Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Post 150 -by Gautam Shah 

A recent fire in Glasgow School of Art, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh has become headlines’ news. Fires in Architecture Schools are common. Many such fires have occurred due to faulty planning, inept handling of interiors and poor maintenance. These are few random examples.

FIRES AT TALIESIN “There were two major fires at Taliesin that almost completed destroyed its living quarters. The first fire happened on August 15, 1914 and was caused by an act of possible arson. The second major fire at Taliesin occurred on April 20, 1925 and Wright's account in his autobiography suggests that it was caused by an electrical problem. Wright was at the home to witness the fire, informing a fire brigade. However, the living quarters of Taliesin were once again burned to the ground within several hours. While no lives were lost in this fire, Wright lost hundreds of Asian art objects that he had collected while building the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan.”

FIRE AT FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE DELFT UNI of TECHNOLOGY “On the morning of May 13, 2008, a fire that started in a coffee vending machine on the 6th floor of the 13-story Faculty of Architecture Building at the Delft University of Technology (TUD). Delft, the Netherlands, quickly developed into an extreme loading event. Although all building occupants were evacuated safely, the rapid fire spread severely impact ed fire department operations, allowing the fire to burn uncontrolled for several hours, eventually resulting in the structural collapse of a major portion of the building. With the fire continuing to burn after collapse, damage was ultimately significant enough that the building had to be demolished.”

FIRE AT ART, DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE COLLEGE IN BROOKLYN “On February 16, 2013 Friday’s early hours, a fast-moving fire ravaged the top two floors of the historic main building at the private art, design and architecture college in Brooklyn, destroying dozens of art studios and the precious student works they contained. Firefighters battled the flames for two hours after the fire was reported at 2:13 AM, propelling ladders up to the fifth and sixth floors so they could shoot water through the windows, even as parts of the roof caved in. The blaze grew to four alarms, and eventually 39 fire trucks and 168 fire-fighters were summoned to the scene, on Willoughby Avenue in Clinton Hill.

FIRE at YALE ART & ARCHITECTURE BUILDING Fire on June 14, 1969 to this building designed by Paul Rudolph (1963) was disastrous. The design quickly became a sensation, appearing on magazine covers even before it was built. The building had an “intricate essay in flowing space and weighty mass on 36 levels”. Rudolph’s created a very complex interior, a tour de force of light, mass, and space, with great design attention lavished on every quirky corner. Rudolph originally wanted to have an atrium run the entire seven-story height of the building, but fire laws prevented it. Instead he created two large open spaces, one serving as a gallery and meeting room on the main floor, the other housing the architecture studios on the fourth and fifth floor. The rooms were arranged around these open spaces in a pinwheel-like pattern.

Due to the fire, in the short term, many students lost hundreds of hours worth of work. But the greater loss came with the renovations that took place after the fire, when changes effectively destroyed the quality of continuous space Rudolph had created. New partitions went up at the behest of student committees who were struggling to fit more and more into the overtaxed building.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Post 149  -by Gautam Shah 
Fibers, yarns and fabrics have poor bulk or lose the bulk during various treatments, are re-bodied by many different substances. Bodying is also possible without any substantive material application. Certain heat and water treatments shrink the materials, increasing the bulk, whereas mechanical (physical) manipulations also increase the apparent bulk.
Bodying is required to control the next process. Fibers (like silk) are bulked to aid re-spinning or handling before the end stage like stitching, packing and presentation or use of the material. Bodying has strong effect on the suppleness (fall of curtains, drapes, crease lines) and tactile feel of the material. It also affects the thermal management (through heat exchange and moisture movement). For curtains-drapery fabrics the bulking governs the diffusion of view across, ‘modelling’ of the objects, diffraction of light, masking and strength. For furnishing fabrics and floor spreads the bulk, suppleness, direction of texture, electrical behaviour, moisture absorption, dust and body scale retention, and micro air movements over the surface are important, and these are endowed by nature of such treatments.
Some of the prime techniques of bulking fibers, yarns and fabrics are manipulative in nature like: leave behind impurities, lints, staple fibers etc. by reduced carding, etc., mixing of different fibers before spinning, co-spinning (with coarser fibers), twisting, mixed fibre weaving (with mixed for warp-wefts), employing fabric formation techniques like weaving, knitting, shrinking, perma-crease setting, singeing etc.
Another method of bodying is to add some form of gum or size (simply starch), in the form of starch, gelatin, or resin or a combination of these with lubricating substances such as oils or wax. Some are temporary materials and are removed during laundering. Cheap cotton or rayon fabrics are often heavily starched for stiffness which after laundering may become quite limp. Fabrics like organdy are permanently stiffened cottons. The application of a carefully controlled acid solution causes the surface of the yarn to become softened and a gelatin like. An after wash in cold water causes the gelatinous outer surface to harden forming a permanently stiffened exterior.
Raw silk contains, from 25 to 30 percent of its weight in sericin or gum. And when the fiber is cleaned this substance is removed. Silks may be weighted both to enable the producer to regain some of the loss in fiber weight and to add greater body to fabrics. The silk fabric is first placed in an acid solution of stannic chloride (a chloride of tin). The fiber is allowed to absorb the substance, it is then washed, placed into a solution of sodium phosphate and then is washed again. During this process, an insoluble compound (tin phosphate) is formed within the fiber, and the weight and body of the fiber is increased. A further treatment with sodium silicate solution forms another chemical compound. The silk fiber can hold considerably more than its own weight of this added chemical weighting. Heavily weighted silks may have very poor abrasion resistance and eventually will break from their own weight. Any silk labelled pure dye Silk may not contain more than 10 percent of weighting, or 15 percent for black fabrics. If heavily weighted silks are burned, a skeleton of the metallic compound in the shape of the woven fabric is left behind.
Wool fabrics are fulled to give the fabric a more compact structure. In a type of pre-shrinking, fabrics are subjected to moisture, heat, soap, and pressure. This causes the yarn to shrink and to lie closer together and gives the fabric a denser structure. Wool cloth may be given more or less fulling, depending upon the desired characteristics of the resultant fabrics. Melton cloth, for example is one of the most heavily fulled wool fabrics and has a dense, felt like texture.

Friday, December 1, 2017



Post  148 --by Gautam Shah 


Openings’ treatments are exclusive to the purposes they serve. Such as the orientation (solar exposure, illumination, wind), usages (domestic, commercial, industrial, jails), space units (living areas, kitchens, toilets, store rooms), users (adults, children, disabled, afflicted). Openings’ treatments occur on the outside face -broadly called architectural systems or, on the inside face -largely known as interior treatments. Yet, some treatments are placed within the body of the opening and so do not belong to exterior or interior systems.

There are many exclusive classes of openings' treatments. Other categories of treatments emerge by the contrast they pose.

Architectural treatments generally occur on exterior faces, but also could be a scheme for the internal face or space. Architectural treatment over openings is one that is designed with the building and can be called the prime strategy.

Interior Design treatments occur with the occupation of the building and user is the key reference. These are often improvisations to customize the architectural design. Some features are corrective actions to add or distract the architectural provisions.

Barrier systems control the transactions occurring through openings. The transactions include passage of human beings, pets, insects, objects, light, air, moisture, odours, radiation, sound, etc. Barrier systems through their nature transparency or opacity allow or bar the transactions. The action of barricading by openings’ treatments occurs through passage and refraction, reflection or absorption. Curtains, blinds, mats, screens, lattices, films, etc. are some of the barrier systems.
Protection and insulation systems barricading or filtration devices such as barriers, parapets, grills, trellis and other preventive tools such as curtains and blinds.

Environmental systems are more affective if on the exterior side of the building, however, some openings’ treatments are mounted on the inside face so that their handling is much easier. Weather protection systems and shading devices such as porches, verandahs, Chhajjas, louvres, awnings, projections, galleries, balconies, arcades, planter boxes, all are environmental systems.

Utilities are placed over opening’s to take advantage of the change that occurs near or across it. These include: cloth lines, shelves for planters, hooks and frames for climbers, bird feeds, air conditioners, air coolers, exhaust fans, air curtain fans, lift pulleys, ladders, service cat walks, storm shutters, niches and recesses for diyas (lamps). 

Signs, Symbols are placed over openings for protection, luck, blessings, omen, to cast a good or bad spell, and to ward off evil. Signs are used for identification such as faith, religion, seals, coat of arms, profession, employment or social position, clan or group, educational and other achievements. Abstract presentations to instruct, warn, welcome, bid farewell, declare wishes, feelings or emotions, congratulate, felicitations.

Announcements and Declarations are placed over entrance or exit openings like doors and gates to catch attention of passerby. These include messages, honours, notices, results, legal orders, declarations of rights and prohibitions, seals, employment or social position.

Identification systems allow a visitor (entering or exiting) to declare, register or celebrate. The identifier systems are declarative through visual, audio and other sensorial faculties or mere registering (recording, acknowledging, checking devices). The identification system associated with openings are: bells, knockers, buzzers, talking pipes, chimes, whistles, sirens, rattlers, vibrators, horns, intercoms, video recognition and surveillance systems, finger, retinal image, DNA and other bio recognition devices.

 Decorations are declaration as well as objects for occupation or possession of space. Toran, Festoons, Plants, shrubs, Bonsai, flower arrangements, climbers, dry arrangements, artificial plants, pots, vases, baskets.

Figurines, artifacts, statuettes, seals are placed over doors of public, religious and also on residences. The purpose is for declaration of faith or affinity, or protection such as the Chinese warlords as door gods, or Ganesha as vignaharta (the trouble shooter).

Masking or Framing systems are placed over the opening to modify the view in or out and to adjust the size of the aperture. Traceries have been used in Gothic windows. Toran have been used over Indian doors as decoration and to ward off birds flying in. Grills are used to impose patterns on the view. Sheer curtains are used to tone the brightness.

Openings’ treatments as scaling device have been used to enhance or reduce the size or importance of the opening. These systems have in many periods of history become very stylized, overwhelming the architecture. Doors and gates have elaborate doorways and gateway structures.

         OTHER CATEGORIES are the contrasting entities.

External versus Internal systems of openings’ treatments. The former, are more exposed to the effects of environment and are usually more substantial or structural in nature. The later ones are in protected or interior locations and so can be very delicate in nature. External treatment substantially depend on their scale and form to be operative, whereas the interior systems take the advantage of their sensorial qualities to be effective.

Hard and Soft Furnishings as openings’ treatments, both are interior elements. However, soft furnishings consist mainly of fabrics and to a very small extent other pliable materials like paper, leather, etc. Some plastic sheets and films come within soft furnishing category. Soft furnishing items for openings’ treatment are not very long lasting and must be replaced frequently. Hard furnishings are qualified by their rigid format and permanence. Hard furnishing treatments are not easily detachable.

Seasonal or temporary treatment systems are meant to for a season or occasion, beyond which these are removed, stored for the next use or discarded. There no effort to integrate such opening treatments unless the effort to mount them requires technical expertise and heavy man-power.

Fixed systems versus Manipulable systems. Fixed opening treatment system require no triggering of any mechanism to be operative, or need to be intensified or slowed down. Manipulable system offer a series of choices through mechanical stops or rests, electrical energy step up-down and boost-stop systems, programmed choices.

Individual against Collective treatment systems. An individual system relates to single opening, and does not occur as the intervening unit between openings. A collective system ties up or disciplines several openings by providing a reference, linkage or a common enclosure.

Personal systems and Public systems allow use of an opening by the single user or offering customized facility. A public system is meant for large number of users often neglecting the needs of individual users. Public systems may be controlled away from the opening, by someone, often a non user.

Revealing versus Camouflage systems. A revealing system allows the ‘original’ character of the opening, but a camouflage system conceals the opening. A camouflage system may even completely negate the opening itself.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Changing Face of HUMAYUN TOMB Delhi India

Post 147 -By Gautam Shah


Changing Face of HUMAYUN TOMB Delhi India

Construction of Humayun's tomb (Delhi, India) was initiated by his first wife Bega Begum (Haji Begum) in 1569-70, close to the Dina-panah Citadel (Purana Qila -Old Fort), founded by Humayun in 1533. Besides the main tomb several smaller structures exist, some pre and other post dating the tomb building. Last Mughal king Bahadur Shah Zafar took refuge here, during Indian Rebellion of 1857. He was later captured by British and exiled to Rangoon. A 13 hectares Garden surrounding the tomb called CharBagh (four squares) was a typical Mughal style layout. It was changed several times but in complete ruins by the time Indian revolution of 1857 happened. It was replanted by British in English style " with circular beds replacing the four central water pools on the axial pathways and trees profusely planted in flowerbeds" -wikipedia. This was once again restored to 'Mughal' style between 1903–1909. The Tomb has been renovated-restored by AghaKhan Foundation,UNESCO and ASI of Govt of India.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Post 146 - by Gautam Shah

Sheer is tactile feeling that is satisfying and delightful. It is a feeling or a state of experience. Sheer fabric is a very fine, gossamer or diaphanous material that does not occlude vision through it. It is an important quality mark for lightness of mass. The word sheer is used to emphasize a state or situation that is extreme or complete, and does not involve any mix-up with anything else (does not involve anything else).

Tent Curtain Pixabay image by Unsplash

In the 1175-1225 period or Middle English word sheer (scīr, scere, shere, schere, shire) (cognate with German schier, old Norse skīr, Gothic skeirs) was used for a clear, free, bright, thin, shiny or water like material. Some of the synonyms are: utter, complete, absolute, total, pure, perfect, downright, out-and-out, thorough, thoroughgoing, through and through, consummate, patent, surpassing, veritable, unqualified, unmitigated, unalloyed, unadulterated, unmixed. 

Old Window with curtain Pixabay image by Paul Brennan Winder/USA

A Sheer fabric has three basic qualifications: It is thin or lightweight, It is translucent, and it is very supple. The lightweight features come from the quality of fiber material, its filament or spun thread (denier), the low density construction through knitting or weaving. Its translucency derives from sectional form of the fiber, degree of spinning, massing during spinning and weaving, and minimal or no addition of processing materials like dyeing, sizing, etc. Its suppleness results from the quality of fiber material, the low denier of fiber or filament, and avoidance of massing during spinning and weaving.

Sheer curtain with pattern > Pixabay Image by Unsplash

Sheer fabrics from natural fibres such as Silk, have yarns with multiple fiber stands, whereas Cotton has several staples entwined during spinning. The natural fibres create a fabric that is dull or with small sheen. Rayons are produced as staples, and so have slight sheen, unless treated differently. Synthetic fibres such as Nylon and Polyesters are filaments or very long staples, and usually with uniform cross sectional shape, and so provide glossy face.

Sheer curtains > Flickr image by Ket

Sheer fabrics are made from very thin threads and have low density construction, through mainly weaving, but sometimes through knitting. Sheer fabrics of netting type have comparatively low gloss due to greater de-fraction of light. Denser weaves have more sheen or shine. The density of a fabric (knitted or woven) is determined by several factors such as sectional form the fiber, degree of spinning, massing during spinning and weaving. The resultant fabrics have various levels of translucency. Sheer fabric of low density weave is supple, but a flimsy cloth.

Occluding the view with sheer fabric > Wikipedia image by TriviaKing (talk)DWS-Montag Zen

Denier is a unit of measurement for fineness of fibres or filaments, as threads, expressed as the weight in grams for 9,000 metres length of yarn. The surface area of a fabric is directly related to the denier. Smaller deniers yield more fibres per unit weight of the material. A micro-fibre is less than 1 denier, fibres for sheer fabrics are finer, just 0.9 denier, in comparison, a human hair is 20 denier.

Fabrics with a high denier measure are bulky, sturdy, durable, but nearly opaque, whereas fabrics with a low denier measure tend to be sheer, soft, and smooth. A fabric, of 3-5 denier is like a clear film, extremely thin. Ultra sheer refers to very light deniers of stockings or pantyhose, usually 10 or less.

Celula Nave "It happens in the body of time, where truth dance" Art installation in Nylon and Polyester Sheer fabric > Wikipedia image by Celula Nave Ernesto Neto (2004)/elefterial1

Sheer fabrics have a crisp to soft feel, depending on the quality of fibres and the density of weave. Fabrics’ coarseness or fineness, are mainly due the techniques of weaving. It is measured in warps or ends per length and in wefts or picks per length. Sheer fabrics include: Silks, Cotton, Rayon, Nylon, Polyesters and other synthetics. The fabric forms are crispy organdy, organza, voile, lawn, Georgette. Supple forms include natural silk (unsized), artificial silks, rayons, tulle, netting, gauze, Gossamer, muslin. Soft sheers are difficult to stitch in comparison to crisp sheers. Art Silk or artificial silks are heat and chemically treated, or co-spun with rayon, cotton and silk staples to achieve desired level of feel.

Glow curtains Pixabay image by Pexels

Sheer fabrics are favoured for garments and draperies due to the suppleness (fall, contouring), transparency and low weight. Sheer fabrics are too thin to control incoming sunlight, but cause its de-fraction. As a curtain the sheer fabric allows sunlight to pass through during daylight, while maintaining a level of privacy. 

Spanish Colonial era House 1780s > Wikipedia Image by Infrogmation of New Orleans

Early glass for windows was a flattened plane from cylinder or a flat cast sheet, but available in small sizes. Flattened glass had crinkles, whereas the cast sheet was unevenly polished. The vision through it was distorted, muddled or frosty. The sheer curtain masked the vision through the window. Sheer curtain fabrics do not offer any insulation against heat or cold, so need additional layer of heavy-opaque fabric curtains. Sheer curtains over bedsteads provide a romantic transparency. Sheer fabrics of low denier and high count weaves have little sound absorption, but higher proportion of gather or creases which add to sound absorption capacity.

Green Hued Sheer curtain > Flickr Image by Jessie Lynn McMains

Sheer fabrics for curtaining look best in their natural colours (original colour of the constituent fiber) or very lightly dyed or bleached shades, such as white, off-whites, cream, ivory, shades. Though many base-shades and prints are available. Lighter colours are preferred, due to the greater capacity to defract the light. Colour tinted sheer fabrics were popular to tinge the room with the particular hue. This is no longer needed, as vast varieties of paints and wall finishes with subtle variations of hues are available..


Post 150 -by Gautam Shah  . A recent fire in Glasgow School of Art, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh has become hea...