The practice of architecture has a direct impact on a person’s comfort levels. And the degree of comfort level provided by a space/place is directly proportional to the amount of physical and mental fulfillment it offers. And what’s architecture for, if not for its end-user anyway?

It is as important for a person to feel mentally and physically comfortable in a space as it is for the space to be structurally stable.

There are numerous factors that directly or indirectly affect the comfort level of the user(s) in a space. They could be broadly categorized and subcategorized into the following:

Physical and mental factors | Comfort level

1. Age

The age of a person plays a very important factor as a person has multiple physiological as well as psychological changes as he/she ages.

2. Gender 

A study performed by Dutch scientists found that women are typically comfortable at temperature 2.5 degrees higher than men find comfort in.

3. Physical health | Comfort level

For instance, if 2 men are sitting in a room, one with 35% body fat percentage, and the other with 15% body fat percentage, the latter would attain a comfortable state of mind at a temperature lower than what the 35% body fat individual might. This accounts to the thickness of the layer of fat under an individual’s skin delaying the cold gain.

4. Quality and amount of clothing 

The nature and amount of coverage over the skin surface account for the delay/quickness of heat gain or loss. For instance, your bare feet would feel colder much faster than your covered torso.

5. Activities being performed | Comfort level

It is important to know if the person is watching television on a couch or working out in his/her gym to figure out their body temperature.

6. Psychological health 

Every factor mentioned/being mentioned in this article eventually accounts for the mental health of the person. If your mind is in the right place, the body just follows.

Climatological factors

1. Thermal comfort | Comfort level

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, And Air-Conditioning Engineers define thermal comfort as the state of mind in humans that expresses satisfaction with the surrounding environment.

A person utilizing a space should be completely at peace with how hot or cold a particular enclosure is to declare their thermal comfort.

What architects must know about Comfort level - Sheet1
Thermal Comfort ©ArchDaily

2. Indoor air and ventilation 

The term ventilation is basically the removal of ‘stale’ air from the space and replace it with new air. This could be done naturally through fenestrations or mechanically by the means of HVAC. (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) Either way, the goal is to keep the air circulation a constant to make sure the space is liveable.

Other factors like air quality and purity matter deeply as well. The amount of incense, the substrates, particles, or dust in the air affects its quality and in turn, liveability.

The ambiance of A Space | Comfort level

1. The factor of noise

Imagine you are in your room all cozy and comfortable, just about to fall asleep. And suddenly your younger brother starts banging utensils in the kitchen or your dad starts vacuuming the house. Would you be comfortable enough to fall asleep? Exactly.

 This may have a lot to do with the nature and behavioral aspects of the end-user, but architectural catering to those aspects is equally important. Something as basic as soundproofing a place would be enough to keep the sound out.

2. Lighting

A movie is typically enjoyed in a darker, warmer illuminated room. Whereas a science experiment requires the enclosure to be brightly lit and comfortable enough to not cause a strain to the human eye. 

 There are certain standards expected to be followed as suggested by the regulatory bodies. Some of which are:

Room type  Light level (foot candles) Light level (lux)
Bedroom – Dormitory  20-30 FC 0.38
Cafeteria – eating 20-30 FC 0.65
Classroom – general 30-50 FC 1.24
Conference room 30-50 FC 1.23
Corridor 5-10 FC 0.66
Exhibit space 30-50 FC 1.45
Gymnasium – exercise/workout 20-30 FC  0.72
Gymnasium – sports/games 30-50 FC 1.20
Kitchen/food prep 30-75 FC  1.21
Laboratory (classroom) 50-75 FC 1.43
Laboratory (professional) 75-120 FC 1.81
Library – stacks 20-50 FC 1.71
Library – reading/studying 30-50 FC 1.06
Loading dock 10-30 FC 0.47
Lobby – office 20-30 FC 0.90


3. Visual comfort | Comfort level

As subjective as this is, it is also an important consideration. Of course, what a person sees affects his/her brain and mood. And in turn, comfort.

Well, as obvious as these pointers seem to an end-user of architecture, they often seem to get lost somewhere in the process of designing. The beauty lies in the details. And if architecture was merely concrete columns and glass windows, we already have Civil Engineers doing that for us.

“architecture arouses sentiments in a man. The architect’s task, therefore, is to make these sentiments more precise” – Adolf Loos

What architects must know about Comfort level - Sheet2
Visual Comfort © ArchDaily

While establishing the co relation of romanticism with words and architecture, Mohammed Bilal Shariff aims to use RTF as a medium to put forth a piece of his mindset with a desire to ignite new thoughts and perspectives in the reader's mind.