Post 321 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 


A person possesses and occupies a place for inhabitation. This is simply a territorial spread, which when marked for its extent becomes a personal place in the universe. The personal place is the place-identity of the individual (or family). The terrain has been possessed, occupied, measured and identified because it has the potential of becoming a locus for behaviour. To turn the place into a meaningful entity its place identity is reinforced with a spatial character. The spatial features are conceived to satisfy biological, social, psychological and cultural needs.

Creek South New Caledonia

How an individual establishes a Role Locus (a stage) is one of the most important features of behavioural responses. A place has neighbours, no matter how few, and far apart. Possession and occupation of a place, immediately transforms into degree of social reactivity. One may not have any physical contact, 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.

Taos Pueblo, an ancient pueblo belonging to a Taos speaking Native American tribe of Pueblo people.

The place, once a wide and wild terrain, as soon as it is possessed, occupied, measured and identified, is marked. Markings that define a place are physical, like posts, signs, change of landscape, residues (food, ash, excreta, trash, pots, odours-enzymes) are intentionally left. A marked place has defined extent, by way of defined corners and edges. For a human being it is an intentional activity but many beings do it with intuition. Selection of a place often an irrational process, one cannot explain why, and how it actualised.

Three_chiefs and the territory

A place is given a spatial character. The place itself offers inherent possibilities in this regard. One begins to endow this with a set of purposes. A place has three essential qualities, A location value, as seen in the nature of its connections. The connections are due to both proximity and convergence of other places or neighbourhoods. The place has features like dimensions, orientations, environment, terrestrial character, amenities and facilities. It also includes associations that personalise the space, such as history, neighbours, precincts, etc. A place also has potential for improvisation due to pre-existing conditions.

Settlement Orkney Skara Brae

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.

Shanty housing Hong Kong

A place attachment is an activity that endows one with knowledge how to handle the issues given another opportunity. The knowledge directly passes on from one to another generation or through the imprints.

Village in Rajasthan, India

  • Harold Proshansky, etc. of City University of New York have explored the concept of place identity as a ‘substructure of the self-identity of the person consisting of broadly conceived cognition about the physical world in which the individual lives’. Tuan (1980), Relph (1976) and Buttimer (1980), share a couple of basic assumptions. 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’.
  • Casey (2001) states that identity is created both internally in the mind, and through the body’s interaction with the outside world -there is no place without self, and no self without place.

Gaza 2003




For a user, occupation of a space triggers a set of behaviour. For space occupation, a user has to find the most appropriate location, orientation, body posture, facilities, amenities, and environment. One of the most natural spot for occupation is the geometric focal point in the space, or even establish a new one.

Weekly Market Africa Wikipedia Image by Wisaka

This is achieved by

1 Positioning own self at some important location (a cris-cross point of many spatial lines),

2 by orienting to some dominating feature of the space (like an entrance door, window),

3 by being closer to some presence (wall, column, furniture),

4 by associating with other occupants (through ‘social distancing’).


Here other operative factors are: range of cognition (capacity to perceive), physical proximity (level of social interaction), scale of relationship (age, social status), nature of relationship (sex, familiarity) and possibilities of communication.

Terrace Party

The user also needs to have some control over the space to be occupied, such as:

1 Opportunity to change the location and position (including the posture) within the space;

2 Choice to interact or not with others;

3 Adjust the spatial quality at micro level (scale and schedule wise) and thereby the environmental conditions;

4 Be noticed or notice others;

5 Form sub-core zones,

6 Shift to peripheral zones and be able to conduct exclusive tasks;

7 Ways and means to leave the space either in full knowledge of others or without being noticed.



A user, unless is an owner of a domain, will not be allowed to change

1 architectonic character of the space,

2 import, shift or relocate amenities and facilities,

3 alter the quality of environment that perhaps is not acceptable to others.

9458833095_9276d57582_zIn very large spaces adjacent walls, hedges, mid columns, flower pots, water fountains, lamp posts, flooring, ceiling, and such other patterns and objects provide points of anchorage for space occupation. Spatial configurations like a stage, podiums, projection screens, speakers, singers, vivid objects, also hold interest by providing involvement.


In parties, hosts make a conscious effort to break intimate formations by removing or adding key or active persons, or repositioning and rescheduling the activities. In clubs and places of entertainment the environment (lighting, furniture, equipment) and programmes are reset to shift the focus off certain space segments. Group gatherings are designed to occupy different space segments (hall, terrace, lounge, 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.).