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 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.



Post 37 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 7 in lecture series Space and Human Behaviour)


Size and Shape of a space are two independent qualitative factors. A space can have many different shapes irrespective of the size, and so it is an absolute function. The size can manifest in many different forms but remains relative to the human body. The size makes a shape is relevant when it adequately relates to the human body, or it has only symbolic value.

Regatta sailing into Venice dwarfing the buildings > Wikipedia image by Rob Young from UK

Shape and Size have concurrent spatial relevance. Spatial relevance is checked in terms of utility (functional adequacy), ergonomics requirements, past experiences and sensorial reach capacities. Shape is often equated with form. And if the ‘form follows the function’ then shape has purposes that are utilitarian, depictive or symbolic.


Shapes of Spaces emerge due to the edges or barriers and stresses like gravity affecting the field. Our perception faculties are directional and nodal. Hearing and vision, are bi-nodal. Vision, smell and taste faculties are frontal, whereas touch is non-local. Faculties of perception and the shape of space have an immediate connection. Balanced or equilateral spaces, such as a square, round, or a triangle, are difficult to occupy at their nominal centres. For such balanced spaces, a non-centric location seems more efficient for occupation. A square or a circle subsist on their own and seem to survive in all types of conditions and times. Irregular shaped spaces need a strong orientation force to sustain the deviation.

Irregular shape spaces > Dinan Old Town > Flickr image by Paul Tomlin

Monuments designed for posterity (historic buildings, memorials), government buildings, institutions associated with discipline (army training, hospitals, research laboratories) overwhelmingly have cubical shapes or regular forms.

Closed in overhead forms like domes, pyramids, tents, etc. seem to provide greater cover and so protection compared to regular cubical or flat roofs. Sloped roofs and floors not only indicate an orientation but enforce concentration (or dissipation). Slopes indicate a gradual change and so have been used to tie up different domains. Stepped forms show a sequential change and mark different but connected domains. The nature of activities in a space help highlight or de-emphasize the shape. A spiral stair’s circular movement enhances its vertical scale, but a right or left turning spiral could, respectively, mean upward or downward movement orientation. Minarets and Gopuram narrowing skyward enhance the vertical direction.

Stepped forms > Potala Palace Lhasa Tibet > Flickr image by Dennis Jarvis

Shapes like convex, concave or parabolic curvatures modify the movement. Planes that slope away or towards the user, mean opening or closing of the form. Right and left turns have culture specific relevance which may override presumed biological preferences.

Size is fundamentally scaled to the human being, but it also represents capacities of retaining, spreading and distancing. These capacities also reflect the effort and duration required to possess, occupy, use and even dispose off (de-possess, de-occupy) an entity.

British Parliament is an elongated rectangular with opposite benches, signifying one is either for the government (ruling party) or in opposition. Many other parliaments in multi party democracies have segmental circle forms, with speaker occupying the cut end. Equal participation seminars are held in square or circular rooms (an UN security council). One way affairs, like press conferences were once held at the smaller end of a rectangular room, but are now held with a wider end as backdrop to facilitate video shooting. Lectures, discourses are focussed to the speaker. Fashion shows use the long axis of a rectangular space to be with the spectators. Olympics’ main stadium is a multi game facility, where events like opening – closing ceremonies get a highly defined shape – form, but smaller items of athletics get a de-emphasized (nonspecific) a shape entity.

Renaissance Lille Palais des beaux arts > Wikipedia Image by Velvet

The shapes get corrupted through over-design and intensive occupation. In all architectural styles (Renaissance, Gothic, Byzantine, etc.), their end periods are marked by extensive transgressions out of their classical forms. In such extensively transgressed entities, size or shape are difficult to recognize.

Within a domain various shapes are formed to introduce interrelationships of proportions, analogy, sequencing, proximity, etc. Shape configurations are closed or open ended. Some show potential of growth through distension, others are open to attachments. The shape expansion is linear, planner or volumetric, and local, pervasive, directional or haphazard. A spatial shape reflects the constituent forces, so a shape could be changeable or consistent.



The size of a space is scaled to the body size of the occupants. Such scaling confers certain functionality to the space. The functions of space size include: nature of cognition, reach, communication, exchanges, levels of intimacy, loss of objectivity and subjective involvement. The size is seen as the facility of accommodation and also future potential for alternation, improvisation, and personalization. Sizes in neighbourhood spaces are perceived for recognition and reach to define the functional adequacy for interpersonal relationships and mutual relationship between spatial elements.

National Cathedral Washington DC USA > very tall and deep space > image by Sr Airman Daniel R Decook

At Absolute level the size of a space is seen as the difference between the Length and Width and considered a narrow or wide entity. Height accentuates or de-emphasizes the character of narrowness or broadness of the space. The equality of Length and Width of space marks a balance. The orientation of smaller or larger size gives a feel of a deep and shallow space. The size differential also gives a sense of long vs short direction to the space.

Staircases and Atrium interior of Bradbury Building, LA USA > Wikipedia image > Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division CA-334-6

A space is perceived to be small, adequate or large in terms of various tasks, and in terms of responses it offers over such as echoes, reverberation, reflection, illumination, glare, vision. Same space may be seen to be of a different size depending on the recent experiences. Most people find hospital wards to be very strange (large). Occupation of domains with unusual proportions (combinations of lengths, widths, and height) and sizes require extra efforts of accommodation.

Istiqlal Mosque Prayer Hall, Jakarta Indonesia > Wikipedia Image by Gunawan Kartapranata 

For a lay person, spaces within the known range (of recognition) are predictable and so manageable. The strangeness or alienation is reduced by introducing scalable elements such as repetitions, rhythmic evolution, structured patterning, sensory gradation, acceleration-de-acceleration, graduated changeovers, linkages, relationships through modulation and proportioning.



Shapes, proportions, sizes and their placement and sequencing, are very important tools of space design. Designers, intentionally avoid as well as include such effects, but then surprises do occur. Spatial manipulations and surprises, both are further exploited by the users for individualization.

Asahi Plaza Capsule Hotel > Wikipedia image by Peter Woodman Seattle WA USA

In a space entity peripheral zones represent the variations. These are marked with graduated as well as substantive changes of sizes. Within a space, the size (and thereby the proportions) changes provide variegated settings for different activities. Architectonic elements form static zones. Transient elements like environment form dynamic areas. Variability of segments of space is sometimes due to the processes of perception. Perception of space is due to past experiences, age, physiological condition and moods.



Small spaces are small absolutely and relatively. A space is considered small if one, two, or all of its dimensions (Length, Width, Height) are small in comparison to the occupant’s body size and inadequate for task requirements. A space is considered small (narrow) if one of its horizontal-spread dimensions (either Length or Width) is proportionately smaller.

Nakagin Capsule Tower Shinbashi Tokyo, Design by Kisho Kurokawa 1972 > Wikipedia image by Wiiii


Capsule Tower > Flickr Image by Forgemind Webuse 0002

Capsule Module Interior > Flickr Image by Forgemind Webuse 0002

Small spaces are considered intimidating and claustrophobic because the core zone nearly embraces the entire space, leaving no or very small peripheral area. Such core zones touching the periphery are too susceptible to affectations from neighbouring domains. Small spaces evoke overwhelming power of the barriers, such as no echoes, or no depth for perspective perception.

Nakagin Capsule Tower’s One Pod at the Mori Art Museum > Wikipedia image by Dick Johnson

Small spaces are intimate and show good recognition. Small spaces aid intra-personal communication and exchanges. But very small spaces become too personal for reasonable for objective communication. Small spaces are acutely specific for one or few activities and so are manageable. Small spaces may be functionally adequate by themselves but do not permit even a temporary expansion of an activity. Small sub-space modules have a tendency to merge and form a larger system, as it saves estate wastage in peripheral zones. Small spaces bulge (transgress) out of peripheral zones.

Small Intimate Spaces – Boating Party ART by Renoir



Large spaces have large core zones and equally large peripheral zones. Very large spaces have diffused or multiple cores. Diffused cores have poor recognition, communication and exchange capacity. In large spaces the distanced barriers are also less commanding for the quality of the core zone. A large space with fewer occupants may seem impersonal compared to small space, which in some way infuses intimacy. Large spaces allow individualization, but group formation becomes uncertain. Large spaces confer power to the individual who can own it and have the reach capacity to control it.

Macao airport Lounge > Wikipedia Image by Pizzaboy1

Amphi theatre performances require large frill dresses, loud dialogue delivery, spaced out movements -theatrics, real or make-believe sub-zoning of the stage. Large space audiences can be reached through public address system, a large podium, stage setting, colour-light highlighting, etc. People in large spaces like airports and marriage halls reach out to others through wild gestures, shouting etc.

Very Large Space Amphi Theatre Aspendos > Flickr Image by David Holt

Large spaces seem alien as the peripheral zones are too varied and segmented making the edges less definitive. Occupation of large spaces is a challenging act. One needs to find points for anchorage, a direction for orientation, presence of other human being (or an animal like a dog) for confirmation, and a ready strategy for exit in any exigency.

Large space with very transparent periphery zone  > Mai Le speaking at CreativeMornings Wikipedia Image by CreativeMornings



Narrow spaces have one of the floor dimensions (width or length) proportionately smaller. Spaces with a strong linear (directional) character seem narrower. Narrow spaces are functionally single-purpose entities, such as stairs, passages, roads, corridors, etc. Narrow spaces discipline the movement. The functional inadequacy of narrow spaces could also be physical, a carryover of the past experiences or a psychological condition. Taller spaces often seem narrower compared to a shallow or low height space, with the same floor spread. Narrow spaces have domineering effect of the side barriers, more so if these are opaque that is without any break or transgression.

Narrow lane > Marten Trotzigs grand Gamla stan Stockholm, Sweden > Wikipedia Image by Mastad

Narrow spaces allow formation of small groups. Linear distance among the groups increases the privacy and intimacy. Narrow spaces may have multi-core zones due to the specific conditions available locally, such as near the doors, windows, columns, corners, benches, niches, public address systems, focussed illumination spots, air movement-delivery and ventilation nodes (fans, air conditioners, heaters), stair entrances, junctions (cross corridors, floor cutouts), signboards, parapets, ash trays, etc. Narrow spaces in their longer direction are leading and focussing, and in the shorter direction are diffusive and non-attentive. Art galleries are designed to be linear spaces as the exhibits are smaller, but master pieces in museums are placed in halls, for distance viewing. The hall of mirrors, Versailles is a classic example of long space; opaque on one side and fully windowed on the other side.

Tall space seem narrow > Amiens cathdral South aisle > Wikipedia image by Raggartt2000



Wide space is very ambiguous a term. All large sized spaces are also wide spaces, because here both dimensions are functionally more than adequate. A corridor is long (so essentially narrow) element, but could have generous width, making it a wide lobby or a hall. A space seems wider if it is less occupied and sparingly furnished (a vacant hall). Shallow spaces (low height) seem wider and larger. Wide spaces have distanced barriers and so mid space elements like columns, central furniture pieces, floor cut outs, etc. gain importance. A space may seem wide, if its barriers are non opaque, allowing vision, movement, etc. across it. Wide spaces allow group formation. Individuals and groups have intimacy and privacy due to inter group distancing. Wide spaces, if adequately dimensioned permit sub-core activities near their peripheries.

Very Large Space and group behaviour dynamics at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles, Los Angels



A Tall is a ‘height’ identity and Deep is frontal distance distinction. In both the cases the side barriers have a strong impress that often restricts, or affects the apparent size perception. Tall and deep spaces acutely reveal their functionality. Chowks, cutouts, light wells, stair wells, under sides of domes, etc. are directional (vertically stretched) and static (non changing) spaces. These are considered ideal for non diversionary activities like study, meditation and prayer. Exhibitions, museums emulate this effect, by spot lighting the displayed items. Tall and deep spaces restrict the transmission of background noise (nearly absorb all the reflected sound, allowing only the direct waves).

Salt cave in Mount Sodom Israel > Wikipedia image by Wilson44691



Reach is an important determinant of how a space is sensed to be, large or small. Reach in a space relates to not only the distance one needs to transit, to perceive or wrest an object, but also command over happenings within the space. The command in space manifests through visual coverage, audibility, olfactory distinction, tastes sensation, etc. Reach in space occurs through bridging of nodes such as the architectural elements, amenities and facilities within the space. It also occurs through associations (confirming or contrasting) between surfaces, forms and patterns, environmental conditions, sizes and proportional hierarchies.


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




Post 36 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 6 in lecture series Space and Human Behaviour)


Spaces are recognized and improvised by lay persons, whereas are planned by designers, for a range of behaviour. These stack holders, though have different intentions, do arrive to some common realizations.

PixNio Image “Female sitting Library” By Debora Cartagena USCDCP

The spaces can be distinguished into several classes.

One, where the extent is endless and sometimes beyond the limits of perception, the Wild exteriors;

Two, where the marked edges define the range of perception, forming neighbourhoods;

Three, Enclosing elements creating a dimensioned spatial definition, an interior space;

Four, a threshold zone that manifests between the interior space and the neighbourhoods.

Land Markings > Pixabay Image by danilocarta Cagliari/Italia


Wild exterior spaces are recognized for the endless sensorial effects. The space is often unreal or perfunctory, as it only denotes the potential –what can one do with it? It initiates a desire to visit it, and than perhaps possess it. Visit to the place makes it real and substantial. Possession of the place is a recognition of the existing markings or implanting new ones. This is the beginning of a neighbourhood.

A very vast space is perceived through its markings. A ‘beautiful sunset, a valley or seashores’ are markings of a space. These are evident through the physical elements like: edges, banks, thresholds, slopes, plains or fences and environmental effects thereon. We perceive only certain range of space. The reach varies with each perceiver’s capacity, needs and environmental conditions so is very circumstantial.

Neighbours and their Spaces > Flickr Image by European Commission EU/ECHO/M.Morzaria


Individual markings of possessions, together form a network of bounding elements. These bounding elements identify sets of individual zones and exclusive environment available there. A distinctive neighbourhood develops due to the common territory and environment. A neighbourhood is a ‘collection of individuals and places’. As an exterior space, it is finite and predictable. Here the social contacts develop due to familiarity of people and known lay of the place.

A neighbourhood has recognizable geometric order, predictable structure, purposive nodes or anchorages, well-defined segments, distinct routes and paths, good sensorial perception and recognition of the whole and its parts.

Commercial Area of Hutong Beijing > Wikipedia-Flickr Image by Geoff McKim

 ‘A jungle of apartments where no one knew who was dead or who was celebrating what – but an archipelago of neighbourhoods, in which everyone knew each other.’ -Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories and the City.

Neighbourhood spaces have paths and open spaces that both connect as well as separate various habitable spaces. Here it is not the distance but the degree of dependence that forms unified neighbourhood space. The dependence is need-based as much as it is perception based. One may not know or formally meet the neighbour for years, or ever, but the perception someone is staying in vicinity is a great social comfort. Very often even the presence of a man-made object provides the same comfort.

Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle -ART by Eugene Galien Laloue (1854-1941)

Neighbourhood spaces separate wild exteriors from the interior spaces. A neighbourhood space comes into being and remains valid in the context of the interior space. A space created by the enclosure (interior) is far more enduring then one defined by bounding (neighbourhood). Neighbourhoods are finite, shaped and sized but spaces for inhabitation require greater degree of intervention then improvisation, and so are designed.

Interior of the Great Mosque (Ulucami) Bursa Turkey > ART by John Frederick Lewis (1805-1876)


The interior spaces are enclosed entities. The outward sensorial reach beyond the edge of the interior space does not affect either the wild or neighbourhood exterior spaces. However, other way around, Interior spaces are affected by all the happenings in exteriors. A very strong enclosure creates an isolated space, of limited relevance. However, translucency of the enclosure brings in environmental variations to the interior. The interior space and the timed environmental variations create a wide variety of purposive settings.

Olivandenhof Interior Koln > Wikipedia image by ZH2010

 The depth or scale as defined by the enclosing elements, reflecting the sensorial reach such as vision, hearing, smell, touch, etc. Interior spaces have many variegated subsections within. The major variation derives from the orientation. The degree of translucency of the enclosing elements adds several alternatives to this. Other variations are related to the use, and are specific to perception.

Inward Transgression of Exterior > Dwelling at Jaisalmer Rajasthan India > Image with Courtesy by Ms Kavita Abhijit Murugkar on FB as (https://www.facebook.com/abhijit.murugkar )

The enclosures of the interior spaces have varied levels of transparencies. The openings in the shell allow escapes at many places. The transgressions across the enclosure occur as outward push and inward pull of the interior space. The outward push or encroachments are often ‘cost-less’, though may ‘load’ the enclosure (shell) body. It increases the interior volume and permits a restrained exterior. The inward intrusions, however, consume interior space or estate and reduce the net enclosed space. All transgressions add extra surfaces over the enclosure body, with or without a proportional increase in volume. Both types of transgressions, inward and outward reach, make the interior spaces vibrant.

Bay Window > Outward transgression of Interior space > Amber Palace Jaipur Rajasthan India > Wikipedia Image by BazaNews

Examples of outward transgressions: Galleries, balconies, Chhatris, campanile, bay-windows, oriel-windows, dormers, Mashrabiya, verandahs, skylights, etc. Examples of inward transgressions: Cutout, Chowks, courtyards, Liwan, setbacks, cutbacks, shafts, light-wells, etc.

The form and format of an interior space are unitary and consistent, but the subsections show minor, local and temporary variations. An insulated and less affected segment, of an interior space is its core zone. A core zone is nominally centric. At the core, metaphysical elements like concepts, beliefs, taboos, etc. that reflect the essence of the inhabitation are stronger. Whereas metaphorical elements like signs, symbols flourish towards the peripheral area.

Inward Transgression of Exterior > Roman Courtyard at Vindolanda > Wikipedia image by Michael Graham

Peripheral zones become some multilateral entities reflecting the environmental variations. Where such variations become extensive and permanent, a new spatial entity comes into being. For example, cooking-dining, kitchen-bathing, entrance-living room, etc. have been one, adjunct or segregated entities, at different times or for different social reasons.

Virtual immediacy in Architecture > ART by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Arco di Trionfo (1745-1750)

It is not necessary for the interior space and the exteriors to be concurrent in time and coexistent in space. One can conceive each, Interior or Exterior alone. Virtual immediacy of the two realms, however can be achieved by carrying across the impressions of the other. The duality of the interior and the exterior is like an antithetic zone to the other. One can also replace the physical presence of the Exterior or Interior realms through their notional representations. The interior and exteriors spaces, can occur as a ‘metaphoric concept’ for the other.

Metaphoric spaces >Wrath >  Pixabay Image by Pexels

The heaven and the hell are two surrounds of the earth. Egyptians have dummy doors (drawn or carved) in their tombs. A Garbha Griha in a temple is an inner sanctum. The Japanese gate Mori is placed anywhere, in a vast open land or sea, to mark a divide. Lakshman Rekha was a notional boundary.

Presentation of metaphoric or symbolic elements suffices to initiate a full scale happening. Pictures or names of gods on doors protect the house. Mime shows, and Bharat Natyam dance mudra enacts space through metaphors. Metaphorical declarations mark a qualitative change, and are used to compensate the territorial presence of physical and metaphysical elements.

Interior spaces are recognized for their potential for functionality (size, shape), environmental control and sensorial adequacy. Sometimes these spaces are designed to alienate the users from the expected set of things. Such diversions are used to excite, to register the change (mark of new and end of old) and also to destabilize the users.

Metamorphic > Pool of Berthesda > ART by Robert Bateman (1836-1889)


Thresholds are real or hypothetical divider marks between two very distinctive spaces and so if the distinction is dull there is no or a weak threshold. Thresholds occur at cuts and cleavages of enclosing elements of Interior space. Enclosing elements have various degrees of translucency and discontinuities where the exterior and interior have immediacy. A threshold is a place to realize both the exterior and interior concurrently, and so the thresholds are very interactive areas. The divide, presented by a threshold is not a clean edge-cut, but has a graded formation.

Graded Spaces Inside Courtyard Seville > ART by Carmen Thyssen

The thresholds are formed within the physical barriers. These barriers define the shape, size and environment of the interior space through their constitution, thickness, mass, volume, size, absorbency, transparency, etc. Other factors include the size, shape, location and orientation of the thresholds. Thresholds also have abutting structures to create intermediate climatic zone and also interpersonal space.

Threshold Zone > Pixabay Image by milldesign UK

A threshold may be an abstract divider in space or a change marker. Thresholds are marked by change in quality of flooring, illumination, sidewall configurations and by elements like high sill, steps, opening portals and pediments. Architectural attachments like verandahs, canopies, overhangs, otalas enhance the threshold’s functions. In thick-wall structures, openings get a substantial depth creating an interpersonal space as in gates and gateways, or in windows a shading device on external sides or an illumination diffuser on inside.

Thresholds and Virtual reality > Mars Effect 3 > Flickr Image by Ryan Somma

Structures abutting the threshold are like exterior transgressions and so form an intermediate climate zone and interpersonal space. Neighbours and visitors have their first encounter here, so become an ideal space for metaphoric declarations such as signs and symbols. These areas are declaration of personalized space. Metaphors take up very little or no estate, and are interpretable by only a class of people. Both of these properties are exploited in creating acutely functional and very exclusive interior spaces.

The metaphors provide exclusivity to the space and economics of expression’.


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

3 SPACE and the PLACE

Post 33 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 3 in lecture series Space and Human Behaviour)


Finding a Place > Pixabay image by gillnisha (Nisha Gill Hisar/India)

A person encounters Places, each posing a set of environmental conditions. A place may be a physical entity, or just an ephemeral existence. But one begins to genetically or intellectually choose, if it is the Space for occupation, possession, inhabitation and proliferation. The space will have the environmental variety, dimensional adequacy, task capacity, and sufficiency for processes like cognition, expression, perception and human interactions. The space identification leads to a place attachment.

“Place attachment is the emotional bond between person and place” (Florek, Magdalena -2011).

Finding a Space > Pixabay image by joyceliu78 (Joyce Liu Auckland/New Zealand)

Place attachment derives from the instantaneous reaction, feelings, thoughts, memories and interpretations aroused by a territorial reality. It shows the choice of one territory over many other, or an attachment over the others. Such a choice reflects individualistic experiences and emotions and group-based perception. It also shows the intensity of acquaintance, likeness to other conditions, predictability, or familiarity of frequent visitations. Place attachment leads to space identity as a Role Locus for behaviour. Here a person can satisfy biological, social, psychological and cultural needs.

Slum Duplex in Wadala Mumbai India > Wikipedia image by Swaminathan of Bangalore India

Space identity is recognition of a spatial organization with an implicit environment. The form, the environment, and the functional potential, all together instill certain sensorial satisfaction. Initial space identification is cursory and minimal. The space identification does not need any adjustment of bio-physiological activities nor require alteration of the environment.

Ankara, METU, Faculty of Architecture Entrance hall > Wikipedia Image Source (https://www.flickr.com/photos/saltonline/14849783065/) By SALTOnline

 One first tries to accustom own-self rather than modify the space. The space, however, shows specific potential, and so one tries to occupy it. The space occupation occurs in three ways: extend the stay in space, stretch the engagement in time, and approach the space from different directions and manners. Such a space occupation is experimental, so notional and transient. It only offers realization that the space is survival worthy, as it has some size, shape, approach modalities, environmental qualities and sensorial characteristics. There is also recognition that this realm can be: improvised in form, its environmental qualities reset, and the sensual characteristics enriched for satisfaction and greater efficiency. The approach modalities to the place tell about the connections to other places (or neighbourhoods).

“Cliff Dwellers” ART by George Bellows (1913) showing crowd on New York city’s Lowest East Side

A person or a group may perceive such potential accidentally, or after an intensive search, and so consider it an asset worth hanging-on to. The desire to posses a place, requires that it remain consistent. The environment and the user or the user-group dynamics (interrelationship), however, vary continually. The original efficiencies (first realizations) may not remain valid in some circumstances. Yet the space possession ensures some permanency to the place. The constancy is achieved by domestication of the place. The user converts the space of place, and in turn exposes own-self to forces of change.

The terrain, Perception, and Environment in selection of a Place and formation of Space > Mountain Homestead > Wikipedia image by Rennett Stowe from USA

The space of the place is adopted through an elaborate cycle, where the user and the place change each other. The explorative occupation of a place turns into a domesticated domain, and the process continues as inhabitation. The space of the place is enriched with personal values, attitudes, feelings and beliefs. The place and space begin to merge as unique setting to sustain the behaviour. A physical entity or an ephemeral existence becomes a Role Locus for behaviour.

How a Role Locus for Human Behaviour is formed


A Locus is, 1. Space for inhabitation, 2. Zone of individuality and family identity, and 3. an entity: with some real features, some formatted elements, and few things of allegorical or abstracted form. It is a multi faceted setting or a realm for behaviour. The role locus is subjective, for the individual or a group leader.

A colony of Birds at Alkefjellet, Svalbard, 60000 breeding pairs on every possible space over a Basalt rock formation, with their back to open air, to protect the hatchings > Wikipedia image by Andreas Weith

● The role locus is an inhabitable place. It is space defined by the bounding barriers or intensity of beliefs. It is a physical reality, a dimensioned territorial entity, or an ephemeral existence. Yet it is a non-transient location. It is finite in scale, sized and altered for the occupants. It also reflects the sensorial facilities and ‘reach capacities’ of the occupant.

Land Markings > Pixabay image by wolfzorro / Wolfgang Brauner Freiburg / Deutschland

● As a zone of individuality and family identity, it has a personal imprint or relevance. It has associated beliefs, intuitions, etc. It is intensely evident at the point of origin, or close to its creator, then diffusing out into infinity. Such a place as a metaphysical entity may not have territorial markings of own, but sometimes carry strong identity of values, beliefs, feelings, intuition, etc.

Supposed location where John baptized Jesus Christ, East of the river Jordan > Wikipedia image by (Attribution) I, Producer 

● Few things of allegorical or abstracted forms allow one to sense ‘a substantial spatial entity’. Such a representational space entity could be intuitive part of the psyche, imagination, or experiences. A metaphoric place is effective till it is consciously accepted as a representative form. It is useful in spite of its myth remaining unresolved. A metaphoric entity prevails among certain class of people, who tacitly agree or have been socially or politically conditioned to accept such symbols to represent certain expressions, actions, etc. Such places are spatial representations that are immaterial, allegorical, pseudo, make-believe, or of ‘virtual reality’.


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




Post 32 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 2 in lecture series Space and Human Behaviour)


There are four elements that constitute behaviour: Space, Environment, Human beings and Nonliving objects. We perceive, become aware, and respond to these elements. The four elements form a locale for the behaviour to occur, seen, recognized, acknowledged, moderated and improvised.

Kiyamachi Cafe, Times II building, Ando Tadao, Kyoto > Wikipedia image by Japanexperterna.se

Of these four elements, we perceive space-environment as one entity. The space-environment affects the human processes of survival, perception, cognition, exploration and inhabitation. The space and environment converge to affect the human being, and in turn get impacted by the human endeavours. The exchanges between the humans and space-environment are so rapid and imperceptible in scale that is not possible to separate cause and effects. The first three processes, the survival, perception, cognition, are tactical, and offer learning and adaptation. The other two processes, exploration and inhabitation, are strategic, and here the responses lead to consistency and continuity.

Taos Pueblo, an ancient one belonging to native American tribe of Pueblo people. North of Taos city, New Mexico, USA > Wikipedia image by ASITRAC

Nonliving objects are also affected by the space-environment. And the process of affectation is seen in various levels of relationships like comparison, juxtaposition, sensorial qualities, orientation, exposure, mutual distancing, proximity to human beings, connectivity, overlapping, past remembrances and associations.

Nonliving things in space > Flickr Image by Tim Evanson

Human beings respond to space, environment and nonliving objects, and are conditioned by three major factors:

●       Personal factors include cognitive capacities and preferences, physiological capacities including reach abilities

●       Presence and awareness of other human beings, leading to sociological implications of group behaviour, expression and communication.

●       Contextual conditions include nonliving objects, other human beings and other beings.

Looking out of Pompidou Centre Paris > Wikipedia image by Official White House photo-stream

One reacts to the space-environment through the genetic make-up, physiological capacities, through cultural inclinations, and by intellectual choices. Space-environment combinations have different relevance for different people. The human responses though are individual, but also depend on how others respond to the situation. Human behaviour is the basis for group behaviour dynamics. The attention to the space-environment and others’ behaviour (group behaviour mechanisms), ‘makes the survival, exploration and inhabitation tougher, but equips one with better skills and greater efficiencies’.

Human behavioural responses are broadly of three classes: Physiological, Psychological and Sociological. The responses are also assisted by the supportive systems such as tools, implements, gadgets, equipments, amenities and facilities.

Response mechanisms are based on perception and cognition.

Perception is a process of becoming aware. It is an active process of selection, organization and interpretation of information about the world as conveyed by the senses like sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste, and not a passive mirroring of the external world. Perceptual experience is also influenced by various internal factors, such as our prior experience and expectations.

Cognition is a process evaluating the sensory information and the mental processing by remembering, thinking about it. It is further moulded by the inherited (intuitive) and learnt (intellectual) faculties.

Waiting for the principal > Flickr Image by johnrudolphmueller

■ Psychological Responses manifest even as perception and cognition, are happening. The responses could be seen in terms of: accommodation, adjustments (like acclimatization), spatial shifting or temporal rescheduling, biological correction or degradation. These are often imperceptible, or so small that only the concentrated effects are perceived.

Environmental responses form a process of becoming aware of a space. Our perception of things and happenings around us results from our cognitive capacities and the physiological needs, but is also moulded by the inherited and learnt faculties. The space-environment conditions format a life style that passes on from one generation to another as heritage, lifestyle, ethnicity or customs.

Potrait of a Girl > Pixabay=Pexels image by xusenru Khusen Rustamov Moscow Russia

■ Physiological responses seem to be instinctive because of the genetic makeup, but individual behaviour, however, is usually learnt. Accumulated experiences help us to respond specifically. The response mechanism or nature of behaviour varies due to individual factors like age, sex, level of adaptation, familiarity, limb capacity, body-limb coordination, sensorial abilities and supportive tools, etc. Our behaviour is also conditioned if the situations are consistent or extra ordinary. Physiological responses are directed for survival, inhabitation and proliferation. So we create, occupy and flourish in spaces.

Physiological responses allow spatial occupation with dimensional accommodation and fitment of the human-body. Physiological responses achieve task functionality by way of compliance within set confines for nominal to extreme purposes. Physiological responses to the environment develop both as historical and the current effects of the environment. The process of acclimatization is in way a physiological reaction. Physiological responses achieve both, stability and mobility necessary for efficiency, comfort and security.

Danish artists-architects in Rome > Wikipedia ART by Constantin Hansen (1804-1880)

■ Sociological Responses are (even of lone beings) are substantially in the context of ‘awareness’ of other human beings (and, not necessarily their physical presence). Interpersonal relationships among members of small groups are a result of the personality and cultural backgrounds of the individuals involved, their tasks, and the nature of the spatial arrangements or physical settings. Various cultures, however, respond differently to the amount and arrangement of spaces.

Human Behaviour in groups > Flickr Image by Procsilas Moscas (blogged procsilas.net/?=112)

The sociological determinants relate to the social needs of the occupants. Humans evaluate the acceptability or appropriateness of behaviour by using social norms, and regulate it by means of social control. The Sociological responses of human behaviour relate to the social needs of the occupants and awareness of their implications. The space, environment and the occupants together foster a social-contact mechanism. Sociological responses include group mechanisms like intra-personal communication, empathy, degree of familiarity, etc.

Crowds on the street > PEXELS Image by Ingo Joseph

Occupants of a space are real, and sometimes through the metaphoric presence. Behaviour responses occur due to both types of occupants. In this sense co-occupants are part of the environment with whom we react and are affected by their ‘presence’. A social acquaintanceship with anyone is not a necessary condition to respond. Our responses with other beings and social interactions regulate what we share and empathize. Responses with other occupants depend on the awareness about sex, age, stature, need, social position, degree of familiarity, distance and recognition (through cognition). Metaphoric presence of others is reinforced primarily by the historical context (what we have been told or learnt) and associations. Metaphoric presence is also enhanced by space and objects, as well as by other occupants confirmative or even rejective (empathetic, sympathetic or apathetic) behaviour.

Space, Environment, Human Beings, Nonliving objects > PEXELS image by negativespace.co


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



 Post 31 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 1 in lecture series Space and Human Behaviour)


A typical dictionary meaning of Space is an expanse of area, volume or distance, which has some relevance for experiencing, visitation, occupation or some form of intervention. Space is considered to be three-dimensional realism, yet depending on means of perception and interpretation it is perceived to be inexplicitly extensive. Spaces are edged by definitive boundaries or belief that something exists beyond. Space is also a purposive nothingness between words, buildings, objects, events, time or concepts. It is a three-dimensional surmise, but distinct from the body, but as a thing in which body could be.

Spaces of Nothingness > Tadao Ando and Lee U-fan Concrete walls at Lee Ufan Museum at Kagawa prefecture, Japan Wikipedia Image by

The word space derives from ‘speh =to stretch or to pull’ (Proto-Indo-European), or from word Spatium which derives from root ‘spa =to draw’ and from ‘span =to stretch’ (German spannen). In its original use Spatium meant ‘a certain stretch, extent, or area of ground an expanse, in which to walk’. Spatium is a derivative de intervallo loci, the interval between places, hence ‘distance’. Space has more generalized character: ‘magnitude, size, bulk, bigness’. Other meanings of space include an enclosed area, extent or interval. Once it referred to an interval or period of time or a space of time.

Path to the Horizon > Wikipedia image by Martin Dorsch permission ( Erstes Bild von mir bei unsplash)

Spaces are something we fathom. The space extent means two levels of measures: the sizes of ‘extent’ and distance from the perceiver. The space measures, width, breadth and depth and the relative distance-position from the perceiver, endow human relevance. The human relevance persists whether one is part of the space or beyond it. The space is evident within the limits of perception, so has elements that are neatly defined or diffused. One may perceive the space directly, or acknowledge it deductively after several layers of conversions. Like one can ‘see’ a space directly by listening to it, or by interpreting the energy transmitted out of it.

Radio Telescopes listen instead of seeing a Space > Wikimedia Commons image by National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Cornell, US

Space perception is also part of human behavioural processes. One learns and responds to space, and other humans. ‘The presence of other human beings in a space is real, metaphysical like objects, and metaphoric through remembrances’. The spatial features, environmental conditions and evidence of humans, all occur in concert, and so we expect the presence of one to trigger the other. A space, characteristically static, seems to vary due to continuously varying changing environment and varied behaviour human beings.

Home office sun deck > Flickr image by Matt Crawford

Space cognition is genetic, physiological and intentional. When individual, it has subjective significance, whereas the universal nature offers societal implications. ‘So space is the realm of conditions where human behaviour shows individual variability and communal consistency’. Space responses are genetic and learnt, but seen through the expression and communication.

The measures such as width, breadth and depth, and the relative distance-position offers the first idea of a space. The environment further defines that cognition. The presence of people allows how the learned information is nurtured and shared. Space experience as a result is further coloured by beliefs, metaphors, and group behaviour dynamics. Such realizations show the potential a space has for confirmation, cursory visitation, occupation (ownership) or some form of intervention like inhabitation.

Christopher Columbus arrives in America > Wikipedia image

The reach in space is a physical facilitation, and an attainment through perception. Reach in space is a personal phenomenon. The environment by being affective on certain times and sides, divides a space into segments, similarly different levels of personal reach in space create distinct personalization. Such segments and distinct personalization are more apparent very extensive spaces.

Personalization as a response to space setting > Old Port in Portland, Maine > Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/flisphil/3036263855/ Author: PhilipC

For space designers, the study of human behaviour in response to space is very useful, because it indicates how a person will respond to a given spatial setting. Alternatively one can predict how an individual or group will behave in certain spatial conditions.

Dutch people talking on the street > Image source > Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/28500732@No4/2658568778/ by J van der Kasteele


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