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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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




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


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.




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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

1 640px-Berlin_Reichstag_BW_3


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.



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.


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



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.

Keys Maker 600 pexels-photo-64609
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.

weaving Japan 415px-Yōshū_Chikanobu_Filial_Piety
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.

Volkswagon 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.

630 -Work Station 151028-F-YR382-062
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.

BEER 640px-François_Louis_Jaques_Paysans_fribourgeois_au_bistrot
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.

Phantom Sounds 14957610851_9fa7894a9e_b
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.



Post 40 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 10 in lecture series Space and Human Behaviour)


People discern their relationship with others in terms of distances or spaces between them. In other words, for individualization, certain quality of distancing from others is required. Distancing from others define the defensive and offensive capacity, which in a way create a mechanism for survival. It delineates the accessibility and interpersonal relationships.

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People discern their relationship in terms of spatial distance (https://www.flickr.com/photos/9361986079)

Distancing or isolating from the threatening, disturbing or overwhelming elements is a notion of Privacy. Contrary to this Intimacy, is a feeling of closeness or affinity between a person and another, or an object. Privacy and Intimacy, both, rely on the distance one creates or perceives from other beings and objects. If privacy is personal as well as group-based requirement, intimacy is an intra-personal affair. One can be intimate with another person or group of persons without the apparent need for privacy. For intimacy to flourish, many need privacy.


Intimacy is also a biological need, as it relies on compatibility, sexual needs, glandular secretions, social acceptability, etc. It is an attitude, mental conditioning or mental posture. Intimacy could be one-way feeling that is without reciprocal response. Intimacy is not always a function of physical proximity. One can feel close to a person who is long dead -an illusory presence or through notional links (clothes, odours, recorded sounds, etc.).

TV show host Jon Stewart being close to the guest for expressing Intimacy > Wikipedia image

Privacy and Intimacy rely on the distance as perceived in terms of space, intervening objects, physical reach and perceptibility. A person projects privacy and intimacy in different proportions, whereas the space facilitates various levels of physical closeness, isolation and insulation. For an individual the space that permits one to ‘distance’ from others is a private space. An intimate space, a private abode, is one where everything is under exclusive command and so safe, predictable and reassuring. Here the occupants and objects have intense relevance to each other.

The Discussion > ART by Harry Watrous (1857-1940)

Territoriality or ownership is a way of achieving desired level of privacy. For groups and individuals an exclusive control over a space involves creating and maintaining the privacy and intimacy, including aggressive actions for its defence. For the individual, territorial control provides security and identity, and is communicated through the personalization and definition of the space. For the group, territorial control, is the cause of their being an entity. For groups such spaces allow easy communication and recognition (without any aids or extra strain) and so are an intimate locale. In many cultures, the acceptable or inappropriate types of intimacies derive from a complex historical process.

Territoriality > Floating boat Vendors (https://pixabay.com/en/users/terimakasih0-64267/)

Meaning of intimacy varies from relationship to relationship, and within a given relationship. Intimacy has more to do with rituals of connection. Intimacy is both the ability and the choice to be close, loving, and vulnerable. Intimacy requires identity development. Intimacy can have two main forms: emotional intimacy and physical intimacy. There could be other forms of empathy like cultural, intellectual, spiritual, social that are akin to intimacy in some conditions. Strategic relationship developed to take advantage of anyone could be very close but it is a make-believe intimacy.

A crowded stair, elevators, metro carriages do not project an intimate atmosphere. A hand shake or hug nominally has no sexual meaning in many cultures. In some cultures’ privacy achieved by a veil is considered retardant of intimacy. Intimacy could be a display or an expression with physical touch but with no apparent mental feelings.


Privacy is a personal notion and is basically achieved by obscuring own self, or by isolating from people. One can obscure own self by merging with background or by becoming less perceptible. Isolation is achieved by barricading and distancing. A person or group achieves insulation through body posturing. By posturing one can adjust the exposure, control the communication, command the expression and re-calibrate the reach of the body as well as the sensorial perception. Privacy can help overcome many inhibitions through mental isolation. Psychological motivation helps one to ignore some of the side effects of lack of privacy.


Privacy provides the isolation, whereas degree of interference by others determines the nature of intimacy. Both are important means for individualization or branding of unique personality. In a space, primarily one tries to anchor to a spot where privacy and intimacy are controllable. And whenever these are compromised, one may try to adjust the posture, reorient, and distance from others.

One requires many different types of privacy. Privacy relates to sensorial faculties, physiological and psychological situations and circumstances.

Visual privacy addresses the tendency to avoid situations in which one can be watched incognito. It can be achieved through the use of furnishings, partitions or walls.

In a private space or an office, people will often orient their desk to face the door and sit with a protected backside in order to achieve a visual control. In restaurants, the first seats to be filled are usually those along the walls. In outdoor spaces, people tend to sit against or beside objects such as trees and bushes rather than in the open. In open office plans’ a person is made to sit facing a wall or partition for lesser distraction from the back side passage, however, it is the unseen and unpredictable traffic on the backside that challenges the privacy. Contrary to this in garment stitching room workers are one behind the others and passage is on the side.

Audio privacy is achieved by managing the acoustic shielding against being overheard, interference from background noise, and managing the unnecessary desire of listening someone else’s conversation. Audio privacy in a space results from shape and size of the space, quality of the barriers, partitions, furniture, objects, equipment, etc. Audio privacy significantly affects the level of communication, social interaction, and productivity.

Olfactory privacy relates to revelations of own physiological state or experiencing someone else’s such a state through hormones-odours. Other privacy parameters include the body temperature, breathing rate, heart beats, pulse rate, vibrations of the body, sweating and perspiration.

Physical privacy against someone making a close approach (touch or near approximations). These issues are generally managed by withdrawal, seclusion through distancing, part or complete occlusion, postural exposure and directional communication.

Art Gallery Crowds social distancing > Flickr Image (https://www.flickr.com/photos/burnaway/18305449185  > COOP1726.jpg

Social privacy is threatened when personal spaces and territoriality mechanisms function ineffectively. It results in excessive exposure. Social privacy is often equated to ‘crowding’ in a space. It reflects the degree of accessibility, a person or group offers to others. Crowding means heightened accessibility or reduced interaction depending on the need for expression, communication, physiological requirements. Crowding may be tolerated, if it is temporary and for a definite purpose like for fun. In ‘neighbourhood spaces’ one wants to be away from the enclosed interior space, and so here crowding of any type takes away the social privacy. The scale of a room, it’s size relative to the occupants’, also influences conversational distance.

Distancing is used for Privacy and Intimacy (Flickr Image by Tim Dorr (https:www.flickr.com/photos/timdorr/4092581313)

Distancing for privacy and intimacy

Distance also means the size of intervening space or affective extent of space. Edward T. Hall defines four distinct distances at which interpersonal transactions normally take place: Intimate, Personal, Social and Public.


Intimate distance and ranges from 0 to 450mm. Intimate area lies close to the body, within which intimate relationship occur, such as for embracing, kissing, touching or whispering. Here it is possible to have physical touch, non verbal communication and emotional interactions. To gain such an intimate position one needs to be familiar with the other person or coerce. Even in the intimate space close to the body, the nature and level of intimacy is affected by the attitudes of the persons involved. In case of objects such as tools and support systems are intimate. Here, due to the intimate relationship one senses the texture, temperature, moisture, vibrations, energy, etc. One has to be very sure that by using these no harm will occur.

Personal area > (https://pixabay.com/en/couple-date-fashion-happy-man-1845620/)

Personal Area is useful for interactions between good friends and family members and ranges 450mm to 1200mm. It is a zone of regulated and selective participation. This is an area where one can reach-out through projection (expression), channels of communication, physically (through body limbs) or stretch out with gadgets (walking sticks, stethoscopes, etc.). Here the intimacy is not a private affair, but regulated. One may need some screening barriers to achieve privacy. One can dwell in a culture or state formed of metaphysical elements (beliefs, customs, etc.), to achieve the same.

Zone of nearness > (https://www.flickr.com/photos/burnaway/15250875940/

Zone of nearness is a social field, for interactions between social acquaintances, and its range is from 1200mm to 3.5mt. The zone of nearness has variable depth, defined by the position and duration of the eye contact, sound pitch and language call, olfactory sensation and body heat perception. The time (duration) and space (distance), are used alternatively to compensate the other. This is a zone of participation without personal involvement. It is also called a non-committal area.

As per the protocol, leaders of the two nations never share a seat, but rather occupy separate seats distanced with a small table or flower vase. Similarly deputies accompanying their leaders, are made to sit at some distance, from where they get a sense of participation but have no chance of intervention. On public platforms one intentionally uses lower sound pitch to draw attention. On very large dining table one can effectively hold conversation with members sitting on the two sides, but not across the table. In gatherings one uses differing sound pitch to reach desired distance.


Reach Zones: These are not over the anthropometric ambit (above 3.5mt.), but if required one can ‘reach’ out. In reach zones, intimacy or privacy of personal nature are not available, yet one can announce it through metaphoric presentations. Reach zones usually have one consistent environment. Such zones are unitary spaces and so there is a sense of belonging, safety, security and personalized identity.

Extended zones: These are spaces like a street, neighbourhood, and such public areas. Here the ‘privacy’ is afforded by the familiarity of the surroundings and security of nearness. These areas have intimacy of the distance such as within the visible range, reach of shout or call, and the odour. These are part of the ‘home setting’. Such public areas foster non-intimate group behaviour. Mothers allow children to play in these spaces, as these are under surveillance.

Domain edge zones: It is a place for a sporadic encounter, which however could persist as a remembrance or experience. Frequent occurrences belie the consistency or permanency. It functions like a networked zone (web) where something relevant is always available. So no matter where a person arrives, it begins to manifest familiarity or is pregnant with possibilities.

Space forms and behaviour

Enclosing space forms (corners, cones, concave) force individuals to be closely spaced and be intimate enough to form a group. Some environmental and other effects are highly focussed (illuminated spots, under the fan area, sunny patch, breezy path), force a group to share the same zone and so breed intimacy. Virtual proximity Intimacy is also achieved by entering into some one’s private domain like home, a bedroom, toilet, study area. Homes and work places of great persons provide illusion of physical intimacy. Crowded spaces force intimacy of coexistence. The coexistence may force an individual to mentally barricade own-self or open-up. Eye contact could be both intimate and non-intimate. A direct eye contact allows better nonverbal communication (empathy), but a direct eye contact also subdues the other person and thus is less-intimate. Persons meeting in one to one setting are more intimate, than their encounter in public presence or a gaze.

Two persons or members of a group can talk in whispers and give out an impression of intimacy in spite of the apparent distance between them. Conversely talk-discussions in high pitch could be used to present bonhomie and thereby a close-knit entity. Politicians and celebrities talk in whispers to state things that need to be made public and talk loudly things that need not be public, both ways they draw the attention. A public orator changes the pitch from normal to very low or high to draw the attention of the audience and thereby register a point.

Hailing Call > ART by Daniel Ridgway Knight (1839-1924)

Hall (1959), has stipulated that spatial separation also serves an expansive function. He made a study of the spatial relations that seem appropriate to various kinds of interactions. These vary with intimacy, and depend on the possibility of eye contact. They vary with the culture. Distances through virtual communication technology mediated interactions are likely to be different.

One can easily distinguish strangers from friends in an airport lounge. Strangers will keep a distance, taking alternate seats wherever possible. Friends tend to form clots, and families even pile one on the top of another. Total strangers will comfortably seat themselves only inches apart if the seats are back to back, but friends and the members of the family never arrange themselves in this way. Eye contact invites interaction and so is sought to the degree that intimacy already exists. (Hall E. T. 1959, The silent language).

Very close distance (75 to 150mm) required for Soft whispers, top secret talks. Close distance (200 to 300mm) is used for Audible whispers, and very confidential talks. Near distance (300 to 500mm) if for Soft voice talks and show of confidential interactions. Neutral distance (500 to 900mm) Low volume voice and for non intimate but personal discussion. Impersonal distance (1300 to 1500mm) is for full voice, impersonal information. Public distance (1700 to 2500mm) is for gatherings, slightly over-loud voice and for information for others to hear. Across room (2500 to 6000mm) Loud voice, talking to a group. Hailing privately (6000 to 7500 mm) is an indoor activity like loud voice for departure areas. Hailing public (30.00 mts) is used for outdoors, loud voice shouting, departures and calls.


The need to be alone or be part of a group arises from factors like personal (psychological and physiological), intra-personal (communication, exchanges) and group behaviour mechanisms (sense of belonging, sharing, participation, confirmation). Being alone, could be a need, but Loneliness is an anxious feeling about a lack connectedness. It is experienced in absence or presence of people, and in known as well as unknown surroundings. The causes of loneliness are many, such as social, mental, emotional, physiological and spiritual.


Causes for Loneliness are: Loss of a relationship due to breakup, travel, death of a person, dejection or withdrawal from a social circle, enforced isolation like jail or punishment like over stay at school or workplace, unfamiliar lifestyle, food and community leading to home sickness, a dysfunction of communication channels at places with low population densities, during periods of harsh climates and fewer people to communicate with due to language, sex, social or other barriers.


Loneliness can be attributed to personal need, period, place and people. A person when isolated may feel lonely but to feeling of loneliness is not always due to isolation. Solitude could be by choice, and so loneliness is a subjective experience. People can be lonely in a crowded or public place, because a person may be desiring more intensive social interaction than what is currently available, or the surroundings are not suitable for such opportunities. A person can be in the middle of a party and feel lonely due to inability to participate in it. Contrary to this one can be alone and yet not feel lonely if there is no need or desire for social interaction.

Loneliness tends to depress some but improves the cognition and improves capacity to concentration. Study rooms, prayer or meditation zones, contemplation areas, private consultation rooms, lovers’ corners in restaurants, back seats in assembly halls are designed to be less participatory. Such places of solitude or temporary loneliness lead to enhanced and creative expression. Solitude is also associated with spiritual and religious quests.


For solitude, other then isolation from people, some control over cognition may be necessary. Complete absence of cognition or by totally filtering an aspect of it (such as sound, light, touch, smell, etc.) in a space creates an uncomfortable situation. Even in jails and study rooms some illumination, background noise, distant odours are desirable to maintain mental health. Loneliness should be considered as an alert that it is time to seek social connections. Connections of this nature, may not occur with presence of people, but rather by necessary adaptation of the living space.

Single people keep themselves occupied through intensive work regimen, audio and video intervention, mobile or other means of communication, by seating near a street view window, keeping a pet as company, frequent relocation of amenities, irregular work cycles including physical workouts, dancing, and cooking.


Russian space psychologists analyze the body language and tone of voice to ensure compatibility of crew members. Members of a group must have a strategy of a good working relationship. One may not be very friendly with a companion, but a clear understanding as to how much you are ready to share and not share, creates a healthy relationship. The Shuttle-Mir missions of the 1990s Russian and American crew had problems of language and other communications, leading to isolation.

Loneliness is going to be a major issue for long duration space travel with few crew members. For some persons the problem will not be loneliness but too much of the same company. The privacy of space may not be feasible, but of few exclusive moments will be appreciated. Direct communication will not be possible for space flights. A radio signal can take up to 22 minutes to travel to or from the Earth. Two-way instant conversations will be completely impossible, so email and social media communication is likely to become inevitable. Both of these allow a degree of selectivity that it is not always necessary to respond, and your behaviour is not being visually exposed. With (as of now) poor condition of communication channels, most voice messages are truncated in bandwidths creating a phantom like effect, but belying the emotions.

It is extremely important to maintain the emotional ties to the ground (or enliven the past). NASA on ground station involves fellow astronauts who understand what the space travelers are going through. Loneliness is now being tackled by counselors available on telephone and social media 24×7.

Loneliness is also an issue with elderly people, staying in Old-age homes, hospitals and alone. They need someone to talk and respond, visually see the company, and touch. A robot seal is designed to improve all such sensorial functions. Space travelers will perhaps have such robots.

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


9 – HUMAN BEHAVIOUR in Expression and Communication

Post 39 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 9 in lecture series Space and Human Behaviour)


A space is confirmed (altered) or designed for the purpose of a behavioural setting. One intuitively exploits and cognizes the current spatial assets and environmental provisions, and then consciously continues to modify it.

Confirmed Space for Behavioural setting > Flickr Image by filtran > https://www.flickr.com/photos/filtran/3231576929/

Behavioural responses for expression and communication use functional elements such as: tools, amenities, facilities and structures. The characteristic style of architecture and interior space configurations inspires many to express and communicate. The Environmental conditions like illumination, acoustics and comfort affect the nature of expression and thereby the communication. Expression and communication are personal processes and are in consideration of Physical characteristics of the participants such as age, sex, experience, body posture, mental adequacy and maturity, time and distance, nature of need, compulsions, disposition, etc.

Suraj kund crafts festival India > Wikipedia image by Cordavida

Behavioural expressions extensively use spatial-environmental features, architectonic elements, amenities and facilities. Expressions are aided by the contextual conditions like spatial form, shape, size, scale, environment and surface materials. Other aids include referencing through position, orientation, background vs foreground, angle and nature of perceptibility, degree of sufficiency for various body functions (reach capacity, comfort, metabolisms, etc.). These aids simplify, amplify, de-intensify, amalgamate, compact, quicken or retard the rate and contents of expression. In absence or dilution of these ‘effects’ the expression may not be very operative.

Unconscious Behaviour > Pixabay Image by nguyentuanhung > https:// pixabay.com/en/people-market-shopping-street-262886/

Human Behaviour, intentionally and automatically reflect the responses to internal or external events. The behavioural reactions to someone or something are in discrete or overt form. The responses are revealed through body positions, orientations, movements, postures, gestures, spatial distancing from other objects and beings, usage and avoidance of reach and support tools. The revelations of feelings occur even before one makes an effort to do so, and sometimes in spite of the conscious effort to suppress them. The exposition, must occur under certain protocol and situational conditions.

Body Language > Flickr Image by filtran > https://www.flickr.com/photos/filtran/ 2710638876

Behavioural responses are intentional or automatic. Intentional ones are rational borne out of reasoning, knowledge or purpose. Others are automatic, resulting from physiological processes such as injury, pain, pleasure, metabolisms etc. Both types of responses could be so subtle that the person expressing or the party perceiving it may not be aware of it. The responses could be also of short duration, insignificant, suppressed or concealed. Involuntary responses are reflexion of personal behaviour. ‘The behavioural responses expose the changes occurring in a human being and could also in turn influence the behaviour’.

Auto reaction behaviour > Flickr Image by Thomas Leuthard nju deli#12 > https://flickr.com/photos/thomaslethard/16324789904

Intentional behaviour has a purpose of informing, recording, recollecting, inciting, convincing, putting forth an argument, generating feedback, forcing, showing feelings, ideas, thoughts, opinions, re-experiencing, recollecting, abridgement, elaboration or re-enactment of a happening.

Unintentional behaviour > She is not with a mobile but unconsciously copies other person’s stance > Flickr image by Gideon > https://www.flickr.com/photos/malias/2613512932

Intentional behaviour is expressed effectively through the body’s movements, gestures and postures. Expression as an impromptu process is accompanied with use of learnt or improvised behaviour. Behavioural learning can manifest on recollection of the event any time later, and may be used for some other situation. When one is aware of being observed directly by another human being or a device, the expressions are masked, suppressed or reformatted. Such acts are also carried out by time-management, such as hastening or delaying the expression and by putting out diversionary behaviour.

Pixabay image > Legs > https://pixabay.com/en/legs-walking-walk-lims-motion-19759/

Expressions within a geographical-social-political area or community have some degree of commonality due to their progression to metaphoric vocabulary. Such forms become classical expressions due to very intense, frequent usage and abstractions. Classical forms become formal language for intentional and to some extent subconscious expressions. Behavioural expressions have become means of communication. Expressions used for communication are intentional. Expression for communication may be ‘unintentional’ that is not occur for any particular audience. Expressions for aesthetic satiation are always intentional. Expressions for aesthetic satiation occur through representative forms like singing, writing, art, craft, etc. The intent here is communication of an abstract content, either for personal satisfaction or an audience.

Flickr Image by Marko Kudjerski IMG_ 4968 > https://flickr.com/photos/marko8904/8230612385/

Behavioural responses communicate information. The ‘direct channel’ transmits information with some purpose. Direct channels are under control of the sender and receiver. Direct channels use both, verbal, and non verbal means. The ‘indirect channel’ transmits information that is not controlled by the sender, though perceived subliminally or subconsciously by the receiver. The indirect channels use the non verbal means such as the kinesics or body language. Here there may not be an explicit message, but inner emotions and feelings are involved. The receiver may call it a gut feeling, hunch, intuition, or premonition.

You got a mail > Flickr Image by Georgie Pauwels > https://www.flickr.com/photos/frosch50/10858946293

When behaviour is purposive, it allows a person to organize and rationalize the thoughts, record, recollect and rearrange the contents. It also allows one to emphasize and de-emphasize whole or parts of the content. Intentional expressions get improvised the moment a perceiver shows reactions. Though expression, communication and its perception may not happen in same time or space. Expressions for posterity are recorded as writing or image creation, broadcast through a device or recording on a media.

One may make an intentional expression by using body gestures and postures but additionally support it by other sensorial means like vocal and touch. Non-personal or absentia expressions through remote means like telephone, broadcasting or publications use various means of emphasis (or even diffusion) (repeat, highlight, placement, emphasis) to support the expressions. Like for example, speaking face to face or frontal-way is a very direct but can be diffused by slightly off-centric or angular dealing. Similarly a superior delivery position, a static and clear background, appropriate lighting, clothes, etc. reinforce it.

Wikipedia Image

Non verbal Communications

Non verbal communications include postural, gestural and other (endocrines) features: like: facial expressions, eye contact, controllable body movements, metaphoric associations, sounds, odours etc. It also occurs through objects and metaphors, like: clothes, hairdos, architecture, interior, furniture, furnishings, arts, crafts, colour combinations, lighting ambience, signs, symbols, graphics, typography, etc.

Non verbal communication during the interaction operates in the Following contexts. Surroundings like: furniture, architectural styling, interior decoration, amenities, illumination, acoustics, and temperature. Physical characteristics of the communicators such as the age and sex differences, experiences, body posture, mental adequacy and maturity, time and distance as available, nature of need, inclinations, etc., and the behaviours of communicators. Behaviour of the communicators during the interactions, like: transaction to be one way or two-way, communication to be one to one or one to many, the use of feed-forward and feedback mechanisms, etc.


Dance is a metaphoric form of nonverbal communication. It can be abstract form of a self-expression or a very formal vocabulary of movements, steps, postures, mudras, gestures additionally supported by musical rhythm or Tal-beats. All these can become so abstract that there is ambiguity and personal meaning.

Afghanistan Afghan Discussion Talks Communication
Afghans Talk > http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Afghanistan-Afghan-Discussion-Talks-Communication-887775
Group behaviour in traditional Madagascar society is more of non verbal communication > Pixino.com free images

Verbal communication

Verbal communications use spoken-words or language, and also written and other textual forms of expressions. Verbal expression is substantially coloured by para-language and prosodic features, like the voice quality, rhythm, metre, intonation, stress, pause, emotion and speaking style. Textual expressions have elements such as presentation style of handwriting, graphics, typography or calligraphy.

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



Post 38 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 8 in lecture series Space and Human Behaviour)


Human behaviour is seen in many different forms. Responses occurring due to a trigger or need, are intentional, whereas biological reactions are voluntary. Human behaviour is seen as macro or micro changes. Such changes are very explicit, but others are realized on their recurrence. Human behaviour can be simply defined as a different conduct when faced with a specific situation or a consequential action.

Plato and Aristotle, School of Athens, ART by Raphael (1483-1520)

Behaviour of a person depends on the level of adjustments, adoption, comfort, need for change, nature of interpersonal relationships and degree of exchanges with the space-environment settings. It is also conditioned by the culture and geopolitical surroundings. Behaviour can project different meanings to different people.

Pixels image > Two children

For a space designer, the study of behaviour in offers clues as to how a person will respond to a given space-environment setting. The two-way exchange between the space-environment and a person or group are so rapid that is not possible to separate cause and effects.

Rossio, Lisbon, Portugal, African Immigrants > Image by Ribeiro Simoes

A space-environment setting is an ever-changing enigma. A space characteristically static, seem to vary due to the environment. The space-environment concurrence poses an ever evolving relevance to the habitants.

Behaviour in Space is checked for:

  1.  Lone Inhabitant
  2. individuals within a group,
  3.  Group-based behaviour.

Behaviour of a lone inhabitant of a space depends on personal factors like pre existing psychological conditions, physiological make up, nature of the space+environment setting, experience, sequencing, personality build-up, cultural background and the task being handled. The behaviour also reflects the social responses as seen from habits, routines, customs, taboos, etc. Behaviour of a lone occupant is often in consideration of other absentee human beings.

Waiting alone > Flickr Image by Pedro Ribeiro Simoes Lisbon Portugal

● Behaviour of individual within a group is formed by the person’s own-self or, through personal factors like degree of social familiarity, commonality of purpose (affinity-kinship), similarity of age, sex, physical features, notions of intimacy and privacy. It is also moulded by the personal comfort (adaptation or acclimatization), familiarity of space and the environment make up, the duration of space occupation and degree of inhabitation, sequence of experiences, the capacity, means and opportunities of expression, etc.

Talking in Kitchen Pandang > Flickr Image

Group based behaviour is generated for many complex factors. It is also accumulation of individualistic behaviours, affective as a set of affinities of a loner, or rebellious mass hysteria. Group based behaviour in context of different persons is unique. Here the space and environmental settings (sharing the same domain) remain consistent, but other variants play an important role, such as distance of interaction, position (orientation -frontal, sideways, backside), familiarity, modes of expressions of behaviour (such as posture, gesture) and the ‘reach’ capacities of the participants. In a group the perception capacity of individuals depends on their need for participation. Smart or experienced individuals enhance their projection (and there by participation) by exploiting the features of space and environment. Audio-video means and other virtual reality modes can intensely simulate identical behaviour in individuals that are separated in space and time.

Old people playing cards in neighbourhood > Flickr Image Pedro Ribeiro Simoes


A lone inhabitant, Individuals within a group, and Groups of people indicate their behaviour in following manners.

1. Shift in Space: One of the most perceived forms of behaviour is the shift in space. A shift in space is the change one cause in own-self, or the surroundings. The shift in space is made to gain a relief and to recast the relationship with the surroundings including other beings. One changes the body position and orientation frequently to re-calibrate the relationship with people and objects. Such shifts are subtle to more elaborate, like a change of posture to new place. From the moment of arrival into a space one starts a search for location, a place to confront objects and other beings in the space. The process reflects the attitude of a person through the gait, speed, clarity of the purpose, postural and gestural changes, etc. One can perceive and schematize the approach by promotive as well as hindering means.

Waiting Architecture Tate Building Shadows People
Anchoring to a place > waiting in architecture of Tate Buildings’ shadows and people > Mex Pixel Image

2 Anchoring to a place: In a space one needs to attach or belong to a place. One first shifts the location and orientation on entering a new space or when behaviour must be recast. By repositioning one vitalizes the relationships with objects and other beings. A strategy of behaviour is planned for objects and other beings who are already present, or their presence is envisaged. One needs a mark to position own self. The markings are found in spatial elements like a barrier, an edge, a differential in environment, a pattern, objects, amenities, facilities, nodes of services, other single human being or in groups. Other markings are metaphysical elements and metaphorical presences. A designer recognizes such entities, or implants them to make a space inhabitable or even hostile.


3. Change of Orientation: The primary shift occurs through change of orientation vis a vis an object, human being or a natural force (energy). The shift in orientation occurs by realigning the nodes of perception, such as turning nose towards or away from smell, view or ignore a sight, etc. It also occurs by being aware of a thing.

Korean village women folk in Hanbok > Flickr image by Caspian Blue

4. De-synchronized Movements of the Body limbs: Orientation of the body, of a limb like head and of the sensorial nodes like eyes, ears, nose, etc. are sometimes de-synchronized. One may talk to other, but avoid a square face to face position.

5. Sequencing in space: Behaviours in space are sequence of movements with planned or unplanned purposes, but all in consideration of other happenings. The unplanned sequences reflect improvisations for exploration, or compulsions of intense discomfort. A change in the expected sequence is divergent behaviour.

The next action > Pixabay image by SilviaP_Design Deutsch

6. Body Movements: Body movements are of three types: parallel, against or towards the gravity. Of these, towards the gravity movements are passive, because these can be made without muscle activity. Movements are Active or Passive. Active movements are produced by own muscles to move a body’s part, whereas Passive movements are made by an outside force and without the participation or effort by the person. In both cases the distance, speed, and direction are important. Other passive movements are like the reverting positions, where a stretched muscle ‘relaxes’ to its normal position. The aid of tools amenities, facilities, structures, etc., are required for passive movements. Infirm and aged people rely on these when their own muscles become weak or are incapacitated. Physiotherapists use passive movements to regain the muscle power. Socially, any assistance for active movement hurts personal pride. Similarly physically disabled people do not prefer marked passive movement’s facilities for them.

Remaining engaged and anchored on the sidewalk of Times Square NY > Flickr image by Rosemarie Crisafi

7. Posturing: Postures are body positions that one adopts, voluntarily or unconsciously. These are to accommodate effects of gravity, exert the body for movement or resist it, to reach-out, withdraw or for exploiting the environmental effects. Posturing is using own body limbs and sensorial nodes in a coordinated manner, when alone, with another person, or groups of persons, objects in space, or environmental effects. Posturing requires change in the position and orientation of the body, relaxation, transition, exercise, activities, conducting tasks, communication and interaction. Postures indicate the current state or impending change in behaviour. One may reduce the degree of posturing or avoid frequent positioning by shifting the objects, reshaping the surroundings, changing the environment. One can also force recast of the sensorial connections through avoidance or engagement. Posturing occurs with and without the tools, amenities and facilities.

Le Moulin de la Galette > ART by Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

Postures are multi limb positions, and so have many variations within a basic theme. The variations are also micro changes of the body that help tune in sensorial perceptions. Postures create empathetic and confirming images. Certain body positions, patterns and movements suggest specific emotions. Postures directly and abstractly convey the state of interpersonal relationships, social standing, personality traits such as confidence, submissiveness, and openness, current emotional state and temperament. Postures are also used for offensive and defensive and non-involvement purposes. Posturing helps one control incursion by others into the personal domain of behaviour, as much as it allows one to project a participating personality.

Two old men on a bench > Pixabay image by marybettiniblank San Francisco CA

8. Aids for posturing: A posture often requires support, aid, or simply a physical closeness (as an assurance) of tools, amenities, facilities and structural elements. Support structures may not be versatile enough to provide all the required proficiencies. Some degree of personal adjustments is required to achieve the intended purpose. To attain and continue the posture, one needs support from other means. Real supports are like: tools (walking sticks, shoes, etc.), amenities and facilities (architectonic elements, equipments, furniture, furnishings, etc.). Virtual supports are abstract: such as the required environmental conditions and psychological sureties that in need these are available in the vicinity.

The parable of the blind leading the blind > ART by Pieter Brueghel the elder (1526/1530-1569)

 A podium or a front desk is a very assuring platform for a speaker, but shields the expression through body language. A leader, on a higher platform, controls the assault from the audience, and thereby dominates. By standing against a wall one assures that intrusion from that side is blocked, but by occupying a corner one limits the escape routes. Sitting in an aisle seat (In comparison to a window seat) allows one the postural freedom, but makes one prone to disturbances. Front benchers have to be attentive. Occupying a geometrical centre or a spatial focus automatically enhances the interference.

9. Open versus Closed body postures: In multi limb postures body limbs such as hands, fingers, feet, head, etc. are variously used to cover vulnerable sections of the body. Open body posture is perceived as a friendly and positive attitude. Closed body posture obscures and protects limbs like throat, abdomen, genitals, etc. Showing the back of the hand or clenching hands into fists may represent a closed posture. Hands clasped behind the back give impression of hiding something or resistance to closer contact, mean a closed body posture. Closed body postures give the impression of detachment, disinterest, unpleasant feelings and hostility. Similarly clothing may also signal closed posture such as a buttoned suit, or a handbag or briefcase held in front of the person.

Open body posture > ART Jealousy and flirtation by Haynes King (1831-1904)
Closed body posture > Flickr Image by cturtle22

A chair with arms rests, railings, bus or railway hang-straps encourage open posture. A moving object like a bus will not allow closed body posture. A deep seat that allows stretching of legs and excludes the crossing of legs, supports the open posture. A stool seat (without back) allows one to lean forward as an open posture. Sitting on the side of a fairly wide chair, leaning too much on one of the armrest, sitting upright (without touching the back) in an easy chair, sleeping very straight in a bed, keeping hands in pockets of the garment, are some of the signs of closed body postures. A person with a higher position nominally takes a more relaxed posture that seems to be less challenging, often sits down to talk. Whereas a person with a lower position, often maintains balanced or formal posture by placing both hands on the lap or at the sides and may remain standing until asked to sit.

Multiplicity of postures, position and behavioural expressions > Congress of Berlin 13 July 1878 > ART by Anton von Werner (1843-1915)

10. Postural axises: Postures are axially balanced or skewed. Balanced postures are mirror-image (congruent) postures, such as equally posed two feet, two hands, etc., or are normal like the frontal face, upright torso, erect neck, straight eye level, etc. Skewed postures reflect a readiness to transfer to another posture, due to shift in interest or saturation of boredom. Both, the balanced and skewed postures, can be unstable and cannot be maintained for a very long period. Inclination of the body, or head, close-to or away from the opposite person during a conversation depends on the basic posture of the body. The action depends on the sex and age of the opposite person and the nature of the topic. An inclination towards the opposite person can be an expression of sympathy and acceptance, whereas moving or inclining away can show dislike, disapproval, or a desire to end the conversation.

Mime artists Jean and Brigitte Soubeyran in play the Circus > Wikipedia image by Ellen and Gilles > Wikipedia image by Ellen & Gilles Soubeyrand

An intense conversation with heavy gesticulation or posture changes can be subdued by adding to the distance between the parties. Deep seating or reclining elements and mirrors not only reduce gesticulation, postural changes but also intensity of conversation. In waiting rooms seats are distanced and do not face the receptionist. A TV monitor that shows the class or office space disciplines the users.

Italian Old Men on Benches > Pixabay image by marybettiniblank San Francisco CA

11. Gestures: Gestures are voluntary or involuntary micro articulations of the body limbs and sensorial nodes (such as eyes, lips, skin, etc.). These are for expressions, directional perception, metabolic functions and other physiological reactions. Gestures include small moves of the head, face, eyes and nose (winking, nodding, twitching of nose, or rolling of eyes) and hands. Gestures are used to supplement the communication, but could be, either dependent or independent on the speech. Speech-independent gestures have a direct verbal translation, though often very abstract. A wave hello or peace signs are examples of speech-independent gestures. Gestures such as dance Mudra represent very abstracted information that is relevant to a culture specific group.

Gestures by comedian Lewis Black > Wikipedia image

Gestures could be categorized into many types:

Emblems are gestures with direct verbal translations, such as a goodbye wave, thumbs-up, Namaste, shrugging of shoulder (don’t know), head-shake (negation), or head-nodding (affirmation).

Illustrators are gestures that depict what is said verbally, such as in story telling, turning an imaginary steering wheel or running.

Displays are gestures that convey intensity of emotions, like a smile, cry.

Regulators are gestures that support the interaction.

An adapter is a gesture that facilitates the release of bodily tension, such as yawning or leaving a breath.

12. Eye level and its focus are some of the most important means of behaviour exposition. One can increase the distance and help de-focus the ‘gaze’, by taking a side seat or stand or by seating behind a desk. Often the opponents are disadvantaged by offering an uncomfortable seat, a seat lower in height and placing them in a non-axial position. Opponents are discomforted by providing them a fixed position with little or no chance for sub-posturing, like very narrow space, unbalancing, scary or distracting position. One, as an opponent can correct such conditions: by sitting or standing upright, by aligning body and sensorial faculties in the same direction, by heavily gesticulating, and raising the voice.

Making faces, Empathetic behaviour, > Pixabay image MSneor Highland Park USA

13. Empathetic behaviour: During intense conversations participants have a tendency to imitate each other behaviour. They emulate postures and gestures. Such empathetic behaviour encourages deeper relationship, provided necessary support means are available. Correct distance, equalized ergonomic facilities, nonspecific environmental conditions are some such means.

Public Transport > Flickr Image by Ahmed Mahin Fayaz


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