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Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University
Dwarka, Delhi

Research Paper 2016-17

In Transitional spaces

Sunaina Chauhan
Fourth Year (2016-17)
Guide : Prof. Rajat Ray

The recent drastic change in technology, economy, culture and hence
urban lifestyle have driven out a completely different personality in
people. People talk less, participate less and are more confined into their
own lifestyle. Building /spaces are designed solely on functional basis and
not with any social or culture purpose.The city is often projected as being
in the process of getting restructured so as to better deal with a new world
order in which our cities must somehow fit well.
Earlier the focus was more on public spaces, people were more social and
interactive. The spatial configuration allowed an integrated society with
better neighborhood. Privatization of spaces is killing the urban fabric.
There is this trend of gated communities and emphasis on private
spaces .In this evolving society it is very difficult to gather in physical form
Urban open space - both magnitude and spatial arrangement - is critical to
urban living. Democratic spaces -availability of open space, distribution
and accessibility are a major concern for cities. Open space are a
necessity and not a luxury. Rapid urban sprawl enhances the problem.
Framing, fencing and dividing stands for the boundaries to demarcate the
spaces on both sides. City is usually related with constant movement and
mobility, by a continuous flux of people and events. One reason for the
secluded lifestyle could be the disrupted urban landscape which is not
capable of creating a celebrated space. This research paper would try to
describe the different situations of these transitional spaces in various
contexts and try to analyze how these spaces affect the lifestyle of people
and how they perceive them.

Transitional space is the space of play and creativity where our
culture is created, where love can grow, where teaching and learning
take place, where art is made, and where culture is created. -Donald
Winnicott English Psychoanalyst

Transitional space is the connecting layer between the space we were

and the space we will be in, hence rather than terming it as a separate
space, it is more apt to consider it as a merging layer of the two spaces.
The experimental nature of these spaces adds a whole lot sense of
dynamism to the space as it is under constant transformation, one scene
completely different from another.
We transit so often that we hardly ever notice the space being there. It is
very stimulating to know about it. We experience them from macro to
micro levels, while being completely oblivious of its presence.
The earlier cities were dense; hence the transitional spaces were tight and
mostly bound by all sides, creating a sense of space and comfortable
scale. As settlements grew, they become more planned and organized;
hence, the transitional spaces are structured and no more acted as left
out spaces. Visual expression become a very important aspect of such
It is a space which we visit every day physically but rarely absorb it
psychologically , and hence fail to understand that the space plays a crucial role
in shaping our everyday behavior and social being.

The outside space is a place one can never occupy fully

/completely for it is always other, different, at a distance where
one is. One cannot be outside everything, always outside, to be
outside something is always to be inside something else."(Grosz :

The fabric of urban transitional spaces has changed over time , is it
necessary to study these changes and revert back to the previous
methods and incorporate them in the current situations?
Research Questions

What are the various transitional spaces in a settlement?

How the footprint of an urban village has changed for these spaces
-in terms of scale and perception?

How peoples involvement has decreased in these spaces?

What psychological changes are brought by these spaces by

redesigning them with new perspective?

How the activities in theses spaces have changed over time?

To have a fair understanding of the topic various transitional zones were
marked out and a deeper understanding was gained by studying there
nature,use and spatial morphology through following methods:
1)First hand observation
The study will use first-hand experiences of the author and observations
of usage patterns and social activities. It will also include documentation
of experiences of other visitors and the residents of the case study. A lot
of research data is available as many architecture students have used it
as the base for a project. The primary step would be to research and
collect this existing databank.

2) Figure Ground Drawings, Street Sections and Sketches will be

used to explain the character of these spaces and their usage. To
understand the spatial morphology, a framework needs to be developed

based on an extensive study of existing material on social space and

3) Photographic survey
Photo graphic evidence would try to analyse the spaces and the activities
at different sites and try to compare the situations ,as they have changed
with time .

4) Comparative analysis
The study would include comparative analysis of earlier city fabric and current
situations ,to know how the situation have changed in terms of spaces ,scale and

Although this research was carefully prepared, I am still aware of its
limitations and shortcomings. First of all, the research was conducted in a
span of 3-4 months and justice was not given to potential of the
topic.Also, most interviews were the viewpoints of small portion of the
village residents and may not accurately depict the entire picture. Lastly,
it is unavoidable that in this study, certain degree of subjectivity can be
found. Many viewpoints are those of the author and may considerably
vary amongst my peers and seniors.

What are Transitional spaces ?

Transitional space bridges the gap between solely interior and solely exterior.
These spaces, in being transitional, take people from outside and through the
overlap of nature and building, transfer individuals to a destination defined as

Transitional spaces are often realted with mobility and changes.This

ambiguent nature of these spaces create a space which is neither the
place from where they originally came (Departure point) nor the object of
the destination ,but is somehow related to both.This transitional reality is
short lived Space.
Architecture is dependent and attached to the space; space embraces architecture and
architecture embraces space. (Shahlaei A. & Mohajeri M. 2015)
Spaces are designed by the need of the user,litte thought is given to the
psychological effect it creates on the user. As mentioned
Space is neither a concrete object nor an abstract one; otherwise there
may exist neither man nor space.(Tabanian & Einifar,2011)
Also Zevi has mentioned: Everything which has no space is not
architecture. Every building creates two spaces at the same time: interior
space and exterior space. Interior space is the essence and basis of
Grutter has said: Architectural space can be perceived objectively and
feel directly and it can identify by its defining elements (Parsee et al.,
Place and space are two terms which usually describe the attributes of a
deisgn,with this respect if spaces allow movement, then place is the
pause in that movement.
Lefebvre (1991:33) defined space as a three dimensional product:
perceived- Practices
lived-representational space

We as humans inhabit the environment which is large and very exposed,
often referred to as the outside, which to some poses the threat of
danger and exposure, which in turn leads us humans to a need for
protection, shelter and privacy, this space can be known as the inside
(Brookes, 2012).
Being outsider is being a part of bigger world, which is more exposed and
vast. An equal balance between the inside and outside space is required
and this dependence is both physical and psychological. This outside is
erratic and dynamic, it tends to change with time, with spaces, and with
the people in it.

Inside, as the opposite to outside, can be defined as being in or to the
interior of something, the inner side, surface, or part of something
(Collins, 2003).
To be inside is being safe and secure.

Inside outside relationship

A relationship must have (Brookes, 2012):
A number of PARTS which are to be connected.
A CONNECTION which must be logical, placing the elements into a single image.
An image which forms a WHOLE, having greater meaning than the original elements.
A relationship can be defined as:
Whole = Part + Connection + Part
(Shahlaei A. & Mohajeri M. 2015)
The connection or the transition has the ability to turn a space into a place
which is otherwise just a boundary line or a physical or psychological
barrier. But apart from the inside outside perception of space the

argument is for an aesthetic affinity for this ambiguous space and

changing the conventional way of defining space by boundaries.
Boundary is usually defined to demarcate a space as inside or outside.It
have always been the guiding principle of urbanism. Architecture is
usually perceived as defining spaces and taking them as separate entities.
Rather than being just a line of barrier these can act as catalyst for a
symbiotic relationship between both the spaces. The goal is to create a
more responsive environment and not to bound ourselves to certain
manmade barriers.
Contemporary urban spaces
In existing urban society, the most illustrative unchanging event of our
regular day to day existence is persistent change. It is contended that city
situations are described by complex progression of urbanization ,by
administration of systems, speed ,time and by quickened mechanical and
communicational digital developments.
In the current scenario society have evolved in various terms , and it is
somehow practically impossible for people to gather in physical form
regularly. In the urban rush of making money and living a city life ,the
social character of the people is continuously dilapidating. There is a lack
of democratic transitional space, where people could participate equally.
City looking for a contemporary society hasnt found a dimension in this
place yet. Alterations have occurred in the morphology of spaces,
emphasis is more on space making rather than place-making.
When serving in an urban outdoor space, a transition affects the physical
environment in which the city functions, in turn affecting the experience of
the people. In a public setting, they may vary in scale but they succeed in
creating a fluid and elastic outdoor space.
A transition space began with and still is the element of transit between the public (street) and
the private (house) areas considered to be irreverent and sacred, respectively. It becomes a
centre for informal gatherings of small groups adding life to the street.
Therefore, we can say that after an individual building and its context the next level of
transition happens at the intersection of streets (primary, secondary and tertiary).
The entire road network itself acts as a transition mode. Integrated in the city scape there are
interaction spaces, gathering spaces, urban corridors, plazas that standstill but act as a
transition space in their own way. Urban nodes or the intersection points of streets can also be
referred to as transition space, but at a macro level. These nodes however are in a complete
state of fluidity and the level of activity is not constant. Similarly a slight hierarchy is visible

in buildings as well i.e. the transition space between the outside (street) and the edge or a
semi private area of a house. The next level is the semi-private to completely private area.

Evolution of cities
As profeesed by Jane Jacobs :
This informality has been responsible for the great tradition of public
streets in India, which is very different from the cities of the West.
Religious festivals, political rallies, marriages and funeral processions, all
these all rituals of the city are orchestrated in the streets.
The closed packed networks, the dynamic and transient nature of spaces
are the major factors which ensured valuable service to citizens ensuring
more humane and safer streets.There is this idea of self
governance,adjustments and transformation


Multiple interpretation

Multiplicity is one major factor giving essence to the earlier cities. In a

single diurnal time , a chaupal is used to socialize in the morning ,gamble
in day and refuge for homeless in the night.
Similarly a street is used for small tea shops and lemonade shops, local
markets and strolling around at the same time.
The plinth in front of the house utilized as resting place for travelers,
gossiping by ladies and for sitting by elders.

Order in the chaos

Ask a person working in one of the establishments on the streets about

Business and you will be amazed by the sophisticated and elaborate
of personnels, their roles and relationships that support their
Order is usually related with Cartesian plans, straight lines and
geometric patterns. There is an inherent relativeness and order
among the communities in earlier cities which necessarily is not

created by only built form. The freedom of interpretation leads to an

interesting aspect which which allows every individual to perceive a
space in his own terms.
It plays a vital role in expressing liminal spaces. It provides with
numerous choices rather than controlling the user with some fixed
attribiutes.Freedom of choices allows variable spatial expressions.
Accidental encounters
When one provide a direct route, the person tends to follow the
same routine, making it more monotonous and boring. Varied
routes increase the chances of encounters of not only people but
also spaces. The element of surprise adds a notion of forced
interactive environment to the transitory experience.

If you were to walk all of the pathways and travel all the canals of one
mile in Venice you would pass more than 1500 separate intersections and
circle at least 900 blocks. By contrast, in Brasilia you would find fewer
100 intersections in a square mile radius.
Jacobs, Great Streets,
Flexibility of usage, multiple meanings, symbolism and order are
some of the attributes which results in a more responsive and
coherent society.


Planned and unplanned transition areas have normally been part of

human settlements. The scale of these transitional spaces and the way in
which it is used, however, has passed through enormous alterations over
time. The typology and nature of the transitional spaces have been
changing with time. They vary in scale, usage and connection.
Medieval cities were densely packed blocks with market places integrated inside them and
narrow alleys. This setting in itself gives a very different perception of space than what exists
today i.e. properly planned outdoor plazas and wider lanes. Due to the density of the
settlements the transition spaces were also tight and mostly bound by all sides, creating an
enclosed space. Transition spaces in such settlements were often self-evolved, according to
the use and the requirements of the user.

With dense living conditions the houses were mostly dark and most of the transition and
experiences took place outdoors, in external open spaces. These spaces were more
comfortable and interactive unlike the closed walls of a house. These transition spaces from
inside to outside be where people made social contact and interacted with each other. Very
big social gatherings used to take place in the outdoor plaza which was bigger in dimension.
(Ramaswamy, 2005)



Street is the communication link between various attributes of the

context. It is the multifunctional space which deals with various
overlapping spaces leading to a more receptive environment.
The streetscapes play a very crucial role in Shahjahanabad. It not only a
big platform for interaction but also provides various opportunities at
every time of the day. They play an important role when it come about the
safety, the human contact and also to assimilate children on the roads.
As quoted by Jane Jacob Street In the cities serve many purpose besides
carrying vehicles, sidewalks -pedestrian parts of the street serve many
purpose besides carrying pedestrians."
The pedestial in front of the houses were used by visitors and women of
the house.


These are the gathering spaces in community space where people gather
or a market place. Its acts as a
stoppage and break space for the
people. Usually winding streets end in an open space or squares, which
act l like an robust destination which the mysteriously wandering street
was leading us to.
It turns out to be the end point of the curiosity which stimulates peoples
mind while moving along the ambiguous streets.

Baisakhi Mela dated 1981 AD

the streets of shahjanabad

Festival celebrated in

Platform for Chowks and streets were used as platforms for huge
festivities,bring people of the realm , the king and his family ,his court
members together to celebrate different events.
This enhances the idea of democarctic spaces, where people could move

Tree as a social space

Space sunder the tree were used for various social practices. Ladies used
to celebrate different festivals , lay swings on tree branches, students
used to study in pathshalas under the tree, village people used to
assemble at chaupals and discuss various issues of village and their
personal life too.
Earlier development was around these spaces ,to create them as focal
point of the village hence thinking of giving some character to the
transitional spaces.

Wells and some podiums in front of the houses were used by women
of the houses to sit around to rest and know about each other.People
passing through the streets leads to accidental encounters ,increasing the
social circle of the people. This active social circle is much better than the
digital social circle that we have in our busy lives.

These spaces ensured a united community ,hence these transitional

spaces ensured a character to the spaces ,with every space designed to
function in a democractic and social way.

Chirag Delhi
Chirag Delhi is one of the 135 urban villages that are existing in the
changing landscape of the capital city of the country. An urban village can
be defined as a village which has acquired urban character due to land
holdings for public purpose or by its transformation into residential or
industrial colonies.
Villages are usually identified with winding lanes,chowks and chaupals.But
these villages are different with the rural environment but urban
context.The transformation is not in terms of movements as fir the
population has not moved from its rural environment to an urban one, it is
the city that has come to them.
Among a series of modern spatial arrangemnets,Chirag Delhi is one place
characterized by difference.Surrounded by planned developments like
Pachsheel Enclave,Saomi Nagar,Sheikh Sarai,Pushp Vihar,Chirag Delhi
stands there with its own historical tale.

Historical Significance.

In 1350 ,A dargah which entomb Nasir-ud din Mahmud was built during Tughlaq . He was a
mystic-poet and Sufi saint of the Chishti order.He was a disciple of noted Sufisaint, Hazrat
Nizamuddin Auliya, and later his successor. He was the last important Sufi of the Chishti
order.Tomb of Bahlol Lodi (died 1489),founder of the Lodi dynasty, is also located in the
Chirag Delhi village.

The village derives its name from Nasiruddin Mahumud Roshan Chiragh Delhi, a Sufi saint
who succeeded Nizamuddin Auliya as head of the Chisti sect in 1324.During the period

1324-1356, Saint Nasiruddin as the head of the Chisti movement established an ensemble
around his house. There were around 41 villages in the area. During this period the wall
around the settlement was built under the rule of the Mughal Emperor Mohammed Shah
Rangeela (1719- 48). By the 1800s a settlement developed around the shrine. After partition
in 1947, village property belonged to the Khadims of the Dargah who migrated out and the
area was taken over by the Jat community.
The Settlement
The Chirag Delhi Settlement grew around the residence (and later Dargah)
of Sheikh Naseeruddin Mahmud along the Satpallah tributary of the river
Yamuna. And was originally a part the Jahanpanah Forest Area. The village
grew along the stream with the main bazaar passing through it. (Gupta
1993) The Dargah is enclosed in a rectangular rubble-masonry fort built
by Muhammad Bin Tughlaq (1325-51). The gates were built to emphasize
the axis of the bazaar and the stream. The village grew along this axis and
as it densified, the remaining areas became built area. After Independence
the government acquire the remaining farmland for urbanisation.
The Chirag Delhi village slowly grew around the Dargah for two reasons
disciples of the saint and the fort acted as protection from the surrounding
wildlife. (World Monuments Fund, INTACH 2008) Originally the enclosed
are contained only a few scattered havelis (private mansions) and hujuras
(small single rooms) of the Khadims of the Dargah.
(INTACH 1996)
These villages witnessed the tremendous transformational change in
terms of original residents ,housing conditions,street patterns,socioeconomic patterns,physical changes in planning, lifestyle and quality of
life of people and houses,infrastructure,land-use and income pattern of
the people.

First Impression
The Chirag Delhi village is bounded by fragments of a boundary
wall.Entrance gates located at the four cardinal directions mark original
access to the settlement.
Earlier these gates served ceremonial and defensive needs but these are
partially damaged,these urban markers are hidden by haphazard
encroachments around it.The village have its four sides surrounded by
Outer ring Road and Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg on two sides and an open
nallah and institutional context on the other two.
Further entry to the village is through crumbled gates which once used to
be the walled city.The peripheral movement is same an any commercial
street with shops all along the road and hap hazard traffic movement. The
iron railing Road is in a very dilapidated situation with an open nallah
flowing on one side and the other side of the road used by iron
workers.This creates a very sorry situation for such historically significant

But as soon as one enters the village ,there is a whole lot new world
inside with multiple fabrics of time winding complexly into one another
and indicating a transformed but yet to be completely transformed urban

Hierarchy of spaces
With a traditional settlement pattern the community evolved around the
dargah complex and later converted into a fortified city, created an
introverted image of the village.

This introverted behavior still exists with every street overlooked by

tightly packed and dense houses.Hence creating an idea of more confined
streets which leads to more interactive and social transitional space.
Hence the transition here is from the outside context to the inside of the
complex.This transition once decorated by the four gates i.e.,Lahore
Gate,Dili Gate,Darichi Gate,Takht Gate now remain unidentified.
Hence there is no doubt in admitting that earlier architecture tend to focus
on these transitions and decorated them with some purpose.

The next hierarchal category of spaces in Chirag Delhi is its
chowks.Chowks create a very intresting kind of a social space in the
complex.These are places where people sit and interact .They usually
open up from a narrow street ,giving an fascinating open closed
relationship between streets and chowks.

Bohran Chowk
It is located along the line connecting the four gates of the fortified
settlement of the village.The name is derived from the mohalla that
housed Bohran Muslims.The Chowk is characterized by a historical
well.The landmark Chowk is defined by a large tree and the chaupals
around it.Sweet shops and stores serving daily needs line the edge of the
Chowk. Two- wheeler parking within has contributed to recent congestion.

The Bohran Chowk with two huge trees and high platformed chaupals is a
huge space for such a tightly packed settlement.The peripheral of the
chowks are mainly used by hawkers and shops,adding some commotion to
the place.
Some portion of the chowk is used for vehicular parking.Hence the social
potencial of the place is being lost with usual transformation in lifestyle.
People do use these chaupals for sitting and assembly but may be the
degree if use is reduced due scale of chaupals is not propotionate to the
size of the chowk.

Bazaar Chowk

The largest of Chowks within the settlement is located outside the Chirag
Delhi Dargah. For safety reasons, the historical well located within has
been recently covered.On account of its proximity to the
Dargah, the largest concentrationof commercial activity within the
settlement is around Bazaar Chowk.Daily need shops, vegetable
marketand eateries contribute to the areas character.

The street outside the dargah contains some commercial shops,marking

the entrance of the dargah.Comparing the size of chaupal of Bohran
Chowk and Bazaar chowk,the later terms out to be more appropriate,with
people playing cards around the tree.A small panwala stall stands as
permanent picture in the chowk.

Some portion of the chowk is used for parking the cars.Small children
playing in there own space.The chowk turns out to be a multifuntional
area ,with many ages groups,genders involved in respective activities.

Sadela Kuan Chowk

The Chowk derives its name from an ironic reference as the surela kuan
a well that once contained sweet water. Local tales suggest a tunnel
located below in the well connected the village to Tughlakabad fort.The
area is predominantly residential in nature. It is mainly inhabited by the
Pandit community and marked by a few grocery stores.The Chowk is
presently used as a parking lot for cars and twowheelers.

Streets and thresh holds

Over the last century, the traditional urban structures of our cities have
changed drastically. And it is important to study this morphological
transformation of our historical cities to understand the cultural and social
implications of space. The modern city produces a functional street, which
caters to elementary needs of movement. But it does not create space
bound by volume. The significant meaning behind the street is lost to
function of movement.

Street sections chaging through time

The streets of Chirag Delhi follow a hierarchical pattern. The primary

streets are along the main axes of the village and are important
commercial centres. There is partial vehicular movement on these streets.
The secondary streets allow less or vehicular movement and
predominantly pedestrian. Some streets barely allow light to enter
because of the encroachment by adjacent houses.
The small platforms in front of the house imposes a welcoming character
to the household.
Usually door is to demarcate the boundary between inside and outside but
these threshold removes this stigma of boundary and creates transitional
space which is used for various purposes and creates an environment for
safer and interactive streets.

Panchsheel Enclave A Block

Pachsheel Enclave located across the road from Chirag Delhi is on of the
planned colonies around old settlement.Linear demarcation of areas ,and
plotted developments shows a contracting image of the area.

First Impression
Entering the comlex from a gated entrance again creates an introverted
image of the complex. Wide vehicular roads with huge pedestrian setback
along the road ,creates no connection with the surrounding
community.The housing blocks height ranges from single storeyed to three
storeyed building.The blocks stand in isolation with every block with
certain setback from the main road.
Even the green spaces are gated entities which do not create a welcoming
entrance for the user.
Architecture equips people with tools to regard their surroundings in many
ways. To build a wall, means to set a boundary to define space. In doing
this a statements about both sides is made. A completely solid and closed
boundary isolate the inhabitants from their surroundings. Creating
openings in the boundary is a different statement. The structure that is
build, the house, takes a position toward its context. A box creates a very

rigid separation between the inside space and the outside space, but the
definition of space does not have to be a very rigid one, it is hardly ever
just a closed box.
Lack Hierarchy of Spaces

There is no such evident hierarchy of spaces seen in the area.The main

street leads to small streets to the housing block.These roads and streets
are further introverted by the boundary walls on various plots.These
boundaries not only creates a separate space between the two adjacents
lots with no realtion to them but also enforces the user to use the space
as passing ways rather than space.The idea of space making is
emphasized over place making.

Lack of public spaces.

Lack of any common public spaces forces people to sit on the pedestrian
way under tree . This is very similar to the situation in rural villages where
people used to sit down under a tree (chaupal) and have a socially active
space.Here these spaces lack this nature and people are forced to sit
anywhere on the road for any kind of meeting.

Vendors and stalls were arranged along the main junction of the
road,adding some kind of activeness to the space.With people sitting
under a tree to play cards,others selling fruits and vegetables.

Streets and thresholds

Streets to the houses branch out from the main roads ,leading to the
respective blocks.The block faces a park which again are walled entities
,which rather than creating a natural environment creates a segregated
entity of the complex.

Gates and Boundaries

The gated public parks creates an invisible barrier between the passer by
or the people living in the colony.The character of the place is lost as a
monotonous half metre wall runs all along the road ,demarcation spaces
,rather than making them.


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