz, Normierung im Fräsmaschinenwerkes "Fritz Heckert"

Pursuit for Quality > Wikipedia image by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-19361-606 / Quaschinsky, Hans-Gunter / CC-By-SA3.0

Quality is both a perception and a value judgment, concerning human satisfaction; the basis for both is ever changing. As per ISO 8402 `The concept of quality is the totality of features and characteristics of a project, product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs’. The characteristics of a project, product or service, by themselves, cannot determine the measure of quality. A project, product and services when satisfactory in every respect, can fail, if the external use conditions are drastically altered during its execution. Similarly a project, product and services, however, successful may not be conscientious enough, if the creator is not inspired to do better next time. An enhancement of satisfaction is the key element of quality conscience.


Quality results from– > Wikipedia image

Quality results from a three-way interaction between:

● The nature of the project, product or service, as perceived by the originator, i.e. the thing in its own entirety.

● The user’s original needs and altered expectations, as a result of interaction with a completed project or product.

● The operations or functioning of a project, product or service, as reflected in training, servicing, parts availability, ease of replacement, warranties etc.


Assessing frontal impacts > Wikipedia image by Uni of Virginia, National Highway Traffic safety admin.

A Designer prepares a project brief for determining all requirements, such as: user and clients’ needs and demands, technical requirements, statutory obligations, prevailing standards, current styles, available technologies, etc. The client is not a user, and the product specifier is the marketing team, both of whom may not understand these aspects, so in it is left to the designer to fill in the gaps.


Food Quality Australia > Wikipedia image by ( )

For developing quality meticulousness it is very necessary that all matters relating to quality control are well documented. A well-documented brief serves as a benchmark for assessing the level of the quality being achieved. Wherever Quality control documents that are formal, transparent and accessible, to all stack holders (clients, users, public and competitors), the projects, products and services have greater quality assurance.


Wikipedia image by Yujunling

 As a Design gets under-way and the design presentations, in colour, 3D format, reality models, and now in virtual animations, the stakeholders ‘truly’ react to the Design. The Stakeholders, the client, sample users, and marketing team, now ‘due to their subjective involvement’, become extra perceptive to all issues of Design. A designer should see this as the inevitable, and be prepared to modify the design at a late stage. As the Item is launched once again the designer faces a barrage of new demands, requiring substantial to a complete rethink of the design.


This is the 7 th article of 20 topics series on ISSUES for DESIGN

NON VISUAL LANGUAGE -Issues for Design -6

Post 610 by Gautam Shah



A Design incorporates expressions of many different types. The expressions are acutely abstract and so are ancestral or personal. Expressions come into being for many different purposes, but mainly to reinforce the societal and functional relevance of the designed entity. The expressions, unintentionally show the designers likes and dislikes, compulsions of technology and cultural traces, but always show a strong geo-spatial character. The expressions are dominantly of visual language, but do include many non-visual clues.


TWA Flight center at JFK International airport 1956-62 by Eero Saarinen > Wikipedia image by AudeVivere

The design expressions occur in holistic form, and also through components or details. Visual and non-visual expressions as signs are drawn graphics, totems or emblems. Buildings are holistically formed or shaped as micro-macro replicas with pseudo or real details. Alternatively images are replicated in geometric, scalar, postural or combinative variations. These replicated individual items through their siting, mutual relationship and composition as a whole, form signs.


13 th Trecena of the Aztec Calendar > Wikipedia image

The design expressions due to their brevity of form, convey the content faster and efficiently. ‘It is like a word representing a sentence’. Such abstracted expressions come into being as signs. The signs were primarily meant for enriching the meaning, but over a period of time began to be explored for substantiating what was not possible to express in visual expression or description. Signs depend for their meaning upon form, setting and location, and so the signs are circumstance specific spatial entities.


Samsung Galaxy Multi touch > Wikipedia image by Bin im Garten

Wired Soft Robot Glove

Non Visual clues offer a mixed experience, and so it becomes difficult to identify the source or classify the typology. Mixed clues offer associations that are easy to remember and recollect but impossible to create exactly. Smells and taste, Odours and the environment, water and season, fresh air and well being, are some of the combined images that occur with very little visual connection.



Non-visual clues in designed entities are as old as human culture. These are metaphoric signs that offer clues like bright-dark, colours, sounds taste, odour, complex concepts and acts. Sounds like opening or closing of a shutter (even if technically not a necessity) adds to the acknowledgement, a metaphor for change. Video games and simulators for learning-training add such non visual clues for reinforcement. Automobiles have blipping lights and sound signals to indicate turning directions. Mobiles can have keys striking sounds (though not a necessity). We encounter warning signs of graphical nature being supplemented by lights, colours, textures, sounds or odours. In game play-tools and mobiles the sense of direction is experienced by tilting the unit. Can such non-visual clues be used in architectural design? The angle at which a door knob or stair rail is grabbed must alter the user experience. Can the perception of a building form be made independent of illumination (angle and intensity) and colour tone?


El Gouna Turtle house by German architect Kurt Voltzke > Wikipedia image by Naamsvermelding vereist

 Non visual clues are also used as a ‘silent language’ in space planning and occupation. The spatial arrangements present signs that enforce ‘culturally determined’ styles of interactions. The spatial privacy and intimacy are functions of non-visual clues like distancing, duration, body posturing, body heat, odours, likelihood of physical touch, and audibility.



Visual and non-visual clues mature as real and as abstract signs. The signs as expressions also thrive on mutual distancing. The interludes or the interruptions in the sequence of the signs, allow a refreshing break, and so meaning from the earlier experience. The sign sequences or signals form a language. Groups of signs a matrix rather than as a temporal or spatial sequence reflects a cultural identity. Symbols are more comprehensive but restrictive like a horse shoe, a red Hindu Bindi on the forehead, white dress for marriage, cross or star.


 In Whitehead’s opinion, ‘symbols are analogues or metaphors standing for some quality of reality that is enhanced in importance or value by the process of symbolization itself’.


This is the 6 th article of 20 topics series on ISSUES for DESIGN

PERCEPTION through SCALES and CONVERSIONS -Issues or Design -3

Post 606 by Gautam Shah 


Our Faculties of Perceptions have inherent limitations. Our capacity of viewing, hearing, tasting or experiencing is within certain range. Beyond this natural range, our body shuts off the mechanism of perception, tones the reception to within the capacity of the body, or convert the sensations to some other form of experience. With certain tools we can enlarge or enhance the comprehension.


Forced Perspective of Gallery at Palazzo Spada Rome by Francesco Borromini 1632 > 8.6 mt long gallery gives illusion of 4 times the length > Wikipedia image by Livioandronico2013

We deal with entities in following order:

  1.  As they really exist in original measures, if in perceptible range.
  2. In their scaled representations, to bring them in a perceptible and manipulable range and for storage.
  3. Experience the imperceptible entities after their conversion to some other form.

Facade of Pantheon Paris -a proposal by Jacques-Germain Soufflo > Wikipedia image


Same Facade of Pantheon Paris with few changes but different light-shade > Wikipedia – Flickr image by besopha

We primarily perceive objects and happenings as they directly affect our sensorial faculties, with whatever their inherent limitations. We experience objects through the sensory affectations like light, colour, sound, temperature, smell, pressure, etc., as caused to our body. But such affectations are very subjective, and not easily accountable to any universal system of measurements. We can, however, emulate the changes elsewhere (as equivalents of physio-chemical-electrical changes in our body) and measure the ‘scale’ sensory affectations. For example, we measure the temperature as it affects the mass of mercury or a metal sensor. This allows measurements of range beyond body’s nominal capacity. Similarly inaudible sounds such as in ‘ultra or infra’ range can also be measured.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging MRI > Wikipedia image by KasugaHuang

Real and Scaled entities need a familiar anchorage to set the orientation or reference. Maps and plans are nominally set to North as upward direction, or building entrance accessed from ‘plan read sides’ such as the bottom-up or right-inward. A sea or vast terrain map, requires a superimposed location matrix of Latitude and Longitude, and often Altitude from the mean sea level. Planetary maps are referenced with some familiar stars or configurations like constellations. Maps are reduced (or enlarged) to include a familiar feature like a coastline.


First Floor Plan of Winn Memorial library Woburn MA USA > Here seen as a flipped over image for a different perception > Wikipedia image

As a designer, a persistent exposure of certain views like plans, elevations, etc. is inevitable. The graphical compositions (of massing of objects, lineal flows, form-shapes, etc.) and their orientation from ‘image-read side’ conditions or rather mesmerizes the designers. To break of this persistency, one needs to re-look at the image by changing its orientation, changing the tonal value of a colour or monochrome image, by altering the scale of the image, by reversing (backside to front) or mirroring the image. Similar conditions arise when dealing with 3D objects like models. Architectural models are small size replicas of larger entities. These are more often than not seen from the top, creating a bias for ‘bird-eye’ view, resulting in articulated detailing of upper sections at the cost of road level specifics. Similarly architectural models deal more with the exteriors, and less to the interior configuration. This is sought to be resolved by placing or inserting ‘scope’ or thin tube-cameras in the lower and interior sections or by CAD aided 3D views.


Model of Marina Bay sands > Wikipedia image by Huaiwei

We record our experiences for posterity over some media, in some scalable version. A scaled and recorded version allow faster access and manipulation while reducing the storage space. A site plan drawn at a smaller scale allows one to comprehend larger extent, or the enlarged detail allows greater attention. Scaling also allows to override or attend to details. Designers are trained to manipulate, arrange, or compose scaled representations, and generally achieve results equal to their real size forms. Small scale models are replicas of the larger-real size object, though with fewer or selective details, and are used for variety of design processes.


For a Designer At any scale Perception remains consistent > Image from Pixabay by geralt

We generate plans and such representations of objects in monochrome colour, not just for the sake of printing economy, but to remove the biassed perception of colours. An ‘equal colour’ image allows for neat spatial experience. Conversely Sciography (=study of shades and shadows cast by simple architectural forms on plane surfaces) is used for accentuating the mass-void configuration. But problems arise due to vastly different results offered by Sciography over coloured versus monochrome objects.


Palais Garnier Entrance > Wikipedia image by Charles Garnier (1825-1898)

Surrogate, Metaphoric and Symbolic Representations: These are perceptions through conversions. Here we deal with complex entities by converting or translating them into Surrogate, Metaphoric and Symbolic representations. Designers work with such representations to achieve their design objectives. We use symbols like parallel line hatching to represent brickwork, trees on a contour map, lightening bar to show high voltage electrical current. Different trades have accepted signs and symbols to represent frequently used objects.


A Thermogram > Wikipedia image by Passivhaus Institute

Graphical Representations: Temperature or heartbeats as represented in a graph chart like a Thermal-gram or a Cardiogram, do not convey anything to a lay person. A written musical scale or stenographer’s phonetic language notes do not recreate the original sound, yet convey the meaning. A graphical representation stands for the original in a restricted sense. Nominally graphical representations are difficult to read, but with frequent exposure, one gains the proficiency to automatically interpret the conveyed information, as if it is the real happening. Such proficiencies are circumstance and person specific, and cannot be replicated everywhere or by everyone. Graphical representations, often create an ‘artistic’, proportionate, or an ‘aesthetic composition’ on their own.


Aviator’s Night vision Imaging system > Wikipedia image by Koalorka at en.wikipedia

In some situations Designers deal with a secondary graphical or scaled formation that represents another graphical or scaled entity. Designers, who deal with a variety of representations, scaled, graphical or metaphoric, are often not aware of the levels of conversions that distance the original. They are also oblivious of the transition from one form of representation to another. It becomes a ‘second nature’ for them. It is only when the desired objectives are not achieved, or when some unusual phenomena are discovered that a designer begins to re-search the process.


This is 3rd article of 20 topics series on ISSUES for DESIGN