Strategy and Detail
Architects may not need to have a detailed knowledge of the specification and operation of environmental service’s systems but they do need to have sufficient understanding of them to achieve their desired functional and aesthetic intent; the implementation of the systems needs to be kept in harmony with the language of the building.
This starts with developing an environmental strategy for the building as a whole which may include maximizing the use of natural light and/or natural ventilation. Such a strategy might include consideration of the buildings form, orientation glazing ratio and depth to height ratios. If a naturally ‘passive’ design cannot be achieved or is not desired then space needs to be found for mechanical ventilation and, for large buildings, some manner of cooling.
Whatever their size, all buildings will need an array of building services including water supplies, power, lighting etc. and all of which must be given space within the design and routes to follow (both vertically and horizontally.) How are these integrated in the overall design?
Particularly where some flexibility of the use of space is envisaged it helps if the services are arranged in regular arrays which relate to the placement of the structure and envelope elements.
This is universally achieved by planning the building and its component parts in relation to a grid. This grid usually uses 300mm (formerly one foot) as its smallest modular unit with common multiples being 1200mm or 1500mm.
The grid however need not enforce a deadening regularity. Provided that there is a core of organized thinking, variations to the rhythms can produce visual interest allowing both control and freedom.