Factors Affecting Clubhouse Design

Article By:

Intermediate Urban Designer

Clubhouses are semi-private buildings or spaces which are temporarily utilized by people with common interests or goals, acting as a socialization center when it’s at the heart of a community, and asa place of fun and relaxation when built at a campground. While the term“Clubhouse” is broadly used to describe the space, the programs and activities vary considerably and are determined by a number of factors which drives and shifts the design paradigm and approach. And in this article dear reader I will be exploring the crust of some of these factors.


Clubhouses vary in size from a small 1000 sq ft to a great 140,000+ sq ft(congressional country club -Bethesda, MD) and by intuition one could say that size is dependent on the number of people anticipated using the spaces and programs offered at one time, yet, that is not always the case. The size can be driven by the vision of a community or an entity; a smaller structure tends to be homey and cozy and thus it would be the better choice for a community; neighbors gathering every now and then to convene and socialize. While a golf clubhouse tends to be luxurious, spacious, and with programs offered for golfers making it more of a niche. And since the larger the clubhouse the more expensive it would be to run and maintain, larger ones tend to be built by corporations or companies for commercial purposes, either to make it an attraction, or turn the clubhouse programming directly into cashflow.



The programming in a clubhouse is determined mainly by demographics, but whether the clubhouse was niche (golf, yacht, or surfing) or a community clubhouse, it will still serve the purpose of socialization and communication. A clubhouse in a 55+ for example would have spaces dedicated for the retired and the elderly, a common room for socialization and celebrations, and an outdoor space for enjoying nature and tranquility, on the other hand a clubhouse in a community occupied majorly by young families will have activity rooms for children, as well as games rooms and gathering halls, while the exterior of the building would be livelier and more connected with sporting activities. A niche clubhouse such as a yacht clubhouse in a marina would have additional programs and spaces dedicated for yacht owners and enthusiasts, such as a gallery room or a yacht polishing workshop. A campground clubhouse is designed to contain many entertainment spaces for various demographics, since these are being used by families or individual staking a vacation or a long weekend. Understanding the why and the how of each program is crucial in designing an engaging and functional spaces that would serve their users optimally and maximize their intangible value.



Circulation is entrances, exits, and paths or corridors leading from one space into another. And here is where the designer would be spending most of their time contemplating and understating the various relationships between spaces whether they were general or specific to the clubhouse they’re designing, and that is usually done by conducting secondary research, analyzing similar existing buildings, and the most important part is to understand the needs of their client. Think of the previous examples I stated earlier; a small community clubhouse would usually have one entrance (which could be used for exit as well) and one exit if it is to lead to outer activities associated with the clubhouse or community, if the clubhouse grows larger, and is to accommodate non-frequent visitors and offer catering services, it would be having a kitchen as a functional part, and thus it has to have a secondary entrance meant for employees only, to bring in supplies and dispose of waste. A golf clubhouse is usually designed for having internal and external circulations, since some golfers would be using the interior spaces for lockers or to relax at the bar, while others would be moving out into the course for a nine hole, while have a separate circulation dedicated entirely for staff running the clubhouse.


Architectural style:

The exterior and interior themes and looks are driven -in most cases- by the visions and approaches of entities building them, whether their decisions are made based on inspirations from prior examples, or conducting surveys to understand what is more appealing to their target demographic. Since generational, cultural, and geographical differences in demographics tend to influence specific architectural elements, textures, colors, and materials used for finishes. The architect or the designer has a big role in making decisions by suggestions and/or recommendations in deciding on the general architectural style themed while staying within the client’s budget. I will be exploring this topic in further detail in a separate publication, since this topic is branching and deserves its own article to address.


Clubhouses are buildings used by previous generations and they will still be constructed and used by upcoming generations since they consolidate and fortify our socializing behavior and keeping up to date with new technology and practices, social norms and evolution will yield functional buildings and spaces which will stand the test of time. This is a first of a series of articles where I will be exploring the factors influencing the design of clubhouses in detail, so stay tuned for further publications that dive deeper into the topic.

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