Unless working as part of a design team, it is difficult to appreciate the significant differences between designing for a residential property and a commercial building. It is indeed true that the backbone of both residential and commercial design is robust and sustainable infrastructure and ensuring project compliance with local building regulations. However, designing commercial, multi-purpose or entertainment facilities necessitates a much grander understanding of scalability and structural integrity. Alongside considering the structure and aesthetics of the built environment, commercial architects must also acknowledge that, within the design as a whole, other core needs need to be accommodated for. This is likely to include parking, circulation, servicing, public and private space, cafeterias and kitchen facilitates, elevators for both visitor and freight purposes, bathroom amenities and other specialist elements such as sterilised areas in medical units or acoustic affects in concert halls.

Infrastructure Needs

With any property, structural elements and infrastructure requirements must be communicated and understood from day one of the design process. Though residential design requires a thorough understanding of safety and infrastructure planning, a commercial building’s size and envelope is notably larger. Residential design is centred upon meeting the needs of an independent or family whereas commercial design focuses on ensuring specific business or entertainment purposes are catered for. It is also particularly key in commercial design that the building successfully integrates with and compliments the surrounding landscape.

On paper, commercial design may seem like a simple extension of residential design. However, the infrastructure needs are multiple and variable. If you take as an example a standard office block, not only must the architect plan for working desk spaces, meeting rooms, break-out areas, a reception and a canteen but they must also plan for requirements such as washroom facilities, loading docks, on-site parking and freight elevators (and comply with the myriad of legislation surrounding each of these design elements). As Jason Taylor in our design department recently explained, “These issues coupled with the age-old debate of form versus function can be a hard balance to strike and will usually involve sacrifices from both client and architect, but the rewards of achieving both client satisfaction and a pleasing aesthetic is worth it”.

Specialised Facilities

21st Century Architects must be multi-faceted and skilled in a range of design elements. This however is complicated and proves even more challenging when faced with designing a specialised facility such as a hospital, care home, movie theatre or concert hall.

Blue Clarity’s architectural team is currently in the process of designing an Equestrian Centre located in County Down, Northern Ireland. The three-phase construction project is built from the ground up on a piece of land acquired by our client. Blue Clarity’s design team must consider all facets of the design and build including animal ventilation, stall dimensions, vehicular circulation, drainage, both indoor and outdoor riding arenas, the storage and security of expensive riding equipment and spectator areas. The centre will also include the refurbishment and careful restoration of existing stone cottages, stables and a farmhouse; all of which will serve as a function venue with on-site accommodation.

Blue Clarity’s Architecture & Design department offers both residential and commercial architectural design services. If you would like to find out more, Contact Us or call 028 4372 3162.