11 Principles of Building Planning

All buildings exert direct and indirect influence on the people who use the buildings as well as the one’s who see the buildings. The direct influence is judged from the feedback as to how far the building help in making its occupants comfortable, healthy and cheerful.

The indirect influence is far reaching as it not only affects the occupants of the building who are influenced by what they see of the outside from the inside, but also the people who see the building from outside as it forms a part of the overall development and landscape.

The relation of the site with its environment and the site itself would influence the molding of the architect’s scheme. The topographical features of the site with natural and artificial surroundings are to be taken into account while planning and designing a building. The architect is faced with either of two possible situations while planning.

  •  When the site for the proposed building is already earmarked.
  • When the site for the building is not decided and the choice is left to the planner.

Selection of Site

Following factors should be kept in view while making the selection of site for a building:-

  • The site should be preferably be situated on an elevated and leveled ground. It should not be located in a flood-prone area.
  • The soil at site should not be of black cotton soil and should have good value of bearing capacity.
  • The water table of ground at the site should not be high.
  • The site should not be irregular in shape or have sharp corners. The site should preferably be rectangular or a square in shape.
  • The site should be in a developed area having facilities like shopping, educational institutions, recreation, hospital, telegraph, telephone, police station, fire station, transport, and utility service like water supply, drainage system, gas supply, electricity etc.
  • The site should be located away from quarries, kilns, industrial plants/buildings emitting smoke, steam, noise or other similar environmental pollutants.
  • The site should have unobstructed natural light and air and the building on the proposed site should not get overshadowed from adjacent buildings.
  • The site should have clear status of the present ownership of the title of the property.

Principles of Building Planning

The main objective of planning a building is to ensure that the different components of a building are so arranged that the occupants can perform desired function with ease and comfort. Good planning also requires that the entire area available within the building is gainfully utilized, with minimum area allocated to circulation. Maximum percentage of our buildings comprise of dwellings and as such the various principles of building planning which are given below are more relevant to houses.

The various principles which should be kept in view while building planning can be broadly summarized are as under:-

1. Aspect

 Aspect means the peculiarity of the arrangement of doors and windows in the external walls of a building which permits the occupants to enjoy the gifts of nature viz sun, breeze, outside scenery etc. Aspects gains special significance in case of residential buildings.

This provision is necessary to ensure proper comfort conditions in the room and it also helps in providing hygienic conditions in the room as the sun rays destroy the insects and also impart cheerful living conditions in the room. A room which receives light and air from particular side is termed to have aspect of that direction. Needles to emphasize that different rooms/areas in the dwelling need particular aspect.

2. Prospect

Prospect is the term used to highlight the architectural treatment given to a building so as to make it aesthetically pleasing from outside and arranging external doors and windows in such a manner that the occupants are able to enjoy the desired outside views from certain rooms.

Prospect is basically governed by the peculiarities of the selected site. Hence like aspect, prospect of a building also require the deposition of external doors and windows in a building at particular places and in particular manner so as to expose the notable and pleasant features of the openings in the external facade of the building and concealing the undesirable views in a given site. Hence, both aspects as well as prospect demand proper disposition of doors and windows in the external walls at particular places and in particular manner.

3. Grouping

 We know that every apartment in a building has got a definite function and there is some inter-relationship of sequence in between them. Grouping consists in arranging various rooms in the layout plan of the building in such a manner that all the rooms are placed in proper co-relation to their functions and in proximity with each other.

The basic aim of grouping of the apartments is to maintain the sequence of their function according to their inter-relationship with least interference. For instance in a residential building dinning room should be close to the kitchen. The kitchen on the other hand, should be kept away from drawing room or living room to avoid smoke or smell from kitchen spreading in these rooms.

The water closet should be located away from the kitchen. Main bedrooms should be so located that there is independent and separate access from each room towards the water closet directly or through other un-important rooms. In case of office buildings, hospitals etc., administrative department should be located centrally for convenience and economy in the cost of providing services. Thus the concept of grouping plays a very important role in planning of buildings of all types.

4. Privacy

Privacy is considered to be one of the most important principle of planning in all buildings specially in residential buildings. Privacy may be one part to another part of the same building or it may be the privacy of all parts of the building from neighboring buildings, public streets or bye ways etc.

The extent of privacy of a building from the street, bye ways or neighboring buildings depends mainly upon the functions performed in the building. Many a time privacy of only a part of building is necessary from exterior whereas the remaining building as a whole may be required to be exposed to view. This is achieved by proper layout of streets, approach roads, entrances, provision of trees, creepers etc.

The privacy within the building means screening interior of one room from other rooms. Screening of all the apartments or some of them from entrance, corridors etc., gets covered under the term privacy of part of building from exterior. In case of residential buildings, privacy can be achieved by judicious planning of the building with respect to grouping, disposition of doors and windows, mode of hanging of doors, location of entrance pathways, drives etc.

Some times, provision of lobbies, corridors, screens. curtains etc., is also made to achieve internal privacy. Importance of privacy requires special consideration in case of bedrooms, toilets, lavatories, water closet, urinals etc. All these services should have an independent access from every bedroom without disturbing the others. Doors with single shutter are desirable for such rooms.

5. Furniture Requirements

The furniture requirements of a room or an important depends upon the functions required to be performed there in. The furniture requirements of a living rooms in a dwelling will be different from that of a class room in a school or an operation theater in a nursing home/hospital.

There are no rigid rules which govern the furniture requirements of a particular room in a dwelling. It should be sufficient to accommodate the normal needs of maximum number of persons who can use the room without over crowing. In case of buildings, other than residential, it should be adequate to meet the requirements of the particular functions.

The space requirements of non-residential building is planned paying regard to the furniture, equipment and other fittings or fixtures which are essential to meet the need of the particular functions required to be performed in the building. In case of residential buildings, normally not much through is given to the furniture requirements.

It is however, desirable to prepare a sketch plan indicating required furniture as well as its located in different rooms (Viz drawing room, bedroom,kitchen etc.). So as to ensure that doors, windows, cupboards and circulation spaces do not prevent the placement of required number of furniture items in the room.

6. Roominess

The effect produced by deriving the maximum benefit from the minimum dimensions of a room is termed as roominess. Roominess is the accomplishment of economy of space without cramping of the plan. Particularly in case of residential buildings where considerable storage space is needed for various purpose, adequate provision of wall cupboards, lofts wooden/R.C.C shelves etc., should be made to make maximum use of every nook and corner of the building.

Following points should be kept in view for creating desirable impression regarding roominess:

(a) A room square in plan appears relatively smaller than a rectangular room of same area. It is also considered relatively smaller from utility point of view as compared with rectangular room of the same area. Length of beam proportion for a good room is taken as 1.2 to 1.5. If the ratio of length to breadth exceed 1.5 it creates an undesirable effect. A small room having its length more than 2 times its width is objectionable, as it creates tunnel effect.

(b) A small room with high walls appears relatively smaller than its actual size and as such small rooms should have the maximum permissible height as per bye-laws.

(c) The location of doors, windows and built in cupboard etc., should be such that they permit easy approach -ability and do not obstruct the placement of furniture etc.

(d) It requires skill and serious thinking in making best use of the accommodation provided by suitable, arrangement of rooms, by locating doors and passages in such a way that the livability, utility, privacy and exterior appearance are not adversely affected.

(e) The design of the building should be evolved in such a manner that its floors, walls and ceiling creates a sense of uninterrupted surfaces carried consistently through.

7. Circulation 

Circulation means internal through fares or access providing in a room or between rooms on the same floor. Passage, halls and lobbies perform the function of circulation on the same floor. Such provisions are termed as horizontal circulation. On the other hand, stairs, lifts, ramps etc., which serves the purpose of providing means of access between different floors get covered under the category of the term vertical circulation.

Following aspects should be kept in view to achieve good circulation:

(a) For comfort and convenience, all passages, corridors, halls etc., on each floor should be short, straight, well ventilated and sufficiently lighted.

(b) The location of entrance passages and staircase which serve as link between various rooms and floors, need careful consideration right at the initial stage of planning.

(c) In a multi-storeyed building, the staircase, which perhaps serve the only unfailing means of vertical circulation, should be planned paying due regard to the size of tread and riser, width of stair and landing, light and ventilation etc. Staircase should be also located that they do not intro-due upon privacy of any room or cause disturbances in the horizontal circulation.

(d) Toilets, should be planned near the staircase block for  easy accessibility.

8. Sanitation

The term sanitation covers not only sanitary convenience like water closet, urinals, bath rooms, wash basins etc., but also proper and adequate lightning ventilation and facilities for general cleaning of the building. From hygienic considerations, all parts of the building should be well ventilated and lighted.

The lighting of the interior of the building may be done by natural lighting, assisted natural lighting or by artificial lighting. Uniform distribution of light in necessary, specially in offices, schools, factories and other similar buildings where number of persons work in the same premises and each individual has to work at specified place.

For ensuring sun light for greater length of time it is desirable to provide vertical windows. For proper lighting the area of windows in a room should not be less than 1/10th of the floor area which may be increased to 1/5th for buildings like schools, offices, workshops, factories etc.

9. Elegance

 Elegance is the term used to express the effect produced by the elevation and general layout of the building. Hence for a building to be elegant. It is necessary that its elevation should be evolved that it should be aesthetically pleasing and its layout should fit in well in relation to the site and its environment.

10. Flexibility

Flexibility means designing certain rooms required for specific purpose in such a manner that they may be used for overlapping functions as and when desired. This concept is particularly important for designing houses where area’s can not be increased from consideration of cost yet the provision of additional facilities is desired during functions or other occasions of social gatherings.

It is therefore desirable to plan drawing room and dinning room with a removal partition wall or screen in between them so that a large room can be obtained by removing the partition screen to accommodate large gathering.

11. Economy

Economy is one of the very important factor which is required to be kept in view while involving any scheme. Every unit of the built up area is a function of cost and as such the architect has to make sure that the building planned by him can be completed within the funds available for the project. Many a times it becomes necessary to carry out number of alteration in the plans to keep the proposal within the limitation of funds.

Some of the factors which can be considered to achieve economy without sacrificing the basic principles of planning are:

(a) Conceive simple elevation without ornamental work.

(b) Standardize the size of various components of the building.

(c) Do not use rich specification for internal and external finishes.

(d) Specify use of locally available materials to the extent possible.

(e) Do not use timber for doors/windows frames. Use R.C.C. frames and L-iron steel frames instead.

(f) Adopt single stack system for plumbing.

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