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
St. Andrews Beach House / Austin Maynard Architects
Blue terracotta apartment / Rina Lovko
Himitsujanai Kichi / 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
Dormitory Tietgen / Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects
Restaurant & Grocery in Monteiro Lobato / Studio Metamoorfose
Zhenze High School Astronomical Park / Specific Architects + Unit Architects
Gomba / 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
Cook / Fox Johnston Park amenities
Akiha Ward Cultural Center / Urban and Architectural Design of Chiaki Arai
Private Office Headquarters / Persian Garden Studio
Sayama Lakeside Cemetery Community Hall / 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
Zhengdong Longhu Public Art Center / STUDIO A +
Cepario Bioseeding / Estudio Felipe Escudero
Restaurant Vedana / VTN Architects