How do we inhabit a space?

On a Monday morning, over a zoom call, we started by understanding how a space is inhabited. What are the various scales of interaction that unfold in a space? What are those distinct types of space requirements that our being needs for different interactions to happen?

Solitude(Myself)      Intimacy( You + me= Us)       Congregation (We)

For me, a State of solitude is a truly vulnerable state of being. It is when one chooses to be their most unsocial self to do the hard job of looking within and be with oneself. To be in this state requires a lot of hard work, tenderness and sincerity with oneself. A space that can accommodate a person in solitude thus needs to be a secluded one, where the body and mind can attempt to or continue to maintain some distance from the actions happening in the surrounding.

Purple indicates spaces of solitude

When I dream of solitude my body begins to search for an enclosure to support me. My knees begin to bend and look for a space to collapse. My eyes and skin begin to look for dimly lit spaces with little to no light. A little bit of light filtering from the fluttering leaves along with some rhythmic music created by the surroundings also enhances the character of solitude in space. Corners, edges, and places to sit and shade facilitate this kind of inhabitation. Changes in levels can also create the mood of solitude in space. A lower ground within the common ground comes as a strong image of being with oneself. However, being on the highest level from where no one can oversee other than the vast expanse of sky is also very effective in generating a space for solitude.

Solitude can also happen in motion. Walking along the rear side of these homes and the backyard park generates feelings of calmness within oneself. While gazing and focusing on the dense vegetation of the park opens up the chances for one to look within themselves. Walking inside the park didn’t have a similar effect, maybe due to the undulating surface of the ground that tends to break the flow of being completely inside one’s mind and body. This takes me back to Astad Deboos’s answer of smooth floors being very important for dancers.

Walking along the backyard park, on a shaded path

To call shared time with someone intimate means to be vulnerable in front of them and bring out what’s within while trusting the other and hoping, that they would help them untangle the burdens, one conversation at a time.

Face to face

Side by side

Looking up and looking down

Holding hands

Holding heads

Holding bodies

Holding knees

Rubbing back

Rubbing hands

Rubbing shoulders

Sometimes just locking eyes


keeping your ears open

Pink indicates spaces for intimacy and yellow indicates spaces for congregation

To be intimate is still an easier position to be in than to be in solitude. When one is sharing intimacy with someone, they are in it together, with their bodies breathing the same air and their ears and eyes giving each other full attention. While in solitude the state of being with oneself only is more pronounced and is truly far harder.

Intimacy can be shared over a bench, at the entry wheel, on the entrance plinth, along the low-height railing, behind the parked cars and yes all spaces for solitude are also spaces for intimacy.

The congregation can be of varying scales and qualities. When in the congregation-

  • Masses face an act
  • Masses arrange around an act
  • Masses are in motion
  • Masses queue

A shaded space with the possibility to arrange into smaller groups activates a gathering. In a congregation, every individual has a chance to express themselves while also being part of the larger narrative being weaved on site of action.

Post re-visting the site: A refined understanding of spaces for solitude, intimacy and congregation

Being able to break down space into spaces for solitude, intimacy and congregation is just a starting point in understanding how and why a space is inhabited the way it is.

What do people feel in spaces of intimacy?

What do people feel in spaces of solitude?

What do people feel in spaces of congregation?

These questions remain………