Wednesday, November 27, 2013

INTERIOR SPACES as SETTINGS for TASKS



TASKS are identifiable units of work at home or at places like office, industry, etc. Tasks require specific setting. Task settings are the parameters required to perform a task. The parameters include space forms, environment, time management, amenities, facilities, structures, enrichments and social interactions.

Tasks are repeating or unique. Main tasks have a basic module of work. Main tasks are purposive, so can be called productive, creative, or learning. Main tasks incorporate several processes, called sub-tasks. The processes or sub-tasks require a particular setting and very specific resources. Processes are both time and space dependent and also free of it. As a result some processes are handled without time and location compulsions. Such tasks also serve purposes such as relief, entertainment, social interactions, expression and communication. In other words sub tasks are physically invigorating and relaxing.

Tasks are strongly characterized by Time and Space. Tasks derive their efficiency through sequencing in time and space. Tasks are scheduled at a location so far as required parameters are available. However, tasks shift the location if the setting parameters vary in time. Tasks substantially dependent on the environment, shift with changes in breeze direction, shading, illumination, etc. Tasks requiring unique spatial qualities for creativity, relaxation, efficiency continue to flourish at a location till a better or exciting place or social accompaniments are available. Tasks that flourish within groups may even ignore time and space convenience.

Tasks have Three important qualifications:
  1. Tasks are anchored to various entities,
  2. Tasks shift around in time and space,
  3. Tasks if routine, the efficiency of performance is critical and if casual, the relevance of the end product is important.

TASK ANCHORAGE

Tasks are attached to various entities like: space forms, environmental conditions, structures, amenities (these are attached to architectonic elements and are relocatable ), facilities (these are integrated architectural configurations and are mostly fixed, but sometimes demountable), and other enrichments (these do not have apparent functionality but add specific character or interest to the space). Some tasks happen where there are  chances of intra-personal interactions. Tasks occur at places from where some degree of command can be enforced over a larger domain.

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 a door an outsider would not see what is being cooked. In Pol houses of Gujarat, India, the niche in chowk area is always under observation of the housewife as it is also location every member uses while coming in or going out.

TASK ORIENTATION


Tasks are mainly oriented to advantageous environmental resources such as illumination, wind direction, sunlight or shadows. Tasks are also 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). One of the most preferred of orientations is the openings’ system 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.

TASK SHIFTING


Task shifting is both a necessity and reflection of insufficiency 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.  Similarly where a task for its creativity is extremely dependent on fixed amenities cannot be shifted.  However, tasks dependent on multiple processes need to shift around wherever these are available. Tasks require different space spreads for various processes and may need re-siting.  For task handling efficiency derives when wait for the right occasion or search for the right location is minimal. In other words, for shifting the realization must occur as early and near as possible. Some facilities are bounded amenities so some tasks cannot be easily relocated or rescheduled. Tasks are shifted for the sake of variety of experience and intra-personal encounters a new location offers. In single room houses, tents and non-formal work areas (like rural craft workshops), tasks’ timings and their spread requirements are well matched.

Tasks are mostly positioned (and shifted around) within the same space segment and  scheduled (and switched around) in the same time section. But some tasks are 'shifted to other space segments or deferred in time'. Such shifts in space and switches in time occur primarily for functional needs, but often to relieve the tedium and for experimentation. Tasks are also switched to different schedules and locations to develop new intra personal equations or group behaviour mechanisms.

ROUTINE and CASUAL TASKS


Routine tasks are associated to the same location and time schedule. Routine tasks are also very dependent on group behaviour dynamics besides the fixed structures, amenities, facilities and environmental conditions. 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 being consistent, evolve with a lot of personalization such as enrichments. Such locations, because of their consistency and permanency, become marked-out spaces, or architecturally defined units (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 get elsewhere.

Casual tasks
are tactical solutions rather then of any strategic planning. Casual tasks are ‘once in a while process’ and not the ‘main task’. Casual tasks overcome the shortcomings of the space size, form, environmental conditions, and problems with group behaviour dynamics. The exigency is to accomplish the task in with whatever locational conditions, and as quickly as possible. Casual tasks make a space multi purpose and multilateral. Casual tasks are very exciting as these open-up new possibilities of space and time management. Casual tasks also generate new group behaviour dynamics and intra-personal relationships.
    

TASKS AND SENSORIAL PERCEPTION


The ability to see is one of the most important requirements of task handling. The critical factors are visibility, legibility and recognition. It also includes differentiation of spectrum variations or in other words colour perception. Vision also helps to mark a scale (perspective + distance) for objects. Persons with deficient or no vision, find it difficult to comprehend the environment. Hearing is also critical as it affects our ability to communicate and perceive the space volume. The important factors in human hearing, are the sound levels (db) related audibility, intelligibility, signal-to-noise ratio, and the capacity to attune the preferred frequencies, selectively (back ground noise and noise annoyance). Perception through touch is locational and varied which gives a choice what should be done with which part of the limbs (fingers’ tips are more sensitive then any other part). Perception of taste and smell seem to go together, but smell has directionality taste activates metabolism and other systems. Task handling makes use of perception faculties to be productive, creative and non tiring.


PHYSIOLOGICAL DETERMINANTS OF TASKS

Physiological determinants relate to physical needs of the occupants. Major concerns are safety, health and comfort. Other minor concerns include functionality (anthropometrics, ergonomics), stability, mobility, consistency and variety, physical reach (depth and range of motions) and physical capacities. Factors such as recognition, productivity, energy-conservation, ecological engagements, learning, taboo, etc. are not physiological but operate concurrently.
  • Safety concerns are focussed on human response to negative stimuli. When individuals sense danger, the first response is to eliminate the harmful conditions. One makes a defensive withdrawal an offensive fight. However, a sensible strategy and natural method for task handling is to isolate the condition by barricading or distancing.
  • Health or well-being concerns are often less obvious than life safety. But factors such as the purity of air (dilution of contaminants), volume of ventilation, moisture content, ion charges, illumination, allergens, pollution,  affect the quality of life and productivity.
  • Comfort mainly derives from sense of well being. Comfort derives from ease of doing things such as perceiving and posturing. Perceiving is multilateral covering suitable illumination, acoustic adequacy, touch sensibilities and odour recognition.
  • Stability and Mobility are defined in reference to the gravity. Tasks that are conducted in plane with gravity are naturally stable. Mobility, is the capacity and need to move around. Tasks and its processes in very tight space locations or acutely defined environmental conditions are less mobile and should be of very short duration. Use of reach devices does not add to the stability or mobility.
  • Functionality of tasks is factored through interfacing of human beings, environment and tools+ equipments. It takes into account people’s capabilities and limitations of sensorial as well as physiological nature. Ergonomics combines anthropometrics (human body measurement data), physiology, and psychology in response to tasks and  the needs of the user in the environment.
  • Physical Reach and Physical Capacities are very important aspects of task handling. These define the number of sub-tasks or processes that can be handled without requiring shifting or rescheduling, and the spread of task area. These two, in a way also determine the dependence on tools, equipments, structures, amenities, facilities for carrying out tasks. Physical reach and capacities are governed by the posture taken for the task.
  • 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.

MANAGING TASKS
  • Task Recognition makes way for efficiency and productivity. Tasks need to be recognized in terms of its possible location and ideal schedule. Tasks are better managed in a continuous sequence. The sequence optimises the postural change, site shifting, usage of amenities and facilities by multiple members, exploits the environmental advantages, adjusts the intense work and rest periods.
  •  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 of robots are used for automobile assembly lines. Streamlined production plants like garments, electronics, consumer white goods recognise working of each task and the interim carry-over periods and spaces.
  •  Consistency and Variety in task handling are required whether human beings are involved or not. Human being needs to escape out of the tedium and also rest the limb and the body. It can be achieved by doing a different task or the same task differently. For these tasks are placed in different spatial and environmental conditions and often with new intra-personal setting.
  •  Task Productivity 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 social standard, 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.
  • Learning and Improvisations are inevitable part of task handling. Tasks’ spread, effort and time of accomplishment are continuously appraised requiring minor changes in the processes. By rationalizing task spreads one reduces dependence on handling tools and saves the physical energy of reach. Effort planning cuts the number of processes. Time management achieves faster delivery. Oft repeated task is always the most improvised one.
  •  Social Factors operate at two levels: Group behaviour dynamics and the traditions or taboos, etc. Intra personal interactions, even if nonverbal, act as a relief in task handling. Socially siting and scheduling of tasks affects the group behaviour dynamics. The tasks and group behaviour are inseparable. 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. These are more apparent in craft tasks.


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