Building Planning

Introduction: For someone to plan a building, one needs to set a program and organize a process for the same which consists of all stages of design, the construction period and up to the completion of the construction works. As a result, one is going to achieve through this process an architecture, complete building which might possess the possibility of an expansion. In simple terms building planning is the process of organizing various units and components of the building which is eventually going to serve its intended purpose. Systematically arranging of all the rooms within the building to achieve the intended purpose of the structure is called as planning of building. The final structure achieved and the process involved within is called as an architecture.

Building planning gives us a schematic as well as graphical representation on how a structure will look like once the same is being constructed on ground. Doing building planning is mandatory in the initiation process of construction of any type of the building. Moreover, building planning also drives the cost factor for a construction project as an efficient planning of the building will determine optimum cost for the project. A quantity surveyor works out the cost for various planning options, a cost plan is prepared for the same and the most feasible building planning option is adopted.

The core objective of the building planning is to make the best use of the building by organizing all the units of the building proposed under construction as per their functional requirements. Eventually the building planning has to be done in a way that it serves the intended purpose with it being executed in an organized and feasible manner.

Various factors which affect the building planning are building function which pertains to its intended use like for commercial purpose, residential purpose, public purpose, industrial purpose etc., the size and shape of the plot over which the building is to be constructed, the topography of the area, climatic condition of the location of the building and the building bye-laws.

One should plan the building in such a way that the privacy of the end users should be achieved. This can be done by making a judicious building planning considering various aspects like groupings, careful positioning of opening like doors and windows, placement of pathways, entrance and passages. Sometimes removable partitions, screens can be put in place, positioning of lobbies and corridors etc. to be considered sensibly.

Climatic conditions play a pivotal role in building planning. Considering the local climate is undoubtedly important as various factors related to it like hot and cold temperature, rain, humidity, wind, snow, available sunlight has a certain impact on the building. These are notable factors. Based on these factors all the units of the building like rooms, open balconies, openings like doors and windows, ventilation in the structure and other units are determined for building planning. The climatic conditions also command the technology and methodologies which are to be adopted for the respective building planned. Let us understand the same through an example, India is located close to the equator and is a peninsula, hence for almost a quarter in most of the regions India experiences monsoon season and for the rest of the year India experiences summer and winter season in almost equal amount. Hence in most of these regions the structures are built in RCC. If we look at the cold regions of the country, most of the structures are to be made with wood as these are bad conductors of temperature. Hence major planning decisions of the buildings are taken up based on the climatic conditions.

Principles of building planning

There are mainly 12 principles of the building planning which should be carefully considered and checked for during finalization of the plan. However along with adopting these principles one is also supposed to be flexible and make necessary changes wherever required.

The 12 basic principles of the building planning are as follows:

  1. Aspects
  2. Prospects
  3. Furniture requirements
  4. Roominess
  5. Grouping
  6. Circulation
  7. Sanitation
  8. Elegance
  9. Privacy
  10. Flexibility
  11. Economy
  12. Practical consideration

Aspect in building planning: A building is made up of different units and rooms, these rooms which are planned and located in their respective position basis the onsite requirement, set standards as well as proper access to natural resources like wind, light, scenery etc.

Aspect could be defined as a particular positioning of opening like windows and doors in a building, which could eventually give access to the natural resources like breeze, light, scenery and provide a hygienic and ecofriendly environment. Bottom line is aspect should give sufficient light and ventilation in all the units and rooms across the building.

As a rule, all rooms of a unit should have openings which should not be less than:

  1. For dry hot climate 1/10th of the floor area
  2. For wet hot climate 1/6th of the floor area
  3. For intermediate climate 1/8th of the floor area
  4. For cold climate 1/12th of the floor area

Necessary aspects for some of the commonly constructed houses are based on the 4 directions and as a result various rooms are arranged and placed. Below list gives preferred placement of various rooms.

  1. The placement of the living room should be made in the southern or south eastern aspect. As the sun is more inclined towards the southern direction during winter it gives a good sunshine in the living and the sun is inclined towards north during summer where it gives relatively cooler summer.
  2. The placement of the bedroom should be made in the southwestern or western aspect. This aspect would provide the breeze which is required in the summer for the bedroom.
  3. The placement of the kitchen should be made in the eastern aspect. This aspect helps admit fresh morning air and light which purify the air in kitchen.
  4. The placement of the gallery or verandah should be made in the northeastern or north aspect.
  5. The placement of the reading room should be made in the northern aspect as the light received in this aspect will be diffused and distributed evenly.

Prospect in building planning: Aesthetics of the buildings and constructed structures are expected to be visually appealing from an internal as well as an external viewpoint in today’s time. The prospect in the building planning could be defined as the desired view by the end users of the building. In a gist, the way how a building looks is defined as a prospect. It is also the view that is seen from the various openings of the rooms of the building.

Everyone residing in the house or the end users of the building hopes to see a good scene that gives a pleasant and beautiful view of their building. Surrounding areas with aspects of hardscape and landscape be it good or bad dictates the prospects of the proposed structure. In order to accomplish a high standard and pleasant building look, one can place and locate the openings i.e., doors and windows at a location that would give a great view of nature’s beauty. One should also be able to avoid unwanted things from entering the building. One should also be flexible with the prospect, to achieve a good prospect one should not compromise on a good building layout.

It is not always possible that the view on all sides of a building is good. Hence one should avoid opening on the unpleasant view side however cheerful atmosphere should be maintained within the room of the building.

Grouping in building planning: Grouping could be defined as the organization of different rooms of a building in such a manner that it is well connected with each other and serves their intended purpose and function in the most practical way. The arrangement, connection, and transition of the room should be in a smooth manner rather than an abrupt change. All the rooms arranged should be in proper correlation with each other on the layout serving their intended function with reasonable flexibility. Say for example in a residential building the kitchen and dining area should be kept next to each other, likewise, the toilets should be kept near the bedroom and the living room. This idea of grouping is not just limited to residential buildings but the same is also applicable to industrial as well as commercial buildings.

In the case of a residential building, grouping should be done for the living area, service area, bedroom area, and circulation area.

Living room: This room is generally used for the common sitting purpose and the same should be kept close to the veranda and the entrance of the house is also through the living room. The dining room can be kept connected to the living room through which the kitchen is connected but the other rooms like bedrooms and study rooms should be kept away. This room should have good ventilation and be sufficiently away from the kitchen area to avoid any type of smoke and smell. This room should also have sufficient furniture for the sitting arrangement required for the occupants.

Service area: Service area constitutes bathrooms, toilets, kitchen, and dining areas. The dining area and kitchen should be kept close so that it facilitates easy access to the food. Moreover, the kitchen should be kept away from the living area and bedroom area so that the smoke or smell from the kitchen does not go into these rooms.

Bedroom: This room should be grouped in a manner that provides enough privacy to the occupants. An attached toilet can also be placed near the bedroom. The bedroom should be spacious enough to accommodate various furniture like beds, side tables, dressing tables, wardrobes, etc.

Circulation area: The circulation area consists of the corridor, lobby, passage, etc. which should be well lighted and ventilated.

Furniture required in building planning: Furniture for a room serves a functional requirement. For different types of rooms, different types of furniture are provided. While planning for the room furniture one should take care that the room does not become congested and the circulation space should also be sufficient. The furniture should compliment the intended purpose of the respective room in an optimum and efficient manner. Furniture plans should be prepared in advance so that if there is any constraint in their placement, necessary changes could be made in the plan.

Roominess in building planning: Roominess is how an optimum amount of space is obtained i.e., the economy of space. The advantage of roominess is that it enables to maximize the use of space available within a minimum dimension of the room. Factors affecting the roominess are both its size and shape. While planning a room preference for the rectangular room is given over a square-shaped room as it provides more space utilization. Planning of the rectangular room should be done in such a manner that its proportion of length to breadth should be between 1.2:1 to 1.5:1. If the length of the room is kept beyond the prescribed ratio, it gives a tunnel like feel and planning for the same is also affected. Moreover, the height of the room also should be in perfect balance, it shouldn’t be too high nor it should be too low. Person in charge of planning should be skilled enough to put in place proper roominess in the plan.

Circulation in building planning: Circulation can be defined as the internal access in the room from both horizontal as well as vertical directions in the building. There is a certain amount of free space which is needed for movement and access to other rooms called circulation. Horizontal circulation could be defined as the movement from one room to another room on the same floor and vertical circulation could be defined as movement from one floor to another in the vertical direction. In order to ensure sufficient circulation in a building corridor, passages, lobbies, foyers etc. are provided. These elements should be planned in a way that they are neither too narrow nor too large. These elements should also be planned in a way that they get sufficient lighting and ventilation.

Flexibility in building planning: Flexibility allows the particular element of the building to fulfill another specific purpose other than the intended purpose. To elaborate further an element planned for a reason can be used differently later. The flexibility can also mean provision for future expansion; hence the present plan should be flexible enough to meet the future demand for the building.

Privacy in building planning: Privacy is also a critical principle in building planning. In the case of the residential building, privacy plays a significant role as the principles of building planning will not succeed if the privacy of optimum level is not achieved. Privacy which is to be maintained could be within the building from one unit to another or it could be from one building to another building. Hence the privacy of the building is defined in two types:

  1. External privacy: Privacy that is to be maintained from external sources like neighboring buildings and roads is external privacy.
  2. Internal privacy: Privacy that is to be maintained within the unit or building from one another is internal privacy.

 The economy in building planning: One of the key factors in building planning is the economy, the proposed building in planning is to be constructed using the available resources in the most optimum manner along with the limitations of the budget. Various cost-cutting methods should be implemented to save the money required for the construction of the building. However, this does not mean that the quality or safety or any of the building principles should be compromised. Good quality and standard specification materials should be used as its relative cost of construction might be higher at the time but in the long run, its repair and maintenance costs are lower, as a result, its overall lifecycle cost is minimum. Below points could be considered from an economic point of view:

  1. Square building shape is more favorable as compared to other shapes since it provides maximum usable floor space.
  2. Cost of construction for larger rooms is less as compared to the small rooms.
  3. Area of common places should be reduced to a minimum since it reduces the cost.

Elegance in building planning: External appearance of a building projected through elevation is called elegance. The elegance means a pleasant sense of visibility which depends on many factors like the position of the opening in a building like windows, doors, placement of balconies and chajja, and choice of material. While planning for the structure from an architectural point of view proper visualization should be done. Site selection plays a vital role in doing so because factors like an elevated site give an impressive look than a depressed site.

Sanitation in building planning: The building should be maintained hygienically and should be well ventilated as well as sufficient lighting should also be present. Sanitation, in this case, is not just limited to bathrooms, urinals, or wash basins and sinks, it also relates to the ventilation and lighting in the building. The mentioned parameters could be done in both natural and artificial manner. Necessary provisions to achieve sanitation should be arranged like various cleaning facilities, installation of water closets, exhaust fans, ventilators, urinals, bathrooms, lavatories, lighting as per the occupant’s load in the building. It is advised as per studies that in case of a residential building window openings should be less than 1/10th of the floor area, for buildings other than residential the same ratio could be raised to 1/5th.

Practical consideration in building planning: Along with the rest of the principles of building planning practical consideration should also be taken into account for the planning of the building. Below few points are to be considered along those lines:

  1. Future plans should be incorporated into the planning, the same should be done in such a way that in the future while executing the future expansion it should not affect the existing building.
  2. From a comfort point of view, it is of the utmost to ensure the comfort of the occupants. The final plan prepared for the building should not compromise on the comfort of the occupants.
  3. Preference should be given to the large size rooms as these rooms could be eventually be shortened by erecting a partition in between, but once a small room is constructed it comes with various limitations for expansion plans.
  4. The elevation should be attractive but at the same time, it should be simple to execute.
  5. The building should be able to withstand extreme forces and possess high strength.
  6. Local bye-laws should be observed and followed for the construction of a building.
  7. Material specifications considered should comply with the Indian standard code of practice.

Principles of architectural planning and design

The below principles are considered in case of architectural composition of a building:

  1. Unity: Unity means oneness but, in this case, it represents harmony amongst various elements, these elements eventually cannot be separated from each other. Unity as a principle gives integrity and coherence to the parts as a whole. In theory, the unity of the architectural composition represents a concept of the focal idea which produces an interesting accent to the architecture. The focal idea could be anything like the placement of a major mass centrally or something to balance the architectural composition, a lavish main entrance or a vertical element dominating the rest of the composition.
  2. Mass composition: In this case, mass is associated with the visual effect of the structure. The mass may be defined as the three-dimensional visual quality of the body. To some extent size of the body could be related to the mass composition but in no case, weight is to be associated with mass. Viewers can be satisfied with the relative importance of various elements of design only if the proper balance in composition, harmony, and weighted adjustment is achieved. The achieved balance could be asymmetrical, nearly symmetrical, or could be in perfect symmetry.
  3. Contrast: In order to catch the attention of the observer interest in the design is created by mass composition along with harmonious unity. Repeating the same designs or monotony may reduce the interest hence contrast is applied to avoid monotony. However, too much of contrast may affect the first principle of composition i.e., unity hence the use of contrast should be done in a restrictive manner that would make aesthetic sense and also maintain unity with variety. Contrast is mostly used with color and light.
  4. Proportion: The composition of mass is also the result of the arrangement of various elements in required proportions amongst each other and with the composition as a whole which makes sense. Proportion is basically how the elements are related to each other i.e., in relative size to one another. All elements should be in proportion to the prepared plan of the building, if not then the character of the building may be harmed. For example, a giant door if provided to a residential building would confuse the viewer about the purpose of the building.
  5. Scale: Scale means the proper relation of various parts to one another and also to the whole from the aspect of size. Scale can be achieved by providing wide treads, wide width of stairs, more height, large columns, and good ceiling height.
  6. Accentuation and Rhythm: When a person views a particular space, he / she gets a special feeling which could be from a particular element.  This happens due to the impression, rigidity, emphasis, firmness, decisiveness, function of that particular element. This emphasis of that particular element is called as accentuation. Rhythm can be termed as occurrence of a particular pattern; it can also be created by successive increase or decrease in the dimension of chosen pattern.
  7. Material for exterior: Any visual impact on the viewer’s mind can be created by a good elevational treatment. Moreover, functional aspect can be seen or emphasized with a good elevational treatment given to the building. These factors should be kept in mind while doing the material selection. As a result of such treatment, the buildings could be recognized as school, temple or hospital etc. For example, a corporate office building these days are made of glass façade, whereas marbles are preferred in case of temples.

Expression: Creation of the building and harmony of the building color code, shape, line etc. is represented as expression. There are two types of expressions which are internal and external. External expression is represented by its physical form and internal expression is represented by interior spaces.

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