Architects and interior designers have a variety of tools at their disposal to design spaces and represent how those spaces relate to one another. One of the simplest and most versatile of those tools is the bubble diagram.
A bubble diagram is one of the diagrammatic drawings used early in the design process to organize spaces in a way that’s easy to understand visually. A quick look at a bubble diagram will show you why they are used so often: They are simple, easy to draw, and relay basic information quickly. Of course, in certain situations, they can also be quite complicated, but for our purposes here we will stick to simple bubble diagrams.
Anyone can learn to create a bubble diagram in architecture or a bubble diagram for interior design. All it takes is some paper and a pen or pencil to get started. Or, you can take advantage of online tools – some of which are free – to create more professional-looking bubble diagrams for presentations.
Bubble Diagram Basics
There are a few basic principles to keep in mind when you want to create a bubble diagram floor plan. These include:
What is your vision for this particular architectural or interior design project? You are facing certain spatial constraints and functional requirements with every design. Knowing what your objectives are will make it simpler to decide where to place the bubbles and how each bubble will relate to the others on the page.
There is some information that is necessary to have before you can start planning a project. Site data, functional requirements, and client preferences are all relevant to the design process. Bubble diagrams are fairly simple and usually more applicable to the early part of the design. Your bubble diagram will be more useful, though, if you have all the information you require before you start drawing.
What parts make up the core elements of the project? Knowing what rooms you will need, such as offices, restrooms, outdoor spaces, and so on, allows you to give each element an identity to represent on the diagram.
How to Make a Bubble Diagram
Learning to communicate your design ideas with a bubble diagram can take some practice, but fortunately, the fundamentals of creating these diagrams are quite simple. You can make one in just a few minutes even without any drawing or design skills. Let’s look at the basic steps of creating a bubble diagram below:
Begin With a Sketch
The most basic bubble diagram consists of circles and lines. Use bubbles to represent rooms or separate spaces within the building and lines drawn between those bubbles to represent how each space is accessed.
When you start sketching, try to approach the process in a freeform manner. You are just getting ideas down on paper at this point. Play around with different-sized bubbles in relation to one another. Experiment with different connections to find out how to most effectively communicate your ideas.
Stick With Simple Shapes
Bubble diagrams tend to consist of mainly bubbles. It’s possible to get creative with the thickness of connecting lines, arrow shapes, and borders on the circles, but the aim should be to keep it simple. It can be hard to do so at first, especially if you enjoy drawing, but it’s worth exercising discipline.
The purpose of your design in this particular diagram is to see how different spaces relate to one another, which mostly comes through variations in bubble sizes. By limiting yourself to bubbles, you force yourself to communicate your goals clearly.
You are not required to only use circles (bubbles). But when you are just starting out, it can be helpful to stick with as few different shapes as possible to ensure you don’t get bogged down.
Consider Spatial Relationships
Bubble diagrams are excellent for demonstrating spatial relationships and concepts like circulation and adjacency. Different spaces interact with one another in specific ways. It should be possible to demonstrate these interactions using bubble size, color, and lines.
For example, you can make all the offices in your diagram blue. A quick glance will show how many offices there are and how they connect to the spaces around them.
Creating bubble diagrams can be done quickly and with so few tools and resources. That makes them perfect for experimentation. You can try out multiple approaches in a relatively short amount of time, and you should! This is the time to throw out whatever ideas pop into your head and see where they take you.
Using Digital Tools to Create Bubble Diagrams
Presenting a hand-drawn bubble diagram to major stakeholders is usually not ideal (unless you are really good at drawing bubble diagrams). For presentation purposes, it can be helpful to take advantage of digital tools for bubble diagram creation. There are plenty of options to choose from and most of them will give you a professional-looking finished product you can use for presentations.
If you are working in architecture or interior design, you may already be using digital tools that can produce bubble diagrams. Microsoft Visio, SmartDraw, and SketchUp all have features that allow you to produce bubble diagrams.
There are also multiple online diagramming tools that can generate bubble diagrams, some of which you can use for free. They are not as full-featured as the major design suites mentioned above, but if all you need is a bubble diagram then that shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, it might be preferable to use a simpler tool if you only need a bubble diagram.
When to Use Bubble Diagrams
There are multiple areas where bubble diagrams can be useful to experiment, to understand relationships between spaces, and to communicate ideas.
- Site Planning. In the early stages of site planning, you can use bubble diagrams to experiment with relationships between interior spaces, outdoor spaces, and other elements.
- Interior Design Planning. Use a bubble diagram in interior design to explore the relationship between rooms, circulation paths, and other areas of interior spaces.
- Programming Studies. Show the functional requirements for a project through bubbles and by using line weight to represent the strength of relationships.
Start Exploring Bubble Diagrams in Architecture Today!
Bubble diagrams are easy to get started with and really give you a chance to lean into the brainstorming process. A pen or pencil and a piece of paper are all you need to begin. The more comfortable you get with the process, the easier it will be to communicate your ideas to others. Try making a bubble diagram today!