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  • Murray Robertson

The Importance of Proportion of Spaces

(getting the proportion of different spaces in relation to each other right)


A coupe of weeks ago we completed sketch design for alterations and additions to a large villa. A plan came together quickly that ticked all the boxes of the brief; a separate entrance for the family, replacing a rotting conservatory and providing a better family living spaces that removed some of the oddities of the existing.


Villa Existing Plan

Villa Proposed Plan



We then looked at what other options would work. Could we meet the brief while not creating as much work. Nothing we tried worked. We could do less but it just wouldn't tick all the boxes. Any other option just didn't have the right proportion of family space compared to the rest of the house.


It reminded me of a problem we are seeing in a lot of plans recently. It doesn't matter, if its a big house or a tiny house, its important to get the proportion of the different spaces right. This has often been lost. There is a move to higher density but I am worried about the quality of the planning in these designs.


Below is a typical plan seen in many town house developments. The upper floor has a generous three double bedrooms and two bathrooms. However the lower level is to me, not in proportion. There is no real living space. It is a residual space, half the size of a single carpark, that is really lost in circulation between the entry door, stair and dining table. There is a very small sofa, only room for three, small dining and kitchen. Both the extent and quality of living space has been lost. Shouldn't social spaces, where people come together have priority. It's living space no bigger than the inside of the car.


There are some odd differences in the sizes of the beds and the furniture down stairs is smaller than standard. Its's a very narrow stair. Do buyers realise just how small these spaces? When I worked on housing in Scotland, we had provide plans with dimensions of what the built rooms would be, using set standard sizes for the furniture. It would be good to see the same here to safeguard buyers.








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