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Commercial Architecture – How to Design Commercial Buildings

Great architecture stays with us; it imprints on our mind. Employees can be inspired by their building. Customers can be influenced by design. Commercial architecture has a huge effect without people even realising it.

But how do you achieve an influential design? What creates a memorable commercial building? We’ve put together this helpful guide to commercial building architecture and how to design a striking building.

What is Commercial Architecture?

A commercial building can have a wide variety of uses from a hospital to retail centre. Commercial encompasses anything related to performing or providing a service, therefore commercial buildings include offices, shops, restaurants, warehouses and so on.

This article will mainly focus on retail and office space, as both of these exemplify the importance of key commercial architectural considerations; standing out and productivity. Effective architecture of a space can help elevate a brand and entice customers (retail). Successful design can inspire and engage, encouraging interconnection and innovation (offices).

There are, obviously, many types of building across numerous sectors, each with differing architectural requirements and styles. For inspiration of other types of building design, learn about educational building design or office building design.

How to Design Commercial Buildings

Before putting pen to paper and beginning a design, there are plenty of aspects to consider first. Commercial architecture is an expansive term covering a multitude of builds, from small pop up shops to vast warehouses; no single design can, or should be, the same as anything else. Here are some of the top considerations and tips for designing commercial builds.


The sole purpose of a commercial building design is to house a service, purpose or product. A design must consider the purpose of the building and take into account all the requirements. It may seem obvious, but basic requirements can be overlooked when too much attention is paid to fine details.

At the most basic level, consider the use of the space and the users; who will interact with the building and why. Any commercial building architect should value and consult their client’s vision and needs. If they require a shop design, don’t neglect a stockroom and distinctive display methods. If designing an office space, consider number of departments and potential for collaborative work. Understanding how a commercial building will be used is the defining factor for how a commercial building is designed.

Consider Users

A building design cannot be replicated for all uses, an architect should create unique and bespoke spaces for each individual project. Some commercial buildings have clear users and designs that reflect these; hospitals generally need multiple floors and designated sections for departments to group services and employees. Office buildings or retail tend to not fit the same mould, the design is less restrictive, you can play with the space you create.

How people interact with a commercial building varies greatly and needs to be in the forefront of any design. If you are designing a commercial shop, you may want to design a striking building to garner attention. The user of the building is clear; you want to attract potential customers and entice them in to buy products. Office building designs may consider open spaces, natural light and air flow to focus on the psychological impact of a good building design on employees’ mental health and motivation.

Consider Surroundings

A huge consideration for commercial building architecture is whether the building should stand out or adhere to surroundings. For a company seeking to attract customers or maintain its established style, uniqueness may be a given. However, designing a commercial building in line with surroundings may be beneficial. Using the same stone for construction, for example, may prevent uproar and controversy over straying too far from the norm of that area.

Subtle design accents, such as timber cladding, help to create striking facades without being obtrusive. Not only does timber cladding produce an attractive natural finish, it is carbon neutral and sustainably sourced, making it a great material to accentuate a commercial building design maintaining environmental values. Learn more about NORclad and its environmentally considered timber cladding here.

Exterior space is just as impactful as interior, consider bring the outside in and incorporating nature into a commercial building design. Not only will utilising the outdoors make the most of available space, it can have great affordances for mood and productivity – perfect for office spaces. Inside outside architecture is an increasingly popular trend making the most of nature outside, while maintaining the seclusion of inside.

Think Outside the Box

Granted, if designing a shop for a company, you want to make the product clear and entice the customer towards the tills. But why not have some fun with this? If the product is fine wine; design a wine cellar with cave-like ceilings and burrowing tunnels. Utilise natural light and green flora to replicate the simplicity of natural products being sold in a healthcare shop. Recreate a workshop to display tools and machinery for vehicles in a specialist environment.

Create a unique build with distinctive features to catch the eye of customers wandering by. From curved corners, bold colours and neon lights to themed, timber or modern accents, commercial building design undoubtably allows for quirks.

Not only will a striking commercial building attract customers and clients, it will reflect the brand. If a company wants to present itself as a forward-thinking futuristic company, its flagship store design, or head office, should reflect that. Companies looking to promote sustainable values may seek environmentally considered designs for their commercial building, utilising green materials and natural heating solutions to minimise the impact of the building. A commercial building, especially for retail and showrooms, can be imaginative and bold, helping to create and instil a company’s brand and legacy.

Learn More With NORclad

If you want a unique commercial building, want to find out more about the sustainable properties of timber cladding, or fancy some for yourself, learn more with NORclad. With over 40 years’ experience in providing bespoke timber cladding solutions for a variety of builds, NORclad can assist in creating the building of your dreams.

Get in contact with our specialist team today.


2022-04-05T12:25:31+01:00December 18th, 2019|

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