PERSONAL SPACE for BEHAVIOUR

Post 589 by Gautam Shah (11 of 16 Behaviour in Spaces)

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Behaviour in space is conditioned by two personal notions: Privacy and Intimacy. Privacy is personal as well as group-based requirement, whereas Intimacy is mostly an intra-personal or object affair. Behaviour first develops from the primary concern for survival, a defensive action where one tries to create a personal protective layer. It is also an offensive activity where people form groups to create a common protective mechanism, and thereby be more accessible to others. Here the privacy and intimacy become expressions of intra-personal relationships.

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Crowded elevator Flickr image by BurnAway

In a space, primarily, one tries to acquire a spot where privacy and intimacy are controllable. People discern their relationship with others in terms of distances or spaces between them. A personal space allows privacy and intimacy by controlling the distance from objects and people. Distance in space is simply a notion, a negotiable reach, one creates and perceives from other beings and objects. A personal space is an assurance for conducting certain tasks and expositions. The reach in space is negotiated by suitable space planning, physical and metaphorical declarations of the territorial ownership, style of space occupation and managing the extent and duration of exposure.

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Perceived privacy in a public space > Wikipedia image

Privacy is a personal belief and is achieved by obscuring own self, or by isolating from people. One can obscure own self by merging with background or by becoming less perceptible. Isolation is achieved by barricading and distancing. A person or group achieves insulation through body posturing and adjust the exposure, control the communication, command the expression and re-calibrate the reach of the body and the sensorial perception. Privacy can help overcome many inhibitions through mental isolation. Psychological motivation helps one to ignore some of the side effects of lack of privacy.

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Spatial seclusion for privacy > Wikipedia image by Sulasulasula

Privacy provides the isolation whereas degree of interference by others determines the nature of intimacy. Both are important means for individualization or branding of unique personality. And whenever these are compromised one may try to adjust the posture, reorient the self and distance from others. In appropriate conditions it is easy to control ingress, distraction and unwanted participation by others.

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Flickr image by Paul Townsend

One requires many different types of privacy:

● Physical and Social privacy: Ii is a function of distance and shielding. It is required against someone making a close approach (touch or near approximations). Social privacy is often equated to physical ‘crowding’ in a space. It is reflected in degrees of accessibility a person or group offers to others. The perceived territorial space gets crowded due to excessive or undesired social contact. Crowding means heightened accessibility or reduced interaction depending on the need for expression, communication, physiological requirements. Crowding affects the sense of belonging for group behaviour mechanisms (common purposes, beliefs). In ‘neighbourhood spaces’ one wants to be away from the closed interior space and so here crowding of any type takes away the social privacy.

Crowding may be tolerated if it is temporary (elevators, stairs, public transport) and for a definite purpose like for fun. The scale of a room it’s size relative to the occupants also influences conversational distance. As room scale reduces, people tend to sit closer together. Likewise, increased noise levels and distractions drive people to sit closer together.

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Titian, Actaeon surprises Diana in her bath 1559 Wikipedia image

 ● Visual privacy: Inherent in human behaviour is a tendency to avoid situations in which one can be watched without being aware of who is watching. Visual privacy addresses the ability to limit view of oneself by others. It can be achieved through the use of furnishings, furniture, amenities, partitions or walls.

In a private space or an office, people will often orient their desk in order to visually control the doorway and achieve a visually private space on one side of the desk. Similarly, people prefer to sit with a protected back, controlling the area they cannot see directly. In restaurants, the first seats to be filled are usually those along the walls. In outdoor spaces, people tend to sit against or beside objects such as trees and bushes rather than in the open. In open office plans’ a person is made to sit facing a wall or partition for lesser distraction from the back side passage, however, it is the unseen and unpredictable traffic on the backside that challenges the privacy. Contrary to this in garment stitching room workers are one behind the others and passage is on the side.

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Mobile phones diversion from visual and social privacy issues > Flickr image by Marc Smith

● Audio privacy: It is an insulation against being overheard, interference from background noise, and lack audio of clarity of listened sounds. A high quality of audio privacy significantly defines the level of communication, social interaction, and productivity. An appropriate relationship between the background noise and one that is produced within the activity space is conducive to speech privacy.

Complete insulation of a space, such as a study room, cuts-off the background noise, leading to loneliness or alienation. Hospital wards are hard finished due to issues of bacterial infections. The wards during daytime have high presence background noise that subdues or balances the noise from within the space. However, past midnight, in absence of background noise, the noise from inside the room becomes unbearable.

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Barriers for Noise privacy Melbourne > Wikipedia image en wiki by Atlantica

● Olfactory privacy This limits to reveal own physiological state or experiencing someone else such a state through hormones-odours. Other privacy parameters include the body temperature, breathing rate, heart beats, pulse rate, vibrations of the body, sweating and perspiration.

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INTIMACY

Intimacy is a feeling of closeness or affinity between a person and another, or an object. Intimacy is also a biological need. Intimacy is considered a product of distance, and it relies on compatibility, sexual needs, glandular secretions, social acceptability, etc. It is an attitude, mental conditioning or mental posture. A person or group seeks privacy for security, to flourish in an environment. Intimacy could be one-way feeling that is without reciprocal feeling. One can be intimate with another person or group of persons without the apparent need for privacy. One can feel close to a person who is long dead –an illusory presence or through notional links (clothes, odours, recorded sounds, etc.). Distancing is also a matter of time, like remembrances. An intimate relationship is with a person, but an intimate space is one where an occupant and objects have intense relevance to each other.

A date with a view

A date with view Flickr image by TheeErin

Intimacy can have two main forms: emotional intimacy and physical intimacy. There could be other forms of empathy like cultural, intellectual, spiritual, social that are akin to intimacy in some conditions. Strategic relationship developed to take advantage of anyone could be very close but it is a make-believe intimacy.

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Intimacy by known People and Space Pixabay image by Akshaypatra

A private abode is an own world. An intimate situation is safe, predictable and reassuring. Intimacy is like a domain where everything is under an exclusive command.

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This post forms 11 th of the Sixteen part of Lecture series on Behaviour in Space that I will be offering for the spring semester starting Jan 2016 (to mid April2016) at School of Interior Design, Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India.

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SPATIAL PRIVACY

Post 562 by Gautam Shah

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Space is a built or territorial expanse around a person. The personal measure for the expanse is the fathom (human size) and yet it is fathomless. The space is reached through sensorial affectations. The reach is finite, but with technological tools it can be stretched manifold. In recent years, technologies like satellite remote sensing, geo positioning, electronic enlargements, ‘seeing’ through energy facsimiles; have encroached our spatial domains. The invasion of our privacy occurs whether we are in built space or open territories. The invaders know that reach in space does not mean the capacity to own and control the depth.

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Layers for privacy of different levels > Street view of Faza Kenya House Wikipedia image

Spatial privacy encroachments affect our personal actions and our connections with other people, objects and environment. Very often such observance or data collection is not intentional but the same may be used for malicious interpretations. The spatial privacy is for a person to manage, but surveillance by others may be used for altering our actions and responses to other things in space.

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Surveillance alters freedom of action Wikipedia image

Privacy is related to location or position, tracing of movement routes, a micro moment capture of changes in posture-gesture, environmental and body functions (temperature, perspiration, metabolism, respiration, blood pressure etc.). These are imperceptible, and would not be noticed, but can be enhanced by technologies like slow motion capture, high resolution, and colour or energy imaging tools. Such processes occur without the person’s knowledge or awareness. Privacy is the right to act without surveillance. Surveillance alters action.

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Public spaces under surveillance Wikipedia image by Quevaal

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Aerial view of Osama Bin Laden Compound Abbottabad Pakistan by CIA

Privacy has many different interpretations. Spatial privacy for humans in built forms or open territories has been a concern for all designers. Designers consider privacy as an act of isolation by way of obscuration. Privacy means control over space occupation, time protraction, task execution and social interactions. The isolation from people, things and environment is achieved by controlling various sensorial perceptions and expressions. One may close the eyes, block the ears, pinch the nose, reduce the visibility by merging with the background, simplify variations in surroundings, control the exposure in time and space, camouflage with high contrast elements or exploit the barricading situations. Sense of privacy results from traumatic experiences and could be seen as inhibition to certain situations. This can be adjusted to by mental isolation or behavioural counseling.

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Confession in privacy Wikipedia image from ru.wikipedia

Privacy and Intimacy are closely related. Intimate conditions reflect interference by others, and so a threat to privacy. Though both, could be expressions of individualization or branding of unique personality. And, whenever these are compromised, one tries to distance from others, adjust the posture and reorient the self. To achieve privacy, a prime attempt is to find a ‘safe’ place in a domain. The safe place could be an anchor of spatial (architectural) element, a person or even a suitable environmental realm. Safe places are familiar, assuring, with a possibility of escape, or occluding. Safe places are transient in time, like a moving object does not allow clear perception. Privacy is perceived in company of a senior person, people of same sex and in a group consisting of both sexes. Environment offers privacy by reducing the clarity perception of the self and of other things.

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Privacy as expression of Individualization or Branding of unique personality Wikipedia image of Beyonce Knowle by Tony Duran

One requires many different types of privacy: Physical privacy -against someone making a close approach (touch or near approximations), Visual privacy -to limit others’ view of oneself, Audio privacy -insulation against being overheard and interference from background noise, and Olfactory privacy -that limits to reveal own physiological state or experiencing someone else such a state through hormones-odours. Other privacy parameters are, one tries to conceal the body temperature, breathing rate, heart beats, pulse rate, vibrations of the body, sweating and perspiration, as these reveal the inset fear.

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Privacy from distraction Wikipedia image of Michigan State University Libraries USA

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PRIVACY and INTIMACY as spatial behaviour

Post 524  by Gautam Shah

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Behaviour in space is conditioned by two personal notions: Privacy and Intimacy. Spatial behaviour is moulded from the primary concerns for survival, a defensive action where one tries to create a personal protective layer, for intimacy and privacy. It is also an offensive mechanism where people form groups, so as to be mutually amenable, and thereby create modalities of spatial behaviour. Other than security a person or group seeks privacy and intimacy to flourish in an environment.

Philosopher in meditation by Artist Rembrandt (1606–1669)

A private abode is an own world. Intimacy is like a domain where everything is under an exclusive command. And an intimate spatial situation is safe, predictable and reassuring. It allows a person to develop a distinctive identity. The spatial behaviour helps one to obscure own self by merging with background or by becoming less perceptible. The isolation is achieved by barricading and distancing. In case of groups, an intimate space increases the affinity, unity, communication and expression. A person and a group, both achieve insulation through behavioural norms like body posturing. By posturing one can adjust the exposure, control the communication, command the expression and re-calibrate the reach of the body as well as the sensorial perception. Privacy can help overcome many inhibitions through mental isolation. Psychological motivation helps one to ignore some of the side effects of lack of privacy.

Isolation and loss of privacy

Intimacy is a personal phenomenon, a feeling of closeness. An intimate space is one where the occupants and objects have intense relevance to each other. Intimacy could be one-way feeling that is without reciprocal response. For intimacy to flourish, some privacy is needed, but one can be intimate with another person or group of persons without the apparent need for physical privacy. It is an attitude, mental conditioning or mental posture. Intimacy is considered a product of distance, but it also relies on non proximity factors like compatibility, sexual needs, glandular secretions, social acceptability, etc. Intimacy is a biological need. One can feel close to a person who is long dead -an illusory presence or through notional links (clothes, odours, recorded sounds, etc.). Distancing is also a matter of time, like remembrances.

Prayer meeting and hymn singing following Gay Pride parade Wikipedia image by Author Bob Hall from Christchurch, New Zealand

Privacy provides the isolation whereas degree of interference by others determines the nature of intimacy. Both are important means for individualization or branding of unique personality. In a space, primarily one tries to anchor to a spot where privacy and intimacy are controllable. And whenever these are compromised one may try to adjust the posture, reorient and distance from others. People inherently discern their relationship with others in terms of distances or spaces between them. In other words certain quality of distancing from others is required for individualization.

Wikipedia Flickr image by Author Peter Drier

In appropriate spatial conditions it is easy to control ingress, distraction and unwanted participation by others. These are achieved in several ways: by placing required types of barriers, by physical and metaphorical declarations of the territorial markings, by suitable space planning and style of space occupation.

Caspar David Friedrich in his Studio

Meaning of intimacy varies from relationship to relationship, and within a given relationship. Intimacy has more to do with rituals of connection. Intimacy is both the ability and the choice to be close, loving, and vulnerable. Intimacy can have two main forms: Emotional intimacy and Physical intimacy. There could be other forms of empathy like cultural, intellectual, spiritual, social that are akin to intimacy in some conditions.

Wikipedia image by Author Jim.henderson

A person or group carves own space by different territorial markings. The territorial markings such as of physical, metaphysical, and metaphorical nature present spaces of many different characteristics. Territoriality is a means of achieving a desired level of privacy. It involves creating and maintaining an exclusive control over a space by an individual or group. This control implies privileges and may involve aggressive actions in its defence. For the individual, territorial control provides security and identity, and is communicated through personalization and definition of the space. For the group, territorial control, is the cause of their being an entity, and is expressed through the common behaviour.

Goethe in the Roman Campagna by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein.

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DISTANCING in SPACE

Post 208 –by Gautam Shah

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Distancing is instinctive way of adjusting the space around our self. The distance is created from human beings, other beings, objects and environmental affectations. Distance also means the size of intervening space, or affective extent of space. It is also perceived in terms of response to the space, intervening objects, physical reach and perceptibility.

most terrible poverty is loneliness and feeling of being unloved

The culture defines the acceptable or inappropriate types of intimacies. A crowded stair, elevator, bus etc. do not project an intimate atmosphere. A handshake or hug nominally has no sexual meaning in many cultures. In some cultures a veil is considered retardant of intimacy. Intimacy could be a display or an expression with physical touch, but with no apparent mental feelings.

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Distancing subdues the sensorial perception of threatening, disturbing or overwhelming elements. Distancing means creating a physical distance, and of curtailing the perception by occlusion and isolation. It also includes disregarding the elements. Distancing differs for each of the involved sensorial faculties.

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Distancing creates greater space to act without spatial hindrances, and also a setting for communication and expression. Distance is governed by environmental factors, social requirements, psychological make-up, time duration, experiences, and the relevance of objects and people.

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Tavern Scene 1658-David Teniers II

Intimacy is determined by the distance one creates and perceives from other beings and objects. There is a very INTIMATE ORBIT close to the body. The spread of orbit varies depending on the cultural bearing and personal conditioning. The body odour plays very important role in influencing the intimacy. There is PERSONAL ZONE, much larger in scale, and partly overlapping the intimate orbit. This is a zone of regulated and selective participation. This is a zone where one can reach out through projection (expression, and channels of communication), physically extend the body limbs, and stretch out with gadgets (walking stick, stethoscope, etc.). Certain objects and space subsections are considered personal territories due to long term possession or intense customization. Chief guests’ chair, head chair at the end of a dining table, study table, are such personal entities.

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This is a RANGE OF NEARNESS that defines the area for participation without personal involvement. The nearness is decided by the position and duration of the eye contact, sound pitch and language call, olfactory sensation and body heat perception. It is a non-committal area and continuously varying nearness, as time (duration) and space (distance), is used to compensate each other.

Walking Street City Commuter Business Smile

  • As per the protocol, leaders of the two nations never share a seat, but rather occupy separate seats distanced with a small table or flower vase. Similarly deputies accompanying their leaders, are made to sit at some distance, from where they get a sense of participation but have no chance of intervention. On public platforms one intentionally uses lower sound pitch to draw attention. On very large dining table one can effectively hold conversation with members sitting on the two sides, but not across the table. In gatherings one uses differing sound pitch to reach desired distance.

People Cafe Adult Young Street City London

The REALMS OF REACH are spaces, where tasks, activities, purposes, are predefined or recognized. Such realms are unitary spaces that offer a sense of belonging, safety, security and personalized identity. Reach is established by familiarity of the surroundings. Intimacy, derives through sense of control and participation, in the ‘homely’ setting. The reach is in visible range, shout or call, and the odour. Such public areas foster non-intimate group behaviour. Mothers allow children to play in such under surveillance spaces.

Jean Béraud Au Bistro

Jean Béraud Au Bistro

The need to be alone or be part of a group arises from factors like personal (psychological and physiological), intra-personal (communication, exchanges) and group behaviour mechanisms (sense of belonging, sharing, participation, confirmation). For an individual a space that permits one to ‘distance’ from others is a private space. For a group, a space that allows easy communication and recognition is intimate space.

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Two persons or members of a group can talk in whispers and give out an impression of intimacy, in spite of the apparent distance between them. Conversely talk-discussions in high pitch could be used to present bonhomie and thereby a close-knit entity. Politicians and celebrities talk in whispers to state things that need to be made public and talk loudly things that need not be public, both ways they draw the attention. A public orator changes the pitch from normal to very low or high to draw the attention of the audience and thereby be intimate or non-committal.

Standing People People Talking Communication Talk

Enclosing space forms (corners, cones, concave) force individuals to be closely spaced and be intimate enough to form a group. Crowded spaces force intimacy of coexistence. The coexistence may push an individual to mentally barricade own-self or open-up. Some environmental and other effects are highly focussed (illuminated spot, under the fan area, sunny patch, breezy path) and force a group to share the same zone and so breed intimacy.

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Eye contact could be both intimate and non-intimate. A direct eye contact allows better non-verbal communication (empathy), but a in direct eye contact also subdues the other person and thus is less-intimate. Persons meeting in one to one setting are more intimate, than their encounter in public presence or a gaze. Audio intimacy occurs over a chat on telephone or mobile, web chatting, video-conferencing. Virtual proximity Intimacy is also achieved by entering into some one’s private domain like home, a bedroom, toilet, study area. Homes and work places of great-famous persons provide illusion of physical intimacy.

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