Taking the IDFX exam this year? This will get you started on content area 1: Programming and Site Analysis
Tell anyone outside the industry that you're programming and they'll think you changed careers. Programming brings to mind an image of T-shirted engineers at Google, or maybe Airbnb…
In interior design, programming is like detective work. It’s the process of gathering and analyzing information about a problem before trying to solve it with design.
The outcome of the programming phase is a written document. Programming lays the groundwork for a solution later in the design phase.
A written program document should include:
- Statement of project goals and objectives
- Client requirements
- List of spaces and areas
- Other programmatic information. This includes:
- code reviews
- budget requirements
- scheduling constraints
- survey of existing conditions or site analysis
If you distill programming down to a five-step process:
- Establishing goals
- Collecting and analyzing facts
- Uncovering and testing concepts
- Determining needs
- Stating the problem
There are four major programming considerations:
- Form – existing physical space
- Function – use of the space
- Economy – monetary costs of the space: initial cost, but also operating and life cycle costs
- Time – how time affects and is affected by the three other factors.
Programmatic concepts are abstract approaches the designer can use to solve the client's goals and needs. The physical solution the designer uses is the design concept. Twenty-four programmatic concepts are cited in the Interior Design Reference Manual, but here are a few:
- Grouping: activity grouping, people grouping and service grouping
- Flow: separated flow, mixed flow, and sequential flow
Interviewing can be a valuable tool because the interviewer can pick up on non-verbal clues from the client. But there are pros and cons for the process, about the number of people being interviewed.
- Do a few people accurately represent the whole?
- People participate less as the group size increases
- Management presence in the interview can stifle honest answers from lower level staff
An existing building can be surveyed, field measured, and photographed. Any particular on-site conditions should be noted.
A field survey should include:
- Copy of architect's drawings, if available. Otherwise, drawings are completed by designer.
- Physical site visit(s)
- Research to uncover any building codes, zoning laws or local regulatory requirements
- Recommendations by outside consultants, if necessary
- Identification of non-load bearing items and built-ins
- Size and location of doors and windows
- Type and height of ceilings
- Electrical and data point locations, and condition/capacity
- Mechanical equipment types and locations and condition/capacity
- Plumbing fixtures and piping locations and condition/capacity
- Lighting fixtures and locations
- Orientation (true north)
- Potential sources of disruptive noise
- Architectural features
- Potential environmental problems
Observing what people do and how they act in a space can sometimes be more informative than listening to people speak about it.
In other words, actions speak louder than words!
The designer can also use questionnaires or written forms to collect information.
Questionnaires are most helpful when the designer needs feedback from a large group. The number of people would otherwise make interviewing a challenge.
Inventory of existing FF&E
FF&E stands for furniture, fixtures & equipment. The designer creates a document listing FF&E requirements and an inventory for any design project when it will use existing items.
An FF&E inventory may include:
- List of existing furnishings that will be re-used or replaced
- Sizes of existing furniture & equipment
- Types and requirements of communication equipment
- Types and quantity of storage (bookcases, shelving, file cabinets, etc.)
- Electrical, A/V, mechanical requirements and locations on equipment
- Required needs (quality, ergonomic, color, or a special aesthetic)
Site analysis is investigating and evaluating the project context, site context and existing conditions. It is part of due diligence and a necessary part of the design process.
Site analysis includes:
- Surveying (described above)
- Project context: similar to the site survey, but puts the project more in context to its geographical surroundings.
- Building systems coordination: determines whether the building's existing systems are adequate for the planned design. This coordination is ongoing throughout the life of the project and typically involves hiring specialized consultants, such an architect, mechanical/electrical and structural engineer.
- Sustainable design is more important in interior design and identified in the programming phase.
Square footage measurement standards (IDPX 2)
Analyzing programmatic information leads to a design concept and space planning solution that solves the problem.
Space requirements are determined one of three ways:
- Area required by one person engaged in a particular activity, multiplied by the total number of people in that area. For example, one student needs 15 to 20 square feet of space, so ten students will need between 150 and 200 square feet of space in a classroom.
- Size of an object. An example is the size of a car for a garage space.
- Activity planned in the space, for example the space required for an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Net area is the space required for the function in the space. Net area does not include other area associated with the space, like corridors, wall thicknesses, washrooms and mechanic rooms.
Usable area is the space assigned to a tenant, which includes the net area and secondary circulation space. Secondary circulation space is the private circulation area that connects to the primary circulation areas / public corridors.
Rentable area is the total usable space plus structural elements: columns and interior and exterior wall thicknesses.
Gross area is the entire area including the exterior walls, measured from the outside face.
The programming phase identifies functional solutions to the project's challenges. The design concept phase develops a physical solution.
In one to four sentences, a design concept specifies a physical approach, but is still flexible and somewhat broad.
The design of the spa will promote wellness, holistic healing and solitude. The muted color pallette reflects the natural finishes. The spatial design will view the natural landscape. The design will incorporate organic forms and integrate natural lighting.
Diagramming takes information gathered in the programming phase and design concept. It represents the space adjacency solutions. A diagram shows priorities in space adjacencies. You'll these along with other types of design communication for content area 7, also.
- Bubble diagrams – useful for single-level projects
- Adjacency matrices – shows adjacency priorities in a chart format
- Stacking/zoning diagrams – useful for multi-level projects
- Block plans/square footage allocations – illustrates square footage values in a diagram resembling a floor plan