Architectural Floor Plans, Square Footage, and Designing Dream House

Last week, we explored another form of two dimensionality: square footage. Our exploration of fractals over the last two weeks seemed theoretical but next year we will discover the ubiquitous nature of fractals in our lives. This week’s lesson on architectural design focuses on a concept that is more concrete. 


First, I gave the children architectural plans for my current home in Dover and my new apartment in the South End of Boston, both of which are on three floors. I labeled the first “Mr. Kramer’s Home 19915-2016” and the second, “Mr. Kramer’s Dream Home 2016-The End.” Their objective during the week and over the summer is as follows:


  1. SQUARE AREA OF EACH ROOM: Calculate the square area of each room by multiplying the two perpendicular dimensions. For example, if my bathroom is 7x11 feet, the square footage of that room is 77 square feet. 
  2. SQUARE AREA OF EACH FLOOR: Calculate the sum of all square footages on each floor to get a total square footage per floor.
  3. CREATE ARCHITECTURAL PLANS OF YOUR FAVORITE ROOMS: Use the graph paper to create an architectural plan for rooms in their own homes using the detail from the plans on Mr. Kramer’s homes. The children should strategize where on the paper to start the drawing so as to not run off the page. They should also show dimension by creating a line with two arrows on each end touching the full length of the dimension but that line is cut in the middle to leave room for the actual number of linear feet. The detail should include fixtures (I explained to the children that fixtures should include everything attached to the rooms such as toilets, bathtubs, shower stalls, sinks, windows, stairs and doors). The doors are especially tricky since you have to show which way they open. There is a particular set of doors in my current master bedroom in which the plans show the doors hitting each other when they are opened; and they do hit.
  4. DESIGN ARCHITECTURAL PLANS OF YOUR DREAM HOUSE: The big summer project is to design architectural plans of your dream house. One of the mistakes children make is to assume that bigger is better. Using a healthy dose of hyperbole, I drew a graph of an inverse relationship between the size of your house and happiness factor (at least for the person who has to maintain it). I suggested that since I am moving to an apartment which is slightly bigger than half the square footage of my current house that I plan to be twice as happy. Of course, several students asked me where I lived before Dover and what was the size of that place. They had me there since my former apartment was one fourth of the current home in Dover and so they wondered whether I was four times happier when I lived in my former apartment. Of course, this correlation fell apart but they point is still clear: think about the practicality of maintaining your dream house (does it really make sense to have a zoo installed in your basement?).


SCALE FACTOR: With most of the classes we discussed the scale factor of these architectural plans. I gave them one quarter inch graph paper and arbitrarily created a key of one quarter inch equals one foot. When I asked each class what was the scale factor, I received several interesting responses. The most popular was 1:4. I then took the scale drawing of my master bedroom and blew it up four times to show them that this would not even cover a single piece of paper. Then I led them to look at how many one quarter inches can divide into one foot and then they saw the 1:48 scale factor.



I hope the children work on this project all summer to keep them sharp on geometrical concepts,  linear distance, square area, logic, planning, and dreaming.

Architectural_Floor_Plans_and_Create_Dream_House.pdf2.37 MB