Monday, April 28, 2014


Each house on the street has a personalized door

Opening systems on the street or entrance foyer are the prime places for personalization. These are straight forward or direct declarations as much as they are subtle identifications.

The DIRECT EXPRESSIONS highlight the building number, street name, postal distribution code, and name of the owner. They also show timings and conditions of visitations. Identifiers mark the status of the owner, as well as the nature and antiquity of the ownership. The occupier’s name, caste, educational qualifications, honours, nationality, titles, are marked over the door.

The identifying elements are in linguistic expressions like Quotes and couplets. These are often in ancient languages, or in forms which are incomprehensible to themselves or others. Names and indicators of Gods and saints not only reflect the religious affinity but also faith in specific groups. Display of forms, patterns, signs and symbols reveal the owner’s affiliation with secret communities.

The declarative elements announce the nature of opening like, entry, exit, restricted access. These elements are placed on the outer face of an entrance to warn new visitors. And also the same are occasionally placed on the interior side to reinforce the message to a departing visitor (e.g. close the door gently or fully).

The INDIRECT EXPRESSIONS are little more abstract or implied. These somehow suggest the ethnicity, social standing, religion or faith. It also shows the nature of building use like place of residence, worship, or commerce, etc. Often the abstracted forms are placed as continuation of traditions without being aware of the purpose or significance.

The street side openings are the chief locations where the declarative elements are placed. But these can also occur at entry points of sub spaces such as kitchen, prayer room, bed room, toilet, etc.

The identification and declarative elements are very essential enrichments and for personalization of the building and its sub sections. Some declarations result from attempts to personalize a building. Immigrants try to enrich their homes with a lifestyle they have inherited. These lifestyle enrichments are like the colours, fabrics, furniture, landscaping, sculptures and other decorative feature. Similarly the peculiar odours of foods and sounds generating from their buildings declare the owner’s identity.

Identification elements differentiate a building within a group, or associate the building to a category such as class or colony. In a mass housing colony, people treat their doors, windows, or curtains, extravagantly different from their neighbours. Opposite to this, identical doors and windows conjoin several, even differently styled buildings into a cohesive entity, a colony.

The entrance door (or a street window) is not just the place of arrival but is a metaphoric point of entrance for everything, good or evil, friend or enemy, known or unknown. A visitor, and everything else, is expected to arrive at the main door, in spite of many other convenient points. In some way it is a point of fear, doubt and danger and hope, fulfilment and safety. Means of physical and spiritual defence are placed here even though there may be more vulnerable locations in a building.

The visitor’s announcement and identification systems are placed near the formal entrance, This entrance-based entities include: bells, knockers, buzzers, talking pipes, whistles, sirens, rattlers, vibrators, horns, intercoms, video recognition, surveillance systems.

A door or front side opening like a window is the focal point of the building, so anything that is or placed here is considered as delivered to the owner or occupier of the space. In case of a religious building it is an offering to God. At pragmatic level the messages of welcome, farewell, congratulations, facilitations, list of honours, notices, results, declarations, legal attachments, seals, custodial notices, etc. are placed over the door. Indicative objects or symbols are placed to identify faith, religion or profession, etc. but also as protecting and beneficiary signs. Chimes or sound creating hanging devices, hanging mobiles over the openings are believed to bring in good luck.

There are many objects whose presence or absence over an entrance signifies certain conditions of the family. Absence of a Rangoli pattern (a colourful pattern drawn in the morning in front of the house) or a floral Toran means there is a mourning period for the family. A Hindu household hangs the urn containing the ashes post cremation of the dead, outside and beside the door. The urn remains there till appropriate ceremonies are conducted and ashes are disposed. The presence of an urn outside the door is a message to others that invitations for all joyous events may not be delivered to the household. The presence of a swastika or other markings in vermilion colour over the door threshold indicates it is flourishing family and not a lonely widow’s residence. Bride and groom leave their palm prints over the door the marriage ceremonies. Similarly foot prints of a newly married bride and a pregnant lady in front and inside the entrance door are considered auspicious.

Post a Comment


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