Architecture & Borders within Daniels

In Advance Topics in Architecture course (ARC465) instructed by Anne-Marie Armstrong, students are encouraged to explore how architecture defines borders within an environment as borders can be both physical and/or physiological. A few groups from the course have decided to choose Daniels Buildings as their precedent study for their first investigation. Zoona Aamir & Sam Lanesmith dives into the threshold conditions within Daniels ground floor commons. Maha Mubeen & Melissa Zhang explores how spatial arrangement moulds the relationship between students and the registrar. Breanne Bornstein and Jasper Choi selected the main staircase to discover how permanent and temporal threshold co-exist within a vertical circulation.

Tale Between Two Columns

Zoona Aamir & Sam Lanesmith

The multiplicity of spaces within the Daniels Faculty Commons comprises of implied borders

and territory place making from its users. Its various densities one observes mark the degrees of success each subsequent space holds. As Storey notes that in “everyday usage, territory is usually taken to refer to a portion of geographic space which is claimed or occupied by a person or group of persons or by an institution"[1]. Thus, the placement of a bag, computer, coffee or notebook mark space. Further, Lynch observes that edges are often paths as well and that circulation can come to embody loose borders[2]. This becomes evident with the southern edge of the Daniels Commons as this circulation links these implied spaces together.

Territory: Daniels Commons

The Benched Corner:

This space, enclosed on two edges interacts with the pillar to create a cozy intimate space that students are willing to pack closely into.

The Hinterlands:

Dominating the centre of Daniels Commons, this space is sparsely populated with standing tables and even fewer students. Its expanse repels rather than invites.

Cafe 059:

It is either crowded or empty in this high caffeine nook of the Commons. It is busy and

desolate in perfect rhythm with the comings and goings of students and faculty between classes and studio.

The territory of the Daniels Commons divides and delineates into distinct yet implied border. These spaces are governed by the two columns in the middle of this space and each has a distinct atmosphere.

The Office Desk

Maha Mubeen & Melissa Zhang

The idea of territory exists not just on a large scale as it is generally thought of and understood, but also on ‘everyday’ scales. It is a natural way of asserting one’s own space; even cats are known to mark their territories. We make use of varying fixed or fluid boundaries to mark and separate our spaces. As Storey mentions, “at more micro-levels, territorial strategies may be used in attempts either to attain or retain power or to achieve particular outcomes.”[3] It happens wherever humans coexist, and an office space is no exception. Here the territory is marked as ‘the public’ and 'the private,’ often with the use of furniture as a tool. A sort of hierarchy is manifested in the arrangement of both furniture and objects.

We wish to explore the fixed and the more fluid boundaries created by the long desk

placed at the Student Services Office of our faculty and how it becomes a barrier, not one

of complete division, but rather one of subtle divisions where exchanges are encouraged

and facilitated. As Stalder states “a series of continuous threshold spaces: from an individual boundary to a series of boundaries, from the border in its divisive function to a border area with a connective function, from the threshold to threshold space.” [4]

Interpersonal Space

Breanne Bornstein & Jasper Choi

This border index explores boundaries between people, part of the field of proxemics. Rather than strict linear borders seen on traditional cartographic maps [5], distance between humans are fluid invisible radial boundaries between people with varying degrees of closeness. Edward Hall, the scholar who coined the term proxemics, developed four distinct distances: intimate, personal, social and public [6], each having a close and far phase. Comparatively, we observed person-to-person interactions within a specific site, a central staircase, to compare gathered observational data to the established spatial boundaries.

We tracked movement of people up and down the staircase, visualized in the plan diagrams, as well as detail drawings comparing observed data to the distances established by Hall. When comparing observed distances between friends, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers to one another as well as the established measurements, it demonstrated how spatial distancing changes according to a variety of conditions; in our case, the restricted 2 meter width of the stairwell forced those in the social phase to be closer than desired.


[1] Storey, David. “Introduction”, Territories: The Claiming of Space. Abingdon: Routledge, 2012, 1.

[2] Lynch, Kevin. “Edges and Districts”, The Image of the City. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1960, 65.

[3] Storey, David. “Territories: The Claiming of Space” in Territories: The Claiming of Space,

Abingdon: Routledge, 2012, 187.

[4]Stalder, Laurent. “Turning Architecture Inside Out: Revolving Doors and Other Threshold

Devices” in Journal of Design History, vol. 22, No. 1, Oxford University Press, 2009, p.75.

[5] Ferrari, Marco, Pasqual, Elisa and Bagnato, Andrea. “The Cartographic Gaze” in A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018, 46.

[6]Hall, Edward T. The Hidden Dimension. New York: Double Day, 1992,116-123.