Office design, the practical guide_software-BIM-architecture-Edificius

How to design an office, the practical guide

How to design an office: types, standards, functional layouts and interior design. A complete guide to optimal office space planning, together with render examples, DWGs and a 3D model produced with an architectural BIM software

In this practical guide we'll be showing how to correctly design an office. The first part of the article will focus on some theoretical design aspects, while in the second part we'll be seeing some practical examples produced with Edificius, the architectural BIM design software for engineers and architects.

In addition, we’ll be taking a look at different types of office spaces by developing an open space office project, and produce the relating DWG drawings and the 3D model that you can even download for free.

Start off by downloading Edificius, the architectural BIM design software

Office floor plan - project drawing produced with Edificiusm the architectural BIM design software

Office floor plan - produced with Edificius

Download the 3D BIM model (.edf file) of the office project

Download the IFC model of the office project

A comfortable and well designed office is the "ideal" place where to work, because the employee's well-being increases production quality and quantity. Furthermore, offices are environments where people spend most of their day. Therefore, designing an office is an important topic to address.

In addition to the specific standards, it is important to consider other design aspects, such as ergometry and workstations arrangement.

In this article we will provide an overview of how to design a smart workplace focusing on the following aspects:

  • reference standards
  • types of offices
  • spaces arrangement
  • working environment comfort
  • equipments
  • electric power systems.

Office design, the practical guide_render-open-space_software-BIM-architecture-Edificius

Render of an open space office - produced with Edificius

Office design, international standard examples

Safety standards and a series of provisions to protect workers’ health are envisaged at international level and must be taken into account when planning an office.

An organizational approach, premises, furnishings, technical equipment and the configuration of work stations should be functional according to the activities carried out and are key for the employees’ well-being. Standards promote sustainability in a workplace and their importance is evident

Let's see some examples of rules and/or standards to follow.

  • ISO

ISO, The International Organization for Standardization, has developed some international standards, including:

The terms of both standards have been applied through various national annexes.

  • European Union

Each EU country has implemented the following directives concerning the improvement of health and safety in a workplace:

References in this regard are issued for US designers by the following organizations:

Some workplaces in Canada fall under the federal legislation, regulated by:

However, the majority of workplaces are regulated by local regulations.

  • Brazil

Safety in a workplace in Brazil is regulated by:

Different regulations for a workplaces design are present in Mexico, but the two main ones are:

Office types

It is fundamental to establish, already during the planning phase, which activities will be carried out within the premises and which are the requirements for a correct workstations configuration.

how to design an office_aerial-render_software-BIM-architecture-Edificius

Aerial render of an open space office - produced with Edificius


We can distinguish different types of office space:

  • cellular office layout – the floor plan is divided up into smaller or individual spaces, suitable for individual work and which do not require information exchange. This can be done by creating various separate rooms or cubicles by means of half-height dividing partitions within the larger floor plan.
  • open plan office – is a term for any floor plan which makes use of large, open and undivided space for multiple workstations. It is an option suitable for large groups of employees, whose work is largely divided and based on routine activities requiring low concentration levels.
  • activity-based office – spaces are designed to create opportunities for a variety of workplace activities. It involves different types of meetings and interactive situations. Employees will change their workstation during the day according to the type of task that they need to complete.
  • team enclosures – team offices allow members of the same team to work together without losing concentration and getting distracted by people not in their immediate team. This is ideal for creative teams where brainstorming and discussion are a large part of the day routine.

Space arrangements in an office design project

A workplace must be well designed keeping in mind its final use and avoiding lack of movement for employees.

Office design, the practical guide_functional-layout_software-BIM-architecture-Edificius

Functional layout of an office project - produced with Edificius

Office environment dimensions

Generally, when designing an office, the following minimum dimensions need to be considered for each environment:

  • net height 2,70 m
  • surface 9 m²
  • surface per employee at least 5 m²

Office design project drawing_B-B-section_software-BIM-architecture-Edificius

B-B cross-section produced with Edificius

Service areas

Service areas are those that do not involve continues presence of people (such as corridors, warehouses and archives, changing rooms, toilets, possible shower rooms, etc).

Changing rooms and toilet areas cannot be in direct contact with the work environments, so a passageway must be provided.

Service areas can be:

  • obtained from aboveground, basement or semi-basement rooms;
  • ventilated both naturally or through ventilation systems.

Office design, the practical guide_render-detail-open-plan_software-BIM-architecture-Edificius

Render detail of an office project - produced with Edificius

Accessory and support environments

Accessory or support areas includes:

  • health facilities (medication rooms, clinics);
  • refectories or company canteens;
  • living and resting areas.

Accessory and support environments must be provided with the same ventilation and lighting characteristics that are intended for the other work spaces, even through plant installations when necessary.

Office design, the practical guide_office-render_software-BIM-architecture-Edificius

Small office render - produced with Edificius

Mezzanines used for office purposes

Typically, a stud and track partitioning system will be used to build the required room above or below the mezzanine floor. There are a certain number of aspects to consider when designing an office mezzanine floor. From building contol consideration, through to power and lighting requirements. In addition, when designing a mezzanine floor it is important that the correct loadings and deflection are calculated.

Office design, the practical guide_A-A-section_software-BIM-architecture-Edificius

A-A cross-section - produced with Edificius

Workplace comfort

When designing an office, the comfort of the environment and of the workers, as already mentioned, is of fundamental importance. Other aspects that must be taken into account are:


Lighting design in a workplace is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects to manage, because it is connected to production capacity and it should also guarantee that psycho-physical conditions are best preserved, thus making the working environment a more comfortable and safe place.

Office environments ventilation

Ventilation in the office is an aspect that should not be underestimated, since microclimate conditions (including air speed, humidity and temperature) are very important to ensure the well-being of those who work there.

Many regulations worldwide state that, workplaces need to be adequately ventilated in the proper manner by which clean air is drawn from an external source outside of the workplace and circulated throughout the building. Whether by natural or mechanical means, it should dilute and remove humid air and provide sufficient air movement to give a feeling of freshness without causing a draught.

Office design, the practical guide_C-C-section_software-BIM-architecture-Edificius

C-C cross-section - produced with Edificius


One of the elements that contribute to workers’ well-being is the control of acoustic requirements of the working environment.

When designing an office, in order to have good acoustic comfort, and always considering the type of activities that will be carried out, it is advisable to provide offices with closed compartments rather than areas with side wall partitions and false ceiling.

Office design, the practical guide_render-meeting-room_software-BIM-architecture-Edificius

Meeting room render - produced with Edificius

Download section

In this section you'll have the opportunity to download the project drawings (floor plans and sections) in DWG and the 3D BIM model for free.

Download the 3D BIM model (.edf file ) of an office project

Download the IFC model of an office project

Download the project DWG drawings