How to properly design circular plans

How to properly design circular plans

Often times when people think of buildings they default to rectangular structures – or at the very least, structures with orthogonal floor plans and hard angles, certainly not buildings with circular plans. Part of the reason why the circular plan is rare is that poor design choices can lead to wasted space and difficult interior designs, especially if the furniture and appliances are rectangular in shape. However, heavily designed circular plans can have a dramatic effect, generating extraordinary spatial configurations that meet a variety of aesthetic and functional needs, while challenging the process of material specification. Below we list 18 buildings with circular plans, given their different design strategies.

In some cases, like the 360 ​​Villa by 123DV or the St. Andrews Beach House by Austin Maynard Architects, the internal parts are arranged and formed radially, as if emanating from the center of the circular plane. These designs are guided by strong organizational geometry, and the circular shape is absolutely formative for the experience of each interior space. Another (fragmented) example of this interior design ethic is Rina Lovko’s Blue Terracotta Apartment, where internal dividing walls are curved to mimic the outer circular walls. Meanwhile, in their unique design for Himitsujanai Kichi, Itsuki Matsumoto and Ehime Architecture play on this radial interior design by offsetting the “center,” allowing the visitor area a larger space to open up to the surrounding landscape.

Villa 360 / 123DV

Courtesy of 123DV
Courtesy of 123DV

St. Andrews Beach House / Austin Maynard Architects

Courtesy of Austin Maynard Architects
Courtesy of Austin Maynard Architects

Blue terracotta apartment / Rina Lovko

Courtesy of Rina Lovko
Courtesy of Rina Lovko

Himitsujanai Kichi / Itsuki Matsumoto (Aichi Institute of Technology Graduate School) + Ehime Architecture and Design Office

Courtesy of Itsuki Matsumoto (Aichi Institute of Technology Graduate School) + Ehime Architecture and Design Office
Courtesy of Itsuki Matsumoto (Aichi Institute of Technology Graduate School) + Ehime Architecture and Design Office

Some buildings replicate these design strategies on a larger scale. DISSING + WEITLING The Ecco d’Architecture hotel has each of its rooms radially around the perimeter of the circular planes. Likewise, the Tietgen dormitory by Lundgaard and Trandberg Architects arranges dormitories in the same style, leaving the center of the circle open in a beautiful courtyard for students to congregate. The central courtyard is another common strategy that can work wonderfully to foster or create community spaces, and is also used by the restaurant and grocery store of Metamoorfose Studio in Monteiro Lobato, the astronomical park of the high school’s Specific Architects + Unit Architects. Zhenze, and a few other designs listed below.

Ecco / DISSING + WEITLING Architecture Hotel

Courtesy of DISSING + WEITLING Architecture
Courtesy of DISSING + WEITLING Architecture

Dormitory Tietgen / Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects

Courtesy of Lundgaard and Tranberg Architects
Courtesy of Lundgaard and Tranberg Architects
Courtesy of Lundgaard and Tranberg Architects
Courtesy of Lundgaard and Tranberg Architects

Restaurant & Grocery in Monteiro Lobato / Studio Metamoorfose

Courtesy of Metamoorfose Studio
Courtesy of Metamoorfose Studio

Zhenze High School Astronomical Park / Specific Architects + Unit Architects

Courtesy of specific architects + unit architects
Courtesy of specific architects + unit architects

Gomba / Hetedik Müterem

Courtesy of Hetedik Müterem
Courtesy of Hetedik Müterem

In other cases, however, the interiors of circular planes are not guided by radial geometry but by orthogonal bisecting walls and furniture or by more freely arranged spatial configurations. Examples include the Plainfaing Tourist Office by Studiolada and the facilities at Cook Park by Fox Johnston. In other cases, the scale of the project may have made a radial configuration implausible, as in the enormous Akiha Ward Cultural Center or the headquarters of the private office of Persian Garden Studio. In these cases, the orthogonal interior design provides the cleanest and most efficient layout while maintaining the aesthetic of the circular plane. For example, the Persian Garden Studio head office highlights the larger circular geometry by using interior circular modules that function as phone booths and meeting spaces. Some buildings, such as the Sayama Lakeside Cemetery Community Hall, combine radial and orthogonal interior configurations.

Plainfaing Tourist Office (88) / Studiolada

Courtesy of Studiolada
Courtesy of Studiolada

Cook / Fox Johnston Park amenities

Courtesy of Fox Johnston
Courtesy of Fox Johnston

Akiha Ward Cultural Center / Urban and Architectural Design of Chiaki Arai

Courtesy of Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design
Courtesy of Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design

Private Office Headquarters / Persian Garden Studio

Courtesy of Persian Garden Studio
Courtesy of Persian Garden Studio

Sayama Lakeside Cemetery Community Hall / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

Courtesy of Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP
Courtesy of Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

Other designs are so unique that they defy categorization entirely. The AirBubble Playground, for example, is less of a traditional building than an experimental playground with its own controlled microclimate. Zhengdong Longhu Public Art Center features a large circular walkway with artwork on the interior wall and glass windows on the exterior wall to merge art appreciation with tourism. Other examples of weird and wonderful circular planes are listed below.

AirBubble / ecoLogicStudio playground

Courtesy of ecoLogicStudio
Courtesy of ecoLogicStudio

Zhengdong Longhu Public Art Center / STUDIO A +

Courtesy of STUDIO A +
Courtesy of STUDIO A +

Cepario Bioseeding / Estudio Felipe Escudero

Courtesy of Estudio Felipe Escudero
Courtesy of Estudio Felipe Escudero

Restaurant Vedana / VTN Architects

Courtesy of VTN Architects
Courtesy of VTN Architects



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