So, what is circulation? Circulation within Interiors refers to the way in which people move through and around a building throughout time. It can be broken down into direction, the type of use, the frequency of use and the time of use.

The speed of the movement of circulation can be fast or slow. The speed of the movement will depend on the visibility and how crowded/scarcely populated the location is.

The direction of circulation can be either horizontal or vertical. If circulation is described as being horizontal, it refers to how people move in and around on a particular floor or level, but, if it being described as vertical circulation then it refers to relationship between the levels; looking at how people move between the various floors. Methods of horizontal circulation methods include moving walkways and corridors, whereas examples of vertical circulation can include a lift, stairs, escalators and ramps.

Private and public refers to different circulation zones. If a circulation route is considered to be within a public zone, it suggests that the area is widely accessible; an example of this could be a lobby. Whereas a circulation route considered to as private, will include the back of house and staff circulation passageways.

These two types of circulation zones will differ functionally, in terms of the level of use (how busy it is) and the Aesthetic. Circulation routes within private areas will be designed to optimise productivity and efficiency, whereas public circulation routes will be more attractive and aesthetically pleasing.

When you are planning your design of these methods of circulation, they do not need to be ugly or hidden away; circulation routes can be a beautiful key architectural feature.

When considering the various circulation routes, you want to make sure the pathway is unobstructed and well illuminated. If the circulation route is a fire escape route, then you also want to ensure that this is the quickest and safest route out of the building. In design practices, the flow of the circulation is one of the first areas considered; the circulation will often inform the rest of the interior proposal.

Don not forget, you must communicate the routes for public and private circulation as well as fire safety and general use circulation clearly within your design.

How do you communicate circulation in a building? Designers often communicate different circulation routes as storyboards, or as a map on a floorplan. You can also highlight the different types of circulation route by exploding the 3D perspective or axonometric of the building and colour coding your routes.

In restaurants, bars and cafes circulation routes are important for both staff and guests. For instance, circulation largely affects the relationship between the kitchen and table service, when planning this type of circulation route you need to consider time and efficiency and consider the best route for avoiding incidents. For guests, you should consider the circulation routes to access the bathrooms, considering access and flow routes which will not getting in the way of staff under pressure or ending up in private area. Circulation routes should be used to keeping minimal interference between front and back of house.

For buildings like museums and galleries, mapping out clear circulation routes can help communicate different zone locations, where to access the various floors and the location facilities like toilets and food. This is extremely important in public buildings of this nature; people will often spend lengthy amounts of time here, so they will want to know where the various break points and facilities are located upon their arrival. This will help to inform the visitor plan how they can progress through the interior during their visit.