Post 690 –by Gautam Shah


1 Geometrie Proportion Portal

2 Door Geometrical Divisions

A door has some fundamental significance, Proportion (of Width vs Height aspects), Size (anthropometrics) and Scale (relative size to things around it). And all these imply different meaning on the exterior and interior faces. The door size, proportion and scale, relate to the architectural schema, fore-space and contours, interior of room, and functional passage requirements.

3 Door Portal 6871718107_ca75c3be89_z

Doors have shutters, gates, frames, portals, surrounds, heads, thresholds, and other architectural adjuncts. These elements affect the form of the door. The doors could be really or perceptively narrow, wide, tall, short, small, large, thin or deep. But proportion is one character that remains consistent in all scales.

18 Chapel Door by Sigurd Lewerentz


Most common set of proportions (Width : Height) have been: Two squares 1: 2, and Golden proportion 1:1.61. Other shapes include Square (Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp Doors), Horizontal Rectangle (Air hanger’s shutters). Sliding doors have a horizontal rectangle form. For twin shutters, each is of square shape. Multi panelled shutters have to maintain the horizontal bias for ease of movement. The real proportion of a door is seen when the shutter is open. A mid-pivot shutter may divide the opening in equal or unequal gaps. A door opening is more prominent if it is deep-set in the portal, or has contrasting colour+texture from its surround structure.

5 Square Ronchamp door by Le Corbusier

4 Entry Gate to Assembly Building Capitol Complex Chandigarh India Wikipedia Image by Lillottama

The vertical rectangular form makes the opening taller then its width. Small-width doors are technologically more efficient to construct and operate it ergonomically. Such narrow widths reduce the load on the hanging devices such as hinges and so are easy to open. Horizontal sliding doors, for easier movement, need to be wider then their height. Square doors are favourite with designers, but cannot be hung on side-end hinges. A square gap mislays its form when opened on mid or offset pivots. Very wide doors use vertical or horizontal pivots (garage doors) or sliding mechanisms (Japanese doors, Shop Rolling shutters).

Lincon Main Entrance

Historically Door Goal Portal Input Gate

22 Notre Dame Paris Multiple entrances

Instead of a wide door, multiple (ganged) doors used at railway station are multiple units in a row. Similar effect occurs for multiple folding or stacking shutters for verandahs. Multiple doors and shutters provide spaced control for simultaneity, location, orientation. Where multiple tracks are not, feasible, shutters are joined together like the bellows of an accordion to form a sliding and folding stack. Folding or collapsible doors were first used in cabinets and cupboards, and diffuse the exchange over a wider zone.

7 Multiple Doors httpspixabay.comendoors-open-series-input-3798125


9 Olympic Park Railway Station Ticket Barriers


A door is primarily sized for passage of humans, but often designed for mix of purposes. Some doors are exclusively for passage of goods and animals (hoppers, trap or flap doors), and so may not have any size relevance for human passage. Doors are functional elements of optimal size yet economics and technology govern its size and details. The critical aspect of door design is its width aspect. An insufficient width retards the speed, or even makes it difficult or impossible to transit through. But small width enforces discipline on chaotic traffic of entrants. Narrow width openings increase the integrity of the load-bearing structure. A very generous width fails to. Such wide openings need extra dividing barricades to channelize the traffic, or multiple narrower sub-gate systems. Bunker doors must be carefully small sized for increasing resistance to blast pressures.

Médinet-Abou. Porte du Grand Temple (Égypte) _

Door portal size and the size of the shutter, are two different things. Doors of extra ordinarily large sizes or monumental proportions have been used through ages. A large door metaphorically denotes unrestricted transit, grand reception, fearlessness or power, affluence, and dominance. Technologically a door shutter cannot be very large, so doors placed in large portals and with adjunct structures.

18 False Door dawn of civilization Egypt and Chaldaea

As a social concern in modern times, it is essential to provide doors widths suitable for disabled persons, using walking stick, crutch walkers, a wheel chair, stretcher or assisted by others. Widths of doors for, toilet, elevators, closets, store rooms, change rooms, and such other lone user utilities are considered more critical for such users.


Some famous doors > Treasury of Atreus, Mycenae 9′-0” x 18′-0″, Parthenon, Rome 0′-0″ x 24′-2″, Erechtheion, Athens 8′-0″ x 17′-2″, S. Martin, Worms 5′-8″ x 11′-3″, Palazzo Pietro Massimi, Rome, main entrance door 6′-10″ x 13′-8″, National Archives in Washington, DC, Constitution Avenue bronze doors 37′-7″ x 10′ (and 11″thick), Vehicle Assembly Building VAB of NASA door height 456′.

10 Vehicle Assembly Building VAB of NASA door height 456'

Simple sliding doors allow variable and exact control over the width of opening. Automatic sliding doors such as for elevators and for entrances of public buildings open to width governed by the density and frequency of traffic. Revolving doors have optimum opening size to maintain the air lock and prevent anyone forcing a reverse movement. Folding shutter doors allow incremental width of the opening. Garage doors sliding up were devised to get a maximum width of opening.

11 Shutting-Opening-Pushing a hinged, pivoted or sliding Door if large sized, can be a technological issue

Height of a door is checked for three parameters: the height available within the opening, the height of the door head, and the height of the threshold. The actual passage height of a door is affected by the level of terrain immediately inside and outside the door. Low level doors have been used to reduce the heat gain or loss (e.g. igloos), the storm water (e.g. sea front warehouses in America).

12 Multiple stacked doors for floors of West India Quay Canary Wharf Warehouse served by single pulley lift


The scale of a door is governed by the architectural scheme, impinging built mass and the surrounding terrain. The scale of a door is also referential. Proportionately a door or gate opening seems smaller, if the adjacent wall or barrier system is very evident. On the same scale a large or multiple openings make barriers less effective. The exchange occurring across a small opening is very intense, compared to a large gateway.

13 Door and Portal Buland Darwaza Fatehpur Sikri India Wikipedia Image by Diego Delso,, License CC-BY-SA

14 Adjunct structures Gwalior Fort Entry Gate Wikipedia Image by Divyarthsuryavanshi httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwikiFileGwalior_Fort_Entry_Gate

Adjunct structures enhance the perceived scale and significance of the door. Fort gates and other gateways have not only very large doors but also have elaborate adjunct structures like portals, abutments, ramparts, bulwarks, bastions, Bastille, battlements, belvederes (Chhatri), buttress, campaniles (bell towers). Historically, very large (wide and tall) doors have been a necessity, for functional passage as well as for splendour. Doors are intentionally made smaller, if these are insignificant (backdoor, servant door, supply door), or need to be concealed, such as the secret or escape doors. Mid town gates are designed as multiple (three or five) openings to serve different levels of traffic. Doors are added with side and top lites, pediment, surrounds, free columns or half-pilasters to enhance the scale.

20 Hypostyle Hall of the Hathor Temple at Dendera (XI)

Egyptian temples had very tall openings, the lower section was shuttered and the upper section was a left over gap, which allowed entry of early morning Sun God Ra. Gothic churches had upper section of the door converted into a Rose window. Very tall doors, unless required for passage, are turned into transom lites. Very tall doors require a visual correction. Romans constructed tall doors with a wider base and narrower top. For very tall doors, the construction of strong shutter and relevant opening control mechanisms have been the greatest deterrent. Tall opening like effects are created with architectural door portals and alcoves where the functional door is very much smaller.

15 Pantheon Entrance Wikipedia Image by daryl_mitchell from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Low level doors have been used to reduce the heat gain or loss (e.g. igloos), the storm water seepage (e.g. sea front warehouses in America). Romans constructed tall doors that were wider at the base than at the top to correct the visual perspective.

16 Lateral stiffening of Dam Gates in Matsumoto city, Nagano prefecture, Japan. Wikipedia Image by Qurren

Large door shutters require lateral stiffening, as the usual thin shutter leaf construction is insufficient against buckling forces such as the wind, blasts, and often sonic boom pressures. Aircraft hangers’ and spaceships’ assembly workshops (Apollo, Columbia, USA) have very large doors with additional lateral framing. Hanger doors are designed to be sliding from top, bottom or both. Similarly dams and canal gates have to resist not only the pressure of retained water but dynamic pressures of waves and eddy currents. Such doors are designed as 3D entities. Stadia and such public spaces where people are likely to push against the gates, extra lateral stability is required.




SCALING the SPACES -Issues for design-9

Post 617 –by Gautam Shah


Architectural spaces become relevant through scaling. Scaling creates an organization, where sub-elements are allied to form a holistic domain. The space when interpreted as Large-Small, Wide-Narrow, Tall-Shallow, deep-short, etc. relates to some adjacent reality, or some remembrance. But spaces are perceived in terms task accommodation (functional adequacy), anthropometric needs, sensorial reach capacities, social interactions vibes (privacy, intimacy), degree of objectivity and subjective involvements. Scaled space sizes bring forth proportions, modulation, analogy, sequencing, balance, incidental and regular occurrences, harmonics etc.


Tashichhoe Dzong at Thimpu, Bhutan > Wikipedia image by Rainer Haebner

 Shape and Scale of a space have no relationship. Exterior or Interior shape of a space entity can mislead the perception of the scale. Similarly a very extensive space will need ‘stepping or connecting elements’ within the perceptible range. Spaces that have been substantively transgressed inward-outward, the shape may have been deformed, but the scale remains a relevant factor.


Street scene at Ephesus at Anatolia Turkey Wikipedia image by Ad Meskens

Scale is a matter of sensorial experience. Scaling is predictable and manageable in spaces within the known range of perception (visual, aural, touch or proximity, etc.). The strangeness or alienation of a space is reduced by introducing scalable elements such as: repetitions, harmonics, rhythmic evolution, structured patterning, sensory gradations, acceleration deceleration, graduated changeovers, linkages, relationships through modulation and proportioning, etc.


Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London > Wikipedia image by Hans Peter Schaefer

A space is perceived to be small, adequate or large in terms of various tasks, and in terms of responses it offers such as echoes, reverberation, reflection, illumination, glares, depth and width of vision. With the same size and shape of space these elements offer varied experiences, some seeming related and some confounding. Within a space, the size changes (and thereby the proportions) to provide variegated settings for different activities. These changes in a space also cause marked shift in human behaviour. Designers, intentionally avoid as well as include such confirmations and contrasts, but even then surprises do occur. Such spatial manipulations and surprises are further exploited by the users for individualization.


German Chancellery Berlin > Wikipedia image by Bruckels

Environment is a consistent space modulator. The environment changes the spatial scale on moment to moment basis. Since these both, seem to occur in conjunction, in design, we try to inculcate one with the other. An environment scales the space more effectively in the peripheral areas the core remains less dynamic. Again a design tool to shift the space. Scaling by environment becomes exciting because natural illumination, solar gains, etc., are directional.


Environmental variations and space scale modulation > Sky Garden atop the ‘Walkie-Talkie > Wikipedia image by user: Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Our perception faculties are directional and nodal. Hearing and vision, are bi-nodal. Vision, smell and taste faculties are frontal, whereas touch is non-local. These variations in perception affect how elements scaling the space are perceived. Shapes like convex, concave or parabolic curvatures modify the movement. Planes that slope away or towards the user, mean opening or closing of the form. Right and left turns have culture specific relevance which may override presumed biological preferences.


Sydney Opera House > Wikipedia image by Enoch Lau

Directional emphasis for scaling is also very important for orientation. Gravity offers a parallel to the ground plane, the horizontal, and a counter effect as the vertical. The horizontal and vertical make the scaling of space resolutely simpler, and every other scaling to be dynamic or unstable. The stability of gravity and stability of vertical allows forms to be wider at base, the inevitable force for space scaling.

At Absolute level the size is perceived as the difference between the Length and Width of a space. It is seen as a narrow or wide entity. The height confers its own scale of narrowness or broadness to the space. Height accentuates or de-emphasizes the character of the space nominally contributed by the relation between the Length and the Width. The equality of Length and Width of space marks a balance. The orientation of smaller or larger size gives a feel of a deep and shallow space.


Street, Sana’a, Yemen > Wikipedia image by Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia

Narrow spaces have length as the dominant scaling factor. Narrowness of the space could be a carryover of the past experiences or a psychological condition. Narrow spaces have domineering effect of the side barriers, more so if these are opaque, that is without any break or transgression. The scaling elements in such spaces are like, the doors, windows, columns, corners, benches, niches, public address systems, focussed illumination spots, air movement-delivery and ventilation nodes (fans, air conditioners, heaters), stair entrances, junctions (cross corridors, floor cutouts), signboards, parapets, ash trays, etc.

Scaling of narrow spaces can be experienced in art exhibition galleries, which tend to be linear spaces, but similar areas in museums show master pieces for distanced viewing. The hall of mirrors, Versailles is a classic example of long space; opaque on one side and fully windowed on the other side.

Size in a neighbourhood space is perceived in terms of the reach. Whatever is within reach (of touch, vision, hearing or smell) is considered the neighbourhood space. Here the recognition of reach also defines its functional adequacy for interpersonal relationships and related behaviour. Occupation of large public spaces is challenging. One needs points for anchorage, a direction for orientation, presence of other human being (or an animal like a dog) for confirmation, and a ready strategy for exit in any exigency, but all scaled to personal relevance.

A hazy or foggy atmosphere dulls as much as a bright sunny day highlights the spatial elements through enhanced light and shadow differentiation.

Past midnight in absence of nearby background noises, the far-off sounds are acutely heard, increasing the extent of the neighbourhood space.

Hospital wards seem very strange (large) to a patient, in comparison to domestic (small home) spaces, because the space size proportions are different and surfaces are harder and less absorbent (causing reverberation to be different), background noises are less passive, illumination levels are brighter during day and night, furniture and furnishings are unusual, in addition to sickness and weakened mental faculties.

Occupation of domains with unusual proportions (combinations of lengths, widths, and height) and sizes require extra efforts of accommodation.


Old Roman Theater at Ephesus > Wikipedia image by Eoe gian at En Wikipedia 

Amphi theatre performances require large frill dresses, loud dialogue delivery, spaced out movements -theatrics, real or make-believe sub-zoning of the stage. Large space audiences can be reached through public address system, a large podium, stage setting, colour-light highlighting, etc. People in large spaces like airports and marriage halls reach out to others through wild gestures, shouting etc.

Shape configurations are closed or open ended, and show potential of scaling through distension, contraction, or attachments. The spatial scaling when include such edges formations, the subsets become very complex entities.

This is the 9 th article of 20 topics series on ISSUES for DESIGN



Post 175 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 



Here in few slides How measures are modulated is shown.  Measures are modulated with human limb sizes, for coordination with other measures, such as Length, Height, Width and Up-down, Left-right, Far-near, etc. Measures that are beyond sensorial capacities of perception are reduced or converted to other scales. Measures in pure numbers have a mathematical order which persists through reduction, enlargements, etc. Measures are also divided-added up to form a series.



25 Measures and dimensional referencing


26 Sensing objects beyond their size measures


27 Sensory affectations


28 Surrogate – Metaphoric – Symbolic representations


29 Graphical presentations


30 Dealing with scaled and graphical representations


31 System of Modulation and proportions -1


32 System of Modulation and proportions -2


33 System of Modulation and proportions -3


34 System of Modulation and proportions – 4


35 Numeric orders – Pure numbers


36 Modulation with Human limb sizes


37 ISO Modulation for Papers