Being plazas has started to diminish the space

Being no exception, Malaysia is experiencing the
urban sprawl phenomenon which is confronting the global urban world today. Urban
and social modernization has caused proliferation and concentration of urban
services and consequently, it has caused population increase and architectural
densification. Expansion of buildings, reduction of streets, and degeneration
of urban plazas has started to diminish the space for public activity, which as
a result has led to the loss of quality of the city.  

Most of the public sees open spaces as empty
spaces between buildings such as streets, plazas, and parks that only provide
movement pathways and outdoor activities. A study of transitional, or
intermediary spaces, will provide an analogy for the understanding and creation
of in-between space as dynamic public spaces that are essential component for
the urbanites to form a city fabric and its character. These spaces are often considered
as green nucleus in the city. Therefore, this study is to explore the condition
of the city’s public space to respond to the knowledge of the design of quality
transitional spaces in current scenario.

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Problem Statement

It is commonly known that most of the big cities
in the world are experiencing urbanisation with the growing number of concrete
jungle. Rapid development results in rapid growth in population and number of
high rise buildings. Urban problems such as architectural densification,
traffic problems and lack of green space has led to both direct and indirect impacts
on the quality of life as a whole. Hence, the exploration of transitional space
between the interior and exterior architecture is essential to understand its
relation to people’s psychology.

This research will investigate the concept and
characteristics of transitional spaces especially in urban environment. The
scope of the research is to explore the architectural elements that define the
role and quality of transitional spaces. The research will be a comparative
study by choosing case studies chosen based on their distinct design
characteristic that reflects to the design elements of transitional spaces and
located in a dense populated urban area.


The intention of transitional spaces are to
provide a break from two spaces or two activities. The aim of this research is
to explore the relation between transitional spaces and how it affects human
psychology. The interest and objectives in this research derives from a desire:

To understand the concept and characteristics
of  transitional spaces

To explore the architectural elements that
define the role and quality of transitional spaces

To discover the quality of public open spaces as
transitional space in an urban environment in Malaysia


Research Questions

What is the concept and characteristics of
transitional spaces especially in urban context?

What are the architectural elements that define
the role and quality of transitional spaces?

How are the quality of public open spaces as
transitional space in an urban environment in Malaysia?


Significance of Study


Transition spaces interconnect spaces by linking
or separating different types of space. In urban context, transition spaces
should create a sense of movement that will create more social engagement

The aim of this study is to be able to provide
an architectural description of the topic. In a way, this research will be
provide a thorough guideline for designers to develop new ways of designing
public open space as transitional space by exploring case studies that has
already exist and to explore the ways for improving the architectural space
quality between the inside and outside. 





Space is the key element in architecture and
discussions about space is a complex subject. Spatial relation is one of the
most vital part in architectural design, affecting quality of the living
environment. Most big cities experiencing urbanisation and existing buildings
are often lacking certain functions that are currently needed for quality
living environment since they have been designed in the past. Urban sprawl has
turned architecture into a series of urban problems, such as architectural
densification, traffic problems and lack of green space. Thus, transitional
space can be considered as a necessary part of urban components that have
significant influence on human dimension; whether on the behaviour or the
activity of user.

*Rosni, N. A., & Noor, A. P. D. N. M.
CAUSES. Journal of Architecture, Planning and Construction Management, 6(1).

Understanding Transitional Space

According to Kristic et al. (2013), variations
of spatial layers in the architectural structure of a building can create
particular spatial relations and an architectural space that can be defined as
both an inner space or as an outer space, or can be called as ‘in-between
space”. In architectural context, transitional space is a minor space between
the interior and exterior space, which is a medium area for the building and
the natural environment. It is a space of experience between the inner and the
outer worlds; an intermediate or a third space. The effect of it is to merge
the two opposite space and blur the boundary of them, and make the building and
environment a continuous space.

*Krsti?, H., Trentin, A., & Jovanovi?, G.
(2016). Interior-exterior connection in architectural design based on the incorporation
of spatial in between layers. Study of four architectural projects. Spatium,
(36), 84-91.

Concept and theories of transitional space

The idea of ‘in between’ is a concept proposed by Kisho Kurokawa in
his book ‘The Philosophy of Symbiosis’ which explains how such space exists
between the exterior and interior space that takes the effect of transiting the
separated area, and promote the continuity of the whole public space.


11.1 The theory from Kisho Kurokawa


Transitional space in traditional buildings

In Japanese traditional resident, transitional
space is also essential. Kurokawa believed that the gray space could create a
lot of possibilities. This gray space can be known as transitional spaces.They
have a particular name for this area, “engawa”. Traditional Japan tenants
prefer to stay here for dinner, leisure, enjoying the environment of the
courtyards, resting, even sleeping. The engawa possesses its own meaning as a
third type of space, an intermediary space, in addition to interior and
exterior space.

Transitional space in modern buildings

* Kisho Kurokawa Saitama Museum

Kisho Kurokawa, in awareness of this suppressed
architectural characteristic, he presented his “symbiosis” theory to
explain his architectural philosophy. He applied such theory into a lot of
projects, for example the Saitama Prefectural Museum of Modern Art. The museum
is built in the center of a park, he designed the entrance intermediary space
to create a more versatile public area. This is the attempt of modernization in
orient space. This design makes the space inside and outside can get symbiotic.

Typology of transitional space in architecture

In real life, there is a regular pattern for the
people’s choice of public area. People don’t like overcrowded environment,
either empty environment. Under the idea of symbiosis, the inner space and
outer space of the construction are both important. Shahlaei et al (2015) has
concluded the approaches to defining connection between inside and outside in
all architectural types are:


 A two dimensional element in external divider
that provide sensual or physical access, like a door or window. The line of
separation is solid and the in-between is an object not a space.

opportunity to take advantage of outside environment and this issue can
decrease qualities of living spaces.

Conflation of inside and outside:

line between inside and outside is been faded so separation between inside and
outside is defocused, for example slide away glass doors.

requires specific climate that most parts of Iran doesn’t compete with that.
Also Iranian life style, cultural issues and emphasis on privacy and “see
without being seen” make this approach not suitable as a common solution.

Creation of in-between spaces:

be a proper solution for achieving qualities of inside and outside at the same
time and at a same place, and to increase user’s satisfaction.

to overcome low-quality living spaces crisis in some architectural type.


A., & Mohajeri, M. (2015). In-Between Space, Dialectic of Inside and
Outside in Architecture. International Journal of Architecture and Urban
Development, 5(3), 73-80.






Role and quality
















* El-Mokadem, A.
A. E. F., Sallam, I., & El-Samaty, E. H. M. S. Human Dimension as an
Effective Aspect in the Perception of Transition Spaces


Design elements

Transitional spaces play a crucial role that
covers the relationship between human behaviour and properties of urban places.  As
part of the function  As
part of the landscape  As
buffer zone between buildings



*Lee, Y. M., Kim, S. K., & Moon, H. N. (2013).
Intermediary Spaces Linking Urban Space to Buildings: Functions and User
Satisfaction in Three Mixed-Use Complexes. Journal of Sustainable
Development, 6(9), 12.

* Harle, N.
E., & Ribevald, R. (1993). Roles and Meanings of Transitional Spaces: Some
Aspects for Consideration. Arch. & Comport./Arch. and Behav, 9(3).


Case study

As part of function   KL Sentral, Kuala Lumpur

As part of Landscape  Sentul
Park, Kuala Lumpur

As buffer zone between buildings   Jalan Hang Kasturi, Kuala Lumpur