MULTI NODAL PERCEPTIONS of OBJECTS in SPACE

Post 49 –by Gautam Shah

(Lecture series: Space Perception -Article-IV of 15)

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Our experience of the world, is based substantially on the input of sensory information. It is a personal process. But we also learn from others about such experiences, accept it, or reconfirm that through our own encounters. It ultimately builds a large repertoire of experiences. We, are continuously exposed to several of stimuli, but remember or retain only few of them. We broadly distinguish our awareness about things and happenings around us, as focus or on margins. Perhaps, our repertoire of experiences helps to decide what is to be in focus and margin.

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`Perception may be regarded as primarily the modification of anticipation’ (Art & Vision: E H Gombrich). We perceive objects and environment in space by selectively assessing or blocking the stimuli, in a process called cognition. It is mental acquisition of knowledge through the sensorial faculties. Human cognition is intuitive and conscious. It includes, remembering, forming associations, conceptualizing, and order recognition.

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Perceptual organization occurs in many different ways, like:

  1. Things, if nearer, are perceived best.
  2. Things that have distinctive clarity due to environmental support are well perceived.
  3. Things that lie in the direction of the perception node are better sensed.
  4. Things that are in the foreground and not shrouded by other elements or effects, are easy to register.
  5. Things that have balance, symmetry, equality, pose as an extensive and comprehensive entity and so easy to recognize.
  6. Experiences that are within recognizable time and space segments seem of the same category.
  7. Objects and happenings are comparable as whole or in parts, have some similarities within the perceptual frame, or somewhere back in past experiences.
  8. Things that have continuous form (unbroken or interconnected sub-elements) and contrasting silhouettes (order that ties up several sub-elements) are easy to discern.
  9. Happenings that have distinctive and predictable order of change (directions, rise or depletion of the intensity, rhythm), can be sensed even in highly chaotic condition.
  10. Perception is comprehensive if different nodes of sensorial perception offer a confirming experience, or else doubts persist.

Eye Patches

We continuously shift our attention, even while both, the environment and its cognition manifest. There are several hypotheses to explain how and why we shift the attention. It is said that what we know and, what we expect the thing to be, attract the attention first. Some believe that we process our repertoire of experiences into the core and marginal. Others believe we assess and ignore the less wanted stimuli. These occur asdistributed processing’, at sensorial nodes, possibly at many intermediate places or central-mental level. The process possibly, occurs with individual sensorial faculties. But somehow the sensorial faculties supplement each other. Some type of auto regulation creates the equipoise.

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Nominal five senses of perception relate more to the external stimuli. But organs in the muscles like tendons and joints indicate the position of body-limbs and state of tension in the muscles. Similarly ear fluids make us aware of the balance of the body. The process of supplementing the perception by sensorial faculties is subliminal, but one may learn it when a particular faculty is debilitated or occluded. Vision deficiency enhances the touch and hearing abilities. Taste is supplemented by smell.

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Depth is a measure, perceived through vision, hearing and smell and touch-proximity. The presence of dual (two eyes-ears) or multi-nodal (touch) perceptions define the direction and make the depth measure more accurate. The movement of eyes and ability to focus creates a sense of visual and aural perspective. Here the far-off objects become duller and the intervening distances proportionately change.

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The perception of depth with direction becomes precise with the context of environment. Visual perception includes shadows that tell us about the ‘other’ (concealed) facets of the objects, and direction of the Sun (and so orientation). It also shows the difference between natural and artificial sources of illumination. Effects of surface illumination are visually perceived as change in the tonal intensity and texture. The colour tone and texture, both are also perceived, even from a distance, through surface sensation of hot-cold.

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Aural and smell perceptions also include variations in scales and directions. For aural perception, the echoes, reverberations, change of selective frequencies and transmission channels (ducts, corridors, dome), help to learn about the quality of space. Smell traces get mixed up with others and that shows their path, and mediating elements like air movements.

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Sensorial perceptions occur in many different types of context. The cognitive processes compound that information and also show how to further use it. The context is highly variable, offered by the moment to moment changes and relevant past experiences. The differing contexts provide measure for change, like the intensity, direction and probability. Sensorial perceptions mutually offer the context for any happening. We listen to some thing and turn our eyes to it, focus our eyes to see a detail, smell with deeper breadth, or use fingers, palms or cheeks to feel the temperature-pressure sensations (air, hot-cold).

 

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The most important context is the perception of differentials in movements. Objects, sounds, smells, etc., that are nearer, or moving towards us, indicate rapid changes, but we may not feel the change if the setting is very familiar. Here a lot of pre information maintains perceptual constancy. In case of simultaneous changes across several sensorial perceptions, the cognition may be confused.

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PERCEPTION of SPATIAL FIELDS -ILLUMINATION

 Post 48 –by Gautam Shah  (Lecture series: Space Perception -Article-III of 15)

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The Illumination in a space is fairly consistent due the fairly steady source and predictability of the change. As one moves around a spatial field, things are perceived from different positions and in different contextual conditions. Other important factor that leads to changed perception is the increasing maturity of cognition. With the duration and proximity we learn lot more about the spatial field.

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There are many ways the eyes move. “Our eyes converge as well as diverge” according to the intensity of light and size of the field to be scanned. The fovea region in the retina of the eyes helps in perception movement. In even seemingly non-moving eyes, small jiggling movements, called micro-saccades to occur. The broadest movements occur with gestural movement of eyes and heads and shifting during postures.

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A spatial field has many depths.

Some fields, closer to the position of perception are illuminated with sources under our own control. Here the illumination conditions can be changed at will, or the position of perception shifted around. In both of these cases, the cause-effect has some certainty.

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Fields that are faraway from the position of perception are illuminated with sources under no-one’s control. Here the illumination conditions cannot be altered at will. Shifting the position of perception perhaps changes the contextual conditions, but the illumination component of the scene remains nearly static.

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In very vast natural scapes the contrasts (changes) due to illumination are not highly noticed except in variable cloud cover, or during sunlight refraction at morning-evening periods.A brilliant sunrise, sunset or cloud formation in illuminated distant sky, show very little effect on the perception foreground of landscape’.

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The effects of illumination are more pronounced and under control in restrictive space fields such as the built-forms, interior spaces and neighbourhood extents. Here the changes in contextual conditions accompany the changes in the foreground or components of the scene, so both seem controlled and restrained.

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The ILLUMINANTS

A spatial field is illuminated by natural light as Direct sun light, Sky Component (SC), Reflected Component (RC) of natural light, artificial illumination, and in many urban areas from surroundings’ lights like a street and vehicles. In addition to these sources, we use fluorescence to aid perception.

Fluorescence and phosphorescence are form of luminescence, or the emission of light by a substance that has absorbed light or other electromagnetic radiation.

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The illuminants’ contexts are: strength and direction of source, background and foreground brightness, reflectance from surroundings, colour of light, multiplicity of sources. Other conditions include variability of space, objects and presence of dynamic (moving-vibrating) elements.

Built Space forms are occupied by objects, people and environmental effects but these rarely occur distinctly alone, in any rational form or within a nominal framing reference. The illuminants complicate the scene even if these elements manifest in for a fraction of a moment or remain unvaried for a very long period.

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Single source illuminants are very definitive but complications arise due to the reflectance from many surfaces, directions, strength (brightness) and colour. Such complications are compounded with increasing number of original illuminants. Single illuminant defines a space and its objects in familiar sense, but fail as soon as the position of perception changes. Single illuminant is an irritant if any part of space has flickering movement (eg. Fan, moving curtains). Single illuminants are ideal for ‘object modelling’ as the shapes emerge without any compromises.

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Perception ambiguities and compromises occur when an object or a group of overlapping objects, are lit by nearly same tonal colour value as the background. Indistinct figure-ground contrast, dissolve the edges. We tend to relate larger elements as the ground, over which smaller entities exist.

The objects are seen composition of surfaces that reflect incident light. Besides the variations caused by the angular exposition of surfaces, the surface quality or textures are detected by naked eye (at 0.07 mm). Smaller scale variations affect the gloss of the surface and mirroring effect of the surface. Very large surfaces have possibly no edges or breaks, and so are perceived through local variations of illumination.

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SPATIAL FORM RECOGNITION

Spatial forms are recognized with illumination references such as the proportionate extent of foreground-background, framing, strength of silhouettes, partial occlusion of elements, shading with the differing contrast and direction of the shadows, and diffusion by way of reflection, and refractions.

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Illuminated forms become difficult to recognize when an object curves around out of sight. Such occluding contours dissolve the edge of an object, and present poor silhouette formation. The absence of a well-defined contour renders the surface shapes (such as convex/concave) ambiguous.

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The process of perception is a two-way affair. Position of a person and relative source of illumination are very important consideration for Space Planning. A person trying to project own-self must be aware of the perceiver’s distance, angles of connection, social dependency and postural condition. A strong back illumination, makes it difficult to perceive a chair-person’s features and gestures.

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Position of a person relative to the source of illumination also holds true in conference rooms, executive cabins, reception areas, lecture rooms, press conference rooms, etc. Natural or artificial illumination -as singular source and that too from the backside must be avoided, and if inevitable, reinforce it with lighting from other directions. One of the simplest ways is to envision how the situation manifests from every single position.

The daytime happenings, change considerably at supper time, as the ‘backbite window’ illumination is replaced with artificial lighting. Nominally the situation should stand corrected (if not reversed), but attitudes formed during daytime persist at other times. Shops in business districts are low illuminated because the staff is occupying the space for longer time and so is accustomed to low level (or even to save power), but customer entering from bright outside finds the darkness discouraging.

Side illumination eliminates many of the anomalies of perception and recognition but not all. To create good diffusion, the source for side illumination needs some depth from the occupying position. In small rooms this is rather difficult and requires careful design.

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We are more used to illumination from top. But very strong such sources create under the chin shadows. This can be corrected by illumination from other directions, or from floor and table top reflections. Light colour floors and table tops, needs to be excluded from TV camera shooting angles. This is done by positioning the participants on a raised platform, and cameras at a slightly lower level then the table tops.

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This is the III article (of intended 15) in series ‘Space Perception‘ that will form a course of One semester.

 

STRATIFICATION of VISION

Post 47  –by Gautam Shah   (Lecture series: Space Perception’ -Article-II of 15).

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One of the most important functions of architectural openings is the composition of vision. And the fascinating aspect of the visual makeup, inward or outward, is the stratification of the view. The stratification is circumstantial, intentional or accidental.

Corridoio_vasariano,_veduta_di_ponte_vecchio_01The view of outside or inside gains different dimension depending on how far or close, one is from the picture plane (face of the opening), what is covered within the nominal cone of vision, and the postural-gestural movements of the head and body to scan the view. Architectonic elements also mask, frame and filter the view.

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Regular architectural openings, and incidental ones like the crevices or holes, are effective when the surfaces like wall or roof are very extensive. Openings arouse curiosity to discover the realm on the other side. Windows, can be enlarged or reduced in size to regulate the scope of vision, but doors cannot be modified due to the basic anthropometric requirements. For visual makeup openings are transgressed outward and inward, through the floor or roof.

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Low Level Window

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The mechanics of vision depend on several factors, such as: a vision cones, extent of the framing element, sill and lintel level, shading devices, depth of opening, design or configuration, quality of glazing, level of maintenance, differences of illumination between outside and inside, amount of the glare, treatments on internal and external faces of openings, quality of external surroundings, internal reflections, tasks, orientation, climatic conditions, illumination conditions, need for protection and privacy, etc.

The visual makeup also depends on the position of the viewer.

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Visual scope and depth of openings: A viewer deep inside, away from the opening, gets a nominal straight or horizontal view. But as one comes closer, the scope of vision increases. The visual makeup is surmounted by architectural elements like overhangs, horizontal fins, the sill height, height of the opening in comparison to eye level (in supine-sitting-or standing position) and depth of opening.

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Visual scope for clerestory openings: For a person positioned close to the plane of opening, if the sill level is above eye level, the range of visual scope is small. This scope becomes larger as one moves away from the plane of opening.

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Visual scope and the datum of floor: Tall buildings (multi-storeyed) have several floors, each of which offers different vistas. For a person positioned, approximately as deep as the internal height of the floor, the visual-scape is nearly horizontal. So at lower floor one sees street and surrounding activities, from mid floors the view consists of horizon consisting of tree or building tops, but on upper floors the view is of the horizon. In the second and third categories, at night additional flickering brightness from bottom up sources is very distractive, such as from the head light beams of moving vehicles, street lights, road-light signals, illumination or glow from hoardings and neighbouring buildings. These reflections fall on the ceilings and sometimes on the wall, but distort the interior visual effects.

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● Surrounds of the openings, all four sides, jambs, sills, or bottom of the door-heads, alter the inward and outward vision scope. The sloped surfaces due to chamferring on the outward or inward faces, enlarged the perceptive size of the opening. It however made the perception depth ambiguous due to the foreshortening.

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● The dividers or sub elements of openings, such as traceries, mullions, muntins, are primarily used as mid support in the frame or sash, and divide the glazing into smaller units. Early age glazing units were small but had fuzzy transparency and wavy patterns of making. These crude smaller units, however divided the view and made it bearable.

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● Openings in moving vehicles offer dynamic scenery, where the objects could be both, stationary as well as moving. Uniformly shaped and sized objects, in nearby visual range seem more dynamic, but variegated objects in distance, seem to be less moving. These two fields when viewed through separated horizontal sections of an opening, pose distinctly different scenes. Such experiences are more common in carriages with additional windows at higher level.

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● Stratification is very important issue with openings of fixed glazing and shop front windows, both of which serve the function of a picture window that frames a scene or to displayed items.

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● Fixed glazing windows show a scene consisting of several layers depending on the point of observation and floor datum. These layers, typically at lower section consist of ground level shrubs and movement of people and vehicles. At mid level the scene consists of mid-portion of trees (effects of breeze-wind) and perhaps deeper vista. At higher level, (the top lite) mainly sky and upper sections of very tall buildings (becoming impersonal due to greater inclination-distance) are seen. Of the three, the change is more pronounced at the lower section, and often curtained of with ‘parlour curtains’.

485028169_373693d56d_zShop front windows reflect the opposite side scene, in mainly two distinct strata. Upper part, if shadowed by solar inclination or overhang, has little reflection, but lower section has strong reflection (called ‘bounce-back’). Reflections at lower section do not allow view inside, unless interior portions have additional illumination.

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This is the II article (of intended 15) in series ‘Space Perception’ that will form a course of One semester.

SOME SOUND BITES -Space Perception -I

Post –46  by Gautam Shah (Lecture series: Space Perception -Article-I of 15)

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Sound is caused by disturbance or vibration in an elastic material. That energy of vibration is perceived as a subjective experience by the human ear. Ears capture, transmit and transduce the sounds by discriminating the sounds of different frequencies, and perceiving the same in different manners.

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Human ear can perceive sound above infra-sound 20 Hz, and below ultrasound 20000 Hz, but more importantly human ears can discern information from sound and noise. Range of Human voice is from 60 Hz to 10000 Hz, but 90 % intelligibility occurs 200 Hz to 4000 Hz.

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A modern good quality PA system should be capable of 100 Hz to 6000 Hz and preferably 10000 Hz. For music the PA system should be 80 Hz to 10000 Hz and up to 15000 Hz for high quality theatre type of installation. Telephone voices have peculiar ‘unnatural’ feel because voice frequencies below 400 hertz and above 3,400 hertz are eliminated.

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When machines are taught to speak like humans, the process of learning (AI) is to break human speech into phonemes (each of 30 micro seconds slots). This forms the basic set and used for enunciation, so when robots speak, they sound monotonic, stilted and mechanical.

Human speech consists of two parts: vowels and consonants. In general vowels are easily recognized because they are distinctive and especially the `deeper’ or the longer vowels occupy more time than any other speech component. They also consist mostly of lower speech frequencies. The formative characteristics of the mouth, based on the cavity resonance, are responsible for vowel sounds, and the main vehicle for the intelligibility of the speech.

Arnold_Lakhovsky_ConversationConsonants are less easy because they occupy a very short time and so seem transient. These mostly are of higher speech frequencies (1200 Hz). There are many more of them than vowels and so offer speech audibility and perception. Consonants provide the rich sound variants that make different speeches different.

BushIn addition to the formats, sibilants, it is a consonant, with characteristic hissing sound (such as sh, s, z, and zh), and stops of various types (consonant sounds such as b, p, d, t, g, k) are characterized by the momentary blocking of some part of the oral cavity, help in high intelligibility.

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The sound perception and cognition system has the ability of compensating and filling in the required information in terms of vowels, consonants, and even words into speech or sentences. The time required to fill in the required information is provided by the quality of acoustics of the space.A longer reverberation seems to elongate the spoken sound in time scale, but an excess of reverberation may mask the following sounds. A fast orator in a reverberating hall fails to impress the audience, whereas a slow speaker in well absorbent and non reverberating space may seem discontinuous.’

Rousselots_Apparat_zur_Aufzeichnung_der_SpracheSpeech intelligibility depends on the quality of space. The space, size, shape, materials and the PA system (if any) define how the speech will be perceived. Seasoned speakers or stage performers (actors, singers) have innate sense on how to improvise the tonal quality of delivery. They overcome (masking) the effect of background noise by raise the voice and change the range of frequency. In spaces with longer reverberation the pauses are widened. Speakers face the section of crowd they want to address, to direct the original sound and allow them (section of crowd) to read the lips and body gestures.

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Speakers (orators, actors and singers) and Listeners, all hear original sound as well as reflected sounds, but in completely different spatial context (space, size, shape, materials and the PA system). For listeners the most important matter is the identification (real or mythical) of the source of sound, in spite of the ‘presence of many reflected sounds’. This helps in personalization or being part of the event. However if the time gap between the hearing of original sound and reflected sound is more than two seconds, the localization begins to be difficult. In long or a deep hall the P.A. system sounds arrives stronger and even before the arrival of direct sound creating confusion including visual and aural synchronization of lip and other body posture-gesture language with the spoken sound.

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In case of speech, a short sound reverberation time, implies high absorption, which makes, in the rear seats, a speech registration difficult. On the other hand, a long reverberation time means, the sound of each syllable is heard against the reverberant sound of previous syllables.

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This is the I st article of the series on SPACE PERCEPTION

14 – SPACE PLANNING and HUMAN BEHAVIOUR

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Post 45 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 15 in Lecture Series Space and Human Behaviour)

This is the Lecture 14 in series Space and Human Behaviour, which could not be loaded earlier at Blog DESIGN ACADEMICS ( https://designacademics.wordpress.com/ ).

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Spaces need validation from time to time and on occasions. The validation by a user is continuous one, but as handled by a professional, is a contractual and periodical assignment. The change in space by a user, a lay person, relates to the rearrangements of the demountable and movable entities. A contractual assignment to a professional, however, is far more encompassing, and may even reconfigure the space shell. Domestic space planning is often self authored, whereas commercial spaces are rejuvenated by professionals.

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NEED FOR SPACE PLANNING

Domestic spaces do not require frequent changes, usually for the first 15/20 years. Major alterations are required when ownership changes. The space planning or arrangements become invalid due to normal wear-tear, but also due to the user related circumstances, such as the changes in a family profile like age, physical abilities, marital status, professional interests, new intra-personal relationships and group dynamics, choices and social compatibility.

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Commercial spaces see frequent changes both of the tenants and business styles. Space planning is also affected due to the user related causes such as: new concepts, aspirations, realizations, technology, variations in usage intensities, repairs and maintenance, optimum standards in society.

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In all types of spaces planning needs a recast when changes in building shell or structure alters the spatial quality. New space planning is required when few key elements get a new look or functional replacement and refurbishment. Incorporation of new technologies (air conditioning, surveillance, security procedures, illumination, communication, information systems, storage systems), force new space planning. Space planning is hastened by major events like festivals, Olympics etc. Space planning reflects the access to expandable incomes available to person or national economy.

SPACE PLANNING DEVELOPMENTS

The space planning as space efficiency methods emerged in later part of the Industrial Revolution period (1800s). This was an age when number of gadgets for kitchens, toilets, craft areas, offices, industry, etc., began to be available. The gadgets were conceived both for free siting as well as fitments into a space, with planned connectivity and inter gadget relationships. Approach to ‘comprehensive planning’ later became ‘Systems Planning’. Women’s hobby magazines of the time took it further, and helped in creating work efficiency layouts (home productivity) with behavioural considerations. For example, a window over a cooking range and sink were a result of these attitudes. At industrial level the line production layouts were carefully planned and regularly updated. The ‘mega foot print’ or extensive spaces of commercial offices required major re-haul of layouts when illumination and heating-cooling were electrified, telephony and better document storage systems became common. The new departmental stores of 1950s required very frequent space re-planning because of the fast changing brands and their packing formats.

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At domestic level the house, which had highly room specific spaces began to be open plan layouts with minimal of walls and partitions. It offered large unhindered spaces for various tasks. This was also due to the smaller or one person family. The gadgets that were bulky requiring structural bearing were now multi tasking, miniatures, mobile or easily relocatable and affordable. This freed lot of space and need for compulsive siting.

It was now clear that anthropometric data or ergonomics was not the only consideration, but behaviour of the human beings was the key consideration for space planning. The definition of spatial and occupancy requirements were important. Other thoughts related to flexibility of accommodating the future growth, access for the disabled, safety, security, etc. Homes, offices, industrial plants, jails, educational institutions, research facilities, wherever growth or rationalization was conceived, it was through space planning. Corporate organizations are replacing the layered system in favour of a team or department-based structures which favour classless, transparent or open layouts.

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Early offices had, peripheral lay that is along the wall work tables and cabins. This gradually gave way to half height partitioned or ‘compartmental office spaces’. But today, according to the International Facility Management Association, 68% of North American employees work in offices with an open floor plan or open seating. Open offices are inefficient spaces, due to the larger per employee area, but less clustered.

Older employees and traditional businesses like, law, finance and other professionals, who have worked from cubicles, cabins and corner offices, find it difficult to adopt open offices. Open offices are blamed for affecting privacy, client relationships, employee productivity, loss of sense of belonging, and even compromising the morale.

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Open offices provided a visual cohesiveness and spatial continuity. Open office-plan also incorporated the concept of compact personal work module -like a work station. Computers also had work stations as dedicated utility for multi tasking. This concept was used by earlier craft’s people like watch repairers, engravers, gold smiths etc. to reduce the movement.

Offices during and immediately after world war-II period had as much 50 % of the total space devoted to storage. These were separated from work areas, and manned by store keepers. The store room volume and traffic to it were reduced with several technologies such as document facsimile systems, telecommunication, automated file access including the mechanical card-index sorting machines. Digital documents with computerization solved the problems of file storage, access and transfer. Now the offices were nearly fully ‘human occupied spaces’.

Wireless technology and cloud storage software make it easier for companies to embrace nomadic workstations, says Frank Rexach, a Shanghai-based vice president and general manager at Haworth. Rexach says ‘People don’t want to feel handcuffed to their desk, especially the Millennials’ (= young people who were between the ages of 10 and 20 on September 11, 2001 defined as per Newsweek Magazine).

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Laptops and tablet computers linked to remote servers reduced the location bound dependence. Wireless telecommunication, mobility and flexible work schedules allowed employees to work from location of their choice. The office space now remained a location for interactions. Of course this function too was met by video conferencing. Now the office space has become an unassigned seating place. The need to personally interact though has remained as acute, perhaps it emerged more strongly. The meeting rooms are common or rented facilities. Its interior space has high efficiency ambience but does not match the corporate aspirations of a ‘personal space’. In a different perspective, something similar is happening on educational campuses. The teacher-student relationship is missing on personal contacts. The lecture hall is partly replaced by seminar or workshop rooms.

Open office culture is moving a step ahead. Now the desk is no longer your personal den. You come, take a spot that is free, connect and you are in office. It takes away the culture of sharing a chat or knowing who is on and who is off. The familiar faces are in the meeting zone, which too keeps on changing depending on availability.

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Just like open office plans, many other entities such as the partition less residences, self access retail outlets, libraries and kindergarten rooms have half or low height furniture elements. Glass curtain walled commercial buildings, etc. are also conceived to be boundless spaces. The boundless spaces are assumed to enhance the intra-personal interactions.

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SPACE PLANNING BY PROFESSIONALS AND A LAY PERSON

Fresh architectural entities when sold or rented to a client have many ‘common or standard’ provisions which need to be improvised for specific uses. Space planning here is an adoptive exercise. Professional designers handle the project by developing a holistic strategy or an integrated approach. The space planning is very encompassing exercise requiring technical skills. Designers also have a selfish professional interest of impressing the client and the society at large with an invigorating solution.

A lay person may accept an initial standard design, and may not engage a professional for later day changes. A lay person, as a user, is continuously engaged with the space. Though the intervention, a very subjective one has greater insight. The user alters the arrangements as part of day to day living. There are a naturalness and continuity in the effort, because it is simplistic devoid of technicalities.

The lay person’s strategies include: 1st relies on spatial rearrangement and micro adjustments of entities in space. 2nd will buy ready-made items from the market, get it made, or craft them on own and 3rd the layperson exploits the enrichments for micro level space-making and adds a personal flavour to the space.

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PERSONALIZATION OF SPACES THROUGH ENRICHMENTS

Enrichments are personal interventions to a space, by professional designers as well as lay users. These are extras over the nominal functional provisions of space planning. For professionals such endeavours are to support the thematic concept. These often lack the conviction for the actual owner-user. For lay persons enrichments evolve with the space over a longer period and after several trials. Enrichments are a subjective involvement of the user, reflected in the selection and placement of the enrichment. The selection follows traditions, taboos, customs, instincts, experience, perceptions, daring, suggestions and compulsions. The enrichments become a matured style of the locality or a group, an ethnicity of an era or a geographical identity.

Enrichments are selected for their own quality or appeal, and also as fitments to a given situation, but often without contemplating the desired end result. These are attempts to alter the scale and complexity of a space, by an element that is personal and perhaps familiar. Enrichments, as a result reduces the alienation and loneliness, and reduce the incidence undesirable or severity of abnormal behaviours.

Graham Bell

Personalization through enrichments occurs by many routes. The identification is achieved by cultural affinity, affirmation to a social cause (e.g. green spaces), confirmation to an ideology, expression of abstracted messages, display of authority, hierarchal structure, a diffusion, spiritual, history, continuity, desires for contrast or diversity, etc. Enrichments may not have a precise definition or explanation, but over a period attain an identity. Enrichments encourage the group dynamics with a sense of belonging. Enriched spaces have safety, security and assurance of performance.

Enrichments are:

  • Objects that can be savoured from many sides. Vessels, utensils, statues.
  • Surfaces like paintings, murals, wall pieces, posters, mirrors, glass, patterns, which denote floors, walls or ceilings or become partitions.
  • Furniture to aid postures, task supports, storage entities, space intervening objects, furnishings like carpets, bolsters and curtains.
  • Fittings and Fixtures that add to functionality of architectonic elements.
  • Signage and Graphics to convey messages, indicate layout, symbols.

Decorations for sale

Enrichments are extensively used by retail outlets that rely on brand selling, and corporate entities who thrive on image making. Automobile showrooms flourish with superfluous space enrichments, because by the time some mature integration occurs, a new set of entities arrive. Compared to this corporate offices and hospitality spaces have well-integrated schemes. Other public spaces like museums, law courts, halls, etc. use enrichments very judiciously disguising as graphics or signage. Religious and political functions and processions use enrichments to show their large following.

Umbrellas_at_Caudan_Waterfront_Mall

SPACE PLANNING BY VISUAL and NON VISUAL MEANS

The personalization of a space achieved through visual means is very obvious as much as it is effective. Non visual sensorial effects are difficult to perceive, so difficult to express, communicate or record. These are equally effective, but are very subtle. Many of the visual means also provide non visual sensorial effects, at specific position and in certain circumstances. Professional designers, in their conventional space planning, give consideration to parameters like auditory, olfactory, tactile and atmospheric factors such as the temperature and moisture, etc. A lay person, however, finds it very difficult to replicate these in a personal space. The judgements on these counts are speculative because effective results derive from accumulation of several factors. A lay person considers non visual sensorial effects at best as the reinforcing elements to visual means. Other parameters such as the privacy, intimacy, well being, safety, security, seclusion and participation, are achieved through sensible space planning, but need space and time reinforcement through indicative means.

Panch Vadhyam Five Instruments Orchestra Festival Kerala India

SPACE PLANNING and USE OF NON VISUAL SENSORIAL EFFECTS

Non visual sensorial effects are: mainly Auditory, Olfactory, Tactile and Gustatory.

  • Auditory sense (relating to sound) provides the scale of distance, direction, and time. It indirectly reveals the quality of absorption and reflection.
  • Tactile sense (relating to touch such as texture, temperature, moisture, electrical charge). It is a pervasive faculty, though some parts of the body are more sensitive. It is locative and part of the defensive mechanism.
  • Olfactory sense (relating to smell or odours). It is closely related to quality of air and so instinct of survival is intimately linked. It is highly frontal and directional. It also gives the idea of distance.
  • Gustatory sense (relating to taste buds) It is closely related to olfactory sense. It provides no sense of scale, distance or time unless with the Olfactory sense.

Visual and Auditory senses work in consonance, because both have a sense of scale and direction. In space planning one provides the clue about the other. The selection and placement of furniture, furnishings and enrichments can change the visual space perception, as much as the surface treatments of the same elements can change the audio quality. The purposes of space elements, their placement, composition, shape or size, are not very apparent to a casual visitor. However, such effects become apparent on the required occasion and situation. Tactile sense requires one to be in proximity of the surface, yet the textures, nature of construction (hollow, foamed, micro undulations), etc. prompt the auditory response from a distance, and so preempt the perception. Odours are perceived with air and its movements. Enclosed rooms filter the noise but reduce the chances of fresh air. This portends into ‘smelly’ or stagnant space. A designer has to perceive a space planning layout with all these overlapping sensorial effects, and also notions people have.

PVP_Mall_in_Vijayawada

Noise: The size of work modules in open offices for the individual is decreasing due to factors like lesser personal volume of storage, smaller work area (instead of ledgers and files, it is laptop or notebook), and common facilities for interactions. There is a proportional increase in population density. The employees cannot stay focussed with greater noise levels, higher office population density and distractions from moving people, monitors and telephones. A mixed patterned space offers variety of spots, both uninterrupted and busy, private and collaborative, quite and participatory, to resolving the tension, loneliness, privacy, etc.

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Sound masking is in contrast to the technique of active noise control through volume and pitch. It is addition of natural or artificial sound, such as ‘white noise or pink noise’ into an environment to cover up unwanted sound by using auditory means. It nullifies the awareness of pre-existing sounds. Open offices are either too quiet (such as past midnight, where someone dropping a pen in the next cubicle is distracting due to absence of background noise such as traffic), or too noisy (such as when the conversations of others in the office make it impossible to concentrate). Sound masking is adding of sound to cover the existing sounds in the area, to make workers less distracted and more productive. Private offices and study rooms are not sound proof as sound can travel out through partitions or over the walls Sound masking can be provided in adjacent private offices, or in hallways outside of private offices, to ensure that confidential conversations remain confidential. Public spaces are used to reduce the continuous disturbance from road or railway traffic in covered walkways, under passes, deep and extensive parking areas, etc.

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Environmental parameters: HVAC and other experts take care of these aspects of atmospheric comforts in space planning. The air movement in large spaces have few problems, for example, in humid climates. Very high air movements disturbed the papers and ruffle the hair. Yet there always are few pockets with poor air circulation. Such pockets are more prominent in open office plans which are partly compartmentalized. Open office-plan can be well sustained with a machine aided cooling or heating systems. The floor touching partitions of open office cubicles and comparatively low ceilings hinder air circulation. It creates areas with poor air change, uneven cooling-heating, poor moisture control, inadequate dilution of air bourne pollutants and odours. Presence of mosquitoes in the lower sections of cubicles due to stagnancy of air is a great health hazard.

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Odour control: Odours occur and persist in commercial spaces. Odours are generated by materials, processes and human occupation. Confined spaces such as underground car parks or basements, garbage areas, passages, etc. have poor air-change. Offices where coffee, snack and meals are allowed in work zones have greater degree of air fouling. The odour can be controlled through basic three methods: Greater dilution with fresh air, Finer scrubbing of odours, and Larger exposure to natural sun-light UV rays. Odours from surface finishes, cleaning compounds, treatments applied on furnishings and degeneration of plastics, etc. are controlled best by proper selection rather then any processes. Human skin scales, biologically degenerate very fast, and it is a major problem for spaces with large human traffic. Here again, regular vacuum cleaning is the best method, but for this smooth and hard floors, in place of fiber or synthetic carpets are required. Odours of slightest measure are detected and detested by first time visitors. However, masking an odour with deodorant is only delaying and compounding the effects of odours.

For good ventilation, dilution or adding fresh air, is the best technology. Next method is to use various types of non chemical techniques of scrubbing the air (ion charging, micro filtering, etc.). Ventilation system adjusts the temperature, replenishes proportion of oxygen, removal or addition of moisture, diluting or scrubbing the air to remove odours, smoke, dust and airborne bacteria.

SPACE PLANNING AND BEHAVIOUR

Space planning determines the placement of various items of furniture. The placement decisions follow two important strategies:

  1. Functional positioning and circulation integrating various architectural features.
  2. Provisioning for personal spaces and for Inter-personal relationships or group dynamics.

It is this later aspect that can destroy all the good intentions of the former. Space planning and behaviour as political etiquette is a time-tested mannerism formalized in government protocol manuals. It shows how two equal or unequal status heads of state or such entourages must meet. It indicates the nature of seats, intervening pieces of furniture, the backdrop for the meet, and enrichments that are appropriate, and ones that must be avoided.

Joe Biden meets with Al Franken

The chairs for personal meeting of two important (equal status) personalities (e.g. Presidents of two nations) are upright single seat units (placed parallel but very slightly askew @140°). But we still find dignitaries taking on micro postures by moving towards or leaning on one hand-rest, sitting cross way (diagonally), leaning forward or backward. The reasons are: one is trying to enlarge or reduce the distance, take postures that imply affability, propriety, esteem, etc. However, the sitting arrangement between two unequals, like a president and a prime minister (or a prime minister and a foreign minister) have two unequal (size, form, style) types of seats. The person with higher status sits in a single seat unit, whereas the other party is made to sit at a right angle, and on a wider seat (double or triple seat sofa or even stiffer – upright seat). The furniture arrangement, the angle and the distance between them are regulated by set of rules or ‘protocol’. In spite of the strict protocols people through micro posturing do subconsciously express their real attitude. The body language is just one facet of behaviour that reveals the nature of the encounter.

At domestic level traditions and taboos are followed for placing the items of furniture. Commercial spaces and hospitality spaces reflect a mix of local mentality, good practices, and new trends elsewhere. Traditions emerge after years of usage and portray the geographical, historical, cultural, religious and technological preferences. The trends show universal preferences emerging from cross reactions of many art forms. The furniture and its placement offer several postural and interaction possibilities, affecting the personal relationship as well as group behaviour dynamics.

Living rooms of economic housing schemes are 3000-4000 mm wide. The eye contact or person to person distance for such sofas across the room is 2400-3400 mm, just adequate for social or non intimate chat. However, for a living room width of 5000 mm, the interaction distance becomes (for sofa across the room) 4400 mm. This is not conducive to social interaction, unless one can makes own-self herd by talking loudly, or seating forward -at the edge of the sofa. In large rooms chatting is more common with persons sitting on the side seat.

Young Muslim Women

INTIMACY AND PRIVACY

These are important aspects of space planning in hospitality spaces and personal cabins. Visitors need these in appropriate mix, but staff also needs to maintain a non intimate posture and distance.

In such places receptionists are always in standing position -as if ready to serve. The backdrop is are nearly 1500-2000mm away -meaning they are on their own, confident, and cannot depend on back support. Coffee house and pub tables are small, so that people sitting across maintain intimate distance of 600 mm or less. Banquet tables are 1200 mm to allow talking across the table, but a wider table 1500 mm or more discourages the personal interactions and makes the occasion more formal. Important personalities use office tables of 900 mm or more depth to create a person to person (face to face or eye contact) distance of 1600 mm, which makes the interaction formal and non-committal.

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RECOGNITION

Recognition of personal attributes in a space planning layout automatically resolves many issues of intra-personal relationships. Every individual needs to play a role, whether it is a small domestic or a public space, but in a required setting. The set is made of architectonic elements, space occupying entities and environmental conditions. Recognition is also important for expression and communication. The deficiencies of personality are made up by the surroundings. Some of the tricks, people consciously or otherwise use to draw recognition are: Standing against a wall but little away from it, occupying a single seat rather then share one, positioning against a bland-background then a clustered or busy face, sitting in a tall, upright and an uncomfortable chair opposed to an easy and low height seat.

SECURITY

A person feels secure if protected from at least one side, and can control the distance for group behaviour dynamics. A person must get the benefit of natural attributes of the personality such as age, sex and social stature. A person may not feel confident and so secure if under a continuous gaze or surveillance. Feeling of security is more enhanced in known spaces or spaces with a familiar set-up. Large spaces with adequate points of anchors or interventions make a person feel secure. People feel secure with exits points like a door, stairs, passages, aisles near them. A view of outside from an opening adds to security. Presence of handling, holding or barricading devices adds to security, even if one may not intention or need for using it.

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OWNERSHIP OR SENSE OF BELONGING

The control mainly derives from the right to conceive, execute, alter, explore and exploit a space. For this one may not legally own or be a tenant of the space. Members of a family or a group get a sense of belonging. People with same ethnicity or cultural orientation feel ‘at-home’ in spaces that have a familiar set-up. Spaces with standard internal features provide the equality. Similarly a sense of belonging may occur where external configurations are similar, as in public housing schemes.

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

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13 – PERSONALIZATION of SPACE

Post 44 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 14 in Lecture Series Space and Human Behaviour)

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Built spaces created by designers are universal solutions relevant to a thematic concept, stylized to suit own idiosyncrasies, and equalized for large section of users. Localization is required for designs that follow world wide parameters while overlooking local variations of climates, terrains and cultures. Customization of built spaces is required for addressing corrections in few compulsive areas, typically for biological left-right inclinations, racial physiological variations, ergonomic reach capacities and variable sensorial functionality of individuals. Acutely customized offerings also arrive with undeclared intentions and dictates, and these may need some degree of personalization. The personalization often derives from unexplainable traditions, taboos, customs, instincts, perceptions and compulsions.

640px-Zanskar_Phuktal_03Localization is created by lay users and designers. Lay users, wherever they have the capacity and opportunity, do redefine the space on their own. Lay-users’ space adoptions are through surface treatments, rearrangement of spatial entities, modulation of the sensorial effects, updating of re-installable components and systems. These are additional interventions over the nominal functional provisions of planning.

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Localization of complex nature and requiring time-consuming processes, are better handled by professionals. These ideally should involve the original designer of the built-space, but that happens very rarely. New designers, more attuned to the needs of the user or occupants, are called in to handle the assignment. New designers are less obliged to show any respect for the original concept. Such localization and personalization attempts are often superfluous and insincere. Designers, have greater technical competence and the solutions are radical.

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Customization means turning a standard or universal built space for specific for the user-client, climate, locality theme or image. In case of very personal entities, it may include provisions for individual choices or group-based requirements. Standard layouts when not matched with characteristics of the site or climatic orientation, cannot always be corrected from exterior sides due to bylaws, regulations and circumstantial restrictions. Customization offers interior level solutions by keeping the scope and cost at rational level.

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Personalization means commuting a space identity exclusively for the user or specific theme. Here two levels of change occur, permanent ones are more serious, encompassing and coordinated, and casual ones are superfluous for occasional needs. The changes to alter quality of space, are done, both by simplifying or complicating the configuration. This is done by enveloping, partially occlusion, masking, framing, juxtaposing the existing composition, or its elements. Designers exploit radically different conditions like auditory, olfactory, tactile and atmospheric factors such as the temperature and moisture etc. A lay person finds it very difficult to replicate these in a personal space, because judgements on these counts are speculative as effective results derive from accumulation of several factors. A lay person considers non visual sensorial effects at best as the reinforcing elements to visual means. For lay people the elements selected are personal and perhaps familiar.

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Designers change spaces with a thematic concept or brand-image. A signature style runs through the scheme by visual language like coordinated colour, texture etc. It is also formed of design tools like scaling, proportion, framing, exterior connections and spatial transgressions. There is an attempt to alter the scale and complexity of the space, by elements that are alien as well as familiar.

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The personalization of a space achieved through visual means is very obvious, as much as it is effective. Non visual sensorial effects are difficult to perceive, so difficult to express, communicate or record. Many of the visual means also provide, non visual sensorial effects, at specific positions and in certain circumstances. The non visual means of personalization are very subtle and can only be exploited by experienced person. Professional designers, in their conventional space planning, give consideration to parameters like auditory, olfactory, tactile and atmospheric factors such as the temperature and moisture, etc. However, a lay person finds it very difficult to replicate these in a personal space. The judgements on these counts are speculative because effective results derive from accumulation of several factors. A lay person considers non visual sensorial effects at best as the reinforcing elements to visual means. Other parameters such as the privacy, intimacy, well being, safety, security, seclusion and participation, are achieved through sensible space planning, but need other reinforcement through indicative means.

Woolworths_Closing-down_Sale,_Grimsby_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1076911

Public spaces like museums, temples, halls, etc. use personalization to occasionally connect with their large following. But offices and commercial outlets like shops, malls, automobile showrooms, need to be refurbished more frequently to consistently cast a fresh image. Short term changes in space are achieved by enrichments.

MAXXI_Museum_interior_05

Enrichments are primary means of personalizing a space. The enrichments reflect intense effort for selection, context and placement. The selection follows traditions, taboos, customs, instincts, experience, perceptions, daring, suggestions and compulsions. The enrichments, collectively become a matured style of the locality or a group, an ethnicity of an era or a geographical identity. Enrichments are selected for their own quality or appeal, and also as fitment to a given situation, but often without contemplating the desired end result. Enrichments, as a result, reduce the alienation, loneliness, and the incidence undesirable or severity of abnormal behaviours.

The_Tomb_Of_IlltutmishEmbellishments are more superfluous and temporary interventions for enhancing whatever that exists. Embellishments are demountable. Their effect lies in terms of relevance for the occasion, placement and distinctive identity.

Personalization through enrichments and embellishments occur through many routes. The identification is achieved by cultural affinity, affirmation to a social or religious cause (e.g. green spaces, Krishna consciousness), confirmation to an ideology, expression of abstracted messages, display of authority, hierarchal structure, a diffusion, spiritual, history, continuity, desires for contrast or diversity, etc. Enrichments may have no precise definition or justification, but over a period attain an identity. Enrichments encourage the group behaviour dynamics with a sense of belonging. Enriched spaces have safety, security and assurance of performance.

pexels-photo-354939

Enrichments are: Objects that can be savoured from many sides such as vessels, utensils, statues. Furniture pieces to aid postures, task supports, storage entities, space intervening objects, furnishings like carpets, bolsters and curtains. Fittings and Fixtures add to the functionality of architectonic elements. Surfaces like paintings, murals, wall pieces, posters, mirrors, glass, patterns, which denote floors, walls or ceilings or partitions. Signage and Graphics to convey messages, indicate layouts, symbols.

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

 

12 – SPATIAL REORGANIZATION

Post 43 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 13 in Lecture Series Space and Human Behaviour)

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Spaces, and objects therein need to be reorganized from time to time. Here the three way relationships between spaces, objects and human beings are re-calibrated. The human beings are owners, occupiers or visitors. The spaces include built-forms, neighbourhoods and extended domains through sensorial reaches. The reorganizations include ‘design interventions’ like repositioning, reorienting, scaling, framing. Technological upgrade occurs with efficient forms, superior functionality (productivity, energy and other inputs, residual products, ecological considerations), miniaturization, non-moving components, stability, life-cycle. Aesthetic lookup manifests as experiment, new choices, cultural affectations, reassessing taboos and customs.

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Reorganization is needed for domestic, commercial and other spaces. The user caused changes are experimental and casual but persist to amass as a substantial change over the years in the character or style of the built-space. But as managed by a professional the assignments are casual to comprehensive. These are contractual and occasional or periodical works. The user caused changes are lay people’s attempts, and so relate to the rearrangements of the demountable and movable entities. In comparison a professional’s engagements may even reconfigure the space shell.

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Birka_hus_2008a

Domestic space re-planning is substantially self-authored, whereas commercial spaces are nominally recast with the help of professionals. There are few changes that are beyond the users’ perception, capacity or authority, and so are assigned to professionals. Domestic spaces need changes immediately after possession-occupation that is on change of ownership or tenancy. Domestic space alterations are also required with changes in family profile factors like age, physical abilities, marital status, professional interests, new intra-personal relationships and group dynamics, choices and social compatibility.

Beauty Hotel Tällbergsgårdens Hotell Beautiful

A user is continuously engaged with the space, though with greater, but subjective insight. The involvement is devoid of the technicalities, relying on spatial rearrangements of self-help or installing ready-made items. A user accepts a ‘reasonable design’ by a professional, and may not need any radical or technical changes for the first decade or more. Professional help is, however, actively sought by users, who are highly motivated with income or comparable social tastes and choices. Professional designers handle space organization by developing a holistic strategy. It is an adoptive exercise requiring technical skills. Designers also have a selfish professional interest of impressing the client and the society at large with an invigorating solution.

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Commercial spaces are rejuvenated by the professionals. Changes are extreme and overhauling, wherever styles or brand images are to be refashioned. Businesses on becoming subsidiaries or franchises of larger entities, the space planning becomes a matter of branding. Commercial spaces see frequent changes of the tenants and business styles.

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A person, a tenant, owner, user or visitor gets a natural right to perceive, execute, alter, explore and exploit the organization of objects in space. A visitor to a space causes a new spatial arrangement by positioning own-self, by being part of a group, and by preferring to use and confirm arrangement in a space. People feel ‘at-home’ with object-organizations that offer semblances ethnic or cultural familiarity. A sense of equality and pride also occurs when the spatial arrangements are similar as in public housing schemes.

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Buildings have had use-specific spaces, with matching architectonic and functional provisions. These acutely need reorganization, with generations and socio-economic-political changes. The structures outlast by several decades or centuries. Older structures need new space configuration and object reorganization due to technological up-gradation of the architectural components, systems, amenities-facilities (like air conditioning, surveillance, security procedures, illumination, communication, information systems, storage systems). Space planning was once hastened by wars, cultural incursions, major events like celebrations and festivals. Space planning reflects the access to expandable incomes available to person or national economy.

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SPACE PLANNING DEVELOPMENTS

Historically buildings have seen major revamps, whenever new technologies were accepted. These included new technologies of constructions like arch, Gothic flying buttresses, glass for glazing, gas replacing coal as cooking fuel, and new building services systems such as electricity for illumination, piped water supply, organized drainage, clears glazing, opening systems’ hardware, heating systems. These changes have recast the arrangements within architecture like location of toilets, cooking areas, dining, etc. Market availability of consumer products has changed the volumetric requirement of storage spaces.

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Aertsen, Pieter Market Scene

Dining once separated from ‘not so presentable kitchen space‘, however, again began to merge with a kitchen due to the efficient and clean cooking processes. Offices became ‘open plan’ affairs from partitioned cabins, but now internet connections let one operate from home.

It was realized that for space organization as proposed by the original builders lasts only for a generation, often for shorter periods, as new materials and methods become relevant. The new ‘things’ arrived through, easier ways of access, travels, imports, wars, influx of refugees, political occupation, colonization, etc. The reorganization of existing built spaces catered to functional and perceptual inter-connectivity of spatial segments, provision of rational size-volume, providing for future growth, safety, security, etc. Corporate organizations replaced the layered system to team or department-based structures, which favour classless, transparent or open layouts. Other important considerations post WW-I were not just anthropometric and ergonomics provisions, but human behaviour and task efficiency.

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The space planning as a tool for task efficiency and productivity emerged in later part of the Industrial Revolution period (1800s). This was an age when number of consumer gadgets for kitchens, toilets, craft areas, offices, industry, etc., began to be available. The gadgets were conceived as fitments into a space, with planned connectivity and inter gadget relationships, initiating ‘systems planning’ thinking or ‘comprehensive planning approach’. Women’s hobby magazines of the time took it further, and helped in creating work efficiency layouts (home productivity) with behavioural considerations.

For example, a window over a cooking range and sink were a result of these attitudes. At industrial level the line production layouts were carefully planned and regularly updated. The ‘mega foot print’ or extensive spaces of commercial offices required major re-haul of layouts when illumination and heating-cooling were electrified, telephony and better document storage systems became common. The new departmental stores of 1950s required very frequent space re-planning because of the fast changing brands and their packing formats.

At domestic level the house which had highly room specific spaces began to be open plan layouts with minimal of walls and partitions. It offered large unhindered space for various tasks. This was also due to smaller or one person family. The gadgets that were bulky requiring structural bearing were now multi tasking, miniatures, mobile or easily relocatable and affordable. This freed lot of space and need for compulsive siting.

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Early offices had work modules set against the walls. This gradually gave way modules against low height partitions or what was commonly called ‘compartmental office spaces’. But today, according to the International Facility Management Association, 68% of North American employees work in offices with an open floor plan or open seating. Open offices are less clustered but inefficient due to larger per employee area allotment. Open offices provide visual cohesiveness and spatial continuity. Open office plans arrived with the re-acceptance of a personal work module -a work station. Earlier craft’s people, like watch repairers, engravers, gold smiths, used such facilities to reduce the reach effort.

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Older employees and traditional businesses like, law, finance and other professionals, who have worked from cubicles, cabins and corner offices, find it difficult to adopt open offices. Open offices are blamed for affecting privacy, client relationships, employee productivity, loss of sense of belonging, and even compromising the morale.

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Offices during and immediately after world war-II period had as much 50 % of the total space devoted to storage. These were separated from work areas, and manned by store keepers. The store room volume and traffic to it were reduced with several technologies such as document facsimile systems, telecommunication, automated file access including the mechanical card-index sorting machines. Digital documents with computerization solved the problems of file storage, access and transfer. Now the offices were nearly fully ‘human occupied spaces’.

Laptops and tablet computers linked to remote servers reduced the location bound dependence of work units. Wireless telecommunication, mobility and flexible work schedules allow employees to work from location of their choice. The office space now remains a location for interaction. This function, too is met by video conferencing. Now the office space has become an unassigned seating place. The need, to personally interact with others, remains as acute. The rented commercial meet-rooms are now in vogue, but is not a space to belong to. Similarly the virtual classrooms fail to support the teacher-student personal relationship.

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The boundless spaces are assumed to enhance the intra-personal interactions. Just like open office plans, many entities such as residences, self access retail outlets, libraries and kindergarten rooms, have half or low height furniture elements for space demarcation. Glass curtain walled commercial buildings, etc. are also conceived to be boundless spaces.

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Spatial organization is an exercise of re-configuring the effects of environment, and rearranging the spatial objects. Both of these offer new space configurations of personal relevance and fresh settings for inter-personal relationships (group dynamics). Spatial reorganization, however occurs where one (or the group) has some degree of control over the space. The control derives from the right to conceive, execute, alter, explore and exploit a space. For this one may not legally own or be a tenant of a space. A person, members of a family or a group also get a sense of belonging through customized setting of spaces and the elements within. People with same ethnicity or cultural orientation feel ‘at-home’ in spaces that have a familiar set-up. Spaces with standard internal features or external configurations also provide the equability.

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A person, to play a social role needs a place, made of architectonic elements, space occupying entities and environmental facilitations. The recognition of the self vis-à-vis the place resolves issues of personality and intra-personal relationships. People consciously or otherwise use many tricks for spatial behaviour.

 

A person feels secure, if protected from at least one side, and can control the distance for group behaviour dynamics. One tries to exploit the attributes of the personality such as age, sex and social stature for security. Similarly architectural features are used for security. People feel secure with view of outside from an opening or nearby exit points like a door, stairs, passages, aisles. Presence of handling, holding or barricading devices adds to the sense of security, even if one may not have intention or need for using it. Large spaces, known spaces or spaces with a familiar set-up and with adequate points of anchors or interventions make a person feel secure. Spatial reorganization can solve such issues arising from different levels of postures, distance and background contrasts.

Being secure tricks include: Standing against a wall but little away from it, positioning against a bland background then a clustered or busy face, preferring a single seat chair rather then shares a multi seater, sitting in a tall, upright (an uncomfortable chair) opposed to an easy and low height seat. A person may not feel confident and so secure, if is under a continuous gaze or surveillance. Receptionists are made to stand -as if ready to serve. The backdrop is nearly 1500-2000mm away -meaning they are on their own, confident, and cannot depend on back support.

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Space organization substantially and consciously relies on visual means of planning, but without being aware of the operative processes engages many non-visual means. Visual and Aural senses work in consonance, as both have similar sense of scale and directionality. In space planning one provides the clue about the other. Tactile sense relates to touch such as texture, temperature, moisture, electrical charge. It is a pervasive faculty, though some parts of the body are more sensitive. It is locative and part of the defensive mechanism. Olfactory sense (relating to smell or odours), is closely related to quality of air and so the instinct of survival is intimately linked. It is highly frontal and directional. It also gives the idea of distance. Gustatory sense (relating to taste buds), is closely related to olfactory sense. It provides no sense of scale, distance or time, unless associated with Olfactory sense.

Space management follows processes of selection and placement, of furniture, furnishings, surface treatments and enrichments. Such exercises are substantially visual, but aural effects, though latent are not lost out. Tactile sense requires proximity as well certain distance. The textural configurations of the surface (hollow, foamed, micro undulations), modulate auditory responses and so preempt the perception. Odours are perceived with air and its movements, and are values associated with the shape scale or volume of the space.

Sound masking is in contrast to the technique of active noise control through volume and pitch. It is addition of natural or artificial sound, such as ‘white noise or pink noise’ into an environment to cover up unwanted sound by using auditory means. It nullifies the awareness of pre-existing sounds. Open offices are either too quiet (such as past midnight, where someone dropping a pen in the next cubicle is distracting due to absence of background noise such as traffic), or too noisy (such as when the conversations of others in the office make it impossible to concentrate). Sound masking is adding of sound to cover the existing sounds in the area, to make workers less distracted and more productive. Private offices and study rooms are not sound proof as sound can travel out through partitions or over the walls Sound masking can be provided in adjacent private offices, or in hallways outside of private offices, to ensure that confidential conversations remain confidential. Public spaces are used to reduce the continuous disturbance from road or railway traffic in covered walkways, under passes, deep and extensive parking areas, etc.

Admiralty_Extension_from_Horse_Guards_Parade_-_Sept_2006

SPACE PLANNING AND BEHAVIOUR

Space management for Government has become political etiquette, a time-tested mannerism formalized in protocol manuals. The position of various elements, mutual relationships, the anthropometrics, natures of backdrops, nature of seats and enrichments, are all part of a predefined ritual. The space management, at domestic level is inconsideration of traditions and taboos, prevalent at the place and followed by the family.

The chairs for personal meeting of two important (equal status) personalities (e.g. Presidents of two nations) are upright single seat units (placed parallel but very slightly askew @140°). But we still find dignitaries taking on micro postures by moving towards or leaning on one hand-rest, sitting cross way (diagonally), leaning forward or backward. The reasons are: one is trying to enlarge or reduce the distance, take postures that imply affability, propriety, esteem, etc. However, the sitting arrangement between two unequals, like a president and a prime minister (or a prime minister and a foreign minister) have two unequal (size, form, style) types of seats. The person with higher status sits in a single seat unit, whereas the other party is made to sit at a right angle, and on a wider seat (double or triple seat sofa or even stiffer – upright seat). The furniture arrangement, the angle and the distance between them are regulated by set of rules or ‘protocol’. In spite of the strict protocols people through micro posturing do subconsciously express their real attitude. The body language is just one facet of behaviour that reveals the nature of the encounter.

B3 Two

Living rooms of economic housing schemes are 3000-4000 mm wide. The eye contact or person to person distance for such sofas across the room is 2400-3400 mm, just adequate for social or non intimate chat. However, for a living room width of 5000 mm, the interaction distance becomes (for a sofa across the room) 4400 mm. This is not conducive to social interaction, unless one can makes own-self herd by talking loudly, or seating forward -at the edge of the sofa. In large rooms chatting is more common with persons sitting on the side seat.

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