Comparison and Contrast of Commercial and Residential Design


            Commercial and residential design varies in function, purpose, requirements, considerations, and layout. It serves different users and addresses varying user-needs. To further elaborate these statements, this paper will define respectively and then compare and contrast commercial and residential design.

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Comparison and Contrast of Commercial and Residential Design

            Good design goes beyond aesthetics. Good design is a proper combination of aesthetics plus function, structural stability, and appropriateness to purpose. A house, for example, should be designed as a structure where people could live. A house, designed for living, cannot adequately serve the purposes of a commercial building for it does not fit its user-requirements and vice versa. Given those statements, this paper will compare and contrast the purposes, requirements, considerations, and layouts of commercial and residential design.

            Commercial and Residential design have its own respective functions. Residential design deals with spaces where people would live. It is a space where they can relax, interact with their family, entertain guests, and have a space where one can be private with his thoughts (Arkkelin & Veitch, 1995). Furthermore, residential design deals with elevating a structure called house into an ideal space called home. It deals with enabling a space to address the multi-dimensional function of a home which includes personal, social, and physical aspects (cited in Arkkelin & Veitch, 1995).

In plain architectural sense however, residential design concerns the formulation of a space where a person or a group of people can have a place to lounge, prepare and eat their food, clean themselves, and rest. It is a space which basically encloses a living room, kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and bedroom (Pickard, 2002).

            On the other hand, commercial design deals with the formulation of a space where people can practice trade and commerce. It deals with spaces where both sellers and buyers can come together and do business. Commercial design presents designers with the challenge to design spaces where sellers can articulately present and display their products to the potential buyers. Likewise, it also challenges the designer to formulate the space in such a way that potential buyers can find both the specific things that they are looking for and the things from other sellers that might interest them as well (Pickard, 2002).

            In terms of space requirements, commercial design basically asks for an area where products can be displayed and dispensed. However, there are specific requirements for particular commercial spaces. Take for example a restaurant. A restaurant calls for an optional reception area, dining spaces, food preparation area, wet and dry storage areas, dishwashing area, distribution area, staff room, and a cashier area. On the other hand, the requirements of a clothing boutique, that also falls under commercial design, includes display areas, customer lounge or seating, fitting rooms, storage, and cashier area. The requirements vary but the essence stays the same- commercial design requires spaces for trade. It requires the basic area for display, selling, and buying (Pickard, 2002).

            Given these statements, it is clear that commercial and residential design come with different functions and purpose and calls for different considerations and requirements. Commercial design basically deals with spaces for dominantly public interactions while residential design elaborates with spaces meant for private, intimate, and more personal interactions. Commercial design deals with spaces for trade and commerce while residential design concerns dwelling spaces. Commercial design, in a broad sense, asks for a space for showcasing, dispensing, and purchasing of products while residential design demands a space for resting, dining, and cleaning-up. Commercial design mainly concerns marketing of products while residential design primarily concerns user-comfort.

            The difference between commercial and residential design can further be elaborated by observing the typical layout and concepts of the respective disciplines. In commercial design, the flow concerns the interrelations of sales and display areas with delivery access point and circulation, consumer access point and circulation, administrative department, storage, and staff areas. One of the key points in coming up with an effective layout for a commercial space is to separate the consumer area with that of administrative and delivery while still subtly creating a connection among them (Pickard, 2002).

            On the other hand, in residential design the layout is based on comfort, ergonomics, function and zoning. The layout in residential design also considers orientation heavily. It considers sun and wind paths in zoning and laying out the rooms. Another consideration in residential design layout is privacy. Private areas should not be zoned adjacent to streets in the same manner that service areas should have access from entry points (Arkkelin & Veitch, 1995). In order to be effective, the layout of a residential space must define areas for sleeping, interaction, and service. The layout should also be manipulated in such a way that it creates a distinction between noisy and quiet zones. Specific layouts, however, vary depending on the users’ needs.

            Although having differences in nature, functions, purposes, and requirements, commercial and residential design also share some similarities. Both design disciplines deals with user-interaction. Formulating spaces for both commercial and residential design requires considerations that address the users’ needs which include comfort, safety, security, and aesthetics. Both designs calls for proper planning fit for the needs and demands of people in order to be effective.


Arkkein, D. & Veitch, R. (1995), Environmental Psychology: An Interdisciplinary Perspective.

USA : Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Pickard, Q. (2002). The Architects’ Handbook. London: Blackwell Science Ltd.


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