Bubble Diagrams for Design

What is a Bubble Diagram?

This is a planning tool that allows groups or particularly important items to be represented simply and quickly when starting basic space planning.It allows the  relationships required between working groups or individuals to be depicted graphically. This in turn places them geographically in the alloted space.
Essentially each item or group is a named bubble and that bubble is usually an approximation of the size of the item or group in relation to the others. It doesn’t have to be initially, as the bubble diagram is really there to place the items or groups in relationship to their environment or constraints and each other. It may just be a note but the point is that the item is listed and in spacial relationship to the other items. This may be a simple living room or a complex office or nightclub .Bubble diagrams for design cover all aspects of design.

Ive shown three examples here and their following rough sizing over the plan to demonstrate the simple method of using bubble diagrams in planning. The first is using it at home. Here is  a living room space that we are trying to lay the furniture out in . There are to be a few focal points in the room and therefore different areas.

The bubbles and labels are drawn in context to each other in the relationship that you as a designer think will work well and according to the requirements of the client or yourself, if it is you making the decisions. We do this on tracing paper or as another layer in cad beside the drawn outline plan of the space that we are working with so that it is in context with the scale. Its an easy way of quickly realising scale and proportion to the space.
The bubble is then colored which helps demonstrate to the client or yourself  decent contrast and allows easy identification of each area.

this layer or sketch can then be copied and pasted over the actual scale plan or the tracing paper drawing can be placed on the plan of the room that you are working with. From here the rough sizes are worked out to the scale that the room is drawn at.



We are now able to see the relationships in context to the room and if its going to work in that fashion. The bubble diagram has saved a lot of time of trail and error trying to determine if the relationship planning works in the room.


We then rough out the space and add the detail.
Bubble diagrams for design works as well for any design exercise including total home design building design or even planning a city.Its all a matter of scale.
The next example is of a simple night club and the last of an office. All three of these examples have been started using the bubble method. The bubble system shown here is very rough and its up to the individual how precise they want to be initially. The writers experience and instruction at design school and as a junior working for my mentors and architects was always use a broad brush initially, freely express yourself and then hone down to a working model.

A nightclub bubble plan

The nightclub bubble plan with color

Bubble diagrams for design

The bubble plan shown with divisitive planning to work out the rough areas Click here to see the floor plan the 3 dimensional drawing and article

Office bubble diagram

Finally An example of office planning using the bubble method. Here I  had the space already determined ( had a lot of experience in planning offices) and had taken a fairly comprehensive brief so the bubble was laid out directly over the plan.

Colored office bubble diagram

I then coloured it for my own benefit

and went through the planning process as for the other projects. Follow this link to see this project broken down into all stages of planning and the final result.