Transitional spaces have occupied more areas than the actual regularly occupied spaces. In the present era, these spaces have been quintessential and notably worthy of defining the character of the inducing static or dynamic space. We are surrounded by these spaces – knowingly or unknowingly, in an open area or an enclosed shelter. They have persistently existed since the prehistoric times to the current modern era until the designers discovered to recognize such spaces in their designs. Transitional spaces differ majorly in circulation patterns, connectivity, and functionality – a space within a space that connects space to another space.
In the above picture, a prehistoric shelter dating back to the Bronze Age showcases the wooden roundhouses developed along the hill perimeter with a tiny protruded transition space leading to the main living area. This space here has been acting as a mediator between the outside worlds to the inside shelter space for early men. As humankind kept evolving, spaces evolved additionally and so did the movement patterns and the common spaces. The transition spaces could be blended with the adjacent occupied spaces in numerous ways. It could take up a form of quadrangle like Piazza del Duomo which acts as a transition from the cathedral to adjacent shopping complex or restaurants/eating joints on the opposite to the underground subway connectivity to its next.
Meanwhile, in a smaller picture, the piazza could act as an outside world to the interior luxury branded shops connected through a double-height passageway (transition space) that runs north-south and east-west. These spaces unexpectedly play with the human mind cognitions in preparing them to enter a much specific zone every time a new space is introduced. Transition spaces could be defined in the form of buffer zones, corridors, courtyards (bigger picture), lobbies, and entrance foyers. Designers integrate these spaces using the lux light level variations, a change in ceiling heights, change in sound levels, change in building materials, change in sense of directions, change in building level and surface, or a change in view.
Architecture elements can be creatively used in the designs to recognize certain transition spaces within the building. Colonnades, courtyards, aisles, water bodies, certain enclosures, and openings like doorways, arches, gardens spaces, trellis, and pergolas contribute to major transition spaces. An example of Georgian architecture – Connaught Place in New Delhi uses the architecture expression of colonnades and aisles to differentiate the outdoor to indoor.
In south India, courtyards serve as transition spaces in houses and communal facilities. The water bodies are surrounded by semi-open veranda along the perimeter. These further lead to the private rooms differentiating the closed to open space and vice versa. This notable instance is called nalukettu or the interior courtyard. The thresholds at the entrance of a building or space could exemplify transition spaces. These could be the change in floor levels by a few inches or a transition strip used to blur the two different materials (indoor and outdoor).
The above picture showcases the square space with a double-height ceiling and a change in building floor materials. The entrance gives a sense of transition to a much confined and defined space along the heavily carved door characterizing the entrance. In an instance below, Bharat Bhawan amphitheatre clarifies a clear picture of the transition from space through another space. Waterbody being separated from the sidewalk and an amphitheatre looking out to the view showcases the bigger picture of the architect Charles Correa’s vision.
In cases of small spaces where it becomes challenging for the designers to integrate spaces and create a sense of transition, multiple architectural expressions come into existence. Good ventilation, quality views, and adequate lighting are a few important factors when considering transition spaces for small areas. The colonnades, doorways, and wall structures are not a suitable option here. So to create well-functioned spaces, large cut-outs, and openings on the walls play an interesting role here. Also, change in ground levels can add on drama to space or even lowered ceiling.
In some spaces, materials seem to play a major role in building interiors. A transition in the material can make a small space look much bigger and enhanced.
Colour Variations in a space not only adds on to aesthetics but also acts as a transition element in a small space. Contrasting or similar, matching or variant touches can add much humor to space without requiring many areas.
Creatively placed Furniture on the edges and center spaces differentiates the area tragically enhancing it.
Lightweight Partitions used within the interiors add on the airiness within the building in the form of glass or plantation partitions.