Assignment 3 – Buildings in use

Its been a while since my last assignment submission, mainly due to work issues and getting all the material put together for this assignment.

The OCA brief seems simple on first read which states ‘ Choose five or six buildings and for each produce between two and four images that describe effectively and attractively the way in which these spaces are used’. Further to this the brief requires the student to do the following ‘ You can choose to include people in the images, or not. For each building, it is important that you conduct some research beforehand, either archival or personal (or both), so that you have:

• a good understanding of how and why it was designed in the way it is

• an opinion on its effectiveness as a usable space.

Try to encompass variety in your choice of buildings, including in size and purpose. Write a short statement in your learning log demonstrating your understanding of the function of each building, the way in which it was designed to achieve that, and how well you believe it succeeds. In addition, describe briefly how you initially set about showing the important features of each building photographically, and what you learned during the course of shooting the assignment.

After whats seemed like an eternity thinking of what buildings I could use for this assignment, it became apparent that this may not be as simple as first thought. Of all the choices of buildings I could use, how am I going to break this down to five buildings and within that, submit only 4 or 5 pictures to demonstrate what the brief requires?

So after thinking of which buildings to use where I can complete the full brief, I set out to break down my final choices. My section of images will have a brief description on why I think it works for the required criteria, accompanied with brief metadata and any relevant technical details on how the image was captured.

I’m based in Dubai, and capturing a set of images with an average outside daily summer temperature of between 35-42 degrees is difficult. As not all of the images would be taken indoors I not only had the heat to deal with, but the risk of burnt out highlights as the sun rises very quickly here, so timing would play a big role in catching the right light.

The final set of five buildings (locations) Ive chosen are:

  • Masdar City (Abu Dhabi)
  • Mall of the Emirates (Dubai)
  • Arcadia Preparatory School (Dubai)
  • The Last Exit Food Truck Stop (situated between Dubai and Abu Dhabi)
  • Madinat Souk (Dubai)

All images were taken on a Sony A7MK II, with a 16-35mm Zeiss ZA OSS lens. Some artificial lighting was used were needed. Software for post processing was Lightroom CC. All references for each location are presented at the end of this blog. Relevant metadata can be found under each image.

(click on any image to enlarge)

Set 1 – MASDAR CITY – ABU DHABI, UAE.

Mazda City is based in Abu Dhabi, which is approx a 1 and a half hour drive from Dubai. All I knew of the area before deciding on this location was it was detailed as one of the most sustainable eco friendly cities in the world, and had many areas of invention and pioneering attributes which were worth exploring. What I may find to photograph before my visit wasn’t sure, but thought the journey would prove worth while.

On the website the first statement reads “Seizing The Next Decade. Our goal over the next 10 years is to strengthen the role of clean energy in the global energy mix”. Master is part of the Mubadula Group of companies, and the city was built in Abu Dhabi in 2006.Masdar is working to advance the clean energy industry in Abu Dhabi and around the world, and it is a catalyst for the economic diversification of the emirate.

Masdar is focussing on clean energy deployment, sustainable real estate and independent research. Within Masdar City are graduate university were students can reside during term, offices, shops, an underground driverless car transport system, as well as one of the largest solar panel projects in the world.

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The first image above show modern buildings of varying shapes and sizes. Metal and concert structures almost touch each other in maze of curves and straight lines. I feel that the closeness of each building has a purpose, and that is to shield the residents and work people from the intense summer heat that can touch 50 degrees centigrade in this part of the world. The image shows how the buildings create shadows and shade for those that dare to venture outdoors in the summer months. Each building is designed in its own unique way to reflect the heat while giving a pleasing futuristic look without appearing boring. At the top of the building one can see the massive solar panels which trap and collect energy in this modern futuristic city.

Converted to B&W to enhance the lines and curves of the buildings so as to now allow colour to be a distraction, with leading lines of the sink drain bringing the eye to the figure crossing the street which helps give depth and a measure of size the the buildings.

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Situated in the background of this image is the Institute of Science and Technology. With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research. Once again the building is contracted in a way to reflect heat with specially constructed spiked tiles. The central rest area is protected again by other sand coloured buildings which are part of the residence of the students, with overhangs to give shade. Just out of view to the right of the image is a coffee shop from a famous worldwide brand, as well as a small supermarket and restaurants near by. The trees and rocks give a feeling of being in the country or park, when in fact just behind the buildings is open desert. Rich desert colours are often used on many of the buildings.

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Within Masdar City is a prototype ‘Rapid Transport System’, also known as the Personal Rapid Transit ‘PRT’, which is a system of driverless cars, or ‘Pods’, which can transport 6-8 people at a time around a the city. At the moment the system only travels 800 meters from the central location within one of the main buildings to the car park. The system in place at the moment is fully operational, and I took ride in the pods. You simply sit in the car and press a play button on a centre console. The doors will close and take you to the destination without an tracks or electric wires connected to the car. If another car is on the track they will wait for each other to make space. The system was due to be increased in size to many more pods, but the current project has been put on hold. The pods are electric and while they sit waiting for passengers they are charging the batteries in the dock.

The image taken above is within the main building, is was fairly dark so I waited for passengers to leave the station so not to act as a distraction. I placed my camera on a bench and took a set of shots to allow a slow exposure and reduce blur. The leading lines of the floor and square tiling on the ceiling bring the view towards the pods sat waiting for the next passengers.

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This image is taken on the drive towards Masdar City, and is just on the entrance to one of the major car parking areas. One can see the many shapes of the various buildings and the attempt at the greenery on the approach with hedges and gardens which surround the city. I thought of including a shy in the image but thought it best to show how the area looks without any over post processing.

Set 2 – LAST EXIT – ABU DHABI/DUBAI BOARDER, UAE.

On my back from Abu Dhabi after taking images of Masdar City, I came across a new outlet which at first looked like a normal petrol station or some abandoned rest stop. I pulled in and drove back into the desert away from the main highway, to find this new rest stop come food outlet which I had heard nothing about. The new project turned out to be a new food truck park, complete with the american type food trailers known as ‘Airstreams’ and indoor eating centre. it opened only this summer 2016, and had multitude of caravan type food outlets. One of the comments on a review states ” This is not bland – or cheap – fast food. Last Exit is a gourmet pit stop with something to please every palate – from falafel and Mexican cuisine to seafood and burgers.”

The stop has an obvious car and motor vehicle theme, as can be seen when you first drive into the car park with old cars stacked on top of each other, and an old VW Beatle sat on top of the main building. You can drive through or take time to look around and eat indoors or outside in the winter months.

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This first image is an example of how the building interacts with people from the car park area to walking inside the food court. I noticed after a short while that all the items used are either recycled, or looked to be recycled. Look at how the bike stands are made from old barrels cut open to allow the bikes to fit. The corrugated materials used to make the main building give an industrial feel to the whole area.

The image was taken to show the separate items used for the visitors, and how everything is laid out in a spacious way while encouraging recycling. Image is closely cropped to remove the featureless sky.

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Once inside the truck stop food area, you are met with a multitude of car parts, metal dealing made of aluminium, door handles made from petrol pump fillers and tables made from recycled industrial cable wire barrels. This building has done a great job of supplying the customers with a place to eat using all the recycled materials available, while giving it a bright feel with colours and bright open windows. Notice how the light shades are made from recycled wheels and spokes.

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Along the corridor which connects two of the food eating areas, is made to feel like some sort of garage. The stools are made from old wood and the foot pegs are made from cycling pedals. Old tool boxes are situated as counter tops with stainless steel road signs on the roof which point in the directions of each location. Pipes are used to hold up the wooden shelf areas and buckets are the light shades. This adds to the whole feel of being a motor theme.

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This image of the males rest rooms was a little hard to capture, not just because of the low light, but because it had an attendant cleaning the floors and helping guests with towels etc, plus I had to wait for the area to become clear. I felt a bit strange standing outside a male toilet waiting to take a few pictures like some stalker. I asked the attendant if I could take a few pictures as I liked the theme of how they had designed the room. You can see the wheels and car tires used for the wash basins, and the car number plates use for the lamp shades. The pipes are real with water coming from underground and to make the water come out the taps (which are petrol pump handles) you stand on the accelerator pedal on the floor. The urinals (I spared you the picture on this one) just out of view on the left of frame are made from old buckets. Personally I thought this was the best example of how a room or building could be made unique and still function perfectly, that Ive ever seen. Very clever.

All three above images indoors were taken into Lightroom and given a grungy feel and deep colours with high clarity to enhance the items used in each room, and to bring out the vivid colours. They looked good in B&W but I felt the colours helped better and added separation to each item, as there were so many to see in such a small area.

SET 3 – MALL OF THE EMIRATES, DUBAI, UAE

For my next building I decided to use a shopping area, or mall, as this is a little different to some of the normal malls that are available to the public in the UK. Different as in the area is designed to give a feel of being outdoors while being inside due to the high temperatures we experience here in Dubai. But while talking of high temperatures it also boosts a Ski slope. Yes….a Ski slope! The only Ski slope in the middle east.

Mall of the Emirates was opened November 2005. The multi-level shopping mall currently features more than 630 retail outlets, 7900 parking spaces, over 100 restaurants & Cafes, 80 luxury stores and 250 flagship stores, and as mentioned has the only Ski slope in the middle east.

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I decided to take my first image of the mall from the outside, as this massive structure overhangs the car park and entrances to part of the mall. This is Ski Dubai which is situated at one end of the mall. It has a black slope for the most experienced of skiers so height and length is required while space is at a premium with over 25,000sq meters of space. Signs are posted around the parking area to located certain areas for foot traffic, as well as electronic parking meters showing what number of spaces are available in each parking lane.

This image shows how buildings can be placed around each other to accommodate people and traffic, while space is at its most premium. Parking is still available underneath the Ski structure making use of every available space.

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As mentioned in the opening text, Mall of the Emirates consists of more than 100 restaurants and cafes. Making use of space again in this example, we can see how natural light is able to cover the whole area which in this area is on the top floor of the mall. The visitors are able to enter down the escalator to be met with a combination of shops and eating outlets. The building has air conditioning ducts around the sides of the shops (long black grills) which keep the area cool. Just out of view in the far left corner is the worlds largest Apple store.

The image was converted to B&W to enhance the ones and steel window light structure. The escalator rails help bring the viewer into the image and act as leading lines.

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This next image shows the central part of Mall of the Emirates. The building is designed in four different levels, each with interlacing stairs, lifts and escalators to transport visitors easily between each floor. Expensive marble is used on the flooring which reflects light back up from the natural skylight reducing the need for bright lights and thus saving power and the planet.

As per the previous picture, this image is converted to B&W white show the lines and sun rays from the above skylight. The lines of each level help take the viewer into the photograph.

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This area is near one of the main entrances to the mall. The shoppers and visitors are welcomed with a bright area, again from the massive natural skylight above, and fountain features and greenery which is detailed to give the feeling of being outdoors. Each restaurant table around the horse feature fountain has short hedges and flower arrangements to enhance the outdoor feel. The building is designed to bring the shoppers to an open area from each level. Escalators just behind the image view help to transport shoppers to each level.

This image worked best in colour due to the flooring. The image is taken from a viewpoint of creating circles within circles, from the tiling floor, fountain and the balconies.

SET 4 – SOUQ MADINAT, DUBAI, UAE

For my last set of images for buildings in use, I decided to take a trip down to Souq Madinat, which is situated next to the famous Burj Al Arab hotel. Its owned by the Jumeirah group of hotels and consists of 24 restaurants, a waterway which takes passengers from restaurant to restaurant, or restaurant to hotel and other locations within the souq area, as well as  a number of high end hotels. The Madinat souq is also home to a Turtle sanctuary and a 442 seat Theatre which is available for live shows and movies. Visitors who are not staying in the hotels can take an Abra ride around the waterways. All parking is based underground.

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One of the main entrance points of the Souq Madinat is used for pick up and drop off for visitors. Surrounding the entrance we can see the theme of the soul which is in the form of the old arabic wind tunnels, along with the sand coloured walls giving an authentic feel to the building on arrival. Palm trees greet the disembarking passengers adding to the arabic theme.

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Once inside the souq you are transformed into a different world, as if you have been taken back in time to the early days of Arabia. The ceiling and decor are all copies of an ancient world of the Arabian markets or ‘souq’. A total of 75 shops and stalls are scattered around the interior, with more shopping areas located outside in allyways. Large high wooden beams make up the structure of the building with cold concrete pathways giving a feeling of yesteryear. Along the central walkway above is antique style lighting.

Image was shot to show the structure of the building, with a portrait frame to help highlight the high ceilings and wonderful wooden beams. Some areas of the image were lightened to bring out the shadows.

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Once outside the souq we have buildings designed in the old fashioned stone, with wind towers (or wind catchers) high above the ground. These wind towers are still used today and help reduce the temperature of buildings which have no electricity or available air conditioning. On first impression you may think you have been transported back in time, but clues that you are in the modern world are highlighted by the modern food chain sign on the door, along with the popular coffee shop chain and the menu on the right lower corner of the image. Wooden stairways are situated around to help visitors to each level.

Image was taken low to enhance height of the buildings and converted to B&W to give an old fashioned feel, with subtle composition to show the food chains. The positioning was made to bring the highlight of the sun through the palm trees.

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The final image of this set show the Abra and the waterways which surround the Souq Madinat. These Abra boats can take passengers to various restaurants, bars and hotel rooms. Visitors who are not staying in the hotels can still take a paid trip around the buildings and souq areas. The buildings are located facing each other, so we have restaurants on one side with hotel rooms on the opposite of the waterway. The water is brought in through channels from the nearby sea. The construction area also has a certain number of bridges (as can be seen in the distance) which also connect hotels to the shops and souq. All the areas outside are scattered generously with Palm trees and other flowers and landscaping.

This image was taken showing the various elements of the building and its surroundings. from the buildings on the right which encompasses the restaurants and tables to the waterways with the passing Abra, to the hotel locations on the left side, while leading the eye into the frame to the Burj Al Arab hotel in the distance.

Conclusion.

Comparison with assessment criteria.

DEMONSTRATION OF TECHNICAL AND VISUAL SKILLS.

For this third assignment I decided to include images with and without people. I have chosen to use a number of different camera angles to enhance the image when ever needed. Lighting was mainly natural as I feel most of the images didn’t require any artificial lighting given the subject matter. I have a camera with built in OSS so I was able to up the ISO and then reduce any noise in Lightroom CC.

QUALITY OF OUTCOME.

I found the final choice of buildings hard, and also the type of images required didn’t allow me to be so creative in the image. Therefore no post processing to any high degree was used like I may have used in past assignments. I feel I have covered a cross section of building that show clearly how they interact with people, even though we as the end user may not notice this in our daily lives.

DEMONSTRATION OF CREATIVITY.

I have used leading lines in certain images to take the eye into the frame and this was chosen carefully. At times I was carful and patient to wait for a person to move into a certain spot within the frame, thus helping give the image weight and to show a feeling of size. With other images I choose not to include any person or people so to concentrate on the image itself. I have used a full cross section of buildings from shopping malls, industrial and schools. Where needed I have used B&W if I thought this was relevant to the image, so colour would not be a distraction, allowing the viewer to concentrate and appreciate the lines and contours within the frame.

CONTEXT.

Research was done on each building well before the images were shot, so I had a feel of what I wanted to capture in my head. It turned out that looking back at the final selection I pretty much took images of what I had in mind prior to the visits. I had read a number of other student sites and submissions and did my best to not copy or emulate others images, as I wish my images to be personal to me with my own creativity and thought. The assignment was harder than at first thought, as I felt I couldn’t be so creative with the images and that I stood a risk of the images becoming boring. I tried to chose different viewpoints to keep the images interesting with write-ups on each which would give interesting information to complement each photograph.

References and research :

Set 1 – Masdar City:

Set 2 – Last Exit

Set 3 – Mall of the Emirates

Set 4 – Souq Madinat

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Exercise 18 – How space changes with light

In this last exercise before the main assignment, we are asked to take a series of photographs for one or two locations that we can visit at various tines of the day.I was in Wales recently staying with family so I decided tot are shots from morning till late in the evening for the front lounge area, from the same location within the room.

(Click on any page to enlarge)

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For this first image we can see the morning sunlight just about to break through the front lounge of this cottage house. The lack of deep shadows means as the sun has not yet risen the light is very much diffused giving an overall soft light.

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This second picture is seen taken mid morning as the sun has risen high from the mountains over the Welsh border. You can see the bright sunlight coming in very strong from the front door area, along with a second smaller window just out of view in the background lighting up one of the leather chairs. I did no heavy editing to the image so to show the bright highlights on the floor mostly as the eye saw the image.

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Taken just after lunch time the light from the windows has now moved further west and harsh light has now gone, with a very slight diffused light starting to form on the wooden floor area. The camera is now able to pick up more shadow in the background towards the fire place.

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This final shot is taken after the sun has gone down and we are left with artificial light to show the room without the need for a long exposure. AS can be seen no sunlight is coming through the door on the right side of the frame as before. The room looks a lot colder now we only have artificial light, with heavy highlights around the wall lights and deep shadows under and around the furniture.

Conclusion:

This was a fairly easy exercise to complete than i first expected, even though I had to pick my timings over when it was best to take shots of the room while it remained empty. I left the camera pretty much in the same location and angle for the shots to make the comparisons easier. I would like to do this again given the opportunity with outside buildings and possibly include moving objects such as cars and/or people.

Exercise 17 – The users viewpoint

The task for this exercise is to choose from two or three buildings designed for a particular activity, and attempt to capture the area from the users point of view. This could be with the use of focal length and various viewpoints, either low or from a different angle.

Click on any image to enlarge.

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This image is taken from the inside of a University. The close crop to the left makes the viewer wonder where the stairs lead to, and what may lay behind the archway. I waited for some time for a person to walk down or up the stairs but no-one came through. The image was converted to B&W to bring out the strong lines and shades only B&W can show.

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At first glance this image may seen like any normal front living room, but after a closer look the first thing that appears different is the furniture and decor is old. As the eye leads up the stairs we can see a person sat on a chair. Is the owner of the house, apartment, or a guest? The low viewpoint helps the eye scan into the image and then up the stairway. This si in fact a museum situated on the Wales, England border. I had to wait for some time for other visitors to leave the room so I could get a clear shot. However I couldn’t do anything about the lady on top of the stairs, but later thought this would make an interesting addition to the shot.

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A normal stairway? Maybe not. We can see the pictures on the wall are very old and in fact are antique. Taken in the same museum home as the previous photo, this is a stairway leading up to the main bedrooms. The old wooden carved banister leads the eye down the stairs while taking in the large pictures of what seem to be family members of the household from time gone by. Where do the stairs lead down to, and what is on the next level leading up to the left side? An old wooden chest on the stairway makes you wonder what may lay inside and what treasures maybe hidden, if any. Again I had to wait some time for the stairs to become clear of foot traffic. I found a high viewpoint looking down the stairs worked better than standing at the bottom looking upwards.

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This is a stairway taken in a small village in Wales, which is a residence area into a set of apartments and houses. The bright red stairs leads the eye up into a series of doors, with each set of stairs taking the person to separate levels. I like the colours of the red stairs and blue door which seem to compliment each other, and the large red balcony on the top seems to balance the red stairs on each side of the frame. I thought of taking this shot from front on, but I liked the lines of the steps from this angle better than a flat shot. A low shot would have made the converging verticals too severe so I remained at eye level for this one.

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This shot taken in a gallery shows a lot of negative space, which leads the eye to the person situated in the background of the frame. The eyes are helped into the frame with the wood grain of the floor, which brings the eyes onto each statue piece and then finally onto the framed pictures on the wall. I would have liked the person in the shot to be not so central, but the figures in the picture on the left of the wall help the viewer to look back in to the frame as they seem to be looking at the person walking. One wonders what the central statue piece is on the floor, is was in fact a figure of a dead horse.

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Taken in some office buildings, I waited for my friend to walk by while I placed the camera in a low position on the floor. I didn’t have a camera with a tilt up screen as I was using a Canon 5DMK3, so I set the camera to what I hoped would be a medium DOP at F11 in the hope it wouldn’t focus on the floor nearest the camera. I took a few shots as the two people walked by towards the doors ahead. I positioned the camera so the black squares on the floor would lead towards the figures walking.

Conclusion:

An interesting exercise and at times found the viewpoints hard to decide on. I was sometimes unsure if I would be able to take images of something that was situated outdoors, such as the shot of the red stairs, but after looking at some other students images this seemed to be acceptable.

 

Exercise 16 – Exploring Function

Brief:

“This exercise will help teach, first, a way of approaching a space and thinking about it that focuses on how it was intended to be used and whether or not its design was successful, and second, translating this thought process into an image. Choose any interior space, either domestic or public, and consider it from the point of view of its function. Who uses it or will use it? What is it intended to be used for? And how many different aspects are there to that activity? You are analysing the purpose of the room/space, and the process of doing this is the same for a dining room as for a more complex large area such as a public library.

First note what you think the space ought to be doing — a short list. Then consider how well you think it succeeds. This is all before attempting photography, and it hinges on your own, personal point of view. Forming a point of view is important, because it will influence how you decide to photograph the space.

Having made your analysis, make a carefully considered photograph of the space in order to put across the way it works — or should work — for the people who use it. If you are uncertain as to how best to do this, don’t be overly concerned. The rest of this section will help you to consider different techniques of approach and composition”.

For this first exercise in the new assignment called Building and Spaces, I used a room as the given example above which I have in my home.

The room in question is actually not a room that one would use for anything in particular, but an open space on top of the landing which splits into each of the three bedrooms. When we looked at the house to buy we liked the idea of this open area, and thought at the time it would make a good area for an office, without the need to take up a bedroom.

The open area can be seen to be used as an office by the computer desk and chair. it could be mistaken for an office within an office block at first, but the brown doorway which leads to a bathroom and the chest of draws (which is for sale and there temporarily) give it away as to been a home location.

The area could be used with nothing more than a few pictures or standing home pieces to fill in the area, or it could be an ideal area for a play area for young children, or a gym or exercise area.

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The large windows add ambient light make it an ideal area for study, writing or other studies. The blinds can be closed when using the computer for editing photos and video if required.

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The bookshelves add to the office feel, and the guitar in the corner suggestions an area for some recreation also when not at work. The fact no pictures are on the wall could mean this is a fairly ew new area to move into, with no time to date to place any hangings on the wall. In image 175 another doorway to a bedroom can be seen.

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The reason we can see two chairs on the floor is we had two computers, and one was sold. This suggests the desk was shared at some point. The fact no books are on the shelfs to the right again means this could be a new location, or the area is in the middle of being cleared and moving out, or new books to be purchased and the bookcase is new. The fact is we are selling the book cases so all books have been taken off and relocated to the new bookcase on the left.

Conclusion:

I was wondering what space I would take for this exercise that would be easy to work with, but would be interesting enough to ask questions. After taking the images of our area in the home upstairs, I think this area worked fairly well. It certainly could be used for a number of activities or for nothing and to be just left as an open area, or in this case an office. I took a number of images form various heights to give an overall impression of the space in question.