The first step for any design project will be defining the construction program. Software is an architectural term for the type of building and what goes into the building. So the program is the use and general layout of the spaces. If we are designing an apartment building, the software could be an apartment building with at least 50 units for example. If we are designing a school, we would like to know the age group, the number of students they plan to accommodate, the number of classrooms and the types of private rooms the hall, gymnasium, etc.
Everything that enters the building is called the program, and this is the first essential point that must be determined before starting to design the building. You cannot design a building without knowing what it will be used for and how it will be used.
The second step in gathering information before starting an architectural design is to determine the location. The location of the new building is critical and will greatly influence the design. You cannot build a building without a site and you should not design it. Lots of architects have actually been contacted by several people who want me to design a building for them without a site. This is found to be very problematic. The site will inform the design of the building. There are countless ways a location can influence architectural design. A site analysis must be performed before beginning the architectural design. Here are some points about a location that can affect the design of a building: natural ingredients, opinions, importance, the shape and size of the site, solar guidance, access, topography, weather patterns, local regulations, and access to utilities.
Architecture is built into the physical world and has many limitations. Identifying constraints early is critical to building design. Knowing the project’s limitations is just as important as knowing its potential. There are many restrictions you could put in a project, some common ones are: partition codes, building numbers, income, local labor, and availability of materials
The architect and his/her clients must set a set of goals before starting a project. There are many different goals for a project and they should be defined as early as possible in the process.
One example of someone’s goal to build a home might be to design a sustainable home. Another goal of the developer for the construction of an apartment building may be to increase profits. The school may have a design goal to improve learning and security. The museum may wish to design with the intention of building a creative and innovative work of architecture. The corporate headquarters objective may be brand and image.