Post 594 –by Gautam Shah (14 of 16 Behaviour in Spaces)
Spaces are multitasking facilities. Spaces have varied segments and environmentally transient locations to allow different activities to converge and separate in time and locations. A task is an identifiable work-lot for productive effort, relaxation or passing engagement. It is a work module that requires an area, specific environmental conditions, certain physiological capacities, few postural variations, set of tools and amenities, intra-personal facilitation, psychological makeup, intent and motivation. Other concerns for conducting tasks are safety, health, comfort, stability, mobility, consistency, variety, physical reach, cognition, sense of productivity, energy-conservation, ecological engagements, learning and cultural inhibitions.
Shoe maker Karachi Pakistan > Wikipedia image
Task Recognition makes way for efficiency and productivity. Tasks need to be recognized in terms of the location, schedule and environmental conditions. Tasks are better managed, if perceived as a part of routine and sequence. The routine recognizes common factors between tasks, casual tasks are once in a while endeavour, whereas sequential tasks optimize the postural change, site shifting, usage of amenities and facilities by participating members, and adjust intense work and rest periods.
Removal of wool from skins and combing Art by Issac Claesz van Swanenburg (1537-1614)
Routine tasks are associated with the same location, time schedule, fixed structures, amenities, facilities and environmental conditions. Routine tasks are also very dependent on group behaviour dynamics. Routine tasks require very little shifting or rescheduling and so are very productive. The location is maintained because the space segment, with some consistent qualities can expand and contract to meet the occasional needs of the individual or group. Locations for routine tasks being consistent evolve with a lot of personalization such as enrichments. Such locations, because of their consistency and permanency, become the marked spaces or architectural units (bathing area, hay chopping area, etc.). Routine tasks with acute time domination cannot generally afford the luxury of space shifting, because identical environmental conditions are difficult to set elsewhere.
Casual tasks are tactical solutions rather results of any strategic planning. Casual tasks are ‘once in a while process’. The exigency is to accomplish the task in with whatever locational conditions, and as quickly as possible. Casual tasks overcome the shortcomings of the space size, form, environmental conditions, and problems with group behaviour dynamics. Casual tasks are ‘exciting’ as these open-up new possibilities of space and time management. Casual tasks also generate new group behaviour dynamics and intra-personal relationships.
Peasants harvesting crops Art by Pieter Brueghel 17 C Wikipedia image
Sequential tasks result from continuous work processes between equipments or participants, or both. Sequencing is required where the work steps are preceding-anteceding or back-feed or forward-feed are required. These can happen with batch or stream-line production processes. For example for cooking an efficient work triangulation is proposed, the nodes consist of basic amenities like cooking, sink and refrigerator (could change with culture and technology) and the connections denote the preparation, defrosting and storing, respectively. Similar task management techniques with robots are used for automobile assembly lines. Streamlined production plants like garments, electronics, consumer white goods recognize working of each task and the interim carryover periods and spaces.
Fixed facility / Machine shop workstation > Wikipedia image by Rob NREC
Consistency and Variety are required in task handling. It can be achieved by doing a different task, or the same task differently. For these tasks are set in different spatial and environmental conditions and often with new intra-personal setting.
Task Productivity is greatly affected by the work setting formed by the space and environment. Wherever and whenever there is realization that task productivity is not of the comparative societal standards, the space is reformatted to realign the amenities, facilities and architectonic elements. Here at one end the functional efficiencies are re-validated, and at the other end environmental controls are reset. New group dynamics of intra-personal relationships also upgrade the productivity.
Learning and improvising > Wikipedia image by Artaxerxes
Learning and Improvisations are inevitable part of task handling. Tasks’ spread, effort and time of accomplishment are continuously appraised requiring minor changes in the processes. By rationalizing task spreads one reduces the physical energy of reach. Re-planning of efforts cut the number of processes. Time management achieves faster delivery. Oft repeated tasks is always the most improvised one.
Physical Reach and Physical Capacities define the number of sub-tasks or processes that can be handled without requiring shifting or rescheduling. These two, in a way also determine the dependence on tools, equipments, structures, amenities, facilities for carrying out tasks. Physical reach and capacities are governed by the posture taken for the task.
Housewives have accepted platform type of kitchen over floor level cooking in a crouching position because the later was restrictive. A corner study table allows greater reach then a straight table. An aged person prefers a straight seat with handles as it allows an easy rise up off the chair.
Social Factors operate at two levels: Group behaviour dynamics and the traditions, taboos, etc. Intra-personal interactions, even if nonverbal, act as a relief in task handling. Socially siting and scheduling of tasks affects the group behaviour dynamics. The tasks and group behaviour are inseparable. Customs and taboos result from the local perceptions and experiences, and so same tasks could have different time and space setting (ethnic variations) across societies. These are more apparent in craft related tasks.
Stability and Mobility related to transient positions and postures. Architectural features, facilities, tools and equipment and other participants are used for these purposes. Mobility is required to change the orientation, position and work-ability, which in interim processes in oft-repeated tasks.
Task attachment or anchorage results from need for personal support and stability and dependence on entities like: space forms, environmental conditions, structures, amenities, facilities and enrichments.
Bhunga houses have door thresholds as the commandeering location. Huts and one room house use inside front-corner for cooking because from the door an outsider would not see what is being cooked. Kitchens have platforms (or centralized work stations) attached to the wall for accessing services. Some tasks have sanctimonious associations and so are oriented to specific directions (like Mecca, East-Sun). One of the most preferred of orientations, are the openings’ systems like door, window, or a gap, because it extends the vision and allows to command further. Orientation is a biological preference as well as cultural conditioning and accordingly people prefer left or right turning.
Tasks extremely dependent on fixed amenities cannot be shifted, however, sub-tasks dependent on multiple processes needs to shift around wherever these are available. Tasks that require different space spreads for various processes and may need re-siting. Task handling efficiency derives when wait for the right occasion or search for the right location is minimal. Tasks are nominally positioned (and shifted around) within the same space segment and scheduled (and switched around) in the same time section. But some tasks are ‘shifted to other space segments or deferred in time’. Such shifts in space and switches in time occur primarily for functional needs, but often to relieve the tedium and for experimentation. Tasks are also switched to different schedules and locations to develop new intra-personal equations or group behaviour mechanisms. Tasks, which flourish within groups, may ignore time and space convenience.
This post forms 14 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.