Friday, March 27, 2009

STACKING PLAN, a guideline to generate office space planning

Space planning is an important part of interior design process. Particularly, in a design process of an office spaces with multi-level occupancies, space planning is important process should be properly done. The output of space planning process are general layout plans where designer can describe to the user about the office occupancy mapping including information of ‘who sitting where’, various type of rooms, affinity of each room to other rooms and how certain office activities are well-grouped and organized to achieve certain level of working environment that meet user needs.

In case of multi level office space occupancy, say an office space with 5 to 10 floors in a tenancy building, further space planning analysis must be carefully considered. Before each floor layout plan are generated in several details, an Interior Designer must demonstrate to all user that the office stacking plan is meet and fit with the user expectations.

Stacking plan is a kind of chart and/or scheme that simply demonstrate occupancy mapping per floor. Basic data that need to be generated a stacking plan are following:

1. Headcount data for each departments and sections
2. Data of particular room that need to place in certain floor (there are specific requirements)
3. User guideline in related with how corporate activities should be accommodated and provided.
4. User guideline for affinities of each working group to other working groups and each work group to specific facilities.

A stacking plan chart could be simply initiated by the using of common spreadsheet software. This process is most likely a quantitative analysis process, where headcount data is initially be included into the spreadsheet. Describe the name of department and insert related headcount data. Add data of nett floor space area into the spreadsheet this will control occupancy density. Normally, open plan office space with minimum enclosed rooms could achieve density of 10 square meter (sqm) per person including workstation, circulation area, filing rooms, meeting rooms and other standard office room facilities. But in case of office with different scenery, say 50% open office area and 50% enclosed rooms, density could be approximately 25 sqm per person including workstation, circulation area, filing rooms, meeting rooms and other standard office room facilities. That is the reason, why an Interior Designer shall carefully ask to the user their preference in related with the type of office scenery.

Specific room such as Data Center, centralized meeting room, canteen or banking hall should be excluded and separately added into the above calculation of 10 sqm density or 25 sqm density. We can categorize these types of room as non-standard facilities. It will be useful should potential growth for the next years could be taken into account. Accordingly, occupancy density at ‘day one’ need to be improved to give adequate space for future expansion. Space for potential growth could be defined as swing space and at ‘day one’ occupancy it could be implemented as meeting rooms or interactive areas that are collapsible when working spaces getting bigger.

If user have already determined such room or facility should be placed in certain floor, this will be useful for Interior Designer to initiate stacking plan exercise. In most cases, user also have preference about where some departments should be placed in. Department with potential growth bigger than other, it should be placed near swing floor area such as centralized meeting room, common sharing facilities or other vacant floor if available.

Sometime office building have already prepared with strengthened floor area, this will be useful as starting point to determine placement of room that accommodate heavy equipment such as communication room, compactor room or maybe a strong room. Transition area of high zone lift and low zone lift is also another important consideration to determine the placement of centralized meeting rooms and or other common sharing facilities.

A space planning optimization should be carefully done, because maybe the placement of one department in a floor is not meet with another department expectation. In this case, main Interior Designer task is to demonstrate that occupancy density is approximately well distributed and affinity to each department are as close as possible with all user expectations. It will be a great and ideal situation where a department is not split-off into different floor level.

Sometime there is situation where a department should be splitting-off into different floor to avoid any situation where office occupancy becoming too dense and not comply with health and safety regulations. Number of fire escape doors and stairs in an office tenancy building are already calculated in line with optimum occupancy capacity. Number of male and female toilets are also provided and calculated in line with optimum occupancy capacity.

Successful space planning process should be initiated with correct and careful step-by-step processes where user needs are well identified, well managed, well optimized and finally well accommodated. An ability to drive users in persuasive manners will be very useful to achieve optimum stacking plan and minimize potential user conflicts could be minimized. If stacking plan for office occupancy could be well initiated, an Interior Designer could jump to next step of design process: to generate layout schemes in every floor level in more easy and smooth process.