If you want to know about the residential building guidelines or low-income housing planning in urban areas or wheelchair user accessible toilet design, please click the link.

We know that houses are built for people, therefore, all parts of a house must be built to scale keeping its occupants or users in mind. Architectural graphic standards need to be considered for furniture sizes, appliances and standard spaces required for functional work requirements by people.

  • Let us first understand and analyze the space use of different rooms for specific functions in a house.
  • We shall realize that in a house, all the rooms required by a family may be possible only if the plot area is big.
  • This means that the house will require about 10 rooms. Since it is not possible for everyone to have a house with so many rooms, therefore, we have to manage with fewer rooms by combining and overlapping the use of spaces.
  • The needs and desires of occupants need to be included in planning right at the initial phase.

Some of the considerations are:

i) Prepare a list that includes design considerations and necessities

  1. Size of the family
  2. Income group of the family
  3. Culture or religion of the family
  4. Location of site
  5. Number of levels
  6. Architecture style
  7. Zoning ordinances and covenants
  8. Family composition including age, sex, number of bedrooms etc.
  9. Number of automobiles in the house
  10. Social habits of the family like formal lifestyle or informal, social status of the family, extent of social interaction among the members
  11. Furniture and appliances already owned by the family
  12. Special interests and hobbies of the family members
  13. Ideas of the family members for space use and presentation

ii) Levels (Numbers of floor)

  1. One story homes are typically compatible with a limited number of architectural styles and have the potential to be more costly if located on a larger site.
  2. One and one-half story homes utilize the attic as a living space through structural elements including a steep roof and dormers projecting from the roof to let in air and light.
  3. Two story homes are economical to build because of smaller roof and foundation area.
  4. Split-level homes are developed for a sloping lot, and separate sleeping, living, and recreation on different levels.

iii) Traffic patterns

  1. Are a primary consideration in designing a functional plan.
  2. Main traffic areas include the halls, stairs, foyers, entrances to rooms, and exterior entrances.
  3. Travel should be short and if possible not pass through other rooms.
  4. Trace various routes through the house to analyze traffic flow.

If you want to know more about the general building requirement, please click the link.

  • There could be many more considerations specific to a family that may be incorporated.
  • Let us find out the common activities and furniture required along with clearance spaces for different rooms such as Living room, dining room, kitchen, bath and wc.

1) Entrance

  • Entrance is a great convenience. Some houses may have front door opening directly into the living area. Entry may be completely walled or set off by room dividers, or it may be an extension of the living, family or dining room.

2) Living Room

  • Living room should be fairly closer to the front door but should not be a passageway to other parts of the house. As for as possible, should be kept away from the bedrooms.
  • It requires furniture for conversation, reading, writing, playing indoor games, recreation-watching television etc.
  • We may include furniture designed specifically for each of these tasks, but the space and financial constraints may be equally important. If there is limited space, then we may go for multi-use furniture, like for seating we may have a minimum of two long sofas or about five chairs, a coffee table and a desk of moderate size that may cover most of the activities.
i) Common sizes of Living room furniture (in mm)
Sr. No.DescriptionSize (mm.)
i)A three-seater sofa2100 x 750 mm.
ii)Single-seater sofa950 x 750
iii)Stereo unit750 x 375
iv)Round coffee table750
v)Rectangular coffee table750 x 750
vi)Television set900 x 525

Along with provision of appropriate furniture, its arrangement should provide freedom of movement in the room. For free movement following minimum clearances are required.

  1. A minimum clearance of 90 cm from any wall facing the edge of a table to enable the person using the chair to push it back when leaving.
  2. A minimum clearance of 45 cm between the chair and the table. If there is a cupboard, then 60-75 cm space is required.
  3. Doors should not be located at the center of the wall, as otherwise the furniture units have to be grouped on either side of the passage.
  4. Provide a minimum clearance of 100cm between the writing desk and other seating units.
  5. Allow a minimum distance of 360cm between the television and viewing seats.
  6. A minimum distance of 180cm necessary between seating units facing each other.

3) Dining Room

  • The Dining area could be part of the family room or living room. It should preferably be closer to the kitchen for ease of serving and hospitality. Number of persons to be seated at a time and the requirement of space for other movement and furniture for storage of crockery, cutlery, dishes and table linen would depend upon number of family members and their living pattern.
i) Common sizes of Dining room furniture (in mm)
Sr. No.DescriptionSize (mm.)
i)Dining table for four persons750 x 1200 mm.
ii)Dining table for six900 x 1800
iii)Dining chair450 x 450
iv)Sideboard for storage900 x 450
v)Trolley750 x 450
vi)Stool375 x 375
ii) Minimum clearances required
  • Passage of a minimum width of 56cm is required behind the dining chair for easy movement while serving food.
  • 15cm space is required between the wall and the chair, if chair is near a wall to push it back when leaving the table.
  • Minimum height of the dining table should be about 70cm. Height of the dining table is generally 75cm.

4) Bedroom

  • Bedroom preferably should be isolated from the noisy areas of the house and arranged closer to or adjoining to bathrooms and wardrobe. Size of the bedroom should be sufficient to accommodate the number of beds required along with other furniture like writing desk with chair, beside tables for keeping telephones, table clock, reading lamp etc. dressing table with stool and bedroom chairs.

i) Common sizes of Bedroom room furniture (in mm)

Sr. No.DescriptionSize ( mm )
i)Double bed + two bedside tables(1800×2000) +( 450 x 450)
ii)Two single beds +one bedside table(1800×900) + (450 x 450)
iii)Wardrobe900 x 600
iv)Writing desk900 x 450
v)Dressing table750 x 300
ii) Minimum clearances required
  • Minimum clearances required around the bed is 60cm clear space for walking.

5) Kitchen

  • Kitchen is used for meal preparation and occasionally for dining also. It may include a refrigerator, cooking range or gas stove, dishwasher, mixer, toaster, oven etc.
  • Besides these devices a cooking platform is more useful to avoid strain during cooking range or gas stove should be at the same level as cooking platform.
  • Purpose is food preparation but may include dining, laundry, and storage.

i) Kitchen is made up of three work centers

  1. Food storage and preparation (refrigerator, cabinets, pantry, countertops)
  2. Cooking (range, oven, microwave, countertops)
  3. Clean-up (sink, dishwasher, countertops)

ii) Common sizes of Kitchen furniture and utilities (in mm)

Sr. No.DescriptionSize (mm.)
i)Kitchen sink500 x 600
iii)Refrigerator600 x 450
iv)Ironing board900 x 375
v)Cooking range300 x 500 for two burners
500 x 500 for four burners
vi)Washing machine750 x 525

iii) Minimum clearances required for the kitchen

  • The cooking platform should be minimum 40cm in width and not more than 60cm wide
  • Height of the cooking platform may vary from 75cm to 86cm from floor. Top surface of the platform should be smooth for ease in cleaning.
  • To keep the kitchen clean, wall area above the platform should be covered with wall tiles, up to 45cm above the platform.
  • Space below cooking platform may be used for storage of heavy items. Storage cabinets above the platform could be used for keeping small items and therefore, may be about 20cm deep. The height of storage shelves could range between 48” to 72” above the floor for convenient access.
  • Cooking platforms could be U shaped, L shaped or corridor type, depending on the kitchen shape and size.

iv) Work triangle measures efficiency

  • A line from the center front of each work center makes up the work triangle.
  • The sum of all sides of the work triangle should not exceed 22 ft.
  • When possible, traffic lanes should not impede the work triangle.

If you want to know more about the kitchen design, please click the link.

6) Toilets

  • The bath and water closet may be either provided separately or could be combined as one unit. A separate bath may include a sink along with the bathing area or sink may be provided with a sink may be provided outside the bath and water closet. Combined bath and water closet could be provided with a sink, a toilet seat either western or Indian type and some shelves for keeping toiletries.

i) Common sizes of toilet furniture and fittings (in mm)

Sr. No.DescriptionSize ( mm )
i)Water closet (WC)750 x 450 / 750 x 525
ii)Bath tub1500 x 750 /1800 x 450
iii)Washbasin400 x 400/ 500×500

ii) Minimum clearances required

  • The lobby or passage leading to toilets should not be less than 90cm. The size of the toilet should be such that there is enough space for opening or closing the door while you are inside it.

If you want to know more about the toilet design, please click the link.

Decoration of the interiors greatly depends upon the built-in furniture to focus on the structural curves of the walls. Choice of furnishing fabrics, interiors color finishes and design of window and floor style of light fixtures should not only be acceptable but also appealing-should flow with the architectural design and with its contemporary spirit.

Another aspect in space planning is Human dimension and space design

It is important to consider while planning spaces that we need spaces to accommodate are

  1. Fixed structural spaces like a counter attached to a wall
  2. Furniture, fittings and fixtures like sofa, table, beds, cupboards, water closet, taps etc.
  3. Movement of people in a space for carrying out specific activities like walking around the centre table to serve refreshments to guests in the living room.
  4. Dimension of human body in different positions during work or a carrying out activities.

If you want to know more about the dimension and space design, please click the link.

8) Structuring Spaces

  • Structuring spaces means organizing spaces and allocating a specific space for a specific task. It helps to locate related tools and equipment for a specific activity at the space of use and make the entire work more organized and less stressful.
  • To make a plan functional understand how activities flow. For example, when guests arrive, they must be able to go directly into the living room or drawing room. From there the hosts should be able to access the kitchen close by to serve them water and refreshments.
  • Sometimes we may like to serve these in the dining room, so should be located close by. If guests want to freshen up, the toilets or washrooms should be directly accessible from the living room without disturbing inmates in their bedrooms. Structuring of spaces would require analysis of various aspects such as ….
  1. Number of occupants in a house.
  2. Minimal spaces required for performing various activities or movements in a space.
  3. Minimum spaces recommended for hygienic conditions for healthful living.
  4. Relationship of different spaces with one another.
  • Number of occupants will determine the space required in a room. There are norms for floor area per person, so when there are more people using a space, the same norm could be multiplied. Normally, two people should be provided with one room. Therefore, for a family of four members two rooms are required, six members three rooms are required, and so on.
  • However, numbers of rooms in a house are dependent on the economic status of the family that is a high-income group family member but may have four rooms as compared to a low-income group family that may have one room for five members. However, if planning general or public places normally the space requirement per person is considered for planning. These norms we shall discuss in context of specific areas.
  • Minimum space requirements for different activities indicate the minimum space required by an average worker, who is handling either some tools/equipment or is using some furniture in different postures. Kindly note that space is required to accommodate the human dimensions in a space along with the other fittings and fixtures used for work. A fat worker will require more space as compared to a thin worker. Knowledge of minimum spaces will be a handy for designing functional work areas considering human movement as well as requirements of the furniture and fittings in a space.
  • Minimum spaces recommended for hygienic conditions for healthful living indicate that the health aspect is very important while considering space requirements. Minimum standards are formulated considering the social and physical environment rather than the cost of the space. United Nations Technical Mission on Housing, Seminars and conferences on Housing and Town planning and Environmental hygienic committee recommended a two-roomed house as a minimum accommodation for a family of four members.
  • Another concept necessary for incorporating all the functional spaces is by combining or overlapping space or rooms in the given number of rooms of the house.
  • Combining space or rooms means that two different rooms with certain common features could be compressed into one room. For Example, study room and children’s room may not be two separate rooms, but the children’s bedroom may have provision of study in it, by including a bookshelf along with a study table.
  • Overlapping use of space or rooms refers to using the same space or room for different purposes at different times of the day. For example, if the children’s room is small and cannot accommodate the study, children can study on the dining table, or on the center table in the lobby or living room when these rooms are not in use.
  • Some families may be living in yet smaller houses comprising of single-roomed houses. Compressing all the activities into one room is also referred to as a multipurpose room/studio apartment. There would be a lot of combining and overlapping use of space.
  • The studio apartments offer enormous challenge to the skill and imagination of the designer. One room must provide a functional sleeping area, dining area, storage units that act as room dividers, stackable tables and chairs for parties, collapsible tabletops to use for dining or study, folding chairs, etc. the figure below indicates space use of a one-roomed apartment room.
  • It may be noted that in one roomed apartment, a small house, in event of occasional activities, there is spill over to the outside open space. For example, in the event of a birthday or any other party, the family would invite guests, who would be seated outside the home due to limited space available inside. It may not be routine situation, however, the certain celebrations for the family may be inevitable. Some families, who may live in small houses but are otherwise economically sound may like to hire outside venues in the nearby areas.
  • There are circulation areas consisting of halls, stairs, entrance doors access is required from the main entrance to the interior, from central lobby to different rooms in the building and from private rooms to the toilets.
  • It is important that there is independent access from the main entrance to different parts of the building. Circulation lobby or corridor should be of appropriate dimensions. Internal circulation within a building includes corridors, stairs/ramps/escalators and lifts.
  • The width of corridors in buildings is governed by the fact that it should allow two persons to pass in opposite directions, therefore, should be about 1.2m wide. The width of staircase, lobby and corridor used as an escape route should not be less than the width of the exit that precede into it.
  • Any stairway, ramp and escalator shall provide a landing at the top and bottom of any stairway or ramp, landing should have leveled surface and no obstruction, stairway or ramp should provide clear headroom not less than 2m measured vertically from pitch line or top surface of ramp landing and if a flight or ramp is subdivided into sections, the width of each section shall not be less than 1m and a handrail shall be provided between adjacent sections.

9) Conclusion

  • Space planning for various rooms of a house along with furniture arrangements following human dimensions and its importance for space design that makes us comfortable for our day-to-day activities.
  • Then we discussed about structuring of spaces.
  • It includes the number of occupants, minimum space requirements, minimum spaces recommended for hygienic conditions for healthful living and relationship of different spaces with one another.

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