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  • Writer's pictureStudio H

Space Planning 101

Form and function are words that get thrown around in the design world. There is architectural history regarding different thoughts on how a building or space should be laid out. There is the aspect that form should follow function, thus when a plan is laid out that informs what a building should look like. Yet, if we break this down to fundamental basics, we might only have square or rectangular buildings unless the planning process blends view angles, sight lines, and starts to evolve away from simple boxes. The blend from a space plan to form always changes as there are many ways a space can be laid out and this informs what a building will look like.

When beginning space planning there are many aspects to take into account. First and most important should be the user of the space. How will this person use the space and what are they trying to accomplish? This will help to inform the flow of the space. Flow, you might ask? Think of it as how you would go through the building. For example, at a hotel the typical flow is that a guest enters the property, goes to the front desk to check in, they receive their room key and continue to the elevators and go up to their room. This is the most important sequence of the guests stay as it’s their first interaction to the property which can have lasting impacts. This is why front desks and lobbies are at the front of the building.

The same logic as the guest experience in a hotel can be applied to all buildings and it doesn’t always need to be for people. An industrial warehouse might have the need for trucks to come in and out throughout the day. Thus, the site planning and space planning should incorporate the greatest ease of access for the main purpose of the building.

When you start thinking about this, what are the aspects of your building that are important and will make your users function better? With residential, we are creating a lot of great indoor-outdoor spaces with patios, but if you have to walk through the living room to get to the kitchen then it makes outdoor dining harder. Likewise, if you’re in the medical field and want to be able to remove your scrubs immediately when you get home does it makes sense to have access to the master bedroom closet from a utility / laundry room? This way you can take off your work clothes, leave them in the laundry area and take a shower or change it to your house clothes.

Form follows function because without a functional space then no one is happy. If you’re really interested in this, take notice the next time you do a typical task and see if there are extra steps or doors that you need to go through in order to achieve it. The goal of design should be to make these as little as possible for the typical user.

As designers, we can great any type of design that you want, but without it functioning correctly what’s the purpose of an empty building???

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