Space planning: What is it and how do I get it right?

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Space planning: What is it and how do I get it right?

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
par homify Moderne
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The responsibilities of architects and interior designers stretch far beyond the mere task of building a structure and making it look pretty. It is also their jobs to tell a client’s story and promote their vision with innovative design solutions. 

And since each client and his needs differs from the rest, the task of designing, building and beautifying a structure (whether it’s a whole house, a new living room, or an open-plan kitchen) becomes quite tricky. 

But how is comfort and convenience ensured for the client right from the start? By means of an age-old trick that is still being used today: space planning. 

1. What is space planning?

Salon moderne par homify Moderne

Space planning is a crucial process that forms part of architects’ and interior designers’ projects. It starts with an in-depth analysis of how the space (of the new building that’s to be designed) will function. A plan that defines the various zones of the space will be drawn up and the activities meant to take place in each one (i.e. cooking in the kitchen, sleeping and dressing in the bedroom) will be added.

A space plan also highlight the circulation patterns that show how the people will move through the space. Required elements like windows and doors are also added, as well as furniture, equipment and hardware placement.

One architectural firm that specialises in space planning is Peridot Architects. Based in Johannesburg, Peridot Architects presents a broad portfolio of projects, each one proudly showing a commitment to creativity, innovation, and experimentation. In addition to space planning, the firm also presents architectural services, interior design, plus residential- and commercial designs. 

2. The purpose and use of spaces

Before the design of a building or room can commence, the purpose of its spaces must be defined. How will it be used? As a building could be a commercial, industrial or residential structure, the way it will be used will certainly impact its space planning. 

Some spaces might have multiple functions, which means it needs to be flexible for the users. 

Another consideration is the users of the space. The architect and designer must ask themselves how the people will spend their time in the structure. For working? For living? For shopping? The architect also needs to consider how many people the space must be able to hold, work flow and circulation, and how the people will move through the space. 

3. What to ask yourself before creating your own space plan

Cuisine moderne par CS DESIGN Moderne

• What will I use this space for? Will it be a multi-functional zone, such as a living room which also becomes a dining area?

• How many people will be using this space and will it be for the same purpose? (Think about a living room where one person might be watching TV while another is quietly reading in a corner)

• What existing furniture pieces do I want to use in this space?

• Will it be possible to move furniture in or out of this room?

• How do I want the space to feel? Open and airy? Cosy and welcoming?

• How much natural light is available? What artificial lighting elements are required?

• What are the focal points of the room? Do I need to create any?

• What is on my wish list for this room? 

4. Creating your own space plan: The Bubble Plan

par homify

One way of drawing up your own space plan is to roughly draw out a layout of the space / room in question. A bubble plan is a simple drawing which shows a basic design of a space, what activities will take place in there, and the relationship between these activities. 

For instance, an open-plan living area might have at least three bubbles. One bubble will show the kitchen, the second will highlight the dining area, and the third will pinpoint the living / sitting zone. 

Once you are clear about the activities that will take place in a space, move on to a more detailed scale plan. 

5. Creating your own space plan: A detailed scale plan

par homify Moderne

We advise to get as large a piece of paper as possible, such as A1 or A2. Using pencils, draw your space to scale on the paper. Include all windows, doors, built-in pieces (like cupboards and fireplaces) and lighting placements. 

Draw up a list of everything you want to include in the space (i.e. a new double-seater sofa; a round coffee table). Make scaled paper cut-outs for these pieces. Add these cut-outs to your space plan and see how it brings the space to life.

Devote some time to moving these pieces around, as it will help you see new ways in which you can use the space. See how many different layouts you can come up with, and how each one affects the flow of the room. Then decide on the best one which will result in the most practical, but also stylish, layout for your room.

And that’s how you go about proper space planning. 

When thinking about what you’d like to add to your spaces, consider these 6 custom living room furniture ideas by Johannesburg designers

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