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Pre-design : What is it?

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

Whether it's a new building or a renovation, there's a lot of information to gather and assess before design begins. The most important decisions are the early ones: what to build, how much to build, where to build. It is crucial that these early decisions be well informed.

This design phase known as Pre-Design. Let's take a look at a couple of essential considerations:

1. The Building Programme

The "programme" is an accounting of the required spaces, their sizes and characteristics, and the relationships among them—what needs to be next to what. There may be a variety of configurations that will satisfy your goals. It will be instructive for your designer or architect to know not just what you need, but also why you need it. The more they know about your personal or organisational goals, the more the building will be able to contribute to those goals. Here at VRA we put together a "Mood Board" to give you an idea of the design direction we are proposing - we will combine your supplied information and ideas and ours. This is an early check to make sure we are on the right track.

2. Site Design

There are many factors which influence how a building is placed on its site. This is true whether the location is in the city or out in the countryside. Some influences have to do with the use of the building: how visitors or customers approach it, what rooms will benefit from north light, which views you want to capture. The building can shield, filter and harness the sun, wind and weather to benefit the interior and the exterior spaces while optimising energy efficiency. Still other factors have to do with regulatory codes such as required setbacks, utility easements, fire department access, the protection of natural resources or cultural artifacts. You want to know all these things up front, because you want the design to optimise how your program and building will respond to them.

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