Typically, commercial architecture refers to the design of the structure of almost every place that is purpose-built to house a business. These can include offices, shopping malls, restaurants, and the like. However, commercial buildings are not only defined as those structures that house retail spaces and offices. This form of architecture also includes buildings, such as police stations, hospitals, schools, clinics, and so forth.
When it comes to the required structural integrity, both residential and commercial properties have similar requirements. The difference between these two types of development lies in the use of the structure. Residential buildings are designed explicitly with the aim to live in it. Commercial architecture, on the other hand, can accommodate a wide range of activities and may have to be fit for a variety of purposes, which adds a whole other dimension to the design process.
These design requirements are usually quite far-reaching. It can include the necessity to accommodate features, such as elevators and escalators, cafeterias and restaurant kitchens, multiple large bathrooms, conference rooms and auditoriums, and parking structures, to name a few.
Aside from the additional practical features, the user experience of the space also needs to be considered. Now, user experience in itself refers to a spectrum of considerations and requirements. These include, but are certainly not limited to:
More and more, the benefits of fresh air and natural light are preferred over artificial light and recycled air flow. The architecture and design of large commercial spaces need to find increasingly innovative ways to maximise this exposure without compromising the security and integrity of the structure, and still getting optimal use out of the available space.
This is not always as simple as it seems – it requires more than the placement of a door here and there. First, there are legal requirements regarding the number of and accessibility of entrances and exits. Second, these entrances need to be large enough to accommodate the expected flow, and be inviting and obvious enough, if open to the public. Third, they need to also be secure enough.
When accommodating the necessary activities within a structure, the requirement stretches beyond the need to provide the adequate space and infrastructure to house said activities. It should also consider the flow between activities to accommodate the comfortable, safe, and most efficient movement of people through the structure.
Architecture should furthermore also be sensitive towards the more subtle needs of users. This could include design that provides natural privacy in a building, such as a hospital, outside spaces that are suitable for sitting, studying, or eating at an educational facility, and safe areas at police stations.
Given these requirements – which, admittedly, only scratches the surface of the true requirements of commercial architecture – it is clearly evident that an experienced and inspired architect should take the lead to create the ideal design that ticks all of the boxes. JK Designs in Pretoria is where you will find these talented experts. View our portfolio of successful projects and get in touch to meet the team to discuss your next project.