Fail to plan, plan to fail…

What is a Plan?

Plans are diagrams usually drawn to scale which show rooms, spaces and other physical features at one level of structure of a building.

Examples of Plan Layouts

(Fig.1) As you can see objects have been simplified i.e. doorways and seating, all we need is a simple example of where things will be positioned.

A plan is a map of a building or room, and is drawn from a Birdseye view as if we have sliced off the top of the building and drawn from this perspective. A designer would have to draw a plan for a potential client as this is the only way to see what an intended building/space would look like. The diagram would need to include entrances, doors, walls, stairs, columns and also furniture and fixtures if this is what was planned in the finished space. Drawing symbols are a great way to translate objects in a plan and simplify them, as it would take too much time and effort to draw each object exactly how it is. Plans also show how a person would move through the room or building, and ultimately give a feel to how the space would be used by the inhabitants.

Graphical Symbols

Graphical symbols give plans an explanation without using language, distinct symbols show the client etc. what the designer is trying to portray without being too technical on the drawing. Plans should be rather quick to produce depending on the scale of the project, therefor detail of such attributes just wouldn’t be necessary.

Drawing symbols

When drawing symbols on a plan, they should be simplified but still drawn to the correct dimensions just on a smaller scale, of course because it would be just impossible to draw a plan to scale! It is important to label each object throughout the plan with the name and dimensions so it is understood by both the client and designer what the object is. It is also important to use different line styles when producing a plan, as different lines mean different things. A thicker line would suggest a stronger, more dense material, and a thinner line would suggest a temporary or much lighter material being used for the walls etc.

(Fig.4) As we can see in this CAD plan, fixtures, walls and objects such as the doorways, toilet, and walls have been simplified, yet they remain very effective in the plan. It is easy to see the general flow of the building throughout this floor plan and a client would get a general sense as to whether this would be suitable or not.

Different types of planning

Site Plan

A site plan is an architectural plan of a given area or community as opposed to just a building or room. A site plan would encompass a whole range of land and buildings, thus making it slightly larger scale than just a singular building plan. A site plan would generally show road plans, landscapes, waterlines, paths etc. which would all be translated through drawing symbols as discussed earlier. A site plan would be constructed in order to either develop on an empty piece of land or, to improve an existing site to make it more practical and up to date with social changes etc.

(Fig.5) a site plan example

Floor Plan

A floor plan shows a Birdseye view of one floor of a building, this type of plan would generally show entrances, walls, rooms, objects to be used in each room and doorways. This plan will not be an elevation as it is just one floor we are viewing from above, therefor it is not necessary to see the plan from an elevated side angle.

floor plan
(Fig.6) A Floor plan example

Furniture plan

A furniture plan can be drawn up only after the floor plan has been created as the floor plan depicts the arrangement of the furniture in the specific area. A furniture plan comes to use in cases i.e. a kitchen plan, once the floor plan is constructed the furniture plan would then imply where chairs, tables, bins etc. would be positioned. You cannot accurately create a furniture plan without an efficient floor plan.

(Fig.7) Furniture planning has been achieved here as the floor plan was successful, therefor it is relevant to add more detail in order to progress within the planning process
(Fig.8) A bit of a friendlier illustration of a furniture plan, the designer has even added the colour scheme of specific objects all the way down to bed covers.

Ceiling and lighting plan 

Of course it is quite obvious what a ceiling and lighting plan would involve? Maybe this imagine will explain better.

(Fig.9) Basic plan of a ceiling and lighting plan with a key.

Yes it really is that simple, a designer would finally configure a ceiling and lighting plan after the floor plan and furniture plan have been determined. It is only now that the designer can really say what lighting goes where as a general flow has now been created within the space, therefor it would be known by the client what lighting fits best and where. It is helpful for a key to be drawn aside with the plan just so the client can easily see what the specific light symbols are.


(Fig.1) Plan Layout 1, 28.10.15, cafc3a9-floor-plan-example.png?w=300

(Fig.2) Plan Layout 2,

(Fig.3) Plan Layout 3,

(Fig.4) CAD plan,

(Fig.5) Site plan,

(Fig.6) Floor Plan,

(Fig.7, 8) Furniture Plan,

(Fig.9) Ceiling and lighting plan,


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