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The notion that urban space design prioritises structural design over interior architecture and design needs reevaluation. With approximately 90% of our time spent indoors, whether in residential complexes, public institutions, or commercial buildings, the importance of interior design cannot be overstated. Interior architecture not only contributes to our well-being but also ensures comfort, safety, accessibility, and aesthetics in equal measure, demanding an increased focus on the quality of interior environments.
The scope of interior architecture is no longer limited to just space planning and creating structurally sound interiors. It now involves a holistic approach to enhance the overall environment for a more significant impact. While aesthetics remain crucial, as they influence how we feel through materials, colours and texture, other factors such as safety, comfort, sustainability and social interactions have emerged as equally important. This shift towards a practical and immersive experience contributes to an environment that's functional, sustainable, enriching and conducive to social interactions.
Interior architecture and design is a specialised area within architecture that focuses on creating a functional, well-designed and exquisite environment. It involves conceptualising and planning spaces, repurposing internal elements, selecting appropriate materials, and integrating them harmoniously within the given context.
Interior architecture is pivotal in shaping urban spaces by being conducive to the user's needs. It requires a deeper understanding of the built environment, sustainability, and ergonomic designs. Here are some key aspects of interior architecture and design that have a multifaceted impact on urban spaces:
Whether it’s a retail store, a restaurant, or a public institute, the layout, colour schemes, materials, and lighting used inside significantly impact how you feel and interact within the urban space. A comfortable environment essentially improves user experience, encourages longer stays, and fosters a sense of community. Well-designed environments add character, which contributes to the visual identity of urban spaces, transforming mundane interiors into captivating ones.
Integrating smart lighting systems, temperature control, security, and audiovisual elements can significantly improve the experience of urban spaces. Incorporating technology into interior architecture allows you to create interactive installations, digital signage, or experiences that engage users.
Urban spaces must be accessible by providing ramps and lifts wherever necessary to users of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. This involves space planning that is barrier-free, inclusive, and accommodating for individuals with disabilities, parents with strollers, and senior citizen ensuring equal access for all.
Designing the interiors of urban spaces requires catering to diverse functions. An adaptability mindset allows the area to be reconfigured and repurposed if and when needed. The versatility ensures that such areas accommodate various events, gatherings, exhibitions, or future changes.
Given the environmental challenges cities face, incorporating sustainability and green design practices in interior architecture is almost non-negotiable. Sustainable designs not only reduce the environmental impact but also help in creating healthier and more habitable spaces for users.
Interior Architecture of urban spaces has come a long way, evolving from drab and unimaginative designs to stylish and vibrant ones. In the history of interior design, urban spaces were once limited to beige walls, plain furniture, and generic layouts. But today, interior design as an industry has transformed these spaces into a canvas for pushing boundaries. It's all about creating environments that not only captivate the eye but also prioritize the well-being of people.
In the early 20th century, the pioneers of modern architecture like Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe challenged the status quo and coined a school of thought, “form follows function.” The concept revolved around clean lines and maximum space usage to a point where minimalism became a rage, giving birth to the iconic Bauhaus movement. It embraced minimalism and celebrated the harmonious union of various art forms, all while emphasising mass production and functionality.
The vibrant 60s and 70s brought about a groovy transformation in urban spaces. Bold colours, psychedelic patterns, and shag carpets ruled the urban scene. Designers were ditching minimal designs for unconventional ones, embracing the mantra “the bolder, the better.”
In the 80s and 90s came the era of sleek sophistication. Stainless steel, glass, and high-tech construction invaded the urban space. The rise of postmodernism brought extensive combinations by mixing old and new, designing spaces that were chic and a class apart.
Today, the interior architecture of urban spaces has become a canvas for innovation and self-expression. The possibilities are endless, from eco-friendly designs that embrace sustainability to healthy environments that take care of the psychological needs of users.
Space planning involves strategically allocating physical elements within a given area to meet the needs and aspirations of a community. By considering factors such as population density, infrastructure, and functionality, it aims to maximise the utility of a given space. Effective space planning fosters efficient mobility to create well-connected urban spaces. Incorporating green design mitigates the urban heat, improves air quality, and adds to the visual identity of the space. What’s better is that space planning considers long-term vision for urban development, anticipating future needs and leaving room for adaptability.
Ergonomic design involves designing spaces and elements, keeping the human body in mind, considering factors such as physical comfort, ease of use, and efficient movement. One aspect of ergonomic design is designing pathways with appropriate widths and surface materials to ensure ease of movement, especially for senior citizens and people with mobility challenges. Curb ramps and tactile paving are examples that allow people to move around comfortably.
Benches and seating areas in plazas and other public buildings must also be designed with ergonomics in mind, considering factors such as back support, armrests, and appropriate heights. Well-designed seating encourages people to rest, socialise and make the most of their surroundings.
Office spaces should also consider ergonomic designs for the comfort, well-being, and productivity of employees. Ergonomic office furniture, adjustable workstations, and appropriate lighting can create a healthier and more efficient work environment. By considering the needs of individuals, ergonomic design improves the overall quality of urban spaces.
Throughout history, people have developed an innate desire to appreciate aesthetics. Across different periods, our interactions with the environment have shaped diverse architectural styles. Art installations, design styles and well-designed public spaces help people interpret and identify a space and make them aware of the choices available. At its core, aesthetics is a deeply personal and subjective realm in an urban space. It goes beyond the physical characteristics of a space and has the ability to stir emotions.
Visual appropriateness in design allows people to feel connected to their surroundings. The placement of lighting fixtures, symbols, and signage in public buildings is not only informative and directional but impacts the subconscious mind. It improves visibility, ensuring that urban spaces are safe and easy to navigate. Interior architecture and design can also reflect the identity of urban space by incorporating historical references in the form of materials or architectural styles, cultural elements, and colours that represent a city’s heritage. Vibrant spaces create a positive impact, making them more desirable for commerce, tourism, and real estate developments.
Social interactions in urban spaces evoke a sense of belonging among users. It cultivates a shared identity and develops a support system that strengthens the urban environment. Humans are social creatures, and the absence of meaningful social interactions can diminish the purpose of the urban space. Interior architecture and design provide opportunities for social interactions, where people can exchange ideas and engage in conversations. It promotes happiness, reduces stress, and contributes to the well-being of people.
The interior architecture of urban spaces also offers a fertile ground for collaboration, having people from different backgrounds, sometimes leading to groundbreaking initiatives. When people from different walks of life interact, they gain insights into a broader perspective of cultures, fostering a deep understanding and appreciation of diversity. Social interactions also have economic implications. It attracts businesses, investors, and entrepreneurs, as they seek to tap into potentially engaged communities. Socially active urban spaces also allow local businesses to thrive, from restaurants and cafes to cultural venues and retail stores.
Incorporating sustainability and green design in interior architecture is crucial for creating environmentally responsible and healthier urban spaces. Here are several ways in which
green design and sustainability in interior architecture influence urban spaces:
Improved Indoor Quality - Using low-VOC paints, adhesives, and finishes, along with proper ventilation systems, can drastically improve the well-being of users. Natural lighting, access to views, and biophilic design elements like indoor plants, vertical gardens, and natural materials can further improve the mental and physical health of the urban crowd.
Environmental Impact - Green design principles in interior architecture help reduce the environmental footprint of urban spaces. Implementing energy-efficient lighting, HVAC systems and using renewable energy sources can minimise energy consumption to a large extent. Moreover, sustainable material selection and waste reduction strategies contribute to resource conservation and lower environmental impact.
Social Benefits - Sustainable interior architecture and design improve the living quality of urban spaces by incorporating green spaces that induce longer stays and happier environments.
Economic Efficiency - Green design and sustainability lead to long-term cost savings for urban spaces. Energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems reduce utility expenses, while durable and low-maintenance materials minimise resource consumption. Sustainable interior architecture can also increase property values, attracting investors whose priorities are concerned with the environment.
The impact of interior architecture and design on urban spaces goes beyond aesthetics, including factors such as user experience, functionality, sustainability, and social interactions. Focusing on interior architecture through thoughtful space planning, ergonomic design, and aesthetics can evoke emotions, improve navigation and strengthen the sense of belonging. By opting for sustainable materials, optimising energy consumption, and promoting indoor quality, urban spaces can become healthier, sustainable, resilient and benefit both current and future generations.
Moving forward, it is crucial to encourage further innovation and collaboration in shaping sustainable and socially inclusive spaces. Architects, policymakers, and stakeholders should consider working together to develop solutions like exploring new materials, the latest technologies, and design approaches that address the challenges of urbanisation and social equity.
Fostering a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing is essential to drive continuous improvement in interior architecture and design practices. By sharing best practices and research findings, we can inspire and empower the AEC community to embrace the design principles of interior architecture and combine them with urban design strategies. Innovation, collaboration, and sustainable design will create urban spaces that not only fulfil our needs but also nurture our well-being and contribute to a more sustainable future.
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An independent architect and writer based in Bombay, Sukanya started as a practicing architect but soon discovered the vast potential for multifaceted roles within the AEC industry. This led her to explore a series of possibilities – from design ...
ing and curating to researching and writing. Witnessing her designs come to life, critical thinking, and writing gave her a perspective both as a designer and a writer. With two years of independent work, she’s had the privilege of collaborating with publication houses, architectural studios, firms, organizations, and educational institutions. She advocates for mental health and is often found doing spoken word poetry.
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