Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Standards and experience in bldg design

I still remember how professional we used to be during those College years when it came to dealing with any type of design studio project(s). We knew that every project is unique -which requires unique solution(s)- and we were taught that there are no standards in architecture, simply because because every project is unique.

So in every design project we used to visit the site(s) in question (Mr A Z Moshi used to say go and listen to the site!). Yes we did go, but in fairness most of us didn't know how to listen to the site! We just took tape measures and few pictures and sketches, as well as study the pedestrian and vehicular traffic, services like power lines, water mains etc. Then we went back to the classroom ... Maybe that's what Mr Moshi meant! On the drawing board we started to gather the information colleted in the site. That alone carried 'bango' no.1 for the presentations. This was called site analysis.

Bango no.2 was known as concept development which carried few sketches which gave clue on how your design proposal could look like. Then followed another bango for spatial analysis (anthropometrics and space requirements for activities related to the proposed project).

After this stage follows the rough plans and elevations etc in sketchy form. When the studio-masters are pleased whith your general outlay, the you can get greenlight to move into the next crucial stages like function analysis and then things like circulation within the building(s) etc.

But sorry, this is not what I am intending to say here!

What I want to say is that through my experience of living in quite few places in this world, I came to realise that some of our ideas during those days at college were not the best -for practical reasons! For example in designing a town house or maisonettes the best type of stairs to use is one-flight stairs. This saves space and is convenient for the movement of furniture. Rectractable stairs (because they are space saving) are preferrable to access the storage areas e.g. attic.

Also when dealing with residential houses especially maisonettes, bathrooms are placed best if they are in the first floor (for convenience reasons. Most or all of the bedrooms are placed upstairs so occupants need bathroom(s) close to their bedrooms especially in the night times. You can imagine in the night climbing-down stairs going to the loo half-sleeping!!)

The other idea we used to propose was the use of attic* as the extra bedroom or office! In reality attics are very uncomfortable places to live in because they are usually very cold or hot -depending on which climate you live. I would propose attics to be used as storage spaces.

So, folks, that is my experience in life as far as building design is concerned. Experiences give you a bit more taste of the reality than solely dwelling on what text books say in order to solve a design problem!

I know how thirsty you are to see few sketches, photos etc. to support my explanations. This would be fulfilled in future if my plans go ahead smoothly.

Happy New Year to you all!

Always remember to keep one person happy ... 'your client!'
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*attic is a space found directly below the pitched roof of a house or other building (also called garret, loft or sky parlor)