ZONING of SPACES

Post 348 – by Gautam Shah 

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Spaces are characterized by the activities occurring in it. The activities take the domineering position for the time slot, and so has a natural tendency to be singular and focal. Multiple activities in the same time slot do not have specific spatial character, unless the space is well segmented.

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To remain relevant and focused the main activity of the space, must remain at the core zone of the space. In other words the main activity must stay away from the peripheral zones. The peripheral areas of the space are vibrant due to strong external effects. The strong external bearing can be curtailed by opaque edges. The core area, to retain its consistency begins to shift towards the protected edge. The shift to the edge may also occur due the architectural form of the space, local environmental conditions, overpowering functional needs, available facilities, amenities and enrichments. A dominant enclosure on one or few sides of a domain creates an inviolable shield, an identity of belonging, or a sense of orientation.

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Core zones gain strength by the architectural form. Spaces forms like concentric, conical, angular, circular, pyramidal, etc., are focused and so enhance the focus of the core zone. Very extensive domains lack an effective focus.

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A core zone can be formed by the dimensional and cognition reach extent of the occupants. Such core zones are very personal, affirmed by the user rather than the architectural form. The reach extent scales the domain space.

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Core zone of a space is a work setting, and so it is maintained free of permanent facilities. Amenities are also pushed to the opaque edge to source, the services like power, supplies, disposals, etc. The amenities in core zones need to be demountable, relocatable, handy-mobile, multipurpose equipments, plug in tools, wireless gadgets, miniaturized appliances and modular in design. Compared to these, the amenities in the peripheral zones are strongly dependent on the architectural and structural systems, and so are static.

Historically a core zone of the ‘Home’ was the ‘hearth’ (literally meaning a focus). It was considered safe, intimate and interactive for the family. The hearth was created often without any abutting elements like the cave wall or a rock face. The ambit of the core zone was determined by the climate, the scale of the space, number of participants and level of interaction, and the degree of personalization required. There was only one such zone in the dwelling. The home in charge -the mother was master of the core zone. Her role and presence had become so obvious that ‘the hearth, the mother and home’ were synonymous. In tribal and aboriginal homes the core area is a female domain. The core zone was the natural center of metaphysical spread, ‘the home’, as much as the mother was de-facto guardian of culture. Today, however the hearth is not an inevitable element for safety, security or comfort. It is the quality of barriers and other gadgets that provide this. Dwellings now have many sub domains each belonging to an individual, smaller group, or configured for a set of tasks. Very few activities of the family occur at the one place and are scheduled in the same time slot. But the family members do share a lifestyle developed through metaphysical markings like beliefs (customs, taboos, etc.) and the metaphoric means.

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MULTIPLE CORE ZONES

Multiple core zones occur in very extensive domains. Such domains have weak central command and so allow formation of groups. The groups separate out primarily due to needs like physical accommodation, need for social intimacy and reach of communication. The groups may not seek a distinct territory or qualitative space segment. However, frequent such occurrences, show the existence of multiple qualitative space segments.

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Multiple core zones also emerge where several overlapping or closely spaced domains operate within a larger built space entity. Such core zones share the same spatial segment simultaneously or are programmed in same time schedules. Here the consistent elements are: spatial characteristics, environmental features, participants, amenities, facilities, tasks and activities. Multiple core zones tend to remain together, but often get separated by strong peripheral areas.

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Arab tents had dual core areas within the basic form of the tent, one occupied by the women and used for main cooking, and the other half is used by men and for preparing coffee, etc. These two sections are divided by a mass of stored elements, such as mattresses, floor spreads, etc. The side flaps of the tent are stretched out to create peripheral zones of various sizes. The stretched width and the angle of the flap are conditioned by the sun’s position, wind direction, nature of tasks to be conducted and the need for privacy.

Cooking and dining once (and still do in many societies) belonged to a single core zone, but were separated as two concurrent core areas. These two core areas were further separated by a pantry area that was a peripheral zone to both. Entrance is buffered by a lobby, foyer, entrance hall, or vestibule from other sections of the house. Yards, verandahs, porches are used to separate out the building from the street.

Single room dwelling units

Small or one room, houses have multiple core zones. These zones exist in terms of activity space spreads, which often overlap in time. The multiple core zones match the space layout characteristics, such as four corners, the area near the door or window, the area abutting the wall, the axis formed between two opposite side opening. Traditional Sarai rooms are two and half man width = 5 Mts or 16.5 Ft. This allows two families or their men or women to occupy a side. The depth of the room is of less important.

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PERIPHERAL ZONES in INTERIOR SPACES

 Post –by Gautam Shah

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Peripheral zones of an interior space are aligned to the edge of the space, and therefore away from the core zone. It is this distance, between the core and peripheral sections that qualifies their meaning. Another qualifying mark is their surroundings. Peripheral zones draw a lot of energy from across the edge or defining barriers whereas the core zone is affected only slightly by the enveloping periphery.

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Peripheral zones are vulnerable to outside influences due to their closeness with the edge and also their distance from the core section. A core zone is dominated by the domain’s main and common activity, whereas the peripheral zones are distinctive escape areas and so have diverse utility. Peripheral zones derive their functionality from nature of barriers. Peripheral zones emerge as an antithesis or concurrent space segment of the core zone. The peripheral zones are affected differently by the directional and temporal aspects of the environment. A peripheral zone is often relevant only for a while, to an individual, or for an activity.

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Once the extent of the peripheral zone was determined by the concern for safety, warmth from the fire, the need for privacy, scale of the task-activity and distancing from elements (to reduce their intensity and reach). The barriers, wherever available, formed the edge sections of the peripheral zone. These were also used for reclining, resting, hanging personal items and for expression (artwork).

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Peripheral zones are primarily shaped by the core zone, but are more often affected by the nature of the periphery of neighbouring domains and happenings beyond. The edge areas allow a person to selectively taste the happenings of outside-world even while remaining inside. Peripheral zones are flexible, i.e. can be stretched or contracted from their nominal spread. Domain transgression occurs through the periphery. Peripheral zones are dual faced, so one can orient an activity towards or away from the core area. For any other positioning one may require strong metaphysical reason.

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Peripheral zones often develop as an acutely specific zone. Study nooks in bedrooms, coffee rooms with the dining area, hobby zones in kitchens, home offices with vestibules, retiring rooms in private offices, vaults in banks, store rooms with homes and offices, wardrobes, shower stalls, change rooms in boutiques, cashiers’ cabins, pilot or driver’s cabins, reception counter, janitor area, services ducts, podiums in lecture halls, green rooms with a performance stage, ticket booths, telephone kiosks, are all examples of peripheral zones separated from the core zones.

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Peripheral areas mark the end of one space entity and beginning of another one. Peripheral zones are thresholds to other space entities, and occur or are perceived to be an intermediate or buffer state. Thresholds are interactive areas, and alter (qualitatively) the elements transiting through it. Their activeness arises from their level of transparency and thickness (mass of the barrier) both of which control (rate, direction) the exchange. Thresholds also occur as an interstice on the overlapping barriers. Here two effects are simultaneously operative.

headquarters-library-building-725x483The space barriers, such as walls, roofs, awnings, curtains, partitions, ceilings, etc. form a focussed space. Yet these barriers also create segments that are more strongly attached to the periphery. The barriers, however, are always prone to change from outside effects. There are two distinct places for group mechanisms -the focal and the peripheral sections.

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Lecture halls, bed rooms, modern kitchens are single activity areas, and so focussed units, but road side cafes are peripheral. An older style kitchen sourcing its services off a wall was more peripheral, whereas modern kitchens have island workstations, is more of the core centric arrangement. A drawing room like the dining area is focussed for an activity, but a family room is multi functional and so less focal. Fire was the focus of the primitive home, and TV has become the current focus of home gathering. A physical feed-based work station is peripheral, but a wireless notepad computer offers flexibility of being anywhere.

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