SPACE SIZES and HUMAN BEHAVIOUR

 

Post 410 – by Gautam Shah 

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Some of the important tools for space design are proportions, sizes, their placement (linkages) and sequencing. These are the elements that occupants, owners, tenants and casual visitors, deliberately or unknowingly relate to. The spatial responses reflect their behaviour towards perception, expression, communication, participation, interaction and intervention. Space designers exploit the space design tools, by including or avoiding them in their creations. And yet expect some surprises to happen, when the stack holders encounter the space. The spatial manipulations and surprises, both are further exploited by the stack holders for individualization.

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Degas -work environment and Space

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Small space acutely used periphery by core zone activities

Functionality and the environment of a space are difficult to separate, as one seems to manifest the other. For a lay person, spaces within the known range of recognition are predictable and so manageable. The strangeness or alienation is reduced by the presence of scalable elements. The scalable elements in a space include repetitions, rhythmic evolution, structured patterning, sensory gradation, acceleration de-acceleration, graduated changeovers, linkages, relationships through modulation and proportioning, etc. A space is perceived to be small, adequate or large in terms of management of tasks, and also in terms of responses the space offers, such as echoes, reverberation, reflection, illumination, glare, vision. Occupation of domains with unusual proportions (combinations of lengths, widths, and height) and sizes require extra efforts of accommodation. Same space may be seen to be of a different size depending on changed environmental conditions and the recent experiences. Most people find hospital wards to be very strange (large) compared to domestic (home) spaces. The hospital ward or airport lounge space size and proportions are different, 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 the fatigue or weakened mental faculties.

Yale University Library

 A space is LARGE where the activity accommodation can be differentiated to core section and a sub-core or a peripheral zone. These territories are marked with graduated as well as substantive interior variations. Within a large space, the size (and thereby the proportions) changes provide variegated settings for different activities. Large spaces have large core zones and equally large peripheral zones. Very large spaces have a diffused core or multiple cores. Diffused cores have poor recognition, communication and exchange capacity. In large spaces the distanced barriers are also less commanding in the quality of the core zone. A large space with fewer occupants may seem impersonal compared to small spaces which in some way infuse intimacy. Large spaces allow individualization, but such an exercise must be a group-based activity. Large spaces need support of many interior environmental variations, architectonic components and other occupying elements to allow group behaviour mechanisms. Large spaces confer power to the individual who can own it, and have the reach capacity to control it.

Very large space and group behaviour dynamics at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in LosAngeles

Large spaces seem alien as the edges are less definitive or perceptive. Very large spaces have an equally extensive peripheral zone, which due to variegated environmental exposures are too segmented. Occupation of large spaces is challenging for an individual and assorted groups, but not for cohesive groups. The former needs to find points for anchorage, and a direction for orientation, presence of other human beings (or an animal like a dog) for confirmation, and a ready strategy for exit in any exigency. Cohesive groups have a programme or leadership for using the space.

Small space -no peripheral zones

A space is SMALL absolutely and relatively. It is small when one, two, or all of its dimensions (Length, Width, Height) are small in comparison to the human body size. And it is a small space when inadequate for task requirements. A space is considered small (narrow) if one of its horizontal-spread dimensions (either Length or Width) is proportionately smaller.

Nakagin capsule tower room

Small spaces are often considered intimidating and claustrophobic because the core zone nearly embraces the entire space, leaving no or very small peripheral space zones. Such an exclusive core space zone is too susceptible to affectations from neighbouring domains. Small spaces evoke overwhelming power of the barriers, such as no echoes, or no depth for perspective perception.

Small space crowding, clustered activity

Small spaces are intimate and show good recognition. Small spaces aid intra-personal communication and exchanges. But very small spaces become too personal for reasonable or objective communication. Small spaces are acutely specific for one or few activities and so are manageable. Small spaces may be functionally adequate by themselves but do not permit even a temporary expansion of an activity. Small sub-space modules have a tendency to merge and form a larger system, as it saves estate wastage. Small spaces have bulged (transgressed) peripheral zones.

Reach in the space is an important determinant of how a space is sensed to be, large or small. Reach in the space relates to not only the distance one needs to transit, to perceive or wrest an object, but also command over happenings within the space. The command in space manifests through visual coverage, audibility, olfactory distinction, taste sensation, etc. Reach in space occurs through bridging of nodes such as the architectural elements, amenities and facilities within the space. It also occurs through associations (confirming or contrasting) between surfaces, forms and patterns, environmental conditions, sizes and proportional hierarchies.

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There are several means of adapting the space sizes. Amphi theatre performances require large frill dresses, loud dialogue delivery, spaced out movements -theatrics, real sets, or make-believe sub-zoning of the stage. Large space audiences can be reached through public address system, a large podium, convergent stage shape, colour-light highlights, etc. People in large spaces like airports and marriage halls reach out to others through wild gestures, shouting etc. TV cameras capture details through close-up shots. Stadiums and convention centres use projection TV screens for the same purpose. Lecturers often prefer to use reinforcements by speaking out the same concept in different ways, or use audio-visual means.

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Reach in space

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SMALL SPACES and LARGE SPACES

Postby Gautam Shah

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SMALL SPACES

Small spaces are small absolutely and relatively. A space is considered small if one, two, or all of its dimensions (Length, Width, Height) are small in comparison to the occupant’s own body size and inadequate for task requirements. A space is considered small (narrow) if one of its horizontal-spread dimensions (either Length or Width) is proportionately smaller.

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Small spaces are often considered intimidating and claustrophobic because the core zone nearly embraces the entire space, leaving no or very small peripheral space zones. Such an exclusive core space zone is too susceptible to affectations from neighbouring domains. Small spaces evoke overwhelming power of the barriers, such as the walls, roof and floor. Such spaces have no echoes, or no depth for perspective perception.

Toledo_narrow_street

Small spaces are intimate and show good recognition. Small spaces aid intra-personal communication and exchanges. But very small spaces become too personal for reasonable or objective communication. Small spaces are acutely specific for one or few activities and so are manageable. Small spaces may be functionally adequate by themselves but do not permit even a temporary expansion of an activity. Small sub-space modules have a tendency to merge and form a larger system, as it saves estate wastage in peripheral zones. Small spaces have bulged or transgressed peripheral zones.

LARGE SPACES

Large spaces have large core zones and equally large peripheral zones. Very large spaces have diffused or multiple cores. Diffused cores have poor recognition, communication and exchange capacity. In large spaces the distanced barriers (such as the walls, roof and floor) are less commanding. The distanced barriers also permit a core zone to exist on its own. A large space with fewer occupants may seem impersonal compared to small spaces that in some way infuse intimacy. Large spaces allow individualization, but group formation becomes uncertain. Large spaces confer power to the individual who can own it and have the reach capacity to control it.

Hall

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.

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Large spaces seem alien as the edges are less definitive. Here the peripheral zones are too segmented and varied. Occupation of large space is challenging. One, however, needs to find 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.

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ACOUSTICS in SMALL SPACES

Post -by Gautam Shah

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Singing in a bathroom sounds lively, but only to the person in the bathroom, because the reverberated sound seems to be richer, and fuller. A bathroom also offers a very private space for uninhibited behaviour.

Small rooms like a bathroom have small sizes, and smaller volumes. Such spaces include an inner sanctorum of temples, confession booths, personal prayer rooms, private offices kitchens, study rooms, store rooms and telephone kiosks. These rooms are used for personal meditation, prayers, recitation, singing, self-talk or person to person (one to one) voice communication (directly or through telephony).

There are two major qualitative characteristics of these spaces: Smaller size resulting in Smaller volume, and the Nature of furnishings. A bathroom like spaces are bereft of any soft surfaces, whereas study room like spaces are over furnished. But all small spaces allow multiple reflections from architectural boundaries and enrich the sound of one’s voice.

A study room made ‘cozy’ with heavy furnishings, draperies, thick walls become a sound absorbent environment. Here the richness of the bounced or reflected sound is lost. The highly isolated space cuts-off the low frequency ‘interference’ of outside noises like traffic, wind, rustles of the leaves, etc. The absence of background noises does not mask the internal low frequency noises of the room. As a result sounds our own body movement, rustling sounds of clothes or book pages, fan or air conditioner’s hiss etc. are over emphasized and become disturbing.

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The acoustical properties of small rooms differ considerably from that of large rooms, such as the auditoriums, concert halls, cathedrals, lecture halls, etc.

● In a large room, first-arrival times of the early reflected sound are typically on the order of # 50-80 ms after the direct sound.

● For small rooms, the first-arrival times of the early reflected sound are # few ms after the direct sound.

HaydnPlaying

For heavily furnished ‘Home rooms’ the sound absorption properties of the room often are significantly higher than in large rooms. Small rooms often provide the ‘acoustic intimacy’ but do not have ‘acoustic grandeur’ of very large spaces. Large rooms have distinctive reflections which help us comprehend our location, the direction and distance of objects etc. In large rooms there are likely to be few surfaces that are horizontally askew, vertically inclined and surface quality wise irregular so some blurring of the reflections is inevitable.

In a space original sound travels more or less straight to the listener whereas the reflected sound must travel towards a boundary and then get bounced back to the listener. Such delayed reflections heard along with the original source sound are the cause of echoes.

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Reflections often obscure the true source of a sound and reduce intelligibility. This effect is more pronounced in small rooms than larger ones because the walls are closer together and so the reflections are stronger. However, the strength of the reflections also depends on the density of the walls, with rigid walls reflecting more and to lower the frequencies. Indeed, the worst environment for a home studio is a basement because cement walls are more rigid than partition or thin body walls. Thick walls around small space rooms improve the acoustic isolation but thin partitions allow lower frequencies to pass through to get absorbed within the body or expended in vibrating the thin body mass.

669px-Jan_Vermeer_van_Delft_014In the natural world without walls or ceilings, the First Significant Reflection will always come from the ground. We subconsciously use the FSR to determine distance from an object. For example a person speaking to a listener from 2′ distance, the initial sound will arrive about 2ms while the FSR will be about 11ms. Thus effective FSR is 9ms (11-2=9ms) to the listener. If the speaker is 10′ away, the FSR will be about 5ms from the listener’s perspective.

Size and Shape of a room affects the quality of sound in a room. ‘In a room with parallel walls (almost all rooms), the sound gets a caught bouncing back and forth between the walls. Some sound waves are cancelled by their own reflections while others are reinforced’. However, in a room with slightly askew walls can drastically reduce the redundant reflections between walls. Ancient Greeks found that rooms with the ratios of 2.62: 1.62:1 sounded universally good.

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Regent Park audience Wikipedia Image by TomIAnderson

One of the famous sermons from Jesus was made at the bottom of a hill while the audience was on higher ground Here Jesus was addressing a very large audience from a Low position. Since this was in the morning, the audience was in the optimal position to hear and see him speak, The hill helped capture the speech and block out extraneous noise.  ( This is as per the Literary description, Paintings illustrate superior-higher position for the Christ).

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