Why Designing a Casino is One of the Toughest Architectural Briefs of All

March 1, 2022

"Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, Las Ve" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Ken Lund


There isn’t an architect’s practice in the world that wouldn’t welcome a chance to start with a blank sheet of paper, or monitor screen, and be tasked to create a truly iconic building. As well as the opportunity to win a major architectural award, the fruits of their labors will be there for all to see, a living advertisement of their skills.

Designing a brand-new casino complex from scratch is one such project. The result will undoubtedly be eye-catching and possibly reputation-making, but it’s also a very challenging prospect for a number of reasons.

The first is the changing shape of the casino world. It can’t have escaped you that more and more players are choosing online casinos over bricks-and-mortar establishments. That they can find the games they want in a virtual space presents the first issue. One only has to look at a typical site to see how many different versions of online blackjack are on offer. There are variations that range from speed versions of the game like Lightning Blackjack to elite styles like Premium Blackjack. So creating the sheer floor space to offer this huge choice would be a challenge for any architect – and that’s just blackjack. With several other games to accommodate as well as many slot machines too, it’s a key consideration.

"Casino, Monte Carlo, Monaco" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by SCOTT_Brian

The nature of the different games also demands a different kind of design aesthetic for each one – a very hard trick to pull off while still employing a consistent style. Another challenge for the architect in designing the casino interior is the question of people flowing throughout it. With so many different players, each has their own interests and individual way to interact with the space. So, in many ways it needs to be all things to all people. Compare this with designing a high-profile office complex and the difference is clear to see. In the case of the latter, there are relatively clearly designed patterns of user behavior making it far easier to plan.

In a typical casino resort it will also generally be multi-purpose. So, in addition to the casino floor, there will be bars, restaurants, a performance area as well as a hotel attached. Designing a space that is coherent in terms of look and feel, or which is flexible yet still stems from the same original vision is no mean feat.

Of course, this is all in addition to the decisions that need to be made about the exterior design of the building. Obviously, local planning and zoning regulations dictate many of these. But even working within them, there is a huge range of styles for the architect to consider from modernistic to harking back to classicism or even echoing the grand designs of some of the world’s most famous ones such as the Casino de Monte Carlo.

So, as you can see, it’s by no means a simple task if a casino brief lands in an architect’s in-tray. That said, if they get it right and tick all of the boxes, it will be a high-profile success that is sure to enhance their professional reputation and raise the profile of their practice.

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