Transition Spaces

14 10 2009

Transition – an in between state, in Architecture defined as the connecting space between two confined spaces. Architectural spaces are incomplete without transition spaces. Transition spaces have been always an interesting topic for me. My  friend Rupali and I actually had presented a seminar on Transition Spaces in Hindu Temple Complex. We concentrated more on the psycological and physicl transition of a person

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“Architectural spaces that envelop us like a physical presence, simple and dense, defying description imitation and photography. . . . universal, yet present. The exterior is simple leading to greater levels of mystery surprise and memory, creating poetic changes of light and shade . . . guiding us through its spaces . . . .”

Alvarso Siz on Mexican Architecture

The inclusion of transitional and circulation spaces, in the form of corridors, draught lobbies, atriums and stairwells, is unavoidable in the design of most non-domestic buildings. The percentages of such areas may vary between 10 to 40 percent of the total volume in different building types.

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Transitional spaces are defined as spaces located in-between outdoor and indoor environments acting as both buffer space and physical link. Other than being functional as circulatory routes for the building, the designs of these spaces is considered very important by building designers for reasons of aesthetics, health and comfort, and as emergency exit routes in the event of fire. The importance of optimum energy consumption in transitional spaces is also important in non-domestic buildings, as these spaces do not generate income, hence any wastage associated with higher energy cost is economically difficult to justify.

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We transit so frequently that we are not even aware of the presence of that space. It is very interesting to know about it. We experience them from macro to micro levels.

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Right from the  prehistoric architecture  there was an apparent evidence of the usage of transition spaces and transition elements as well.In Neolithic period, we can see the confined spaces for transition in the adjoining excavated dwelling at Skara Brae.

Orkney_Skara_Brae

In Egyptian, Pre Columbian and Persian period these spaces were enriched due to utilitarian aspect and got  a new dimension. Their functionality had increased due to timely requirements of the respective user.

precolumbian

petra-pharaohs-treasure-1Petra pharaohs, courtesy National Geographic

Greek, Roman was the period when Architecture flourished at its best. It had contributed lots of inventions in terms of construction techniques, designing details. These spaces very used so intelligently that they acquired a new position in the design elements.

Basilica roman

In Indian architecture, the very ancient civilizations like Mohanjo daro and Harappa were expertly constructed as an advanced civilization comparable to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. If we study the city planning here, you will find a well thought planned city with the interplay of transition spaces.

mohenjo-daro-5Courtesy photograph: National Geographic photograph

Indian temples are one of the best places to study transition spaces. If we read the temple plan we will arrive at the hierarchy of transition spaces. The very first transition happens when we enter in the temple through giant Gopuram. Then we come to Sabhamandapa that is connected to Mandapa through a colonnade acting as a transition space. Then the Antaralaya between the Mandapa and Garbhgriha stands as another transition space. Garbhgriha is again protected by Pradakshina path one more form of transition space. There is hierarchy of transition spaces here. This transition is not only a physical transition but also a psychological transition required to enter in a god’s abode. A person entering into a temple mentally gets prepared for his actual confrontation to almighty. He can’t directly enter to Garbhagriha as he cannot achieve that level of devotion required to enter in a shrine. He develops it slowly through transcendental travelleling of his own self.

Srirangam-plan

There is hierarchy of transition spaces in any urban planning like City level, Town level, District level, Local level. The entire road network is a transition mode. Then interaction spaces, gathering spaces, urban corridors, plazas standstill again as  transition spaces in their own way. Urban nodes can also be referred as transition space at macro level.

Transition spaces play a vital role in Environmental Behavior. It is the study that covers relationship between human behavior and properties of urban places, the study of the mutual interactions among people, social groups, culture and the physical environment at all scales from interior architecture to regional planning, with applications to improve the quality of life through improved environmental policy, planning and design.

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The one of the most important functions of transition spaces is sustainability in building design. The accurate use of these spaces in a builtform may increase its energy efficiency up to great extent. The design considerations should include this space as a constraint. When architects talk about orientation of the building, built form, site organization, topography, landscape then they should consider Transition Spaces as one of the aspects in building design.

Lets discuss few of them.

The peripheral corridors reduce the glare and solar radiation, resulting in cooling in the interior spaces.

Cloître_de_l'abbaye_cistercienne_du_Thoronet_(Var)

The connecting passage between two dwelling units creates a comfort level for the inhabitants. See the image below, it acts a pleasant sit out as well.

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The provision of water bodies in a transition space invokes cool breezes giving out the cooling effect to the interiors.

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Courtyards have been a hot favorite for vernacular style. Even today courtyard planning is used in India. Being a transition space courtyards also act as a very functional interaction space.

the-courtyard-at-dusk

If we compare building designs with wrapped around circulation space, with internal corridor, with courtyard, with wrapped around circulation space with courtyard, we would find that the last design with external circulation space and courtyard is the most efficient design in terms of energy saving and benefits the most from the change in temperature.Design guidelines for all types of climate suggest the importance of transition spaces. For example, in warm and humid climate the building spacing should be such that the air flow is promoted

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Design elements contribute a lot to transition spaces. There are colonnades, aisles, courtyards, water bodies, openings like doorways , pathways, grounds, patios, gardens, trellis, pergolas, foyers, lobbies etc. If there is no defined space then confinement by some of the above elements itself make the space functional and sensible.

Transition spaces in Indian context

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Sabhamandapa in an Indian Temple

arya_phalodi-courtyardArya Phalodi Courtyard

CY5Entrance, Rajasthani Architecture

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Anup Talao: A tank with a central platform and four bridges leading up to it.

This is the most elegant tranition space i have come across. It was built by Mughal King Akbar. Fatehpur Sikri is regarded as Emperor Akbar’s crowning architectural legacy. Indeed, its numerous palaces, halls, and masjids satisfy his creative and aesthetic impulses, typical of Mughals.

We will certainly talk about Fatehpur Sikri in detail in near future.Watch out….

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15 responses

27 08 2010
sharmin

hi,
this is amazing! i was wondering that u mentioned everything i was thinking of.
thats grt. i was planing to work on this subject as research topic
.
congrats

16 09 2010
jayshil

hey could u help me on this even i m doin research on it plzzz…

14 11 2010
tintin

can u tell when a transition takes place in between the space that one performs to the space that connects one to the unphysical,what kind of play of light and shadows will overwhelm that space.

15 11 2010
Shweta

Hey hi, can u please elaborate ur question?

28 11 2010
kaushambi mate

i m researching on immediate transition space between two immensely crowded public areas “railway station and the adjoining street”… its dicy a situation to relate how far your facts and researches shall be valid for me … 😦

20 03 2011
pyne

thanks a lot for sharing the topic. very interesting and thoughtful. i am also working on the concept of transition and interface. can u help me with some questions? like, how do you create transition between communities ? and what is the role of interface in physical terms, visual aspects and psychological terms in the concept of transition?
thanks

14 06 2011
Hellen

Thanks that was very informative am doing a research on transition spaces in civic buildings this has being very very informative. keep it up

22 09 2011
thahseen

hello guys…..i m planning to do dissertation on the topic..”transition spaces in commercial spaces”…wil u guys pls suggest ur valued points regarding the topic…i meant…wt all areas should be consider in a commercial mall as transition spaces..

22 09 2011
thahseen

i am waiting for ur comments………pls respond…k

15 02 2012
shantanu

can u help me plz….as fast aas possible…..
WHAT ARE THE TRANSITION SPACES CREATED DUE TO LIGHT?
plz plz

18 02 2012
Shweta

Shantanu, transition spaces created by lights are those spaces which are deifned by lights. For example if there is a free standing wall then space around that wall will keep changing as per the path of sun. As only shaded space can be defined at diff times, diff shadows can be identified.

1 04 2012
lifafebriani09

Reblogged this on lifafebriani09.

10 07 2012
lifafebriani

Reblogged this on lifafebriani.

16 09 2012
juhi

hey,m doing my research on the fluidity and nature of spaces connecting as well as seggregating silent areas from noisy space.. please give me a guidance of how to proceed with my topic.

22 11 2012
Nabila

the residence with a pool on the roof that has ”Design elements contribute a lot to transition spaces. There are colonnades, aisles, courtyards, water bodies, openings like doorways , pathways, grounds, patios, gardens, trellis, pergolas, foyers, lobbies etc. If there is no defined space then confinement by some of the above elements itself make the space functional and sensible.

Transition spaces in Indian context” underneath is actually a beautiful residence in dhaka, bangladesh by architect rafiq azam.

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