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I have spent quite some time moving around. Mostly by choice sometimes by demand. The past six months have been a rush. My job allows me to work from anywhere which became working from everywhere. Not exactly of the Bedouin nature, a month each in Pune, Rishikesh, Bangalore, Chennai, Kishangarh and Gurgaon is the closest I have been to being a nomad. (No, seriously.)
Moving around is not exactly new for me. While I was in Chennai for higher studies, internships and project work flew me across the main land to Mumbai and then the high seas to Chicago, San Diego and Darmstadt. Remarkable and obvious at the same time, every place had a unique flavour. Now they have tons of amazing memories packed in. (some other article maybe?)
In this article I talk about various living spaces I came across lately. I noticed that certain places feel energetic the moment you step in. Some other places reek of negativity. Architectural design digs deeper into our lives than we credit it for. The design of the entrance, wall colour, even a weird flower pot in a corner can create permanent opinions, swinging either way. Even a small room can have fans and foes. This extends to favourable spots within a space where you feel most comfortable. Longer spans in disagreeable places results in negativity.
Work and rest are perhaps what people do. Where they do it however holds prime importance in the productivity. Working remotely comes with two choices. One, potato around at home alone (clever pun?) for a third of the day. Two, waltz into the nearest cafeteria. I find the latter rather pleasing. Looking up places to find the agreeable ones mark my to-do’s in a new city. My judgement lies on several criteria to find the perfect match (C A F E, not tinder). Food quality, strength of the coffee smell, sounds, artwork, pretty much everything which goes into the ambience. The trick is to find the optimum conditions which tingle the senses. The furniture has to be equally ergonomic.
Cafes in Rishikesh had soulful music and spiced lemon-tea on their menus, which helped me log several productive hours. Since everyone perceives the world in a unique way, perfection is very subjective.
Up-bringing influences perception. I inherited a habit of questioning and the need for self-discovery. (not a saint yet…) My family was supportive, even my views on their values and beliefs. The substantial impact of the environs on me is not a hard deduction. The coincidence of a job with such unconventional workplaces is simply unreal.
Moving into a more specific domain, I would like to talk about ancient Indian temples and why I find them inviting. I have felt positive energy in certain temples precincts which surprisingly charged me up. The far end of the spectrum houses temples spawning in streets and shady corners, a case of lost spirituality. The experience is similar to the varying sensations you feel in different living and working spaces, the energy made it special. Curiosity got me stumbling across the Agama Shastra. Sadhguru, a renowned saint has spent a lot of his life clarifying the mist surrounding Agama Shastra. Agama Shastra an extension from the Vedas and goes through a rigid set of rules. It talks about ratios and sizes for ideal composition, mantras to consecrate a place. Proper implementation is supposed to energise ordinary stones. This gives temples their distinguishing aura, differentiating them from common places. Five basic ingredients go into the creation, stimulating the five senses.
Indian temples subtly pique up the body sensations. Shoes come off as footwear is off charts. This cleverly touches on tactility as the bare feet are flush against the ground. The entrance houses a copper bell suspended from above, the sonority of which can activate all the chakras of our body. Traditionally, temples have an open-air courtyard around the inner sanctum. Devotees generally perambulate the precinct, the ritual is called “Parikrama”. Yagnas (actual pronunciation is yajya) and Pujas specific to the deity occur at fixed hours daily. The head priest leads the proceedings. Subordinate priest and devotees often play a helping hand. The air resonates with chants, bells, conch shells and occasionally a percussion instrument. An assortment of aromatic leaves, flowers, wood, camphor, fruits and offerings complement the spiritual ambiance. The procedure and ingredients used depend on the yagna being performed. Usually the event ends with “Prasadam”, mostly something sweet, satiating the taste buds.
Why temples and cafes specifically? Antipodal architectures in terms of design, longevity and purpose. The way both these places stimulate every sense is remarkable. This fits in the evolutionary human need for constant change.
The manner in which this occurs directly affects our opinion of any habitable space. Maybe that’s why houses in villages work well with me. India exemplifies diversity across the globe. The layout of a typical village house around the sub-continent however, has eerie uniformity. There will be an Aangan, encased within Baraamdas (also called veranda) Rooms open into the Aangan from every side, a private space occluded from the streets complete with natural ventilation and lighting. Air conditioners and lights become redundant. Less concrete and more soil is why villages have a prominent petrichor following the first downpour. The smell of freshly cut crops are ambient. The general silence acts like a sound curtain for generic city-dwellers. Summing up, the environment is conducive for work and rest.
The ‘living in a metropolitan suburb high-rise apartment’ people came up with ingenious balconies. Balconies can be the getaway within a small 2BHK for someone in Bangalore or Tokyo. Refurnish your balcony with something comfortable for your bottom, a table and a coffee pot to put on it. Let fresh air and natural light work their way into you. I found this works well with me.
Architecture For All Senses
Architecture For All Senses
Human interaction with the environment is based on sensory inputs. For hotels or while receiving guests, using the ‘generally’ favourable conditions are advisable. People also need Alliesthesia, a constant change throughout the day. Delving deeper into the effects of individual senses will expand the idea definitively. Exactly same things are perceived differently by different people depending on individual capabilities.
Eighty percent of information received by us is visual. This emphasises the need for proper light use. Creative applications can give an edge to the purpose. Architecture with both lit up and dark sections create impressions specific to an individual. Colours fiddle with attention.
A change of lights through the day keeps the bio-clock active. Humans evolved to the Sun and Moon cycles. The morning Sun has a freshening aspect to it. The tropical midday Sun is exuberant, but can be taxing. Sunset and twilight slow things down. Moonlight is relaxing.
Audio ranks after visual in terms of data received by humans. The sounds enveloping us should work with the purpose of our task. Perfect silence or constant tones improve concentration.
Sounds duly have a bearing on our health and sub-conscious states. Minor notes adapt to seriousness. Major notes are happy. Noise is unpleasant and causes agitation.
Aroma is the next ingredient towards creating a hospitable environment. Ventilation can make or break a real-estate deal. Damp places are generally repulsive.
Natural and Chemical methods are both invoked to make a place habitable. The general shift is towards the natural and nature-identical realm. The intention is to provide a freshening and personalized experience.
The texture of the walls, paint, accessories to the room affect our perception. Humans depend on tactility for the sense of security to a great extent. This is the reason why we only let people we feel comfortable with into our personal space. Materials used in construction vary in several parameters, specific to the component. Smooth materials give a sense of security and peace. Rough textures represent hostility and ruggedness.
Temperature and humidity can affect the ambience considerably. Generally, people find sultry weather appalling, preferring moderations in either parameter. Air conditioners and space heaters can preferably alter conditions indoors when and where required.
Black, white and green.
I associate green to the idea of freshness. Indoor gardens and flower pots are plus ones in my books. The functionality of plants taking up carbon-dioxide doubles up with radiating positive energy. Plants have been central to Vedic lifestyle since ages.
A lot of what I said was loosely based on architecture and design. I am not an architect, but I observe. I respect and listen to people who understand these concepts, clearing the shroud of mystery, a little bit every time. Existence needs Aliesthesia. Change is requisite. The Sun panning the sky, or a pizza every solstice.
Like forests our home should have a dark corners and well-lit areas. During a walk through the forest our senses are continuously stimulating that what makes it wonderful experience – Stefan Behling