Post 561 by Gautam Shah



Traditional documents were once hand written compilations, and as a result the format of information presentation was so abridged and compact that made the interpretation of the text a complex issue. In traditional libraries every work of classical nature was accompanied by several ‘firsthand’ commentaries, interpretations and translations, and even larger number of corollary ‘studies’. The original work and its lineal volumes were connected by referencing the stanza or section identifiers. These methods remained workable within limits of a single author, subject, period of history or a locality, and in many instances the availability of all documents at a particular location.


Geet Govinda  Odisha, India early 18th C

Few of the accesses related problems to traditional documents were solved, when famous libraries began to hand-copy documents for their own access. But, now it is found that every writer (or rather the manuscript copier) copied it by minutely editing a spelling, phrases and expressions. This created variegated versions of original works, making it extremely difficult to determine which one is reliable-authentic one. Printing of documents and wide distribution solved the problems of individualized copying of books, but authenticity of the work remained questionable.



Compiled documents of the past have been fixed assets entities. The pages of manuscripts or bounded books were tied by a thread (French=fil), wire, or metal-rod as a folder to avoid disturbing the order of placement. Manuscripts and books were organized or compiled, where its subsections had some cohesion on two counts: sequential placement and page numbers. So once compiled, it was not easy to add upon it. In future when more information was generated, if small in size, it can be placed as an addendum or appendix, or as a sequential volume.


A book on astronomy and mathematics of 10th C Flickr image by shafraz.nasser  (


A Document was perceived to be unitized set of information, Documents such as: Books, manuscripts, articles, letters, reports, drawings, specifications, procedures, instructions, records, purchase orders, invoices, process control charts, graphs, pictures, movies, photograph albums and audio-video cassettes etc. holistically represent a concept or ideology. These are stored as whole entity in their order of arrival, subject matter, author, and format (paper, books, tapes) etc. and the individual content is also identified similarly.


Buddhist manuscript on metal plates


Storage modalities demand some consistency of size, shape and density for the documents, whereas access considerations for the document and its content, require some form of cataloguing. Natural sub-divisions like chapters, sections or parts and preset strategies like, keywords, summaries, content lists, indices, etc. are designed for sequential and restricted random access. Cataloguing for access has changed more over two millenniums, in comparison to very little improvisations in the storage modalities.


A catalogue is pre sorted listing. Such cataloguing was formed within the documents through projected tags, coloured edges, notched pages or insert floats. These methods were widely used for manually accessing sections of database documents such as account ledgers, address books, address registers etc. For very large databases such as police records, library records, census data, such manual access was unmanageable. Such documents first needed sorting to reduce the size of the search. For sorting and search operations, cards with projected tags, notched or marked corners or edges were used, first through manual and later mechanical processing.


Kardex index-card filing cabinet Wikipedia image by Pete Birkinshaw (

Mechanical punched card reader systems were the precursors of digital computing. Database documents gained a degree of transparency when formatted on marked or punched cards. These were used for sorting the information into known classes and search out anomalies of data. Many statistical tools were used for the purpose. Other written and printed documents in prosaic form, however, were too opaque for dissection and analysis. Such documents however, when considered as database with elemental units of letters, words and ‘constructions’, provide new insights into meaning, grammar and syntactical structures. This was the pioneering effort that was to become the word processing of digital technology.


Tabbed files Wikipedia image (cropped) by Pptudela at en.wikipedia

A document was perceived to be a lot of related knowledge which when referred to, provide the intended data. It was ‘a storable format of information’. Like other units of storage systems documents are modulated according to, what it is to contain, where and how it is placed, referred and retrieved. In modern information technology such modulated information lots or documents are called files.


Incoming books identifiers at Smithsonian Libraries Wikipedia image by Metta3001

‘Filed’ information carries several identifiers that help in storage, identification and access. The contents of filed information also carry internal and external attachments (links and references).


Identifiers for files

  • time (of origin)
  • size (of storage, transmission time & effort)
  • author, contributors
  • content (index, key words, summary)
  • place of origin
  • place of destination, identity recipient
  • authority to create, read, write, alter and delete the contents of a file
  • affiliations, linked documents, preceding and following documents
  • references
  • embedded codes
  • signs, symbols
  • language
  • style
  • mode of communication
  • limits and conditions of relevance.


Post 514  -by Gautam Shah



armarium, arium, almery, almirah, alamari, almarie, wardrobe, cupboard, cabinet, chest, closet, chiffonier, bureau, dresser, panoply.


The word almirah derives from Latin armarium = arma (weapons, tools) + arium =place, a place or device associated with a specified thing or function. Middle English almery and Anglo-French almarie, both are based on weapons or arma. Hindi alamari derives from Portuguese almirah.

Dutch wardrobe Wikipedia image by Author Hajotthu

An almirah was a free standing chest or closet, and a storage place to keep vestments in the sacristy of a church. Almirah in modern sense is synonymous with a cabinet, cupboard, wardrobe, etc. but not with sandook, patara, chest or box. It is closed or a shuttered-storage entity, so cannot be equated with storage with shelves in niche, alcove, bay or recess. There are some doubts if a chest of drawers or bureaus used for storing small things, underwear, make-up things or writing papers and pens, study chests, etc. may also be called almirah?

Sainte-Marie de Corneilla-de-Conflent Wikipedia image by Author Acoma

Almirahs were custom made, from wood by carpenters, for a client and the place, till about the industrial age. Ancient almirahs were heavy and bulky, and difficult to shift around, except within the room or premises. The bulky almirah, when full of stored items, were almost impossible to move anywhere. For planning any shift, it was necessary to open the concealed, secret and multiple locking systems and empty the contents. In the vast premises of church or palace, almirah were nearly immobile safe keeping unit. And yet during invasions, the almirah, in spite of the bulk and weight, were carried off as treasured catch. Almirah were carried away as part of the luggage during immigration. New almirah were created and offered to European brides as part of the dowry.

Armoire de mariage, musée pyrénéen, château fort de Lourdes, Hautes-Pyrénées, France With pediment Head Wikipedia image by Author Père Igor

A Dowry cabinet in German Museum Wikipedia image by Author Frank C. Müller, Baden-Baden

There are essentially two classes of Almirahs, fixed and movable. Fixed ones were not bolted or tied to anything but are situationally designed and mounted in a corner, or set inside a niche. The movable ones were placed against a corner or a flat wall. The traditional almirah are of human height with one or two single leaf shutters or with dual doors providing wider access. The almirah have two bottom level drawers opening on the outer face, and sometimes two internal drawers covered by the main shutters. It had secret chambers on the sides of drawers, under the head side, and as a false bottom. Almirahs were also made into smaller height cabinets, or as dual depth cabinets.

Wikipedia image National Museum in Warsaw

Image by Pavel Ševela / Wikimedia Commons.

The inside faces of the doors were simply finished except in the post 18 C periods, when metal hooks and micro shelves began to be included in the door. Early almirahs were all shelves’ arrangement, with no provision of rods or hooks for hanging of clothes. Similarly the door fronts were carved or decorated with veneer or marquetry, but no mirror or painted, etched or engraved glasses were used. The almirahs in renaissance period began to have a top heading of pediments. The solid or square bottom now had round ball or pawed legs. The legs were spaced with an intermediate panel.

Armoire “Chantilly” de style Louis XV, réalisé par les Ateliers Allot Frères. Wikipedia image by Author Allot rené

First almirah were used for storing and protecting the armour (almery and almarie). Religious places like churches used this for storing vestments and ritual vessels. Craft’s person like carpenters, goldsmiths, used it to store delicate proprietary tools. Master muralist stored parchment, fabric and paper-based cartoon roles and studies on canvas. Almirah have compartments some of which were used for storing items of day to day use, and additional secret chambers and drawers for securing jewellery, documents and other valuables, which were rarely opened.

Liège, Belgium Wikipedia image by Kleon3

Wardrobe, spruce, painted. Upper Austria, Linz area, 1790; Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg Wikipedia image by Author Anagoria

Very early Almirahs (pre 7- 8th C) were a simple wood log like raw assembly without any decorative finish or embellishment. The remarkable surface ornamentation was of iron or bronze hardware like hinges, spikes, nails, and locks. The Egyptian Canopic chests are cases used to contain the internal organs that were removed during the process of mummification. These chests, and later a walk-in cabinet like forms were tall wooden shrine-like forms. These were made from wood and coated with gesso, and brightly painted.

Egyptian Box for Ushabtis or Canopic Jars

Coffre à vases canopes de Toutânkhamon, Musée égyptien du Cairo, (Egypt) wikipedia image by personnelle de Gérard Ducher (user:Néfermaât).

The painted wood style continued for several centuries, in absence of any better wood surface finishing methods. Corners and bevels are often decorated with gilding. Flat surfaces were painted with landscapes. Painted wood surfaces were not long lasting. And as a result the emphasis turned to use of good quality of wood and carve it. Woods were explored for the arrangement of grains or natural patterns.

Painted Wardrobe Museum für Volkskultur in Württemberg, Waldenbuch) Wikipedia image by Author Photo: Andreas Praefcke




Post 493  by Gautam Shah



Storage systems have been with us from very ancient times. These systems have helped in spatial organization of living, commercial and manufacturing areas. Organized storage primarily means segregation and stacking of entities for the purpose visual identification and easy access. Storage systems for foods have been conceived for isolation, preservation and maturation. Commercial and manufacturing storage systems serve the same purposes, but for former visual merchandising and for the later goods and tools, access were important issues.

Storage Cabinets have been known by many names. Almirah is a Portuguese word, Hindi = Alamari, describing a free standing closet. It was a place to keep vestments in the sacristy of a church. Almirahs in modern sense are synonymous with cabinet, cupboard, wardrobe etc. A cabinet could be an open or shuttered-storage entity, so may not be equated with open storage systems with shelves in niche, alcove, bay or recess.


The Sandook, Patara, Manjusha (Hindi), Chest or Box, are all storage units of ancient origin, and considered predecessors of Almirah. Manjusha generally means a box for jewels, or treasure chest. These are associated with nomadic life, so were compact but were multi-functional. These were accessible only from the top and so were cumbersome for storing. These storage units, like the almirah, had few compartments or cells to store small things, and secret chambers for the valuables.


An important category of storage systems includes a chest of drawers, bureaus (French word for office), secretary, secretaire, or escritoire, and desks. These were primarily used for home-based offices, personal study areas, as communication console by officers, ministers and scholars. The units were independent entities, placed against a wall, and often on a raised platform of 100 to 200 mm height. The drawers were for minuscule in size for storing pins and pens, to very large ones for books and manuscripts.

Chippendale Desk

The efficiency of access and ergonomic size made them very popular and began to be used in bed rooms, dining rooms, pantry areas, shops, hotel lobbies, restaurants and bars. In bedrooms these were used as personal craft-station, as Lingerie chest for storing socks, underwear, hands kerchiefs, napkins, as a parlour for make-up things. Lingerie chests were of highboys or tall design where a set of drawers as a tall chest of were mounted on legs. Parlour chests were comparatively lower volume chests, of a bureau-dressing table in combination with a pivoted mirror on an integrated stand or as a wall-mounted frame.

Personal work area Sherlock Holmes Museum

In entrance halls the chests had drawers for shoes but low enough to sit on it to tie shoelaces. Entrance hall chests were accompanied by long wall mirror, a coat stand, and umbrella tray. In dining rooms these became cutlery and linen station taking away the functions of silver room.

The bureaus made their formal appearance in 17th C across Europe. These were similar to modern day office desks, with a set of drawers or shuttered cabinets on sides and knee-space in the center. The knee space often had a drawer, or a flat pull out board for writing. Europe bureaus as a writing desk had no knee space, but the top section had a fold-down flap that rested at both edges on sliding vertical supports. The projecting fold-down flap provided sufficient knee space. The fold-down flap covered a set of pigeon holes or micro-sized drawers.


Castle Ward Interior -Classical Palladian Library for J5749 >© Copyright Suzanne Mischyshyn and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

Design and construction of bureaus was considered a challenge for furniture makers of the times. But as the time progressed designs became lighter, hardware superior and finishing techniques elaborate. The nominal inclined top was replaced with an accordion like folding flaps, or a curved tambour top. By 19th C it essentially became either delicate feminine furniture or robust commercial-use facility.

Dining room cabinet

Shelved storage systems were used for storing scrolls, manuscripts and arms. These were mostly open systems, to permit aeration and in colder climates prevent water condensation, but the same need some enclosure in other climates. The enclosure was provided to the entire room containing such shelves, rather then group of shelves. Almirahs were used where storage requirements of smaller volume. Shelving storage systems were in built niches or alcoves and formed within panelling system. From later part of 18th C it became fashionable to stock famous books in tea-coffee rooms, drawing rooms. Real and false libraries (with slices of books spines) were created as part of room panelling design. With availability of good quality of glass in late 19th C these were covered with wood framed glass shutters.


slotted angle shelving Industrial warehousing


The industrial revolution period saw streamlining of production processes. These required huge warehousing systems for raw materials and finished products. New storage devices such as steel-angle racks, steel almirahs, file cabinets, index card drawers, were now available.




Post 466 –by Gautam Shah



Design of a Storage is an age-old exercise, and one intuitively puts together a system, that works. We do not need to analyze the format, process, and the management of storing. Problems arise when one is required to design massive traditional storage systems like warehousing, ship-container yard, multi-storied automated parking lot, research laboratory special environment storage facilities, granaries, food silos, open mine dump stacks, underground hideouts, water, gas and oil storage yards and nuclear spent fuel depositories. Massive storage systems of new order are required for dedicated and distributed data storage. Computer servers with electronic chip-based data system will need to be replaced with radically different systems. Future storage systems will be technology-specific such as cryogenic temperature, zero gravity, high pressure systems, continuous motion, energy storage devices, and sub-nano matter devices.




A storage system is required for several reasons. One of the main reasons is to stock enough quantity so that processing or consuming systems operate continuously. At simplest level grains, condiments and fuels are stored in homes, for their supplies are seasonal. Pickles and other items are stored to mature them over a period. To start a construction sufficient materials must be amassed so that it can be completed in one-go and a season. Storage systems are required to manage the excessive supplies. Storage systems are required till a method can be had for the disposal of certain items.


The need for storage system is checked in terms of estate space. If one can reduce the volume of stored things, it translates into efficiency. The redundant volume is occupied by things, such as contaminants, skins, seeds, covers, packing materials, air, moisture and inter-spaces. The Volume is taken by unoccupied storage space or spare capacities. In library type of racks and pigeon hole devices, spare volumetric capacity is provided for visual identity and functional segregation. In some storage systems such as drawers, water tanks, cupboards, it is not possible to utilize 100% storage provisions.



Storage is matter of area or floor space utilization. Particles such as minerals can be heaped according to the angle of repose (a natural angle of a heap slope). Dry and Round particles have little cohesion, so very low angle of repose, requiring greater spread area, or some form of containment. Area requirements increase when things can be stacked for the bearing capacity of an individual unit. Wider or lower height stacking increases the floor spread. Typically Silk and Organza garments and fruits cannot be stacked too high. Storage area and volume must allow movement of air for ventilation of gases and moisture.


Library Shelf

Retrieval systems of storage are of many different types. Traditional method is sequential access (first stored, last to be retrieved) and a random access (allowing any item to be retrieved). Between these two there are many intermediate solutions. A library like stack system or wardrobe hanger storage allows both. Random access systems became popular with electronic storage devices. The storage units are of fixed size and are dynamically tagged these are stored and shifted. Shifting is done by de-fragmentation utility to make access sequential by physical contiguity. Modern libraries often combined traditional sequential access system with digital random search access system. Books or articles are stored sequentially in terms of arrival, but can be located by digital search, that provides its rack or cupboard and shelf position. Bar codes and digital tracers help such location-finding.


Storage requirements and the necessary effort in search can be reduced if inventories are reduced. Large automobile manufacturers and Departmental store chains have on-line digital storage ledgers. These are accessible to all their suppliers, who keep a check on it as to what are optimum inventory needs. Supplies are timed. If things required for home consumption are available and delivered as and when needed, the home storage requirement becomes very small. At International Forward marketeers keep a watch on commodities production or processing capacities, price viability, floating stocks, and duration of transport or delivery. These not only reduce the need to store, but leads to economic equalization.




Post 419 – by Gautam Shah 



Storage has the largest space occupation in buildings for human inhabitation. Since Industrial Revolution period this has been gradually diminishing in terms of volumes and scale of relevance. The reduced storage needs are more pronounced in highly urbanized settings, than in rural or scattered settlements. Storage needs are affected by several factors. Wherever supply and disposal systems are efficient, the need for storage becomes less intense. Similarly availability of ready to use items reduce the need to store high volume raw materials and tools-equipments of conversions.

Storage room, Palace of Knossos > Wikipedia image by Olaf Tausch

Stored things reflect affluence, discerning nature of the owner, and the skill of organization. The act of storing is very purposive, so provides an impetus to some form of organization of built spaces. That is why once it was believed that storage spaces make bare spaces worthy of living. Storage allows one to conduct life at a rational pace. A building with well-organized storage is a domesticated entity compared to very vast left out universe, whose order is unknown and is beyond control.

Kutchh Bhunga house storage from > from

Things are generally stored with perception that these are items of wealth and their value will be greater when retrieved. The increment in value may be due to sheer act of containment (locational massing), ageing (maturing, ripening), organization or orderliness induced through the act of storing, and art or technique of retrieval. Like all wealth, the values of stored things change with time, and this change may not add to the wealth.

Storage systems are required for domestic, commercial, administrative and industrial purposes. At all levels we also need to store means, storage mediums and containers, gadgets for conversion, tools of measurements, utilities for handling and transportation. In other words we store edibles, fuels, clothing, records, stocks, parts, components, products, wastes and effluents. Things we store include not only physical, static and non static things, but biologically live beings (pets) and non-physical things like ideas, concepts, feelings, experiences and thoughts.


Palatalized storage system Wikipedia Image by Patsy Lynch

Societies have endowed special importance to things worthy of possession and their display. These could be utensils, crockery, clothes, handicrafts, bags, containers, sanduks (trunks), pataras, gadgets, tools, armaments, trophies, prizes, certificates, photographs, paintings, sculptures, antiques, jewellery and stuffed animals. Storing is also called archiving.

Spices – condiments storage for merchandising different from stocking

Stored things are affected by external environment (atmosphere), internal constituents (such as moisture, bacterial activity) and forces like gravity, magnetic and other energies. Stored things are affected by adjacent things and overburden. Stored items change with age, which is either discouraged or supported. Stored items. Design of storage system must include these parameters.


Things to be stored are static or less mobile and can be stored without being ‘contained’, but things like gases, particulate matters, liquids, need to be contained. Very large number of small things or boxed or pelletized for easier handling and often for isolation. Design of storage items like crockery, cutlery, jewellery, toys, make-up things, handkerchiefs, socks, medicines are better if stored in containers. Office documents and papers are filed, and files placed in storage units. Containment is necessary for mass transportation, bulk handling, high density packing, and to reduce the amount of air space within the bulk. Containers’ design in terms of shape and size needs to be modulated, so that stacking, massing and handling becomes easier. ISO Modulor coordination system helps in pallet design of such systems. For example cement bags are 3×2=6 a layer cross placed stacks.


Stacked  Parking New York Wikipedia image by Jerome

There are many exclusive storage structures such as Petroleum tanks, Reservoirs, Septic tanks, Granaries or silos, Settling ponds, Jails, Auditoriums, Concentration camps, Detention camps, Sheep yards, and Balloons. Ships, Trucks, Railway wagons, Aeroplanes are storage transport systems.

Rip Rap stack

Particulate building materials in loose form need to be stored at angles lower then their angle of repose (angle of slide). Things uniform in size and shape can be stored in stacks. Stacking and heaping system of storing, both have size limitations. In stacked things, items placed at the bottom are not only difficult to retrieve, but there is an overloading burden on them. Such a burden may cause changes in stored things.

storage box or Patara

Interior designers need to be aware that Shirts or clothes, when overburdened, show unwanted creases. Woollen pullovers and suits, when overburdened, loose their fluffy character and look flat or dead. Silk fabric items miss their tenderness, while rayons get a permanent press. Over heaped cement bags get a false set. Overburdened soils over a period turn into a rock like structure. Overburdening affects retrieval, and can be avoided by good design. Things stored in a library book shelf pattern can be retrieved, irrespective of order of storage, but heaped or stacked things can be retrieved as ‘first stored – removable last’.


Conditioning of Environment of storage areas is very important. Integrated storage areas with toilets allow breeding of mosquitoes due to presence of moisture. Similarly in dry edible items like food grains, condiments are best stored at low humidity and at slightly lower temperature than average. Wet or moist foods and cooked foods need a temperature lower than one that discourages bacterial growth that below 4° C.




Post 207 –by Gautam Shah



Like all human activities the act of storing is very purposive, so provides an impetus to some form of organization. Stored things are far more organized than a very vast left out things where the order is unknown and is beyond control. Storage organization is a very natural way of learning. It teaches us planning, forecasting and thrift in managing the resources. Storage technologies offer as much innovations as procurement (mining and agriculture) and production methods.


Modern Ware House with pallet rack system > Wikipedia image by Axisadman

Storing is an instinctive activity with many other types of beings. Things are stored with a clear concept that these will be useful in future. The future is lean season or time of crisis. Things are stored for food, proliferation, building a nest or habitat and defence.


There are many different types of storage units within our body, such as the kidneys, glands, levers, muscles, stomach, etc. Animals and insects store food for periods of hibernation and for their progeny. Other external storage systems include tanks, chemical vessels, balloons reservoirs, septic tanks, granaries or silos, settling ponds. Isolation units like jails, concentration camps, detention camps, animal yards are also storage entities. Atmosphere is a very vast and almost infinite storage unit of energy, dusts particles, radiation, moisture, gases etc. Solid walls and wool garments are capable of storing heat so function as storage unit. Most material objects store kinetic energy in proportion of their mass. Fusion energy within particle bonds is a storage system. Ships, Transport containers, Railway wagons, Submarines, Aeroplanes are transportable storage systems.


Storage Bins and Baskets > Flickr image by AngryJulieMonday

Human storage activities have turned from intuitive to intentional pursuit. We plan for things to be stored, their mode of retrieval and processes that may occur during the storage. Things are stored with perception that these are items of wealth and their value will be greater when retrieved. The increment in value may be due to sheer act of containment (locational massing), ageing (maturing, ripening), organization or orderliness induced through the act of storing, and art or technique of retrieval. Like all wealth, the value of stored things may appreciate or depreciate.


Traditional Rural Indian Dwelling Storage

Societies endow special importance to certain commodities, as worthy of possession and display. These could be, utensils, crockery, clothes, handicrafts, bags, containers, cabinets, gadgets, tools, armaments, trophies, prizes, certificates, photographs, paintings, sculptures, antiques, jewellery, stuffed animals, or live pets. Storing is also called archiving. In archives generally documents and antiques are stored, preserved, restored and retrieved.


Things need to be stored when we wish to condition their state. The method of storage and duration, both are conceived for controlled modifications. Stored things are affected by the bio-activities and the environment (atmosphere) but by gravity, magnetic and other energies. Stored things are affected by the containers’ material, shape, size, adjacent things and over-burden.


Storage Pantry > Wikipedia image by Downtowngal

Things are also stored to isolate them, because an encounter with them is likely to be hazardous or inclement to the well being of people or environment. Things are also stored or dumped when one does not know what to do with the items, or because economically it is not viable to ‘store’ (organize, rationalize) them. Dumped things have no perceptible value, but there is an expectation that dumped things will degenerate to nothingness, or a better technique or suitable opportunity of dealing with them may become available in future.