#35 | arc02 – The “Box”/”Bubble” personal space and a (really) brief introduction to Hi-Seas Mars missions.

Hey guys!

I haven’t got so much time recently because of my schedule and every school-related projects, but I’ll try to keep the post in the rhythm. So tired… Anyway, I’ll finish this book quickly to be able to make the database for my master thesis, so it is for a good reason right?

I won’t talk about something too long. Last time, I explained you about the correlation between environment and behavior. The perception of space by a human, the importance of scales. I talked about the ergonomy and why it is important to use shapes and functions together. The relation between inside and outside, the perception of space with objects and the three axes of oriented space.

Today, I’ll talk about the “Box”, the difference between a “Bubble” and a “Box” kind of space. I will also talk about the Negative and Positive spaces.

The “Box” or “Rectangular space” is called because of the planes we can draw through the three axes of oriented space: the vertical one, the Front-Back, the Left-Right. If we build parallel planes from each axis, we can build a box that can help to structure the spatial perception. It is a way to make an endlessly divisible cartesian environment. People living in these spaces defined what is around them with the visual sensory perception. They can get a better understanding of the three axes of their body in the room where they are.

Like I said before, the “Bubble” was described by Edward T.Hall as psychological limits of our personal space. It is built in our visual field first and then, with our memory of space. The personal objects inside the bubble are used to make the environment safer to our perception. These objects can then help us to locate ourselves and help us to know the architectural space better. With that kind of method, people can appropriate their habitat and make them at home, helping them to develop their own living area. This kind of personal space is defined by an adaptive shape of the “Bubble”, indivisible and can be extended by the others sensory perceptions besides the visual.

So what to use when we create a delimited volume called architectural space?

The “Box” is related to our modern vision of the habitat. It helps us to structure our behavior in logical decisions. With a “Box”, our vision can detect the corners and the planes easily, we can move by planning where we want to go by defining the “Box” with a specific spatial language: “left”, “right”, “front”, “back”,”up”, “down”; or “West”, “East”, “North”, “South”, “Zenith”, “Nadir”.  Of course, we can divide the “box” endlessly or shape the “box” with more corners, but the space logic doesn’t change. It is a way to define more easily the inside without taking care of the height. A great example in the Asian architecture like Japanese wooden structures. The architecture of Japan is respected for the visual frame and the organization of spaces and volumes.

On the contrary, the “Bubble” is wrongly attributed to the “tribes” culture because of the sensory perception related to its space. If the human movements on the base ground of the “Box” is a square or a rectangle. In the “Bubble” it is a triangular movement: the entry, and left/right (stability or our body in space remember the axis). But it is complicated to know exactly where you are with visual landmarks. The personal space is at ease in that spherical space and it is not a cartesian environment, but a relaxing one. You can walk in a circle and play around with a free base ground. For example, the igloos and primitive tents are made intuitively in a dome because visual perception isn’t used. In fact, the sense of touch is more important in this environment.

I’ve recently learned that the Hi-Seas Missions used a dome for the Mars simulation. In April 2017, Tristan Bassingthwaighte, one of the 6 members was an architect who worked 1 year in this confined place, 11 meters in diameter and proposed a new interior architecture based on modules for each night room on a 1st level story platform. A platform on the ground is used for the living room and dining room/kitchen. The dissertation is online and can be used by anyone.
I haven’t got quite the time to look after the data, but the proposition is quite interesting: the architect combines the “Box” method and the “Bubble” personal space of the dome. I need to know more about the application of these theories to make my own proposition… Anyway, I won’t talk about it for today.

What is a Positive and a Negative space?

The positive space is described by the interior architecture, the inside that can be imagined, perceived and known as a personal space. The positive space is limited in size and it is known as the inside of the architectural space. Inside the volume, we can identify ourselves in this environment. When we are outside, we can feel the relation to this volume. Positive space is what we call: “feeling at home”.

The negative space is described as the undefined territory, something outside the architectural space that cannot be defined easily. In fact, if the positive space was the “form”, the negative one will be the “background” and the “form” is more important than the “background” when our eyes tried to catch the composition in the landscape. Negative space is the environment unmeasured around the subject of the architectural or photographic composition.

Off Topic

Did you know that a 19°C is the temperature for “ecological” temperature used for a room but in fact, the human body can only sleep well with a temperature between 20°C-22°C? A cold temperature can result to wake up in the middle of the night (because the heat inertia of not well-isolated walls will make them too colds and will cool down the inside of the room under 19°C). If it is an old house not well isolated, there will be air flow that will enter the bedroom because of the temperature differences between rooms of the house.

What did I learn?

  • The “Box” personal space and the difference with the “Bubble”
  • A Hi-Seas Mission proposition for “cartesian” modules inside the dome
  • What is a positive and a negative space and how to use it in composition
  • What is a good temperature for a bedroom


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