Five Ways to Design a Functional Mixed-Use Commercial Space


Recent shifts in commercial design have developers seeking modern plans in their spaces with more natural light, amenities, green spaces and contemporary layouts. So how does this approach apply to mixed-used commercial spaces? Here are five ways to design mixed-use commercial spaces for enhanced functionality.

1. Build Flexible and Modular Spaces

Five Ways to Design a Functional Mixed-Use Commercial Space

Bala Pop Up by Ringo Studio - Photography: Anna Morgowicz

Business needs within mixed-use commercial buildings could change daily or weekly, so flexibility is necessary. Modular design principles allow spaces to change as needed for a conference, luncheon, pop-up shop or another occasion. 

For example, 3D-printed walls can be easily adjusted and removed based on the day's needs. These structures save money and produce less pollution through efficient design and fewer wasted materials. Prefabricated building components allow businesses to expand or contract, depending on who occupies the space. 

2. Account for Modern Office Plans

Five Ways to Design a Functional Mixed-Use Commercial Space

Standard Chartered Bank Shanghai Headquarters by Woods Bagot

Functional design should include flexibility for businesses, considering how working arrangements have shifted in the past few years. Research shows that 28.2% of American employees have hybrid jobs, meaning mixed-use commercial developments should account for remote and in-office time.

Occupants may only be in the office on select days, so organize the space with various layouts. Incorporate collaboration rooms, hot desks, conference rooms, solo cubicles and related ideas to help workers. The spaces should also include telecommunication technology to help businesses conduct meetings with their remote employees and international clients.

3. Consider Transportation Needs

Five Ways to Design a Functional Mixed-Use Commercial Space

A mixed-use commercial space entails employees and customers coming in and out of your facility, so you must consider transportation needs in your design. Account for the different types of transit available in your area and make the appropriate accommodations. 

For example, suppose your area has a sizable concentration of electric vehicle (EV) usage. Incorporating EV charging stations around the facility will help workers and attract customers to the mixed-use space. A 2023 J.D. Power study finds that 83% of EV owners charge at home due to lacking public infrastructure, so this feature would make your mixed-use commercial space adaptable to current automotive technologies. 

It's also essential to consider those who cannot drive or choose other transportation methods. Your mixed-use development should include designated bike parking spaces, whether racks outside the building or a dedicated room for indoor protection. A bicycle-sharing program supports non-driving accessibility as people look for alternative transit options. Research shows this initiative reduces CO2 emissions and helps sustainable development.

Above all, your design should prioritize pedestrian access for the health and safety of employees and customers. Enable easily navigable buildings with wheelchair ramps, wide elevators, clear signage and other helpful amenities. 

4. Make Room for Biophilic Spaces

Five Ways to Design a Functional Mixed-Use Commercial Space

The Biotope by Henning Larsen

Incorporating biophilic spaces is another strategic idea for a functional mixed-use development. These indoor and outdoor areas benefit commercial buildings by improving air quality and letting occupants feel close to nature. Exteriors could include a courtyard with landscaping and various plants for occupants to enjoy. Green roofs have become popular additions to enhance sustainability and reduce heat island effects.

Helping people feel closer to nature should be your goal when organizing design principles. Sunlight can significantly affect occupants' health for the better and including operable windows lets fresh air inside and improves views. A 2020 Journal of Building Engineering study says natural light improves social sustainability by reducing employees' stress. 

5. Integrate Smart Technology

Five Ways to Design a Functional Mixed-Use Commercial Space

Smart devices have become practical for mixed-use developments as they can help with space utilization. For instance, strategically placed sensors can collect data about each unit and its occupancy level to adjust the heating and cooling needs. These devices work with the HVAC system to save money and heighten functionality regardless of the tenant. 

Automated building systems are another way to incorporate smart technology. These devices make operations more seamless, regardless of the occupants and their business needs. For example, a keyless and touchless system makes entry and exit smoother and enhances functional design. Additionally, employees are less susceptible to spreading germs and bacteria through door handles. 

While most people try to keep themselves clean, they may unknowingly spread viruses and diseases in buildings. A 2023 Journal of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences study finds office door handles have numerous types of bacteria, making them a liability for public health. 

Making Commercial Spaces More Functional

Changing times call for a different approach when designing commercial spaces. Mixed-use developments should account for employees' modern needs, such as EVs, hybrid work models and greener spaces. These five ideas help buildings become more functional and organized for all occupants, whether businesses or consumers.

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