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Planning your office.

Once the Discovery phase is complete, we move into the 2D planning phase, this is where we start to see the office design take shape for the very first time. We treat planning like a large puzzle that has lots of different pieces that need bringing together in the right order, which is unique for every client. There are 2 stages to the planning phase – High-level zone planning and detailed space planning.

Zone planning is a great tool to test multiple layout scenarios quickly, before going too deep into the detail. It provides a high-level 'stress test' on the design brief and headcount and helps determine the flow and rhythm of space whilst also establishing key team, room and amenity adjacencies. It also helps eliminate those ideas that don’t quite work without having to go to the trouble of more complex planning. To provide an insight into our thought process we typically share a time-lapse recording of our zoning plans, which helps the client understand how we decided on a particular layout and the thought behind where certain elements are positioned.

Before starting a zoning plan it’s good practice to get an understanding of the floorplate you’ll be working with to fully appreciate the parameters of your design. We consider things such as the location of the building’s services known as the ‘building core’, this is where the toilets, staircase, lifts and riser shafts are contained and is typically located off to one side of the floor plate or it can run through the centre of the building. Each location can provide very different challenges around the design, flow and efficiency of office space.

External views and natural daylight are considered prime real estate in most buildings. Typically, the optimum natural daylight will penetrate an office up to 5 metres within the space and secondary light will extend a further 3 meters. It’s the designer’s job to interpret the design brief and ensure the right elements are given primary access to external views and natural daylight.

The flow of office space is also very important and something that we discuss with the client during the discovery phase. We consider the journey of an employee and visitor to the office and think about typical movements as they enter the space. Visitors don’t often move past the front of house area so it’s important to consider the elements of an office relevant to them. Whereas an employee will access every part of the office, so we try to think about their typical day and the touchpoints they require to optimise their experience.

When a zoning plan has been selected to move forward with, we commence the 2D space planning stage, which is a detailed layout displaying furniture, rooms and every element that will make up a new office space. It provides the blueprint for the new office layout which all other design elements are built around. This is where we can identify exact team locations and provide an insight into how the office will start to look and flow between spaces. This is when clients really start to get excited as it is now when they can start to stake a claim on their desk and visualise how the space will work for their business.

This 2D plan will eventually be used to build 3D models of the space during the design development phase, before forming the basis of the detailed architectural documentation set for costing and construction.

If you are looking for a designer who can help you assess the layout prior to the design phase, O to assist you with a zoning plan to make your decision easier.

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