It’s a sad truth, but many societies tend to belittle the design profession.
This is normally due to a lack of information on what exactly the design process entails – on the outset, most lay people still think that “designing” merely means making something pretty. But as discussed in a previous post “What Does Designing Mean Anyway?“, we know that this is far from true.
So then, how difficult is the thinking process when you’re designing? Is it just a matter of doing a few sketches, considering a few laws, and then voila – the design is ready?
Today, we’re going to do another exercise, to demonstrate again why designers and architects are so valuable in society. Hold your judgement, and let’s go on a quick journey into the mind of an architect.
Let’s say an architect is commissioned to design a 100 bed hospital.
Let’s first get something straight – all throughout this design process, the architect will have to collaborate, interview, and check and balance with a staggering amount of people, in order to reconcile their needs, including, but not limited to:
1. The Board of Directors and Heads of Institution
2. Doctors and Nurses
3. Structural Engineer
4. Mechanical Enginer
5.. Sanitary Engineer
6. Electrical Engineer
7. Lighting Consultant
8. Acoustical Consultant
9. Fire and Life Safety Consultant
10. Sustainability Consultant
11. Project Manager
12. Construction Management Group
13. The immediate community
14. Building Administration and Maintenance Group
15. etc, etc, etc.
The point is, he is going to have to synthesize an incredible amount of information to determine the most basic program requirement that will be his first tool in the design process – the preliminary spaces list.
And speaking of the preliminary spaces list for a 100 bed hospital, it will probably look something like this:
|NO.||ROOM TITLE||SPACE DEMAND||TOTAL AREA|
|(SQ. MTS.)||(SQ. MTS.)|
|Affiliate’s Room and Library||45.00|
|Office of the Chief of Hospital w/ Toilet||36.00|
|Accounting Room w/ Toilet||36.00|
|Office of the Chief Nurse w/ Toilet||27.00|
|Office of the Administrative Officer w/ Toilet||27.00|
|Business and Finance Office w/ Toilet||108.00|
|Office of the Department Head – (Typical)||18.00|
|Printing and Storage Room||13.50|
|Public Toilet Facilities||36.00|
|MEDICAL SOCIAL SERVICE OFFICE w/ Toilet||27.00|
|2.0||MEDICAL RECORDS ROOM|
|Minor Operating Room||18.00|
|Waiting Area with Stretcher Nook||18.00|
|Doctor’s On Duty Room w/ Toilet||31.50|
|Nurses’ Locker Room w/ Toilet||18.00|
|LABOR ROOM W/ TOILET||54.00|
|SURGICAL SUPERVISOR’S AREA||9.00|
|STERILE INSTRUMENT & SUPPLY STORAGE||13.50|
|LOUNGE AREA AND LOCKER ROOMS|
|Staff Locker Room and Toilet||27.00|
|Nurses’ Locker Room w/ Toilet||18.00|
|CENTRAL STERILIZING AND SUPPLY ROOM||63.00|
|INTENSIVE CARE UNIT||108.00|
|VISITOR’S WAITING AREA||18.00|
|Septic Nursery and Work Room||13.50|
|Suspect/Pathologic Nursery and Work Room||22.50|
|STRETCHER NOOK AND TRANSFER||13.50|
|Rad-Fluoro X-ray Room||27.00|
|Radiographic X-ray Room||27.00|
|Changing Rooms w/ Toilets||13.50|
|Waiting Area with Stretcher Nook||27.00|
|Radiologist’s Office w/ Toilet||18.00|
|Staff Room w/ Toilet||18.00|
|Film File Storage||9.00|
|Bacteriology and Serology Section||18.00|
|Urinalysis and Biochemistry Section||18.00|
|Waiting Area w/ Toilet||31.50|
|Pathologist’s Office w/ Toilet||18.00|
|Glass Washing and Sterilizing||22.50|
|Locker Room and Toilet||13.50|
|Chief Pharmacist’s Office||13.50|
|Staff Work Area||13.50|
|Patient Dispensing Area and Drug Info.||13.50|
|Extemporaneous Preparation Area||13.50|
|OPD Waiting Area||54.00|
|OPD Admitting/Information Counter||18.00|
|Office of the OPD Chief||22.50|
|OPD Records Room||18.00|
|Consultation Room (Pedia/Under Six)||18.00|
|Consultation Room (Medical)||18.00|
|Consultation Room (Surgical)||18.00|
|Consultation Room (OB-Gyne)||18.00|
|Consultation Room (Family Planning)||18.00|
|Consultation Room (Dental)||36.00|
|Consultation Room (ENT)||18.00|
|Consultation Room (Eye)||18.00|
|Minor Operating Room||27.00|
|WARD NURSE STATION AND SERVICE GROUP|
|TYPICAL 1-BED ROOM W/ T&B||9X18.00 = 162.00|
|TYPICAL 2-BED WARD W/ T&B||4X18.00 = 72.00|
|TYPICAL 4-BED WARD W/ T&B||2X36.00 = 72.00|
|DIETITIAN’S OFFICE w/ Toilet||22.50|
|FOOD PREPARATION AREA||198.00|
|SPECIAL DIET ROOM||9.00|
|STAFF DINING ROOM||81.00|
|TRAY TRUCK PARK, WASH AREA||18.00|
|LOCKER ROOM AND TOILETS||22.50|
|GARBAGE DISPOSAL CUBICLE||9.00|
|11.00||LINEN AND LAUNDRY|
|Linen Office and Work Room||36.00|
|Central Linen Storage||27.00|
|Receiving and Sorting Area||54.00|
|Pressing and Ironing Area||54.00|
|12.00||MAINTENANCE AND MOTORPOOL|
|Office of the Chief Engineer||36.00|
|Bio-medical Equipment Room||27.00|
|Mechanical and Electrical Room||31.50|
|Locker Room and Toilet||27.00|
|Garage and Work Area||162.00|
|Power House w/ Generator||27.00|
|Locker Room and Toilet||9.00|
|GRAND TOTAL AREA||6,095.70|
1) Visitor Parking ——————————————– 36 slots
2) Staff Parking ———————————————- 14 slots
3) Service Parking (including ambulance) ———— 6 slots
So where do you go from here? Is your mind blanking? Intimidated by the many loose ends that have to be tied together?
Well an architect has to make sense of it all, and he is trained to do so through programming aids like tables, matrixes, and diagrams, that will be his informational guide throughout the process.
So as you can see, even the pre-design phase can already be a mind-blowing feat in itself – how much more when you’re trying to synthesize and constantly rebalance the information into a cohesive work of architecture?
At this point, let’s fast-forward a bit and assume that the architect has already produced his initial scheme.
Let’s take a look at what is cyclically going through his mind as he evaluates his initial decisions, and moves forward with his succeeding schemes:
“Did you consider daylight factor curves? Did you think of Amihan, Habagat and Sunpath to reduce energy consumption? How about Optimum reverberation and acoustical defects that could critically maim the OR? What is the proximity of Laboratory to Radiology? Did you supply a big enough OPD to answer the uniquely Filipino demand? Did you think about the need for a small additional minor-surgery space in the Emergency department because of how it works? How are you corridors designed? How does the positive and negative pressure of airflow work with respect to the wards, corridors, and Fire Exit? Remember, a design without air pressure in mind could mean that corridor-dwellers could be exposed to TB and smoke will enter your Fire Exit. Are they single loaded? Did you use Awning Windows for the cancer-ward knowing fully well the demographic’s tendency towards suicide? How much space did you allocate? What is the minimum square meter requirement of a urinal to be humanely used? Does your grid have a column right in front of the reception desk?. Will there be a beam or p-trap lying directly over the Operating Bed? Does your plumbing layout concept take into consideration the 2% slope of the horizontal? How many circuit breakers do you have per floor? About how large does your septic tank need to be? Cistern? Overhead Tank? Did you consider the turning radius of a 13-wheeler truck for your basement ramp? Did you even consider the largest vehicle that the service zone would need for deliveries? is your basement parking laminar in flow? Did you design the building thinking about project management? When you detailed your canopy, did you decide to use river stones instead of GI sheets so the heat reflection wouldn’t cause the upper floors to become a sauna?
Is your design aesthetic cohesive? Did you use biologically sound finishes that will brighten up the spaces? Does the way you lined up your tiles unknowingly create a path that makes circulation less confusing? Do the wards have good views and vistas towards foliage and life to improve patient recovery? Are overall lighting levels producing glare on the bedside wall? Is your lobby welcoming and good for business? Did you design your ramp to the Emergency room thinking of the old crying lolo who will rush up on it, carrying his sick child? Is your form molded in such a way that its apex will be seen from 3 blocks away, right from the corner of a major road? Do your brise soleils add depth and rhythm to the facade, while at the same time protect the soffits from rain and sun? Is your form a huge block, or did you create a complex of buildings with interstitial pocket gardens, opening up corridors to beautiful views and supplying great lighting and ventilation? Are your fire signages located .3M above the floor because you know users will CRAWL in a fire? Will your building fit well into the spirit of place of the community, or will it be too intimidating?”
These are a small number of things architects are constantly considering and evaluating in their design process. As you can see, designing is an extremely complex, cyclical thinking game.
It’s a highly difficult discipline, and one that bears a lot of consequences when not done right.
So just from this snippet alone, isn’t it easy to see why architecture is one of mankind’s most awesome professions? Architects orchestrate an elevated standard of life, and they look out for you, through design.
They’re an invisible, significant hand that drives progress.
So let’s value design, and perhaps patiently enlighten those who don’t.
Keep well, and keep learning,