A Study of Transition defining a Space through Movement

About this essay

If we look at the definition of transition, it is a period of change from one state to another. In design, we classify it to be a space that facilitates movement from here to there. In this paper, I investigate a type of transition by exploring the relationship between the users and the space.

I present an initial characterization of transitional space with the help of case studies, a site analysis, and a report from an empirical study with model making and users of the site I interviewed.

This analysis provides evidence for the existence of the transitional site space and its use. These outcomes support the properties that further clarify the site area. The results allow for further investigation of transitional space.

Keywords: transitional spaces, movement, user oriented


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London is an amalgamation of history, culture and architecture. When navigating through this urban landscape, pedestrians frequently traverse through tunnels, enclosed footbridges or partially roofed building connections (Kray et al., 2013).


Depending on the context, transitional space can be categorized between interior and exterior (image 1), between two destinations (image 2), open space and structure (image 3). We experience transitional space from macro to micro levels. My study begins by analyzing spaces with respect to human movement.

Image 1. Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross, London (left) (Ninawe, 2018); Image 2. The King’s Cross Tunnel, London (center) (Ninawe, 2018); Image 3.

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Covent Garden London (right) (Ninawe, 2018)

The transition space, therefore, is neither wholly private nor public, neither external nor internal. It can be defined as an indefinite zone. These in between spaces offer an opportunity to interfere and create a space which re-engages the person, in that space or passing through that space, through repetitive interruptions or pauses (Bhonsle, 2010).

These transition spaces can be created by the change of light, a change of sound, a change of direction, a change of surface, a change of level, perhaps by gateways which make a change of enclosure and above all with a change in view. (Bhonsle, 2010)

Related Work

In order to take comprehend the nature of transitional spaces and to gain a deeper understanding of them, I followed an approach combining case studies which includes visits to museums, exhibition spaces and a group seminar.

Case Study

Through my research, I aim to bring a qualitative approach to transition space. I was able to articulate different methodologies based on the following criteria: spaces catering to vertical and horizontal transitions, museum spaces, transitions in Indian temples and comparisons of movement pace.

As a part of my case study, I visited the Design Museum to understand the displays and the movement of visitors (image 4). The museum explores the power of objects and spaces. The space offers looseness, openness, and dynamic interplay. The aesthetic of the building has resulted in creating a holistic experience, directing the flow of space to emphasize movement.

Secondly, my research led me to study transitional places in Indian temples. Transitions in Indian architecture can be recognized in the form of features like pavilions, courtyards and terraces (image 5). Looking at most of the temple plans, I arrived at a hierarchy of transition spaces. This transition is not only a physical transition but also a psychological transition required to enter in a god’s abode (SDA, 2019).

Image 4. The Design Museum (left) (Anon, 2019); Image 5. Sun Temple Modhera sectional isometric (right) (Pandya, n.d.)

Group Seminar

Starting from the concept of transitional spaces, our group of six with similar research interests began with brainstorming the condition that is generated by ‘constant change’- ways of seeing transitional space.

Two of the many images displayed on our tee-shirts for the presentationImage 6. Activity (left) (Pinterest, 2019); Image 7. Adaptation (right) (Pinterest, 2019)

With our presentation, we strived to alter the use of physical movement. We aimed to create a tension between the forms which confuse, challenge and change the functionality and connection between the designer and user. We presented the key themes which as a group felt were important, not only for our individual practice but for our project as a whole. We were hoping the class would walk around the room between the strings and not be constrained to move in a certain direction.

Image 8. String plan set up (left) (Marr, 2019); Image 9. Testing movement through the string set up (right) (Ninawe, 2019)

Due to the limited ?eld of view, we were unable to achieve the movement while the presentation took place. Consequently, this showed us movement in terms of how people perceive and navigation, if it is not effortlessly visible to them.

Image 10. Words describing ‘Ways of Seeing’ (MA-ISD Students, 2019); Image 11. Images describing ‘Ways of Seeing’ (right) (MA-ISD Students, 2019)

In summary, this process led to sequence of design themes: population, user pattern and threshold. These themes are intended as elements to raise connections between our individual research and group seminar. The comparison between all the cases discusses variance of the space.

Site Analysis

Capturing parts of London from Vauxhall Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge during my quest to observe various transitional spaces, I was able to discover an area which seemed unknown, and may require people to negotiate a complex environment.

Located at Southbank Centre, it is the connection between the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall which generates a passageway below (image 12, image 13). It highlights the relationship between the riverside and the Waterloo station.

The chosen site is ideal for my research as I discovered the minimum expression through a line creates a great functional and constructive clarity. This generates a space which is both a place of transition and interaction.

Apart from being the quickest way to get to National Theatre and Pier Square from the Waterloo station, the space is a quiet and clutter-free environment. This was a part of the user study I gathered with direct feedback from pedestrians. One of the highlights of the zone is the Southbank food market that is set up over the weekend.

Image 12. Site captured during the day at 1pm on a weekday (left) (Ninawe, 2018); Image 13. Site captured during at 7:30 pm on a weekend (right) (Ninawe, 2018)

Whilst examining the site over number of weeks at different times of the days, I started to divide my thinking according to different types of circulation, which overlay with one another and the overall planning. This might include;

  • a) type of movement: walking, cycling, use of wheelchair and more,
  • b) type of use: public or private, back of house such as service area,
  • c) frequency of use: common or emergency,
  • d) time of use: morning, day, evening, continuous.

The site analysis is based on the working de?nition of transitional spaces and the criteria I identi?ed in the previous section. I reviewed the movements on site using these criteria to see whether they would con?rm the initial observations regarding the properties of transitional zones.

This exercise acknowledged the voids on site that are utilized by the users (image 14). Additionally, I was interested in seeing the perception and usage of the space, just as much as the configuration of the built space surrounding it. The patterns of used and unused spaces shape the most utilized and dead corners of the site, hence creating a design element in its own right.

Image 14. Site utilized by users (Ninawe, 2018);

Other aspects to consider when analyzing the site included the function of the area, the typical duration a person remains in the area, and the number of people ‘using’ the space.

Here, I observed that a number of examples: many of them intended to remain on the benches for an extended period of time, while others use the passage to commute to the popular destinations of the Southbank Centre.

Image 15. Use of baby pram/pushchair (left) (Ninawe, 2018); Image 16. Use of skateboards (center) (Ninawe, 2018); Image 17. Use of wheelchair (right) (Ninawe, 2018)

In summary, the space is considered to be di?erent in terms of its structure and properties but also in terms of how people perceive and navigate them.

Consequently, these aspects will be taken into account when generating directions to support people navigating through such an area. Since people perceive areas di?erently, planning the routes that span two openings of this site, creating a spatial composition can be a signi?cant challenge.

Empirical Analysis

In terms of how people navigate through this site reflects on either to enhance the space or make it even more secretive. In this paper I therefore take a closer look at the di?erent types of movements through the site, and I focus in particular on the aspect of planning in Indian temples and bring that hierarchy to the design.

My goal is to characterize this transitional space, to gather initial evidence of users of the space and to gain a better understanding of how people describe routes traversing through this space.

I worked on abstract models which informs a conceptual analysis of what characterizes this zone. I further investigated the model by placing it on site. The analysis I carried out integrated the existing representations with openings at different distances to enable a route.

The challenge after this analysis: the distances need to be mapped out as per the functions on the site, to activate the space by creating ‘a stop’ and by doing so how does it affect the users of service trays, cycles, skaters and more.

Image 18. Abstract model positioned on site (left) (Ninawe, 2018); Image 19. Abstract model positioned on site (right) (Ninawe, 2018);

This poses challenges in terms of seating section of the area. While there are standards and approaches, this transitional zone is not well represented in a holistic sense. Given that the site can be accessed from two sides, it is di?erent in nature and navigation which can also contribute to orientation.

This inspection provided me with a starting point for the characterization of this transitional zone as it shares certain properties and exhibits distinct characteristics di?erent from other spaces. These observations are further reasons to consider the introduction of a spatial composition.


The major concern of architecture, however, is to provide solutions through manipulation of the natural environment and the space it provides us with, which we do through creating smaller units of this unquantifiable space into less abstract, more substantial pockets (Saraswat, 2019).

The results I obtained from my case studies discusses the movement patterns in museums and the hierarchy of transition spaces in Indian context. Therefore, points out that scale stands important in differentiating, the spatially different and functionally similar transition spaces.

In this paper, I reported initial evidence demonstrating model compositions and the types of users of the site. The empirical study con?rmed the outcomes of the analysis but also brought to light the classi?cation patterns of the site that may vary and the results showed that the types of spatial expressions among the di?erent users.

This explores the possibilities of introducing parametric forms embedded in the temple designs by creating a juxtaposition in the spatial composition for the site. Traditional Indian temple architecture often has a very high degree of complex geometry embedded in its construction (Rao M. and Bhooshan, 2016).

With the help of theory and analysis from documenting users of the site and the pace of the movement, I aim to create a network of spatial experience which enhance the existing in-between space and designing it be more functional for the users. The real catalyst for me is to condition the design from the movement pattern combined with modularity in traditional temple design. My research aims at determining a spatial language of my site.


  • Kray, C., Fritze, H., Fechner, T., Schwering, A., Li, R. and Joy Anacta, V. (2013). Transitional Spaces: Between Indoor and Outdoor Spaces. [Online] www.researchgate.net. Available at: [Accessed 3 Apr. 2019].
  • Ninawe, S. (2019). [Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 9, Image 12, Image 13, Image 14, Image 15, Image 16, Image 17, Image 18, Image 19].
  • Bhonsle, k. (2010). Thresholds in architecture. [Online] Academia.edu. Available at: [Accessed 8 Jan. 2019].
  • Anon, (2019). [Image 4] Available at: [Accessed 8 Jan. 2019].
  • Pandya, Y. (n.d.). [Image 5] Concepts of space in traditional Indian architecture.
  • Pinterest. (2019). [Image 6, Image 7] Pinterest (United Kingdom). [Online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Feb. 2019]. Marr, T. (2019). [Image 8].
  • MA_ISD Students. (2019). [Image 10, Image 11].
  • SDA, V. (2019). Transition Spaces. [Online] Your dream space at your own pace! Available at: [Accessed 8 Jan. 2019].
  • Saraswat, A. (2019). Voids in Architecture – A Study of Unbuilt Spaces. [Online] Academia.edu. Available at: [Accessed 8 Jan. 2019].
  • Rao M., K. and Bhooshan, D. (2016). Parametric design principles found in ancient Indian temple architecture- case examples of columns of Kalyani Chalukya period of Karnataka. [Online] B Shashi Bhooshan. Available at: [Accessed 30 Mar. 2019].
Cite this page

A Study of Transition defining a Space through Movement. (2019, Nov 17). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/shradha-ninawe-18026508-unit-2-crp-outline-proposal-example-essay

A Study of Transition defining a Space through Movement
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