Design -- General
Thesis: Formal and informal spaces

As a part of my thesis, I am looking into how one can distinguish a space as formal or informal: What elements work behind this differentiation? Is it possible to create a flow from a formal space to a mixture of both, and then to an informal space by the use of design principles?

Please do contribute,
Mili Sasi
Thesis: Formal and informal spaces

What you are talking about is elements of spatial morphology. You can have permutations and combinations of informal/formal space, with private/public space:

  • Informal + Private
  • Informal + Public
  • Formal + Public
  • Formal + Private

How you define each couple depends upon the expectations of the culture for public or formal space and the expectations of the individual for informal and private space.

The main functional difference between private and public space is access.

Frank John Snelling
Thesis: Formal and informal spaces
Thank you for the response. How far is it possible to create transitional forms and spaces when it comes to designing an office space?
Mili Sasi
Thesis: Formal and informal spaces
I assume by "transitional spaces", you mean spaces which allow access to and from cul-de-sac office spaces?

The traditional form of office space was cul-de-sac rooms along corridors. But today, most offices are designed as "open-plan" so that you have a huge open office with a few private cul-de-sac spaces for managers; whereas all the office workers work in a large space which is only divided by low partitions. The problem with open-plan is that it is very easy to become distracted by the continual random noises made by other office workers.

Returning to your original entry. I think you can say; formal office space is recognisable by the regularity of the spatial arrangment of furniture, fittings and lighting and vice versa; informal office space has irregular spatial arrangements for furniture, fittings and lighting.

Formal office "cul-de-sac" space is usuall used by office management to distinguish between management space and the open-plan worker space.

The boundaries between formal and informal space can be walls, furniture or simply a line of columns or plants.

The simplest rule, is that the lower a person is in the office, the smaller and more open the work space.
Frank John Snelling
Thesis: Formal and informal spaces
Thank you for the response, Frank.

I was looking into creating an interphase between the formal and informal spaces. This could be done to bring some sort of a relief for the stressed up office people, an interphase could be something which destroys the boundary between the actual formal and informal spaces.

But how can I create such spaces?
Mili Sasi


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