Finishes and Furnishings

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Interior Surface Reflectances

Typical reflectances for office surfaces

The reflectance (rho) of is a characteristic of materials. Reflectance is the percentage of the light which is reflected from a surface. It ranges from 100% (white) when all light is reflected to zero when no reflection occurs and the object is perceived completely black. For all materials the sum of reflectance absorption and transmittance is 100 %. However even for one material the reflectance can vary to a large extent.

To ensure a good luminance balance in a room, the materials and related reflectances of interior surfaces should be carefully chosen. The day- and electric lighting system should be considered, and especially when designing direct or indirect lighting surface reflectances play an important role.

Recommended reflectances for ceilings are 0.6 -0.9, for walls 0.3 – 0.8, for the floor 0.1 – 0.5 and for working planes 0.2-0.6.

Section Key Resources
  • Cibse (2005): Lighting guide 7: office lighting, Page Bros. (Norwich) Ltd., Norwich, Norfolk
  • BS EN 12464-1:2002: Light and lighting, lighting of workplaces, part 1 indoor workplaces, European Committee for Standardization, Brussels
  • Cuttle, C. (2003): Lighting by design, Architectural press, Elsevier Science, Oxford, UK

Lead Author(s): Aris Tsangrassoulis

Furniture Build-Out

The furniture build-out of a room, especially an office room, depends on a large variety of influences, which can be related to either the building properties or the task. Depending on the building dimensions common office types are open plan (with or without cubicles), group offices, cellular offices, combi-offices or a business club.

Furniture geometry.png

For each type national requirements regarding health and safety provide guidelines concerning minimum spaces, and placement of furniture in relation to workflows. Since most work places today require a variety of office equipment the placement of electrical supplies is important. Plugs in the wall, cable ducts along the façade or plugs in a false floor or suspended ceiling influence the placement of furniture. Another building related influence is the lighting system. A room related lighting system provides more flexibility regarding the placement of furniture than a ceiling mounted task area lighting system or a system with individual desk luminaires which tend to be more satisfactory but require a electric supplies close-by. Additionally placement of furniture can be influenced by façade design, i.e. size and placement of windows and related perceived privacy, view and glare.

Variations for a cellular office, left 2-3 persons, right single office, e.g senior management / high customer traffic

Additionally the furniture build out is predefined by the geometry of the room and the furniture.

The second main influence on furniture build-out in offices is the task to be performed. This predefines the size and type of furniture, and the occupant density in the room. The latter is also influenced by the question how much privacy is needed, i.e. concerning customer traffic, and hierarchy levels.

Section Key Resources
  • Northwest territories Canada (2003): Office Space Standards and Guidelines, Canada
  • BCO Guide 2000: Best practice in the specification for offices, the British Council for Offices, UK
  • No links specific to this section have been listed.

Lead Author(s): Aris Tsangrassoulis

Workstation Design

The workstation in an architectural office

The satisfaction of occupants with their working environment is related to job performance. When designing a workstation attention should be paid to functionality, ergonomy, task, individual occupant, technical equipment, work organization and the organization of the space.

Adequate levels of lighting should be provided with a concern for quality and the biological effects on humans. Furniture should be ergonomic and arranged in a way that people can interact efficiently and safely. And psychological factors of design should be considered, since the working environment is also a reflection of company philosophy.

Furniture should provide stability, be of a suitable material, dangers from edges and movable parts should be avoided, and a safe electrical supply should be ensured. When organizing the workstation, different functional areas should be taken into account. A certain size of functional area is needed in front of the desk in order to place and move the chair. Doors or drawers of furniture need a certain space when opened, and the interaction of this area with other areas should be carefully planned. And in order for the workspace to be easily accessible and safe for emergency escape, a certain space should be kept clear as an access area.

Functional areas around a workstation

Working surfaces should be color-neutral and non-distracting (e.g. warm grey) and provide a good brightness balance between black and white in order to provide a comfortable level of adjustment for the eyes. Wood is acceptable as well since the patterns diffuse reflection, for the same reason matte surfaces should be preferred. Light sources like luminaires and windows should provide a possibility for protection from glare. The lighting concept (direct / indirect / room related / task related), luminaires and light levels should be suitable for the task, and provide opportunity for occupant adjustment (e.g. dimming). Computer screens should be placed in order for the view direction, windows and rows of luminaires to be parallel, and the workstation should be placed between the rows of overhead lighting rather than under it. In order to decrease reflections on computer screens and provide comfortable visibility due to contrasts, no light source should be placed directly behind or facing the occupant. Attention should also be paid to the performance and quality of the computer screen.

Dominant wall colors should be avoided, and window walls should have a light color to eliminate strong brightness contrasts between dark walls and entering sunlight.

Section Key Resources
  • Mahnke, F.H. (1996): Colour, Environment and Human Response, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, USA
  • Littlefair, P.J. (1996): Designing with innovative daylighting, Building Research Esablishment Report, Garston, Watford, UK
  • Verwaltungsberufsgenossenschaft VBG (2006): Bildschirm und Büroarbeitsplätze, Leitfaden für die Gestaltung, [in German]

Lead Author(s): Aris Tsangrassoulis

Page Key Resources
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  • No links general to this page have been listed.
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