Post 50 –by Gautam Shah

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


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Objects are sensed as physical things, hyper real recollections and mix of both. Collection of objects random or arranged, reflect relationships at many different levels. The basic relationship that we perceive is the degree of nearness or farness in time and space. These also define the forward-backward in spatial terms, and previous-later positions in time, of the objects. Other relationships that we perceive about objects include diversity and commonality, continuity and separation, complete figures and partly occluded articles, static and dynamic forms.

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The perception of objects occurs through all senses. Some senses, like vision and audio are capable of measuring objects and their distances. But sense of smell, taste or touch are only fuzzily indicative of location and direction, and so do not offer the spatial totality.

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Objects appear as recollections, but without any sequence or time reference. Objects appear as flitting images, without any clue of their relevance or origins. Such recollections seem to be individual ‘frames or shots’ of happenings, but without any distinctive links to the greater whole. The images do not have any concern with the past, present or future but are altered compositions, which perhaps our subconscious expects or desires. The recollections represent intense sensual experiences, but need definitive context, otherwise these can remain sporadic and unrelated incidences.

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The spatial and temporal contexts are the most important aspect of perceiving objects. Spatial context provides a ground for comparison of ‘scenes’. The comparison occurs in terms of size, scale, direction or orientation and nature of exposure to the ‘scene’ (forward, backward, partly occluded). Spatial context emerges from three references, the position of the perceiver, the adjacent objects and environmental effects. The temporal context relates to sequence of happening, duration, rate of change and chances occurrence.

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The spatial and temporal contexts are relevant mainly due to environmental effects. The effects are spatially directional and variable in time. And both of these factors continually create new compositions of objects. Environmental effects mould the experiences. Objects seem closer or far from each other. We tend to see complete figures or forms from sparing details, if we had past encounter with such objects. Similarly we build hyper real bridges of relations or connections between objects that are far distanced from each other, and often out of the scope of perception.

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Objects are marked by conditions that indicate direction. The direction indicators are experienced on objects that are long, short, sharp-edged or rounded, affected on few faces by the environment, and with graphics. The direction indicators in static objects represent potential for movement. Objects that have sequencing motifs such as forms that have overbearing pointers, retreating or advancing repeats, fading or intensifying clarity, varying environmental effects also state directions, and so movements.

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Directions and movements in groups of objects are perceived, when the real, hyper-real and remembrances, all have the same reference frame or datum. Here the reference frame is evident through the features remaining strong and consistent. Environmental effects are directional and so suggest the change when the real and remembered perceptions merge.

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Our perception of objects is always unequal. The unequal experiences help in exacting or blurring a location. The former (exacting a location) is due to the duality of the sensorial nodes like ears and eyes and the later (blurring) is due to synchronicity of two nodes like smell and taste or the widely placed multiple (like pain, temperature, moisture, etc.) tactile experiences over the entire body surface. The unequal perception is due to age, natural proficiencies and experience building exposures.

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One of the remarkable proficiency, natural or gained is about multitasking. Multitasking or multi attendance involves capacity to perceive many things concurrently, using the same or different sensorial nodes. Multitasking also may mean using various body limbs simultaneously.




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.

Blythe_House_preparing_totals_for_daily_balance_1930sOffices 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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Key Maker > Pexels Image by Caio (

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.

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Chair Lattice work ( (Wikipedia image by Jorge Royan / / CC BY-SA 3.0)

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

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

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

Papad making by Group, India ( 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.

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Nuclear Plant Task management console > ( 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 >

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 > > Wikipedia image by Jorge Royan / / 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 > ( %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 >

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.

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Lander petals of the Mars Exploration Rover 2 > > Image Credits NASA/JPL/KSC

3 Sequential tasks result from continuous work processes between equipments and participants, or both. Sequencing is required where the work steps are preceding-anteceding or back-feed or forward-feed are required. These can happen with batch or streamline production processes.

For example for cooking an efficient work triangulation is proposed, the nodes consist of basic amenities like cooking, sink and refrigerator (could change with culture and technology) and the connections denote the preparation, defrosting and storing, respectively. Similar task management techniques are used with robotic automobile assembly lines. Streamlined production plants like garments, electronics, consumer white goods recognize working of each task and the interim carryover periods and spaces.

Volkswagen Assembly Line > Wikipedia image by Roger Wollstadt

Task Productivity: It is greatly affected by the work-setting formed by the space and environment. Wherever and whenever there is realization that task productivity is not of the comparative societal standards, the space is reformatted to realign the amenities, facilities and architectonic elements. Here at one end the functional efficiencies are re-validated, and at the other end environmental controls are reset. New group dynamics of intra-personal relationships also upgrade the productivity. Consistency and Variety can be achieved by doing a different task, or the same task differently. For these tasks are set in different spatial and environmental conditions, and often with new intra-personal setting.

Learning and Improvisations > Our_Community_Place_Sandbox > Wikipedia image by Artaxerxes

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

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Centralized Work Station

Housewives have accepted platform type of kitchen over floor level cooking in a crouching position because the later was restrictive. A corner study table allows greater reach then a straight table. An aged person prefers a straight seat with handles as it allows an easy rise up off the chair.

Social Factors: The tasks and group behaviour are inseparable. Socially siting and scheduling of tasks affects the group behaviour pattern. Customs and taboos result from the local perceptions and experiences, and so same tasks could have different time and space setting (ethnic variations) across societies. Intra-personal interactions, even if nonverbal, act as a relief in task handling. Intra-personal activities are more apparent in craft related tasks.

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

Bhunga houses (of Kutchh, Gujarat, India) have door thresholds as the commandeering location. Huts and one room house use inside front-corner for cooking because from the door an outsider would not see what is being cooked. Kitchens have platforms (or centralized work stations) attached to the wall for accessing services. Some tasks have sanctimonious associations and so are oriented to specific directions (like Mecca, East-Sun). One of the most preferred of orientations, are the openings’ systems like door, window, or a gap, because it extends the vision and allows to command further. Orientation is a biological preference as well as cultural conditioning and accordingly people prefer left or right turning.

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Coir Fiber Loom Worker India >

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.


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 >

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://

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 > 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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >
Group behaviour in traditional Madagascar society is more of non verbal communication > 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


Parameters for Understanding Human Behaviour in Built Spaces

1. Shift in Space
2 Anchoring to a place
3. Change of Orientation
4. De-synchronized Movements of the Body limbs
5. Sequencing in space
6. Body Movements
7. Posturing
8. Aids for posturing
9. Open versus Closed body postures
10. Postural axises
11. Gestures
12. Eye level and its focus
13. Empathetic behaviour

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.


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.


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 ( )

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.


Post 34 -by Gautam Shah (Blog 4 in lecture series Space and Human Behaviour)


Flickr Image by Jan Tik -Tree View

A Place is defined by markings. These could be natural features, alterations of natural features, or new implants. The markings could also be recognition of some geometric arrangement such as a centre, cross lines, triangulation, etc. When markings are made on a place, the intention of a revisit, but altered or implanted marks additionally denote the intention to reoccupy or indicate ownership. A single mark distinguishes a place, but several of them cover a territorial spread. Marking is primary act for acquisition of a territory, but one may not be in position to explain why, and how it actualized. Such actions could be intuitive acts or learned activities. A marked territorial spread is meant for exclusive ownership. An owned territory has characteristic spatial features for inhabitation, such as:

  • environment conditions,
  • dimensional accommodations,
  • amenities and facilities,
  • associations that personalize it,
  • connections to other such spaces.
New Lands > Flickr Image by Bureau of Land Management

Possession and occupation of a space leads to social activity. It specifies the nature of interaction with others, privacy, degree of accessibility or isolation, aloofness, loneliness, alienation, participation, leadership, devotion, cohabitation, etc.

The Catalan Atlas depicting Marco Polo traveling to the East during the Pax Mongolica

A domain is combinatory idea of Place and Space. A domain could be a physical territory or an abstract effectuality over which there is some form of control. The control could be through possession, occupation, ownership, or authority. All domains have markings that highlight their size, character, identity, distinctiveness, exclusivity, knowledge, effectivity, and conformity.

1. In case of territory, the controlled or dominated place is used as a space to survive and proliferate.

2. As abstract effectuality, it is an idea of a space, exploited to sustain and proliferates the myth of a place.

Cappadocia Uchisar Place Turkey Göreme
Goreme Turkey Cappadocia Uchisar Place Max Pixel Image by Panasonic DMC-Fz18

A domain is a sphere, area, orbit, field, arena, demesne, land region, or realm. A domain is zone for activity, identity, distinctiveness, exclusivity, knowledge, rulership, effectivity, communication, belonging, controls, ownership, rights, conformity. A domain is a particular environment or walk of life. It is a territory over which rule or control is exercised by a ruler or government. However, the strength or effectivity of the ruler or governor is rarely consistent, and the position shifting. So a domain is a very ambivalent term.

Domains have a focus, centric or eccentric. A domain is circular or spheroid, as its mass is spread in some balancing form around a focus. A domain is focussed inward as much as fringed outward. A domain is encountered from outside or inside but at a very close distance may not reveal its centrality or sphericality.

Jan van Riebeeck arrives in Table Bay in April 1652 > ART by Charles Davidson Bell (1813-1882)

Domains as Physical territories or Abstract effectuality

A Domain with physical territory is marked (defined), occupied (presence), and possessed (owned). Historically such territories have been occupied, naturally, forcefully or notionally (symbolically). Marking is the first personalization of the domain space and that gets various levels of social confirmation or legality. Such acceptance may remain suspect, as a more powerful authority can challenge it, and force evacuation. A domain as abstract effectuality is circumstantial, formed by a particular environment, belief or conduct. These constituent circumstances change with time, and so their effectiveness varies. There is no distinctive ownership, but an authority through acceptance or confirmation may exist. These domains are metaphysical or metaphorical entities, with approximate or ethereal spread.

Lisbon and the Tagus Sunday

Domains as combined idea of Place and Space have, defining spread, environment, people, ideology and control mechanism.

  •        Spread is seen in the extent of its effectiveness.
  • Environment endows the spatial character.
  • People inhabit it to flourish and proliferate.
  • Ideology is the cultural pose through beliefs, customs, inspirations, inhibitions,
  • Control mechanisms emerge from ownership.
Asia Thailand Asian Women Street People Tahi
Asia, Thailand Street People > Max Pixel Image

A domain can also be defined as a manageable space that is within the limits of human cognition, inside the ambit of nominal physiological capacities, and the extendible reach capacities (including through devices). Domains are setting or locus for Human Behaviour. The setting becomes complete when supported by metaphysical elements like privacy, isolation, reverence, fear, autocracy, and reinforced by metaphoric elements like gestures, symbols, analogies.

Rajneesh and cult disciples at Pune,1977, India > Wikipedia Image source Redheylin (talk) (uploads)

Free Mason Society, Veggies (Vegetarians), Cults (Hare Rama Hare Krishna) Religions, are groups operating as metaphysical domains often without any territorial identity.

Graphics, symbols, signage, languages, codes, gestures (body language), form, proportions, colours, expressions, etc. are some of the allegorical presences. Art movements, fashion styles, literary movements create metaphoric domains. Some spatial features and environmental conditions often occur in concert, and so presence of one, metaphorically triggers the other. Historical monuments, places of reverence (temples, Ashrams), and memorials have such eminence. Nightclubs, amusement parks, exhibitions, public buildings like airports, also have abstracted elements.


This is the FOURTH 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 ( 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

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

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


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