Investigating wasted space: an analytic perspective

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


Studies on environmental psychology include both indoor and outdoor settings. The environment works as an opportunity for emerging human behaviour and emotions. Physical attributes of the environment may affect space meaning and arouse senses. A space is called high, spacious, and preferred because it is attached to such a general rating. On the contrary, one may recall a space as unpreferred, unsafe, complex, and so on. Research has often investigated desirable qualities of environments, but study on disliked environmental attributes is also important, especially when economical components are influential. Since land prices and construction costs are increasing, communities should consider reducing useless spaces. Looking through research, adequate study of “wasted space” was not found. For an exploratory study of “wasted space” and attributes affecting it, 25 apartments were evaluated. These were selected from 55 cases in a high-dense district in Tehran-Iran. Then, a semi structural interview with 30 residents (men, women, parents and children, owners and tenants from 18 to70 years old) was conducted.  Each interviewee was asked to define “wasted space,” indicate spaces they saw as “wasted”, explain why they called them as “wasted” and discus their attempts for reusing them. Using the same questionnaire, a group of 10 designers and design professions from Shahid Beheshti University evaluated the same apartments. They also were asked to determine places where they call as wasted space during teaching. Considering different aspects of space (physical, perceived, cognitive, and behavioural) and different features of each, with coded keywords extracted from interviews, research found that:
-              Both professionals and non-professionals had the same definitions of “wasted space;”
-              The two main aspects of space for defining “wasted space” were physical and behaviour setting;
-              For physical space, respondents repeatedly referred to three attributes: geometry, proportion and area;.
-              For behavioural setting, they only mentioned “furniture;”
-              Lack of association between the geometry and behavioural settings led to “wasted space”.
-              Owners and tenants differed in determining “wasted space;”
-              In some cases, design professionals differed from the others in what they considered wasted space;
-              Two types of “wasted space” emerged: visible and invisible. Visible referred to physical aspects of space determined almost by both professions and non-professions while invisible type derived from behavioural attributes shown by most of professions.
-              Factors relating to “perceived space” reduced undesirable effects of “wasted space”. 
-              Affective meaning of space may reduce undesirable effects of wasted space and works as a moderator.
-              One may wrongly call a space as wasted. A space could formally be perceived as wasted while it may respond to socio-cultural needs.
Findings represent a comprehensive structure for wasted space. It can help designers lessen unused space in houses in high-density cities through changing layout, shapes, proportions, juxtapositions and considering behavioural needs. Further study could determine the accuracy and generality of the findings. It could focus on wasted space with other functions such as commercial, educational, and office buildings to know how economical components -which are affective in residential buildings- affect wasted space.


Main Subjects

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