Post 42 by Gautam Shah  (Blog 12 in Lecture Series Space and Human Behaviour)


Spaces are multitasking facilities. Spaces have varied segments and environmentally transient locations to allow different activities. The activities 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. A space becomes dynamic when it offers new possibilities for conducting tasks experiencing. Group behaviour patterns refresh interest in the location.

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Key Maker > Pexels Image by Caio (https://static.pexels.com/photos/64609/pexels-photo-64609.jpg)

Task Location: Tasks stay put at a location for many different reasons. Tasks utilize fixed structures, amenities, facilities and consistent environmental conditions productively. Some tasks are well practised (routine), require less attention, and so allow more time for interactions with others and passive observance of other tasks. Locations where tasks are conducted consistently in the same time-space segments, evolve with many enrichments. Such locations, become marked-out (named) spaces and architecturally well defined units (bathing area, hay chopping area, etc.). Tasks depending on environmental conditions at a location cannot be shifted, as the combination of spatial qualities and environmental conditions are difficult to get elsewhere. Tasks occurring within a built-form have well-customized environment, reducing the need to shift a task, compared to tasks in exterior areas that are dependent on climatic factors.

Chair Lattice 640px-India_-_Delhi_old_man_-_5053
Chair Lattice work (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c6/India_-_Delhi_old_man_-_5053.jpg/640px-India_-_Delhi_old_man_-_5053.jpg) (Wikipedia image by Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Task Anchorage: Tasks are attached to entities like: space forms, environmental conditions, structures, amenities, facilities, utilities and other enrichments. Some tasks happen where chances of intra-personal interactions are better. Tasks occur at places from where some degree of command over a larger domain can be enforced.

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Japanese woman weaver > ART by Toyohara Chikanobu (1838-1912)

Amenities are attached to architectonic elements and are relocatable, Facilities are integrated architectural configurations and are mostly fixed but sometimes demountable, Utilities are nearly independent or stand-alone system and are replaceable, and Enrichments do not have any apparent functionality but add specific character or interest to the space.

Papad making by Group, India (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikimedia/commons/thumb/6/6f/papad_made_of_finger_millet_%28Eleusine_corcana%29.jpg) Wikipedia image by Corps for the future

Task Orientation: Tasks are mainly positioned towards advantageous environmental resources such as illumination, wind direction, etc. Tasks are oriented to amenities and facilities, architectonic elements and to other people. Some tasks have sanctimonious associations and so are oriented to specific directions (like Mecca, East-Sun). Tasks are directed towards exteriors through 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.

Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant
Nuclear Plant Task management console > (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Kozloduy_Nuclear_Power_Plant_Control_Room_of_units_3_and_4.jpg) Wikipedia image by Yovko Lambrev

Task Shifting: Task shifting is both a necessity and reflection of inadequacy of the current location. In built-forms where environment is well conditioned, the need to shift a task is less severe compared to tasks that are dependent on climatic factors. Task handling efficiency derives when wait for the right occasion or search for the right location is minimal. 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. Tasks extremely dependent on fixed amenities for productivity cannot be shifted. However, sub-tasks dependent on multiple processes needs to shift around wherever these are available.


Pexels image by Mike > https://www.pexels.com/photo/gray-scale-photo-of-car-factory-188710/

Tasks are shifted for the sake of variety of experience and intra-personal encounters a new location offers. Such shifts in space and switches in time often occur to relieve the tedium and for the sake of experimentation. Tasks are mostly positioned (and shifted around) within the same space segment and scheduled (and switched around) in the same time section. In single room houses, tents and non-formal work areas (like rural craft workshops), tasks’ timings and their spread requirements are well matched.


Milkman looking out > https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e8/India_-_Kolkata_milkman_-_4090.jpg/640px-India_-_Kolkata_milkman_-_4090.jpg > Wikipedia image by Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC BY-SA 3.0

Tasks and Sensorial Perception: The critical factors are perceptibility, legibility and recognition. The ability to perceive (see, touch, smell, listen, etc.) is one of the most important requirements of task handling. Tasks if clearly legible reduce the reach distance necessary to manage it. Task Recognition helps in the location finding, schedule management and exploiting the environmental conditions. Tasks are better managed in a continuous sequence. The sequence optimizes the postural change, site shifting, usage of amenities and facilities by multiple members, exploits the environmental advantages, adjusts the intense work and rest periods.

Savile Row tailoring at Henry poole & Co. London, England 1944 > (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e2/Savile_Row_Tailoring_at_Henry_Poole_and_Co %2C_London%2C_England%2C_UK%2c_1944_D21864.jpg)

Types of Tasks: 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.

Three types of Tasks:

  1.   Routine Tasks,
  2.   Casual Tasks,
  3.    Sequential Tasks.

1 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 patterns. 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 are consistent, and evolve with personalization such as enrichments. Such locations, because of their consistency and permanency, become architecturally marked spaces (such as the 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.

Farmers in the fields > Pixabay image by sarangib > https://pixabay.com/en/paddy-harvest-rice-workers-207933

2 Casual tasks are tactical solutions. Casual tasks are ‘once in a while process’. The exigency is to accomplish the task in with whatever location 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 patterns and intra-personal relationships.

NASA Assembly by Batch PIA04848-800x600

Lander petals of the Mars Exploration Rover 2 > https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA04848 > Image Credits NASA/JPL/KSC

3 Sequential tasks result from continuous work processes between equipments and 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 streamline 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 are used with robotic automobile assembly lines. Streamlined production plants like garments, electronics, consumer white goods recognize working of each task and the interim carryover periods and spaces.

Volkswagen Assembly Line > Wikipedia image by Roger Wollstadt

Task Productivity: It 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. Consistency and Variety 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.

Learning and Improvisations > Our_Community_Place_Sandbox > Wikipedia image by Artaxerxes

Physical Reach and Physical Capacities: These two, in a way also determine the dependence on tools, equipments, structures, amenities, facilities for carrying out tasks. These also define the number of sub-tasks or processes that can be handled without requiring shifting or rescheduling. Physical reach and capacities are governed by the posture taken for the task.

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Centralized Work Station

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: The tasks and group behaviour are inseparable. Socially siting and scheduling of tasks affects the group behaviour pattern. 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. Intra-personal interactions, even if nonverbal, act as a relief in task handling. Intra-personal activities are more apparent in craft related tasks.

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Beer sharing ART by Francois Louis Jaques (1877-1937)

Bhunga houses (of Kutchh, Gujarat, India) 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.

Hand Loom India Worker Weaving Rural Worker Loom
Coir Fiber Loom Worker India > http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Hand-Loom-India-Worker-Weaving-Rural-Worker-Loom-285220

Physiological Determinants of Tasks: Physiological determinants relate to biological needs of the users. Major concerns are safety, health and comfort. Other concerns include anthropometrics, ergonomics, stability, mobility, consistency and variety. Factors such as recognition, productivity, energy-conservation, ecological engagements, learning, customs taboos, etc. are not physiological but operate concurrently.

Workshop in spite of the built-form offers several option of environment, orientation, location shifting and time scheduling for Tasks > Pexels image (107953) by Unsplash


This is the TWELFTH lecture in the series Space and Human Behaviour for Winter semester, 2017, at Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India.



Post 41 by Gautam Shah (Blog 11  in Lecture Series Space and Human Behaviour)


Habitable  spaces are substantially real and physical, but could also have features that transcend the reality. Such conditions occur because human cognition, sometimes functions ambiguously. Ambiguities in cognitive processes arise due to the past experiences, expectations and the context. Past experiences seamlessly converge the existing. Expectations pre-empt the happening and colour it. The Context is a manifold reference made up not only of the existing but expectations and experiences.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt > Cyborg at En Wikipediaby (https:/upload.wikipedia.org/wikimedia/commons/thumb/b/beIndiana_Jones_Spectacular.jpg)

 ● Past experiences: Past experiences have very thin spatial connections and fade out in time reference, creating indistinct recollection. And reality is shrouded in mixed layers.

Expectations: Do not allow one to perceive the reality. Expectations have perhaps a rational base but not as dreams.

Context: If environmental, is an ever-changing phenomenon. The fixed contexts provided by physical objects or the beings have personal relevance. Physical objects in abnormal sizes, scales and distortions like the grotesque forms disturb that placidity, at least initially.

The apotheosis of St. Ignactius at church of St Ignazio > ART by Andra Pozzo (1642-1709) Pozzo dissolved the architectural elements of the nave’s barrel vault while coordinating the storyboard. (Flickr Image by http://flickr.com/photos/antmoose/62278449/Anthony Majanlahti)

The ambiguities in cognitive processes also arise as the Time and Space that separate most elements as unique event gets mixed up to produce incoherent and surprising effects. The elements nominally separated in time and space, are ‘virtually’ juxtaposed in a make-believe world.

Smoke of a .45 ART by Charles M Russel (1864-1925) Wikipedia Image

Time is seen as a measure of change, and Space is perceived for its consistency (or even lack of it) over a time. Primitive man, watching a star and noting its almost intangible movement in the sky, or watching own-self getting old, were percepts in time and space. To note the difference, however, two such distinct frames must be juxtaposed. In case of stars, the images were shrouded in known forms such as animals, humans or objects, to record the change. The ageing process had to be realized as own image, rather then being told. First image perception of own-self in the still water or over a glossy surface was not magical for the ‘other being there’, but for the perplexity of left and right getting reversed.

Spada Gallery Articulated Space for Reality Corridor
Sprada Gallery > Wikipedia image by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta
Section of Sprada Gallery Rome, Wikipedia image by Anamorphose
Plan of Sprada Gallery > Wikipedia image by Anamorphose at French Wikipedia

Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they appear or be imagined. Its physical form is perceived and interpreted by every individual differently due to the mental filters created with the beliefs and experiences. In this sense reality is an extremely personal domain. The Reality, is often differentiated from what is imaginary, unreal, or delusional, such as the dreams, falsehood, fictional, or abstract. Various philosophers have distinguished the reality from the things that are imaginable (but not real).

Battle for Lanka -a scene from Ramayana drawn by Sahibdin 17C > Wikipedia Image

A thing that can be imagined and expressed such as in painting, sculpture, dance, drama, literature, forma of crystals shadows, reflection in water, or movement of a star, are all real. Though to express the unreal or dream, people have created ‘unnerving and illogical scenes’, strange creatures, grotesque forms, and queer built-spaces. Here the ‘truth’ is stripped or morphed out of the normal significance.

Troll Scandinavia
A ‘Troll’ a class of beings in Norse mythology and Scandinavian Folklore > Wikipedia Image

When the real and unreal transcend, there is sense of ‘Avidya’ (lack of knowledge), a Maya as the cause of illusion. Avidya includes confusing the mundane reality to be the only reality, and believing it as a permanent feature, though it is ever changing. The effect of Avidya is to suppress the real nature of things and perceive something else in its place. The unreal is unexplained till it can be recreated, and it becomes real. It is ignorance or misunderstanding of the nature of reality.

The persistence of Memory By Salvador Dali > creating own reality


Make-believe represents an experience created without the full support of the original conditions, such as environment, space configuration, materials or psychological make-up of the observer. A make believe is virtually (nearly) real, but loses its novelty once multiple exposures robe the stunning effect. Such effects though are very productive tools operating with small spread and quick delivery.

Drama stage set in Ostankino Palace > Wikipedia image by Shakko

Make-believe situations manifest everywhere, magical impact of a powerful representation in painting, a captivating form of sculpture, a transparent glass bead or stone crystals, a shadow or black colour hiding a detail. Mahabharat, the classical epic of India discusses of a palace of contradictions, a solid floor looked like water.

Human cognitive capacities combined with specific reach tools, help of the mental processes, and some drugs (hallucinogenic) sense unreal conditions. This occurs due to the ‘ethereal spread of the space and dispersion of time’. Similar unreal conditions and extra ordinary feats also occur under extreme stress situations. An individual instinctively looks for the triggers that caused it.

Between the real and make believe (or virtually real) there has always been something extra, the superfluous. It is an ‘applique decoration’, carrying its own meaning. It is intended to counter the routine or ordinary. Sir John Summerson, the architectural historian calls it ‘surface modulation’, which Architecture had, with some difficulty, liberated itself from ornament, but it has not liberated itself from the fear of ornament’. Superfluous and ornamentation have been explored as space making elements and for manipulation of the reality. The superfluous and ornamentation both have been means for camouflage. If the superfluous were applique, the ornamentation is better integrated. But both are visually very static and have too much metaphorical connection with the past. The shrouded symbolism of the former, and with the later the contempt for the un-explainable interpretation, led to creation of new space making forms.

Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building Chicago > Wikipedia image by Beyond My Ken

Justifications, for the new space making forms were many: Relief from history, cultural corroboration, terrestrial bearing reliance of rational geometry, functionality and essentials of structures, and new spatial realizations. The new datum for modernism for architecture and products, was, ‘form follows function, purity of form and truth to materials’. For abstracted arts and crafts had no reliance on functionality or the materials, and confusion continued through the cubism, surrealism and Dadaism, etc. The process of ‘de-ornamentation’ in post industrial period, allowed much needed exposure for aspects like geometry, functional, structural, and spatial definitions.

Deconstructivism at Dresden Kristallpalast-nigh > Wikipedia Image by Kolossos

Deconstructionists attempted to move away from such constricting or conformist environment. They compromised the geometry of form by abrogating the functional, structural, and spatial aspects of construction. This was first in literature but soon architecture and performing arts joined in. But in architecture one still had to deliver a building standing with the gravity and other forces and in literature and other arts it had to be a deliverable product or a recognizable entity. So in spite of running away, they remained anchored to reality. It also now accepted that ‘not everything that looks odd or abstract is deconstructionism’. The platform beyond deconstructionism had to wait the arrival of the computer to ‘conceive-plan-detail and visualize’ the complex sensorial forms.

The sensorial means of expression are dominantly of visual nature. Computers mediated, realities have been of visual perception, and to a very small extent of touch and aural experience. Some day the virtual reality will also include sensorial experiences, like smell.

Kathakali Dance of India, Wikipedia image by Joseph Lazer

Virtual reality is distinguished from the experience of actuality that occurs with or without the physical setting. Participants are never in doubt about the enactment and experiences of it. Historically VR applications in arts, crafts, performing arts, literature and architecture, have been sensory supplements for enhancing the experience. The explanatory or verbal support, dialogue delivery, musical effects, variation of illumination, metred recitations, drawn backdrops have been traditional virtual means.

Designers supplement design experience with catalogues, charts, samples and parallel experiences > Pixabay Image by pozytywnewnetrza

Interior Designers talk of materials’ feel with samples. The tactile experience of the carpet, curtain or stone floor still lacks the real spatial feel. Here the designer has to resort to parallels of experiences. Some advanced, haptic systems now include tactile information, generally known as force feedback in medical, gaming and military applications. There are no tools to provide the audio experience of the designed space, such as the drawing room, auditorium, corridor or lounge.

Some of the Virtual artifacts include: Toilet seats, treadmills, gaming devices like mouse, wired gloves, artificial limbs, spectacles, hearing devices, simulators for training, air port landing systems, synthetic cornea, robots and robotic pets, remote surgical tools and drones. Intelligent homes (such as one by Bill Gates) include such artifacts.

The computer-aided tools augment the virtuality of the reality. These simultaneously offer the reality and augmented virtuality. One never knows which facet is being perceived impressionistically by the client. Such simulated reality by computer, are indistinguishable from the ‘true’ reality, and may in future may use hyper tools to directly affect the sub conscious mind.

Computer generated reality > Wikipedia Image by Gilles Tran

Simulated reality, by contrast, would be affecting the mind where it needs to be impressed. In brain-computer interfaces, data is exchanged and impression is implanted. A ‘person to brain interface’ helps in executing the tasks by getting around the conscious blocks, such as the phobias, fear of public speaking, inhibitions, and vagaries of awareness and consciousness. The Matrix movies feature an intermingled type of simulation, of human minds and sentient software programmes that govern various aspects of the computed realm.

The real and the virtual, overlap as the augmented reality. Here the real is augmented by the virtual, and the virtual is proffered by selective (and confirming) portions of the real. Such augmented virtuality has no seams of real or unreal. The perception process is often reinforced with psychological support. Clients unconvinced by a presentation are confirmed with persuasive talk.

Augmented reality for objects on display in museums > Wikipedia image by Kippelboy

Nominally augmentation occurs in real-time, and in one of the two basic frames, the context is rational or literal. It has till now a distinctive identity, where the additional information about the environment and its objects is overlaid or under-laid with reference to the base frame. But this differentiation is likely to diminish in near future. The augmented reality is going a step further by including zoom-in and out effects to show respectively details and overall perspective views. This is further augmented by use of wider scope and panoramic views. The usual experience with glass-based lenses, of the differential clarity between foreground and background can be eliminated with use of charged couple devices.

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Reality and mediated reality are often indistinguishable > Rescue work for sunken battleship USS West Virginia > Wikipedia image

Artificial Reality (AR) is considered as something that is indistinguishable from reality. It is so because the means are subtle or process is obvious. Simulated reality manifests through the means or tools of simulation. The tools created an environment of limited spread and duration, within which setting an adjusted realm is evident. One may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. Augmented reality (AR also called a mediated reality) is a physical and real-world environment whose components are added upon by other input of sensorial nature to enhance their effects. These could be additional information like charts, maps, enlargements, compression, alternative views, colour filtering or masking. All these are mainly visual effects. Augmented reality could have other sensorial effects, such as enhanced haptic reality (touch related). It is used for vibrating alert in a cell phone, blood pressure measuring instrument to sense the blood flow through a vein and also the pulse rate, in remote sales outlets to let a customer gets the feel of material or product.

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Phantom sounds -augmented reality

Augmented reality (mainly with digital media) has its origins as early as the 1950s, and has progressed with virtual reality since then, but it’s most significant advanced have been since the mid 1990s. In earlier days the play was interpreted by the interpreter or Sutradhar (conductor in Sanskrit). It could be simplistic language translation, elaboration of complex philosophical content, or bridging of time elements. These interventions augmented the reality being enacted, by compacting the time-space. In the bi-scope or silent movie era, the story and music were played live. Foreign language movies, TV plays, programmes and presentations, carry sub titles for translated dialogues or audio, video and textual augmentative effects.

Bill Boards -augmented reality > Wikipedia image by Fransisco Diez from New Jersey USA

Non geographic communities on Internet, like Face book, Tweeter, Linked-in, etc. are examples of virtual societies. The interpersonal relationships that occur here are not in a physical space or environment, and the participant at the prime end is a human being but at the other end could also be ‘unreal’ like a robotic computer. Behaviour interpreters that can perceive expression, through speech, use of language structures, facial gestures, micro changes in postures, blood pressure, muscle and joint movements, will be a step beyond the current state of telephony.

Street Museum App on Cheapside
Time Space seamless exchange > Street Museum App on Cheapside Flickr Image by Alan Levine

Variety of devices, such as mobiles, i-pads, computers, wrist watches, etc. use computer-generated sounds, graphics or video clips for additional information about products, spaces and places. Currently these are the compilations as offered by the device manufacturer, or application providers. Many of these manifest as customized offers, but none recognizes the changing needs or moods. Artificial intelligence will automatically figure out the behaviour of the subject (the user), and accordingly augment the experience of reality.


This is the ELEVENTH lecture in the series Space and Human Behaviour for Winter semester, 2017, at Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India.