Islamic design
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Design brief
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A notional listing of design considerations

A barasti

This check list was put together some time ago when it was intended to set out some of the more simplistic requirements that needed consideration by designers in up-market residences. Perhaps it is now out of date, but it is included here as a record of what was required and with the thought that it might still be of use as a basis for the initial considerations of residential projects.

Although it is a crude list of requirements it might be useful in giving an indication of the kind of issues that differ from Western briefs. Reading through the rest of these notes will give a far better understanding of what is required in a residence, if not in some other building types.

In this respect this page should be understood as an outline which requires reconsideration and expansion. It is offered as a supplement to assist in the normal investigation of a brief by the various designers. It does not absolve the designer from carrying out his or her professional investigative and planning responsibilities in the identification and resolution of the brief and its incorporation into a design. Figures given as requirements should be considered with the client or project co-ordinator and should not be relied upon. When queries arise, efforts should be made to resolve them immediately.

This design brief has been amended to eliminate any personal information, and it is my intention to revise it properly, but in the fullness of time…

Professionals involved in the design process

The professionals working on an up-market project are likely to include, but may not be limited to the following:


Company and company representative

Client’s representative It is not uncommon for a client to appoint a trusted expert to liaise on his or her behalf with the professionals who will design and build the project
Project co-ordinator The project co-ordinator and project manager roles are often the same and tend to differ only when the project is extremely large
Project manager The individual responsible for managing the project
Prime consultant Traditionally a role carried out by an architect, but can differ depending on the requirements of the project, the responsibility nowadays mainly being to co-ordinate all design aspects of the project
Architecture An architect or architects responsible for the overall appearance and design of the project
Structural engineering An engineer or engineers responsible for the structural integrity of the project
MEP engineering An engineer or engineers responsible for the mechanical, electrical and plumbing aspects of the project
Interior design A designer or designers responsible for finishing the interior of the building in accordance with the client’s requirements, if not the responsibility of the architect
Cost control A cost controller or controllers responsible for all the financial processes including their control
Quantity surveyor A quantity surveyor or surveyors responsible for all the financial processes including their control
Landscape architect A landscape architect or architects responsible for the design and execution of the external hard and soft landscaping
Security design A specialist or specialists responsible for advising on and designing security systems to the client’s requirements
Communications design A specialist or specialists responsible for advising on and designing all communications requirements including audio-visual requirements for the client
Kitchen design Specialist designer or designers responsible for designing all the kitchen and related elements of the project
Other Other consultants who might be used will differ from project to project, but could include marine engineers, soil specialists, lighting consultants, animal specialists, medical specialists, art experts and the like. It is the responsibility of the consultants to identify specialist consultancies at the outset.

Project requirements

Privacy Privacy is to be assured for all activities of the user within the curtilage of the property.
Natural daylight All important rooms and spaces should have windows giving adequate daylight suited to the use of those rooms and spaces.
Windows facing within the south to west quadrant should be adequately protected against heat gain during summer months.
All bathrooms should have natural lighting and ventilation with suitably located windows.
It is preferable that all dressing rooms should have good natural lighting.
Lighting levels The designer is to provide good lighting levels suited to the activities of each space, natural or artificial. Downlighters are to be avoided.
External lighting is encouraged. However, it is essential that a distinction is made between security systems and feature lighting. In addition, care must be taken to ensure that nuisance is not created for the inhabitants and users of the building who must be able to enjoy feature lighting at night.
Controls for feature lighting must be operable by the inhabitants of the buildings for whom the lighting is designed.
The colour temperature of lighting must be carefully considered and distinction made between task and other lighting types.
Light pollution is to be avoided, particularly to the occupiers of adjacent properties.
Ceiling heights For prime areas the minimum clear floor to ceiling height shall be not less than 3.50m and should produce good proportions for the space in which they are located.
Doors Doors must be easily operated by all members of the family and be secure, sound resistant, fire resistant and self-closing where necessary.
Handles should be selected with a view to avoid catching on flowing robes.
All doors should be lockable and suited in accordance with the clients’ requirements.
Windows All windows are to have robust, heavy duty hinges and easy to operate handles and locking mechanisms.
Opened windows must not be a hazard to users inside or outside the buildings.
Opened windows must not allow young children to climb out of them.
All windows are to incorporate fly screens protected from mechanical damage.
Provision of security shutters or grilles should be considered when detailing windows.
Junctions of materials should avoid water penetration and the window assembly as a whole should shed water rapidly.
All windows are to be double glazed as a minimal standard. The outer glass should be of a toughened, thermally reflective type, and the internal of clear laminated glass.
The designer is to request direction on the installation of security glass, blast cushioning etc. and provision made, where necessary, in the adjacent constructions.
Provision is to be made for the safe and effective cleaning of all windows.
Roofs Roofs must be safely designed to permit free access for maintenance.
It must not be possible to see into rooms of the building from points on the roof to which maintenance staff have access.
All equipment must be properly and logically routed and fixed in accordance with specific requirements, good practice and the recommendations and requirements of the various authorities.
Where access is required by the user the areas must be suitably designed and finished.
Where access is required for maintenance the traffic routes must be adequately organised, signed and protected.
Water should be shed easily, rapidly and safely from all roof areas.
Fall pipes and gutters should be protected and be capable of easy maintenance and access for the removal of dust, sand and other potential blockages.
Parapets Parapets or the roof design are required to hide any equipment, plant or tanks upon the roof.
Only security and television aerials are allowed to obtrude visually above the roof though, where circumstances and technology permit, they should be hidden.
If activities are planned on roofs, then adequate provision must be made to shield users from view from all positions outside the curtilage of the property, as well as all positions where people other than the family have access.
Verandahs and balconies Where provided, verandahs and balconies should be of a usable size, easy to access from the adjoining room or space, designed to be used in conjunction with that room or space, provide privacy to the user and be easy to maintain. They are to be considered as usable spaces.
Water and power points are to be considered for planting and lighting requirements.
Lifts Lifts must incorporate all essential safety features.
They must be smooth operating and self-levelling, creating no discomfort for the occupier.
Lift systems must not transfer noise to usable spaces within the building.
Telephone access with back-up systems must be incorporated into the car.
The interior of the car must feel spacious and adequate lighting is to be provided.
A full length mirror is required in each car.
The lift size should be considered when establishing the methods by which furniture is to be distributed within the building.
If lifts are to be used for moving furniture, suitable protection panels are to be incorporated, though would be stored under normal usage.
Fire zoning The project must be carefully zoned from the point of view of compartmentation, fire alarms, access to and the provision of emergency fire fighting equipment and access for the fire authorities.
The designer is to request instruction on the fire fighting equipment requirements, sprinklers, etc.
Emergency lighting circuits are to be provided.
First response fire fighting equipment is to be provided in the kitchen areas as well as being available in all bedrooms and areas of the building considered to be at risk.
Fire spread Materials are to be selected and specified generally to ensure that flame and fire spread are minimised.
Flame proofing All cloth coverings used in the interiors are to be treated in such a manner as to make them flame-proof.
Toxicity Materials are to be selected to ensure that the occupants of the building are not at risk from toxic materials used within the building and its fabric, either in normal use or under extraordinary conditions such as fire.
Steps All steps within the building must be of generous dimensions and have an easy rise.
It is recommended that risers are no higher than 150mm. And goings no less than 300mm.
This recommendation should not be used as a standard, but steps should be sized and designed according to their location and use.
All steps and changes in levels are to be plainly evident or marked to assure safety to the users.
Hvac Bear in mind that clients tend to require systems which can be manipulated directly in order to deal with different body temperatures as they move into buildings from the hot or cold exterior.
All rooms are to have individual controls for heating and cooling as well as on/off switches.
In certain areas such as gymnasia and exercise rooms provision is to be made for the system to provide filtered air.
Kitchens are to be conditioned by systems separate from the main building provisions.
Consideration should be given to the cooling of refuse areas to prevent smells.
The designers are to request the design temperatures preferred by the individual users.
All air handling units, motors and other equipment which are likely to cause nuisance should be located away from important rooms.
Noise levels in important suites should not exceed 30db.
Servicing Servicing of the building should, where possible, be arranged to avoid access into the building and the disturbance of the occupants.
Water system A week’s supply of water has to be provided for in storage on site.
Water should be filtered and potable, and must be visually clear in all sanitary fitments and fountains, leaving no sediment.
Water will be chilled in the summer months.
Storm and grey water Storm water is to be catered for in terms of its containment, channelling, storage and use for landscaping.
Provision is to be made for the storage and use of grey water for landscaping.
The necessary traps and filters are to be incorporated in all storm and grey water systems.
Audio / video All audio and video equipment requirements must be incorporated into the designs of the interiors, and should normally be visible, though consideration should be given to hiding large screens.
Provision is to be made for having music played in any room or rooms required by the user, and for the control of this to be from a number of locations.
The latest technologies are to be incorporated into the building, though the client may have requirements for older technologies.
The sizing of video screens is to take full account of viewing distances and angles at which programmes will be normally seen.
Alternative furniture arrangement is to be taken into consideration in the location of audio and visual equipment.
The designer is to request any specific requirements such as radio or communications integration which might be required by the user.
Telephones Specific telephone requirements should be requested by the designer.
Although mobile telephones are common, they should obtain specification for direct external lines, pabx lines, internal lines, dedicated lines, etc. In addition the users’ preferences for the location of handsets must be requested.
Where parallel lines are installed it must be possible to see the other parallel handsets from the any position of use of one of them.
When telephones are located in public spaces it is essential that they do not have their numbers on them.
When telephones are located for public use they are to be barred to international calling.
Where portable telephones are used there should be locations identified and designed for any recharging necessary.
Telephone installations should be safe from accidental overhearing.
The provision for scramblers are required on all private lines.
Care is to be taken to identify telephones by their colour in addition to any requirement for interior design work.
Provision is to be made adjacent to all telephones for the storage of directories both commercial and private.
Hot lines are to be located in the Master bedroom suite and in the study.
Control switches Lighting control switches, socket outlets, bell pushes etc, must be located at sensible heights for easy access and use, and must not dominate interiors.
Computerised systems It is anticipated that many of the systems will be governed by computerised systems. Agreement with the client at an early stage will be required as to which systems are computerised.
Any computerised system must be easily understood and controllable by the client.
Control systems must be rationalised and not require multiple controllers.
Personal computers The clients’ exact requirements are to be requested with regard to the location and provision of personal computers.
Unless told otherwise personal computers are to be operated from a discrete, safeguarded wireless system.
Unless told otherwise personal computers are to have associated printing, copying and other related facilities locally provided to each location.
Safes Generally all safes are to be single key operated and no combination locks are to be installed. But this has to be checked with all clients.
The designer is to request the location of all safes, their specification and the requirements for their internal division.
Generally safes will be required in or adjacent to all bedroom suites and the study.
The designer must check to ensure the character content of all safes – jewellery, artefacts, paper, computer data, etc.
The possibility of a safe room must be considered.
Bathrooms Bathrooms are to be well ventilated and air-conditioned to suitable temperature and humidity standards. The temperature range is to be requested by the designer.
The water closet and bidet are to be located in a separate enclosure together with a wash hand basin.
The bath and shower are to be treated as separate elements of the bathroom.
Care is to be taken with the selection of flooring material in order to ensure that it is safe to walk on when wet. Bathroom floors are to be provided with drainage outlets in order to assist in being washed down daily.
Consideration is to be given to the relative height of the inside of the bath and the bathroom floor. It is safer for older people and children if these two heights are the same.
Suitably located safety hand holds are to be provided for anybody using the bath or shower.
Provision for a medium sized refrigerator must be integrated into bathroom designs. * consultants are to ensure that the design and installation are safe to the user.
Preferably users should not be required to stoop to have access to any cupboards, refrigerators or shelving within a bathroom.
Sufficient space is to be provided on suitably located work tops or shelves for brushes, combs, perfumes, after-shaves, soaps, tissues, etc.
Bear in mind that it is not uncommon to have a significant display of perfumes and similar items on view in the bathroom.
Special shaving and make-up mirrors with low voltage, colour balanced lights are to be provided.
Adequate provision for hanging bathrobes is to be made.
Cleaning materials are to be stored within a designated space within the bathroom.
Stacking space is to be provided for a full range of towels.
Hanging space for towels is to be provided adjacent to wash hand basins, bath, shower area and bidet.
Good quality mirrors are to be provided in front of the wash hand basins.
A seat should be provided within each bathroom.
Baths The bath controls should be readily accessible from outside the bath as well as from the users position inside it.
Access into and out of the bath should be safe and easy.
The bath – whatever size it is – should be capable of filling within five minutes.
Bath tubs are to have a built-in hydro-massage / jacuzzi system of the highest efficiency.
Showers The shower area must be adequately sized and all water and spray contained within it.
Showers are to be of variable pressure and should cover the whole of the body.
Provision for the user to direct the direction, pressure and character of spray should be made.
Ensure that all pipework related to the showers is specified and tested for the high pressures required.
Water characteristics Water pressure should be 4 bars for the showers, and 2.5 bars for the bidet.
Cold water should be cold to the touch at all times of the year.
Hot water should be provided at no more than 60° Celsius.
Safety Controls for the hydro-massage are to be of a pneumatic or electronic sensor type eliminating the any possibility of current leakage.
All electrical equipment, including controls and connections must be located in properly designed and accessible areas outside the bathrooms.
The floor finishes are to be selected for their non-slip quality.
Adequate handrails or grab handles are to be provided in all areas where assistance in moving is likely.
Telephone outlets are to be provided at suitable locations in the bathroom. No telephone is to be fitted loose near to the bath.
Dressing rooms Provision is to be made for a medium sized safe within the cupboard design.
Provision is to be made for a small refrigerator and ice maker within the cupboard design.
The design of the storage should take into account the different items of clothing to be stored there.
The designer should specifically request the runs required for footwear, underwear, dresses, thoubs, headdresses, western suits etc.
All clothing is to be stored at a level where it is easily accessible.
Adequate ventilation is to be provided to the storage.
Make up mirrors and associated, balanced colour lighting is to be provided together with full length mirrors.
Provide the possibility for natural lighting.
Storage space Adequate storage must be provided within the residence for a variety of storage problems.
Linen storage areas for fresh and used linen must be provided on all floors.
House keeping materials and cleaning materials must be provided on all floors and near to the places where they will be used.
A store for gifts and presents is to be provided and which is properly secured.
Storage for luggage is to be provided to take luggage of a variety of sizes.
A store is to be provided for miscellaneous use by the owner.
A secure store is to be provided adjacent to the master bedroom.
Bedroom – master The master bedroom must contain areas both for sleeping and for relaxing.
It should be possible to control the room’s lights from both sides of the bed and from the sitting room or area.
Telephones are to be located on both sides of the bed and in the sitting area.
Night stands or tables are to be adequately sized to take a variety of personal items.
Individually switched lighting is to be located to give adequate light to the bed and sitting areas.
Bed height is to be, when sat on, at the normal sitting height of a chair.
Mattress type, bed linen and pillow types are to be requested by the designer.
If floor heights vary then this must be evident to avoid accident.
Bedrooms – children These will vary with the age and sex of the occupant.
The designer is to ask for specific details of each individual’s requirements, suiting, maids, etc.
All bedrooms are to have an en-suite bath.
Bedrooms – other These will be provided for guests and servants.
The designer is to ask for specific details of the individual requirements, en-suite bath, access, connections etc.
Majlis – informal Seating is to be arranged peripherally. Attention must be paid to ensure that guests sitting in adjacent seats at the corners of the room will not be able to kick each other.
It should be assumed that the host of the majlis will sit in a chair opposite the entrance door or, alternatively, at the centre of one of the runs of seating.
The chief guest normally sits at the right hand of the host.
Occasional tables are to be located where they can be used for cups and glasses.
Provision should be made for tables which will receive flowers or other displays.
It will be necessary to provide a telephone for the host as well as a separate one for use by guests.
Persian carpets are always required on the floor of the majlis. Usually these are nai’ins with the predominant colours of blue and beige.
Majlis – formal The above all obtain. In addition consideration must be given to the flow of well-wishers on holidays and formal occasions, and the location of the guest of honour.

Alterations and additions to this to be carried out…


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