Room Programming

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Cellular office
Open plan office
Group office
Combi office

Room programming, i.e. from the architectural point of view the design of the floor plan layout has an important influence on comfort and well being in a building as well as on the resulting energy consumption. There are different levels of influence :

  • Architecture: Size and shape of the site, local building regulations defining parameters like building dimensions, maximum room depths, site density and building height, client’s wishes for transparency and representativeness, architectural trends.
  • Company: Company policy, corporate identity, strategies, management style, interior and exterior representation, costs
  • Organization: Tasks, teamwork, workflows, privacy, technical equipment / pools, requirements for special zones, use of information and communication technologies, teleworking
  • Occupants: Privacy, territories, influence, communication, distraction, functionality, attractiveness

According to the requirements for each specific project the office type can be chosen. The open plan office is a large office space with possibilities for a high occupant density and short distances for communication and flexibility for furnishing. However, electric lighting and climatization are needed, and the workplaces at the perimeter are considered more attractive due to daylighting. Without cubicles privacy is limited and distraction due to noise possible.

The cellular office for one or two occupants provides personal space for concentrated work and privacy, and can be provided with natural light and ventilation. However the geometrical separation might be an obstacle for transparency and communication.

The group office provides a compromise between the open plan and cellular office. It offers less privacy than in cellular offices but more communication, which can be beneficial for teamwork. Depending on the dimensions natural ventilation and daylighting can be possible. The combi office is a combination of cellular offices at the perimeter and shared zones in the center. It offers possibilities for changes between concentrated and communicative work. The glass walls between the cellular offices and the interior zone provide transparency and openness, but can be perceived as a limitation to privacy. Additionally the required small size of the cellular offices can be a disadvantage.

The designer’s challenge is to find the best possible compromise between all these influences for a specific building, considering the individual priorities of the project. The consideration of desired levels of visual and thermal comfort, occupant interaction as well as energy performance already in early design stages is crucial.

Section Key Resources
  • Givoni, B. (1998): Climate considerations in building and urban design, John Wiley & Sons Inc., Canada
  • Brown, G.Z., DeKay, M. (2000): Sun, Wind & Light: Architectural Design Strategies, John Wiley & Sons Inc., Canada
  • Neufert, E, Neufert, P. (2000): Architect’s data, Blackwell Science ltd, Oxford
  • Lorenz, D.(1998): New Work New Work: The office of the future – Requirements and Planning, AIT, 10, Ausgabe ABIT Büro heute, S. 114-119 [in German]
  • Eisele, J., Staniek, B. (Hrsg.) (2005): „Bürobau Atlas“, Callwey Verlag, München [in German]
  • Kampschroer, K., Heerwagen, J. H. (2005): 'The strategic workplace: development and evaluation', Building Research & Information, 33:4, 326 – 337
  • Becker, F., Sims, W. (2001): Offices that work, Balancing communication, flexibility and cost, Cornell University, International Workplace Studies Program,


Lead Author(s): Aris Tsangrassoulis

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