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Residential vs. Commercial Design


Commercial design by Black Sheep Design Team

What is a residential building designer?

A residential building designer is responsible for the design of single occupancy residential buildings, as opposed to commercial or business properties. Their ultimate goal is to create a home space, creating functional aesthetics which align with their client’s wishes and architectural capabilities. They can often form the bridge between architects and interior designers, ensuring the compatibility of natural light and space. Residential building designs must meet local building codes and also adhere to electrical and plumbing safety.

Residential design by Black Sheep Design Team

What is a commercial building designer?

A commercial building designer is responsible for the design and specification for commercial buildings such as offices, factories, retail outlets and shopping centers, airports and railway stations, hospitals, hotels, stadiums and other leisure facilities.


Commercial design of Argyle Winery by Black Sheep Design Team

What is the difference between residential and commercial design?

Both residential and commercial designers have a lot of overlap and core similarities; the backbone of both types of design requires robustness, sustainability in all forms and compliance with local building regulations. Fundamentally, both types of design must adhere to the environment in which their plans are to be built, considering structure and aesthetics. However, the two projects have completely different scope.

Commercial buildings must acknowledge a number of other infrastructural needs which must be accommodated for. Taking the example of a multi-purpose entertainment facility, commercial designers must factor in parking, the positioning of kitchen space and bathroom space, the circulation of visitors including elevators for both visitor and freight access and public versus private space. Buildings must be fit for purpose and hospitality buildings, such as hotels, must ensure the spatial needs of their guests including the provision of entertainment, restaurants, parking, easy to find bathroom facilities, elevators which can hold numerous cases of luggage, a lobby and so on. Almost none of these requirements would have to be considered in the same manner for a residential building designer. If a commercial building designer is working on a specialized project, the process must be even more bespoke to match their specialized requirements; designers must take into consideration the suitable materials and room dimensions to create specific acoustic effects in concert halls, theaters and even cinema screens. Additionally in hospitals, laboratories and medical care facilities, plans must ensure that rooms can be kept sterile or even allow for sealed areas in case of viral outbreaks and so on.

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