Archive for the ‘03: Spatial Forensics’ Category

Living Room

September 15, 2009

I exercised environmental cognition on my living room. My spatial and non-spatial memories of my living room were fairly accurate to the reality of the space. Initially, I commented that I enjoy the space because I decorated it in its entirety; everything was picked out by me. When in the space, I feel calm and relaxed. My roommate and I spend most of our time in this space; it’s the social room of the house. I’m also proud of the space because it’s beginning to look more sophisticated and less college-like. Also, obviously, because it is within my home, I behave just as I want to; I’m free to be myself.

From my memory of the living room, I documented that the room was average size with a good rectangular shape and typical height and width; nothing specific. There are exposed cinder block walls, ceiling beams and stained concrete floors. The walls are a pale avocado with one plum accent wall. My original artwork is showcased on the walls. The furniture is a mixture of browns, whites and neutrals with a few burgundy accents. Natural light comes in from the window, track lighting on the ceiling, and soft lighting from a table lamp behind the couch.

After returning to my living room and documenting the space in greater detail, I determined the approximate size; 14’4”x9’10”. The measurement of the light level is 15 foot-candles. This equates to approximately 150 lux, which is considered private and intimate. Also, the type of lighting used in the space in indirect; it is bounced off of other surfaces and illuminates the perimeter of the room, which in turn creates the illusion that the room is larger than it really is. The sound in the living room comes from the television, which is much louder than normal to overpower the noisy fan of the air conditioning, as well as the occasional noises from the sink, washing machine and dishwasher in the adjoining kitchen. Conversational sound is also present in the living room. The temperature of the space is at 75 degrees. The layout of the furnishings is very appropriate for the function of the living room. Seating is arranged in a somewhat circular manner to include multiple people in conversation as well as for easy maneuvering. The formation also creates a sense of openness.

My memory of the space compares almost exactly to the characteristics of the actual space. Since I was the one to decorate the space, I can recall it’s details and layout easily. The only really notable difference was that I was not aware of the actual size of the room; my initial perspective pictured a larger space than there actual is. Overall, my factual documentation supports my memory of my living room.


Spatial Cognition

September 15, 2009

Spatial cognition is, “thinking of a space and how the various elements of that space relate to one another.” In a study of my living room I used spatial cognition to sketch a perspective view of the space. My spatial cognition came into play when I began to measure and draw up a plan for the placement of the objects within the space. Non-spatial cognition is, “the remembrance of places and how we feel about them.” When analyzing my emotional and cognitive responses to sensory information such as color, form and line, visual quality, and light, I used non-spatial cognition as a guide. It is this sensory information that helped me better understand the factors that affect my responses to my living room.

Initially, when we received this assignment I knew my forensic explorations would be very similar if not exact to my imagined space due to my over observant mind. My perspective sketch included my TV cable box, my crookedly placed speakers, and even my cat sleeping in her favorite spot on the love seat. In addition to that I even included the crack in the window near the love seat where the blistering heat seeps in raising my AC bill.  My observing skills go beyond the interior. They apply to street, which comes in handy with directions. Even when I loose things I have a photographic memory of my drawers and shelves. Now only if I had a photographic memory when it came to studying.

I would like to think it was my design skills that help me remember such vivid details. However, I believe it is quite the opposite. I believe it is because of my gift to imagine a space exactly as it is, whether it is real or part of a project, is a large reason why I am so interested in interior design.  The only discrepancy I found was when I was sketching the floor plan to scale. Inserting the furniture to size, I realized where I thought the placement was, was not correct. For example I thought that my media cabinet was in the middle of the windows on the west wall, but the windows are more south of the middle of the wall, and the cabinet is centered in the entire wall. Overall my factual documentation supports my memory of the space.

Lastly, I used Augustin’s descriptions of sensory information in a space to determine my emotional and cognitive responses.  The main colors in my space are beige walls, honey wood floors, and chocolate brown slipcovers. Accent colors are found in a distressed, turquoise hallway table, various blue hue photographs, and a fabric covered plywood cut with organic circles of teals, turquoise, pea green and army green. Last, the white rug has an accent lime green organic stripe running through it like a river. According to Augustin, my colors are relaxing and comfortable. They have similar saturation. The patterns in my living room are a mixture of hard lines and curved lines, what I believe to be the perfect balance of masculine and feminine. For example the art above my couch is a square piece of plywood wrapped in textured fabric with organic circles similar to those that occur in nature. One could say it can spur creativity or high-mental activity.

Reading Augustin’s information on color and perception I found that my chocolate covered sofas make my room look smaller because they look bigger put against my light colored beige walls. The application of this statement rang true in my forensic study. On paper my living room looks much bigger than it feels in real life. The walls in my living room are wood panels painted light matte beige. This fact incorporates texture and line in one. The repetition of the vertical lines gives a sense of order and stability. The panels may also be considered a pattern, which creates a rhythm. Over all the space has an asymmetrical balance due to the circulation from front door to dining room. Finally, I studied the light in my living room. The main light source is an overhead fan with three incandescent bulbs. One of the bulbs is blown out, thus it is a bit lower than normal, but it measured at 1076 lux, which Augustin deems to be on the brighter side. However, the one light source does not reach the walls very well so I have a table lamp on my hallway table and a floor lamp in the opposing corner. The table lamp measures 3200 lux (it is the only light source with a fluorescent bulb). The floor lamp measures 2000 lux. All together with every light source turned on they measure about 1900 lux. But on a more personal note, I loathe artificial light because it always seems yellow. I love natural light to the point where I won’t turn on the lights until I am unable to see it’s so dark outside!




Tapioca House

September 15, 2009





I choose to do my spatial analysis on a café that I visit quite frequently, Tapioca House. This small café is located on Guadalupe Street in between Martin Luther King and 21st Street. Whenever I want to take a break from studio, I would head to this café shop. Tapioca House offers a gateway into another world where I can relax and experience nostalgia for the past times I’ve spent in Taiwan. This café makes me feel as if I’m back in the country of Taiwan drinking tapioca drinks and eating Taiwanese crispy chicken nuggets.  Even the music they play is of the current hits by artists in Taiwan. Besides the delicious drinks Tapioca House offers, the whole atmosphere makes me feel comfortable and right at home which is why I visit this place so often.

This café measures approximately 50 ft. by 18 ft and has a rectangular shaped plan with the entrance protruding out about 4 feet. Windows line all along the entrance side which provides a view out to Guadalupe Street. When I measured the light in this space, I attained a reading of 46.5 foot candles near the entrance which is probably due to the amount of natural light coming in from the windows. A light reading of 13.9 foot candles was found near the counter and sitting area where artificial lights were hung and 27.9 foot candles was read in the area behind the counter where the ceiling lights seemed brighter than the hanging lamps. In the book, Place Advantage, Augustine writes that in warmer lights people are more relaxed and under cooler lights people are more alert. The cooler lights used behind the counter causes the staff members to be more alert on the orders they are taking and the drinks they have to make. The warmer lights in the sitting area provides a nice relaxed environment for people to enjoy. People are eating, carrying on a conversation, doing homework on their laptops or playing games with the deck of cards the café provides.  All the people combined along with the music the café plays provided me with a sound reading of 74 db(A).

The layout of Tapioca House is pretty basic and functional. Upon entering the café, a counter is located right up ahead. After taking orders, customers would proceed to the left where rectangular and circular oak tables line up against the wall. When comparing my initial thoughts with my documented knowledge of the space, my memory of the space was pretty accurate overall. The furnishings of tables and chairs that I laid out by memory were quite accurate except for a piece or two that were misplaced according to my documentation. I remembered the locations of the trash bins which are probably due to the fact that we have to throw away our trash after we eat. I also remembered the women and men’s bathroom being located in the back, but the precise location was a bit off. This was probably due to the fact that I’ve rarely used the restroom at Tapioca House. My memory of the wall colors being a peachy tone with a darker maroon color used for the wall moulding was correct. I remembered this detail because of a beautiful flower painting that is hung on the wall. The colors used on the flower blended nicely with the wall paint color. Overall, I am quite impressed that I remembered so many details in this space.  This exercise really demonstrates how being in a space so often can cause you to remember things you wouldn’t even have thought of remembering.

Not Just Another College Living Room

September 15, 2009

Since my room has become more of a place for sleeping, dressing, storing, and depositing various items throughout the day. I have found most of the minimal free time I have is spent within my living room. Although minimal in furnishings, I have found it to be a comfortable place to relax, especially after getting in from a late night at studio where all you really want to do is eat something and watch about 15 minutes of television to clear your mind before passing out.


Even though I have only spent two months living in this apartment, I have come to know this space fairly intimately. I think it comes from spending a portion of the summer in it with nothing to do. This is probably why my initial sketch was fairly accurate in comparison to scaled version. Some proportions of the furniture were off, but overall the details were fairly vivid and accurate. There are now a few more things placed on the table from the everyday ebb and flow of items.


This small section of my apartment is approximately 10.5” by 14’9” which was surprisingly close to my in class estimation of 10’ by 15’. The lighting is extremely dim in this portion of my apartment and is only lit by two lamps which are shown in the plans. For some odd reason there is no overhead fixture in this area. The two lamps house a 60 watt compact fluorescent in a warm color temperature. The pair put out approximately 10 foot-candles under the source and approximately 5 in between the pair. This is also due to the extremely dark, brown curtains which cover the large window, and the lack of natural light that comes in the space due to exterior overhangs. The apartment is kept at approximately 76 degrees which may not be entirely accurate since the living room is always a few degrees warmer due to lack of proper ventilation. Thus, we have a fan which is one of the only consistent forms of noise (aka white noise) within the living room. The only other sounds are those from the television and other various noises when the kitchen is being used.


The mood is set by not only the furnishings but also the soft lighting emitted from the two lamps. The materials used within the space are soft and comfortable. The couch is covered with a chocolate brown, suede couch cover which is draped with a soft blanket and covered in plush pillows (my favorite being the solid green suede one). This space is also kept clean for the most part. Decluttering space helps declutter and relax the mind. Overall, though fairly sparse and in need of a touch of color, this space is a nice retreat after a long day in studio, watching movies, or chatting with friends.

Home Bedroom

September 15, 2009


During middle school and high school, my place to get away was my bedroom.  As I move through college, this room has continued to be my sanctuary.   When I need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the world around me, I escape home and run to the place that is truly mine.  Differing from the softer traditional style my mother achieved in the rest of the house, my bedroom is filled with a mix-match of furniture, too many pictures, and bold colors that bring back memories that put them there.   It has never mattered how pretty or well designed the room was because to me, it was perfect. 

Organized in a practically way, the study area, the music corner, and the protruding bed fit nicely into the almost square plan of the space.  As one entered the room, a bookshelf, side table, rocking chair and ottoman, and a monstrosity of a desk and chair where the first things seen.  Stepping in, a bass guitar and amp, an upright bass resting in the corner, and a full keyboard under the windows come into view.  Finally, the head was turned to the right and the bed was revealed, strategically shoved in the corner to hide the un-made mess.   Even though the furniture has never fit the “desired” floor plan, it always has fit my needs.  

Naturally lit with five huge windows, the room is filled with light during the day.  At night, lights on the ceiling fan pour light throughout the room with floor and table lamps providing task lighting in needed areas.  Large trees cover my windows and provide privacy, so I rarely needed to shut all my blinds.  The light is my room is warm, bright, and inviting. 

The temperature in the room has always been an annoying subject.  My room was too big to have two air vents, but not small enough for one.  Deciding to go the easier route and only put one vent in.  Unfortunately the room is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.  I’ve had to have different comforters and blankets on my bed depending on the weather.  It was annoyance  at first, but now I’m just used to it, but I would have loved to have a room that was just comfortable all the time. 

My room hasn’t really changed much since I was thirteen, so my memory of the room was fairly accurate.  The man difference was the exact placements of some furniture, and the location of my closet door.  I remembered the furniture along the left wall of my room closer together, and my closet door closer to the door to my bedroom.  All of my pictures and photos are still on my wall with the exception of a few that I’ve since taken to college.  That details of the room have been ingrained in me, I spent a lot of time there and I made it my haven.

Saxby’s Coffee Shop

September 15, 2009

 plan1     sketchyplan

loungesketch        IMG_1964

coffee bar   study bar

The Chosen space is a coffee shop called Saxbys’ on the corner of 23rd street and Rio Grande. This is a place where I spend most of the time studying.  The space is of medium size. It consists of a small lounge area, study bar area, bathrooms, coffee bar and backroom. The plan shows only the coffee bar, lounge and study bar.  The shop is surrounded with tall glass windows that let in a vast amount of natural light. The windows are located on the east and north side keeping direct sunlight out of the space. Otherwise the shop has ambient lighting and task lighting. The light meter had a reading of 43 foot-candles over lounge table area, 46 foot-candles over the coffee counter. This is about 500 Lux which not too dark, not to bright, and perfect lighting socializing.  The study bar area had a reading of 90 foot-candles  (970 Lux), which is better for reading and studying because this lighting level tends to keep people more awake. Depending on the amount of people present at the coffee shop the sound varies.  The sound meter measured 60 decibels when its just ambient music and 70 decibels when people are having a conversation. The temperature of the space is kept at 75 F, which provides a sense of comfort and a pleasant environment.


The space has tall ceilings and major walls painted a maroon color. The columns around the perimeter are painted a yellow mustard color and the wood is a dark wood.  The floor consists of dark color tiles with inserts of light color ones every four feet. The shop also has two televisions, and shelves for several items on display.  People in this space come to do two things, they either come to get coffee and chat with their friends, or get coffee and study.  The furnishings here are arranged in several groups. The sketch that I drew is a perspective of the lounge. It consists of three side chairs, a love seat a center table and three small side tables. This is the most comfortable space in the entire shop where people usually sit and chat with others. There are other sets of round tables with two chairs distributed along the perimeter of the space. These tables are mostly used to study or have a more intimate conversation. The center area is kept mostly empty for customers to be able to circulate through the space when it gets busy, without interruption people that are studying. The study bar is about 16’ long and has five stools. The people that sit at this place face looking outside and enjoy the natural light pouring through the tall windows.


As far as remembering the space I was pretty accurate with the overall space and furnishing arrangements. Some details were left behind specially one that was extremely surprising. In the sketch I drew there are two hanging pieces of art work over the study lounge sofa. When I went back to visit the space I realized there is a huge painting on the wall that predominates this space. I didn’t remember this painting because I spend most of the time sitting on the big love seat therefore; I am never facing this wall.

“Agreeable” Space

September 15, 2009

“What is more agreeable than one’s home?” These words of ancient Roman lawyer, writer, and statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero, echo back to my personal sentiments regarding the home, and more specifically, the locus of home activity, the living room. Although my residence has two levels, I prefer to spend the majority of my time on the lower level, as the space evokes feelings of comfort, warmth, and serenity.

            The intent of the space was to divide the open plan of the kitchen, dining, and living spaces using keen furniture placement and, in the end, to create an area within a larger whole which fostered conversation and social interaction within an intimate setting. The placement of the sofa on the diagonal creates a dynamic division between the living and dining spaces and also orients the focus of the living space onto the hearth, which holds similar connotations of warmth and family for most. This area is further highlighted by the artwork above the fireplace and the recessed spotlight which casts a warm light upon the wall hanging and fireplace. This is the brightest area in the room at 7 foot candles and, like the furniture placement, highlights the intended focus of the space. Additionally there is an overhead light which casts approximately 6.5 foot-candles in a warm, diffused manner. Around the perimeter there is very little light with readings at .5 and 1 foot-candles.

            The space uses deep oranges and browns against a palatte of neutrals, all accented by a vibrant avocado green in the vintage armchairs, window treatments, and accessories. This combination of colors brings a sophistication and warmth to the space while adding a bit of joviality with the addition of the green hues.

            The two windows and glass door transmit a very indirect, cool light from the exterior. Glaring sunlight does not pose a problem as the buildings u-shaped arrangement of the other units blocks the western sun and diffuses light through the large canopy of trees into the courtyard and consequently, into the living space of my residence. This soothing quality of evenly transmitted light works to lend an air of comfort to the space.

            During the day there is minimal sound from the roadway, again, diffused through the courtyard of trees and other residences. However, on the interior, when inhabiting the first floor, you can hear the activity of any occupants on the upper floor (walking across the floor, water flowing from a running shower through pipes, closet doors sliding open and closed) which has a very muffled quality when transferred through the floor. Personally I find this quality of the residence intriguing as the residence itself serves a register of activity.

            As far as representing the space, my initial sketches were skewed in as much as the space was represented as being taller than it actually is. Additionally, the furniture in the living area is more compact than I perceived from memory. This feeling of openness in the drawings could possibly be attributed to the fact that the space itself does not feel exclusive and constricting because it is part of the larger space of the lower floor which works to underscore a feeling of openness all the while, individual spatial groupings are arranged quite intimately, working to create as Cicero says, an “agreeable” home.

My Bedroom

September 14, 2009


BedroomPicsAfter thinking about and reconstructing my bedroom from memory in class, I felt pretty confident about the accuracy of what I thought I knew. Granted, I do spend a good amount of time in this space and since I am a design student, I should be pretty familiar with the layout and general organization of my own room. As far as the plan and general perspectives, I think that I was pretty close to reality however some of the proportions and more specific aspects were a little bit off. Overall, I observed that there were two main differences between what I remember and portrayed and what actually exists.

             First of all, I’ll apologize for my room as seen in these pictures – it’s a little messy. But as I compared these to my drawings I realized a major difference. All of my “things” besides furniture and a few carefully decorations, the room is blank in my memory sketches. I think this is interesting – when we draw, draft or render a space that we are designing for someone else, we keep it clean and somewhat “unlived” for a new and versatile feeling that allows the client to have a sense of control. But what about spaces that are ours? I’m not sure if it is just habit now to only portray the large and seemingly important anchors of the room or if that is how we all think of spaces. Do we mentally skip over the small, every day things that move around and are somewhat temporary, at least in their placement, just due to the fact that we use them and discard them all the time? Or is it something we just don’t want to portray – that we are messy and complicated individuals who personalize our own spaces without so much as a conscience effort? Granted, my room is usually a little more kept up, but still, I find the complete disregard of personal objects pretty interesting.

            Secondly, I realized that at least in one of my sketches, I included way too much information. That is, I extended the view more than any camera or single glance could reach. I think that due to the fact that we know our own personal spaces so well we try to communicate all of our knowledge as quickly and expansively as possible, especially because to us its just one large space with smaller components. However, to anyone else going to this space, they would take things in one view at a time and understand everything in parts, rather than as one large, cohesive and familiar space.

            As far as just the facts go, I think I was pretty accurate again with the color coordination of blues, browns, and beiges, and light levels (room is about 300 lux average through out the day – the average for an adult bedroom). With feelings of comfort, relaxation, and motivation while in the space, I usually am very calm and spend most of my time in my bedroom when at my apartment. When thinking about it from afar, I find it to be very functional for what I need (I realized that I left my desk area out of all of these representations – I never work there, I always work on my bed), usually aesthetically pleasing (when not incredibly messy) and a safe place for a few people to hang out or do work. However, I have also noticed that with more free space than I’m used to around my bed and the rest of the furniture, my tendency is to fill that up with random stuff I leave out leading to more clutter rather than a more open feeling.


Scale of red (measured) floor plan: ½” = 1’

Sleeping + Living

September 14, 2009

Despite the countless hours I seem to spend in the studio, the majority of my existence is spent alone in my efficiency apartment. I chose to analyze the sleeping/living half of my apartment, as that is where I spend most of my time. Though I have spaces designated to eating and working on the other half of my one-room residence, the space pictured always ends up serving all necessary functions. Due to the amount of time I spend in this room, and the amount of personal control I have had over most details, I found my environmental cognition to relate quite accurately to my factual documentation.

The sleeping/living space of my efficiency is both comfortable and practical. In the layout of this one-room apartment, I made the most of my furniture to serve multiple functions, such as using the dresser as the TV stand, and setting up the television to be viewed from both the sofa and the bed. The finishes and materials used in the space are not fully ideal, as paint color and sofa fabric were not open for choice, however the room as a whole feels very inviting and comfortable. Through diffuse lighting provided by the three lamps and the welcoming layout of furniture, this space lures inhabitation.

This half of my efficiency is about 8.5 ft wide by 19 ft long, with a 9 ft ceiling. Since the two windows open to a very public parking area, I keep the blinds and black curtains closed at all times. Decent daylight comes in from the other half of the apartment, but I generally picture this space lit from the warm and delicate illumination from the lamps. I prefer to not use overhead lighting, so with just the three lamps turned on, the lighting level in the space is about 8 footcandles. When tasks require more light, it is easily adjusted with the option of overhead lights, and abundant light may flood in through the south-facing windows (if privacy may be compromised). The temperature is usually kept around 78 degrees Fahrenheit and though an abundance of sound occurs from surrounding exterior areas, the general sound level within this space is dulled and unnoticeable.

When comparing my remembrance of this place to the reality, my memory proved to be fairly precise. My plan sketched from memory is proportionally wider and shorter than the actual space and the spaces between furniture look exaggerated in the perspective, but overall there are no striking differences. I failed to include specific details in my drawing such as the baseboards and electric outlets, but for the most part, I could remember this space well because even on the rare occasion I gravitate to the other half of my efficiency, this area remains in sight, with the lack of dividing walls.

my room sketch

my room drafted IMG_6936

IMG_6938 IMG_6940

Living Room

September 14, 2009

I happen to move to new places every year for numerous reasons, and this year was not an exception.  Unfortunately the move out and move in dates had a week gap, which made me “homeless.”  I was able to spend the time at my friends’ apartment.  They live in a big 3-bedroom apartment.   It is pretty far from campus that I hadn’t had a chance to visit their place ever since I left.

The living room was my favorite place throughout their apartment; a nice, big television, a clean, cozy sofa, plenty of natural light, the pretty view of trees, etc.  At first I felt a bit uncomfortable because of the “whiteness,” but as time went by, I loved the whiteness, or the cleanness, of the space.  It was a simple and organized, but yet good-looking.  It was actually a comfortable space.  I remember falling asleep on the warm sofa while watching TV or reading, but I kept waking up because of the brightness.  Artificial lights in the dining room and the living room were hardly on, except during the night.  Yet, the florescent light in the kitchen was on whenever we were cooking.  We were out most of the time during the day, so the atmosphere was quiet.  However at night, we would sit around the coffee table or sit on the sofa and watch TV or talk about how our day went.  The space never really felt cold or very hot.  They hardly turned on the air conditioner even though it was towards the end of July.

It had been more than a month since I have revisited my friends’ apartment.  Every furniture and accessory stayed in the same spot; nothing was added nor removed.  The white cozy sofa was still facing the TV, and the red clock was hung above the fireplace.  I had actually forgotten about the red clock, picture frames and DVDs on the fireplace shelf.  The floor lamp, the CD player next to the sofa chair, and the accentuating cushions are other elements that I wasn’t aware of.  I remembered the ceiling being slightly carved in where the light fixture was, but I was wrong.  I am not sure where I got the idea of it, yet, had remained that way in my memory.  The ceiling was just flat.  As I walked around the space, it felt smaller than my initial thoughts.  Not only the interior space, but also the doors to the balcony and the balcony itself felt smaller. Only one of my friends was there; no music or tv was on, so the house felt really quiet.  As I stepped out onto the balcony, it was peaceful, just like before.  I could hardly hear the wind blowing.  I took the light meter to measure the lighting on September 13, around 3:30 pm.  Throughout the space in the living room, the light was pretty even.  The light level was 40 footcandles even though the weather was cloudy and there was no artificial light.

Although my memory couldn’t remember exactly how the layout of the entire floor plan is like, I was able to remember most of the things pretty correctly in the living; probably because the space wasn’t expansive enough to have many furniture,  accessories, etc.  The space was still clean and comfortable as I remembered.  It was interesting to see the difference between my memory and the fact, especially with the ceiling and scale of the space.

sketch plan sktech perspective