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Architect’s Role in Plumbing Design

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Yeshwant Ramamurthy, Principal Architect – Studio One, Hyderabad explores the architect’s role in plumbing design through a sequential listing of parameters by which the interaction between the two disciplines is ideally conducted.

The practice of architecture includes planning, designing and overseeing the building’s construction as well as the architectural services. With time and growing sophistication of the building trade, however, the definition of architecture has evolved. Technology has come to play a vital role in designing of buildings in addition to the aesthetics and practicality. Today, an architect not only considers the art and science of erecting buildings but also has to integrate practicality and technology into the aesthetics for creating suitable human habitations. Moreover, with growing recognition that green technology is vital for sustaining the future, it has become a priority in architecture.

As a professional who creates buildings, the architect orchestrates the process of ideating and executing a design through engaging certain parameters such as client interaction, building a team of consultants and liasoning between the stake holders. The architect as a design orchestrator:-


  1. Designs a building that responds to clients space needs
  2. Leads a team of consultants to interact on technical issue
  3. Bridgestheclient with engineering skill providers during design & execution stage
  4. Provides Green building applications & design aesthetics with respect to the future needs

Plumbing Design

When it comes to designing plumbing systems for commercial, institutional or residential building applications, an architect works in conjunction with plumbing consultant. His aim is to rationalize and design optimal plumbing services. The design parameters with respect to plumbing include:

  1. Infrastructure planning
  2. Assessing specific user profile i.e. customizing plumbing design as per building function like hospital, hotel, office etc.
  3. Evaluating ratio of number of occupants to toilet facilities
  4. Incorporating requirements of persons with special needs
  5. Deciding physical location of toilets within the building footprint vis-à-vis accessibility of optimal installation of plumbing services
  6. Considering horizontal & vertical conveyances and distribution & delivery of plumbing services through adequate duct s , plenums, shafts etc.
  7. Integrating external drainage routing into the master site plan as per layout, contours, allocation of land use and building bye-laws
  8. Planning landscape irrigation and drainage and co-relating with existing infrastructure
  9. Liaisoning with local civic suppliers for inspection and sanction of connection & supply
  10. Assimilating services with decorative façade features

Having finalized a design with a plumbing consultant, the architect has to analyze the items which are vital to an ideal design for a building. He provides complete ‘As Built’ portfolio of drawings and as a bridge between client and consultant, comprehends proposed design solutions as well as emerging technologies, products and materials.

The architect prepares bill of quantity (BOQ) & estimate and tenders and awards contracts & specialist services. He assesses operating cost, energy consumption, AMCs and recurring expenses on installation for cost & resource savings in the long run. He is responsible for sequential site execution and quality of workmanship & material. An architect will also pre-commission testing and certification.

Given the growing emphasis on the modern design for bathrooms and kitchens and aided by rapidly expanding market for new products, the architectural design apart from functionality has to emphasize on decorative elements such as wall & floor finishes, lighting and accessories. An important consideration is the combining of functionality and style quotient in the use of fittings & fixtures in toilets and in kitchen like cockroach traps, grease traps, garbage pulverizers and appliances like dish washers and laundry machines. Integrating nature with toilet design is another important aspect of plumbing design.


The architectural design is a template onto which all allied engineering services are layered and co-related. It comprises interdependence and integration of disciplines like structural, HVAC, Fire-fighting & security systems, MEP, Waterproofing & insulation, acoustics and landscape.

Designing Water-efficiency

The water efficiency begins with architects understanding of different types of green design tools available for restroom applications and identifying highefficiency solutions in all aspects of design. This will enable him to strike a balance between sustainable needs and design flexibility. The Green Plumbing consists of:

  1. Minimizing water wastage through efficient design
  2. Systematic utilization of harvested rain water through a designed storage and collection system
  3. Recycling of waste water – aerobic and anaerobic technologies
  4. Waterless technology
  5. Solar heated water
  6. Drip and sprinkler technologies for landscape irrigation
  7. Compliance with Green rating systems

The Way Forward

With growing size and complexity in building design there is a greater realization of the importance of plumbing systems that respect and replicate natural systems. Nowadays, plumbing systems of the building not only relate to other design disciplines but also installers, operators, users and the community outside the building. What is required is a joint collaborative effort from architects and plumbing engineers to make resource saving a priority and employ new technology and services to ensure basic and workable level of hygiene and human dignity. This also includes, the architect’s micro participation in designing of affordable sanitary installation units for individual application as well as efficient, userfriendly and low maintenance design of public facilities in areas like railway stations, bus stands, retail markets and educational institutes among others. Design professionals should endeavor to address urbanization, public sanitation issues and mass housing design schemes. There is a need to promote mega installations for waste water treatment and recycling.


The importance of architect’s role in plumbing design can hardly be overemphasized. However, creating public facilities is only half the battle won. The other half (and arguably the tougher one) would be to sensitize citizens to use them with respect for the next occupant. This can only happen by a concerted civic consciousness drive. Only then will Swatch Bharat happen in India’s urban neighborhoods.

Students of architecture and emerging practitioners need to be systematically mentored into realizing their social responsibility by utilizing design skills and available technologies to aid in the mammoth campaign to cleanse India. In a country with an abysmally low, population: public toilet ratio, it becomes imperative to make this change through sufficient design inputs. From being the lowest civics priority for public spending, local bodies have to increase allocation of money for public sanitation in order to achieve any tangible results.

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