How many times have we paused when we entered a public space to think twice about where to sit? We stand at the edge of the room and quickly survey the available seating or spatial options. We may not be in the mood to be too close to someone, we want a comfortable sitting area, and most of all we want a bit of privacy. While it may seem like a contradiction to have private spaces within public interiors, it is not as impossible as it may seem.
There are multiple ways to design for personal and private spaces within our interior environments. Before we go into the ways to create private space, let us first look at the ways we perceive it. We perceive our space through the use of all of our senses, but the ones that we rely on the most are sound, sight and touch. Think about it-when was the last time you were in a public space and you put on your headphones and listened to music?
That space instantly become more private just by changing the audio element of it. Realizing this, we understand that we must consider all of these elements in order to successfully design private spaces.
The most successful attempts of creating private spaces include the manipulation of not just one, but all three of these elements. Before we look at successful attempts let’s look at a few failures.
The space above lacks a consideration for sight and sound privacy. This photo represents a space that might be successful in creating a bit of privacy for a group, but is still severely lacking in overall privacy.
Although the space seen in the photo above considers the element of human tactile separation in an attempt to create private space, it still lacks audio and visual privacy.
Again, in the above space we see a great job of physically separating the user in the environment. Unfortunately, it still needs to consider the visual and audio separation to be a truly successful private space.
We have had a chance to see some spaces that need improvement with the creation of privacy. Now let’s look at spaces that I feel are designs that exhibit successful private areas within public interiors.
Above, we see a seating nook that is carved into the wall. How cozy does this look? Although it has visual connection to the exterior, through physically separating glass, it is visually separated from the interior environment. Furthermore, it has a soft seat which will aid in the sound absorption to make this area a quieter space than the rest of the design. Finally, it has just enough space for two people to sit. This makes it cozy and intimate for two people, but is still a comfortable size for one person sitting alone.
These private meeting pods show the visual, audio and tactile separation from the rest of the environment.They are designed to provide a small group with privacy whereas the photo above this one is designed for individual privacy. While in these pods, we are still very present in the public space even though we psychologically and physiologically feel to be in a completely private zone.
In this drmatic photo, we see the implimentation of all three elements-sound, site and tactile privacy. People can be as close or far away as they prefer in this space while still keeping the private setting intact.
From all of these photos we have realized the importance of privacy in our public spaces. It is human nature to want to have options with our level of privacy. There are many levels we can achieve in our interior spaces. These range not only in size, both in dimension and intended amount of people, but also in the desired type of activity to occur within that space. In considering the three main sense used in determining the level of privacy, we can successfully create spaces for a wide range of preferences.