Studio design - space planning


Studio design is an interesting discussion. To help those enchanted
with the idea of a studio from getting too caught up in the romance of
it, may I suggest those who either have an existing studio or who are
planning a new studio approach its design from a space planning
perspective. In our architectural practice we always utilize a "form
follows function" approach. The weaving studio is a machine, a piece of
technology which should function to meet each weaver's or group of
weaver's program of use. Of course part of its function is that it
should also be a very enchanting, beguiling, thought and creativity
provoking place.

All of that requires determining what the end woven products will be and
working backward through the production of each to break out each
activity required in their production. It may require a new weaver to
do some very long term thinking about their goals and objectives as a
weaver...and may even require rethought by the seasoned production
weaver. Here are a few of the elements of good space planning and the
subsequent architecture. Most are obvious, but perhaps it is worth
outlining some that we consider in our projects:

1. Site planning :

How will you get that 10' wide AVL rug loom into your studio if it is
built on a steep hillside, or in a tight complex of artists' studios?

Do you need a receving dock, or some form of mechanical lift? How
about weather protection of the receiving area - delicate equipment and
fibers can be destroyed by exposure if you are not there to receive

In siting the studio, or in choosing a space to rent for a studio, have
you considered the orientation to natural light as it affects your
choice of colors, shadows cast on your weaving area or assembly area?

How about public exposure - do you want to enable it or prevent it? If
you want public exposure, how will you get people there; do you need to
plan for wheelchair ramps, etc.? Do you need to provide customer
parking? Should the parking area be directly adjacent?

Do you neighbors need buffered from the noise of your compressors by
means of vegetative plantings or acoustical walls?

If the studio is to be in your home, is it reasonable to the rest of
the family to put it next to the sleeping areas? Or if in an artists'
loft, what other types of artists or craftspersons should you be close
to or furthest from in order to be compatible neighbors? The group
situation will require the group's coordinated thinking about the
architectural systems all of your studios will share.

2. Functional and Ergonomic Space:

Determine the Space Envelope for each activity, incuding subcategories
of activities.
Ever notice how birds sit only so close to each other on the telephone
wire? That is because they need a safe envelope into which to land and
from which to take off.

For example, materials storage includes receiving, sorting, record
keeping, and should be located where in your studio, and be adjacent to
_________ and ________, etc.

Warping the loom requires ____________feet of space on each side and
underneath, plus _________ feet of vertical space. That added to the
dimensions of my loom says the space envelop for my loom should be
______' X _______' X _______., etc.

Doors or other openings onto the space need to be considered as well.
There is nothing like designing an efficient studio and finding the rug
loom cannot be gotten into it because the door is either too small, or
is located on a tight hall or stair that does not allow loom parts to
turn the corner.

Is an ADA compliant studio required due to State regulations because you
will have employes or because the public will have access to it...or
because you, the weaver, have a disability?

2. Mechanical systems:
Determine the complement of mechanical systems required for each
activity, including heating, ventilation and air quality, power,
lighting, sound control, humidity control, moth and rodent control,
telephones and other electronic equipment, etc.

Should the studio have plumbing and lavatories? What will be the impact
on plumbing as well as groundwater or a municipal sewer system?

Will you be doing both wet tasks and dry tasks in this studio? Is it
important to separate them?

What types of lighting are required for each task?

3. Structural systems:

Do you need to tie down your looms so they do not move around? Perhaps
that concrete floor can be designed with tie downs.

Do you want to design a system for warping the loom which provides a
warping pit, or that enables you to lift the loom to a position that
does not require you to lay under it? If so, these affect the form of
the structure of the building.

The weight of the equipment (similar to the stacks in libraries) can be
considerable. Your architect or structural engineer needs to be
appraised of these in order to size floor joists.

4. Interior color palette - how it affect the diversity of color
planning and choices you will be involved in in your design work?

5. Surface materials - ease of maintenance, suitability to the task,

6. Built-in features - storage and furnishings?

7. Spiritual ambiance - aesthetics are a functional element of your
working space?

These are just a few of the considerations that should go into planning
a studio or any kind of living, playing, working, spiritual place -
exterior or interior. Time spent in careful planning can save much
money and regret later. It also helps you develop a realistic budget
: - )