Factors Affecting Design

Every design project situation is different. Every situation has a different set of requirements and limitations. Each project presents a unique set of environmental, technological, cultural and aesthetic choices that need to be considered. All of these factors create its own set of challenges and opportunities. Design is the process that is both problem-seeking and problem solving. With each project having a distinctive combination of influences, the key factors are discussed in more detail below.


Certain clients have a clear view on their program, budget, knowledge and overall appearance of the structure. Other clients look for more assistance from their designer to define their objectives and create the building to meet those objectives. The trust level between designer and client is critical for keeping a project moving forward and making design decisions that are best for the project.


All clients have a number or requirements, desires and limitations that need to be met in a design. The program is the scope of work which identifies the project in its entirety, with all the factors to make each project unique. Each program may be short or long, general or specific, needs based or solution based.

Community Concerns

A design may need to be adjusted by the designer and client to ensure the community surrounding and public officials requirements are met.

Codes and Regulations

Regulatory constraints on design have changed over the years and have increased to keep people safe. Simple safety requirements, zoning by-laws, and building codes and regulations are forces that impact the overall design and construction practices. The bigger the project, the more code and regulation requirements must be met.

Climate & Aesthetics

The aesthetics for a building must include the surrounding fabric of natural and built-up elements for the site. The existing characteristics of the elements around the new project site can assist in developing starting points for approaching site development, as well as building design, configuration and layout, material, colours and textures. The region and climatic features should also be a factor when considering a design. The features include temperatures, humidity, precipitation, wind, solar rays and radiation.


The site of a project is something very important when working on a project. A site is what allows and limits a design at the same time. Factors that include site size, typography, drainage, vegetation, wildlife habitats, ecological features, accessibility and water elements.

Building Technology

Systems, materials and building configuration are always chosen with much thought and based on aesthetic principles. Different types of structures (ie. residential, condominiums, office buildings, etc...) all have different requirements to accommodate structural, mechanical, electrical systems in a cost-effective fashion. These systems work side-by-side and need to be designed as so.

Sustainability & Environment

Sustainable design or environmental design is the philosophy of designing buildings and homes, the built environment and services in which conform to the principles of the social, economic and ecological issues. In architecture, the designs need to deliver buildings minimal long term effects on the environment all while enhancing the overall health, productivity and quality of life for the client and the public.

Cost & Budget

With most projects, the most influential factor is the funds available for the design and construction. Once the budget is defined, the design decisions can begin to take fold. Decisions on building size and configuration, materials and detailing all need to based around the budget. Some budgets are fixed (often by the financial availabilities of the client), and other may be flexible. For example, some clients may be willing to increase the initial budget to help achieve overall life-cycle cost savings or to speed up the schedule of the construction.


The constraints of a time frame and deadlines of a projects schedule can influence how specific issues are explored and handled. Dealing with a time constraint can lead to difficulties in keeping the project on budget. One needs to make sure the design and construction schedules stay on track and are realistic to keep extra costs down.