The Design Process: Residential vs. Commercial

The design process: residential vs. Commercial
“URBAN ISLAND”, Meilen, Zurich By Max Dudler

Today’s architects must be multifaceted — designing for a commercial property is completely different than designing for a residential property. Architects need to understand these differences so they can meet the needs and desires of their clients.

A Partnership for Residential Design

Residential design works as a partnership between the architect and the interior designer. The architect begins the process, ensuring that the home is safe and structurally sound. The architect designs a home to meet local building codes, including regulations for plumbing and electrical safety. The building’s size and envelope is relatively small when compared to commercial properties.

Once the basic structure has been designed and is in place, the interior designer takes over. By choosing the right textures, colors and layout, the interior designer makes the home livable, creating a comfortable environment in which to relax and carry out daily tasks. Often, the architect and interior designer will collaborate to ensure that the design is everything the homeowner wants.

Architects and interior designers working on residential properties must also build positive working relationships with contractors and construction professionals — these are the individuals that will turn ideas into reality.

The design process: residential vs. Commercial
Residencia Tambore, Sao Paulo, Brazil By Conseil Brasil

The Differences from Commercial Design

On paper, it seems that commercial design follows the same process. Architects create buildings with a sound infrastructure that meet local building code regulations — yet there are significant differences. Commercial buildings are usually larger than residential buildings, which demands a greater responsibility for safety and structural integrity.

Commercial buildings also have greater infrastructure needs. They will need elevators to allow for freight and people, bathrooms for visitors and employees, cafeterias and even parking areas, all of which are less common in a residential building, even if the residential building is a large condominium complex. All of these structural elements and designs must be in place before the designer can start working on the project.

If a commercial architect is working on a specialized facility, the design process changes even further. For example, medical or health care facilities need to have plans to keep the area sterile and protect patients. Hospitality buildings, like hotels, need to ensure that they have space to meet their guests’ needs as well as provide entertainment and restaurant options. Retail buildings must have space to display their products for sale, give customers a place to park and provide easy-to-find restrooms.

The design process: residential vs. Commercial
University Of Toronto’s Health Sciences Complex, Canada By Kongats Architects

Once all of the needs of the building are accounted for, the interior designer’s job starts. Interior designers working on commercial buildings must consider not only the aesthetics of the building, but also the function. They may need to incorporate marketing tactics into their designs, and must account for the comfort of the customers or guests, as well as employees, in every aspect of the space.

A greater emphasis on awe-inspiring design elements is necessary in many commercial buildings, as the building itself can stand as a tribute to the company that commissioned it. Lighting also becomes more important, as it can set the mood for a restaurant or serve as an important part of a theater or auditorium. Designers may need to work within corporate requirements to ensure that design elements match the company’s branding goals.

Partnerships Still Important with Commercial Design

While they are different, partnerships between architects and interior designers, as well with as the construction and contracting professionals they use, are still important with commercial design. Strong partnerships ensure that the finished design perfectly meets the client’s demands and expectations. By working together, these professionals can create winning designs for commercial buildings of all types.

About the Author:
Cameron Forte is the Sales Manager at Interior Design Solutions. Located in Baltimore Maryland, they help companies all across they country change the look and feel of their work place with Di-Noc and other Architectural finishes.

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