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Space Planning | How Programming Takes Shape

Updated: May 4, 2023

Photo by Ryan Ancill on Unsplash





Space planning describes the process of determining the purpose, functional requirements, and basic layout of a space. Space planning follows programming in the design process, which we learned from our last blog, "The Importance of Programming", is the process of gathering the information that helps to identify the scope of work to be designed and performed. Think of it as like building a puzzle; the information gathered from programming are the puzzle pieces, and space planning is putting those pieces together to build an overall image.



A space plan is a made-to-order layout of a space customized by specific criteria provided by the end user. If well-designed, it will be flexible enough to accommodate future changes, such as staffing additions or managerial promotions, without the need for major interior renovations. An efficient space plan will increase productivity, efficiency, and employee morale by maximizing the capabilities of your space and providing all of the areas and tools necessary for workers to perform to the best of their ability.

So how do you achieve a solid design and where do you start? Much like when building a puzzle, one might first group the pieces by shape, color, or size to organize how they will start to build. Grouping and sorting through the programming information to determine similarities within groups is a good first step. Lay out the information into a test fit: a floor plan used to confirm that the stated needs and requirements can be accommodated within a specific space. For example, if your program dictates that you need 25 work stations, 3 conference rooms, a large reception area and a kitchen, a test fit will tell you if the space that you are looking at will be able to accommodate these needs.

Once you confirm that all of the programming information fits within a space, it is time to start space planning. Space planning takes a much more in-depth look at a space. Here, the design professional will block out interior special areas, define circulation patterns and develop plans and layouts for furniture and equipment placement. Where a test fit will literally test to see if your needs can be met within a space, a space plan will elaborate on your space and what it will look and feel like. The tenant’s design parameters and project goals are built into space planning. Space planning accommodates for work flows, image and atmosphere, efficiency, interior details and materials and even FF&E. The space plan is where you will really begin to understand how your space will present to your employees. - Watchdog.



Generating these drawings should be a collaborative effort between you and your designer.

Departmental adjacencies and alignments will be identified that can create

‘neighborhoods’ of groups that need to collaborate and interact with one another on a daily basis. Workspaces will be designed to accommodate work processes that allow daily activities to be performed more efficiently. By developing a standard footprint for an open-plan environment, your new space plan can promote collaboration, increase productivity and reduce real estate costs. But if your company has more private, heads-down workers, creating individual spaces and quiet work environments might be better.

Once a space plan is created, it should be thoroughly reviewed with the end-user. The designer should present the plan pointing out solutions that satisfy needs while explaining the flow and use of the space as a whole. The client should imagine themselves within the space and consider any adjustments or additions to the plan that might work better. This process should be an open invitation to reworking any areas to perfect the plan.

It is always important to consider the future as well. As companies grow and reorganize, space can become fragmented, which challenges departmental and personnel adjacencies. These are common challenges that come with organizational change and growth but can be addressed with proper planning. So make sure it is done right in the beginning!



Once the end-user and designer have solidified a space plan that accommodates all the needs of the client it is a good idea to do a final review. Most current drafting software is able to produce a 3-D model for visualization and representation. "Walking through" a space visually helps the client by immersing themselves into a miniature version of it. Being able to "be" in a space before it is created gives the opportunity for change at an early stage which cuts down on extended schedules and increased costs.

Remember, this is the time to make changes and perfect the plan. Revisions on paper are much less expensive than in the field!

Ready to get started on your project? Let us help you create a successful space plan that will boost your company's productivity and morale! Contact us at or fill out our contact form here. We look forward to the opportunity to work together!

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