Site Analysis in Architecture

Site Analysis in Architecture

What is Site Analysis in Architecture

Site Analysis is part of the preliminary phase of the design process where you study the context of a specific site such as its location, its limitations and environment, sun and wind path, typography, and others. There are a lot of things to consider when analyzing a site and the more detailed your analysis is, the better. However, as long as you got the basics or the necessities of a specific project, you’d be fine.

Site visits would go hand in hand with site analysis because visiting the actual lot of the site will help you see and feel the context or the environment yourself. Although analyzing the site could be possible theoretically through research, your first-hand experience of the site could help you more.

What is the Purpose of a Site Analysis

Analyzing the site helps you gather the important data you will need to consider when conceptualizing your design for your project. Generally, we don’t design a “one-size-fits-all” and we base each design on the context of the site. Site analysis tells you your limitations and opportunities to be able to maximize your site which could be especially useful for residential, commercial, and institutional projects. Limitations could include laws, zoning, and typography, while opportunities could include views, transportation links, and nearby areas.

Table of Contents

What is Included in a Site Analysis

You can sketch your analysis by hand or you can do it digitally by overlaying maps. Here are some of the questions you may want to answer to include in your site analysis:

  • Where is the geographic location of the site?
  • What are the site boundaries?
  • Are there conservation areas nearby?
  • What are the restrictions for the easement?
  • How secure is the site?
  • Where are the Road Right of Ways (RROW)?
  • Where are the current and possible entrances?
  • Is there current or existing structures?
  • What are the landmarks nearby?
  • Are there any hazards surrounding the site?
  • Are there any public transportation links?
  • What is the soil type of the site?
  • What are the legal restrictions?

Here are some of the things you can take note of especially if you’re doing site visits:

  • What are the characteristics of the neighboring buildings?
  • What are the ideal views on-site? For public and private?
  • How are the noise levels?
  • What is the typography and are there any key features or restrictions?
  • Where are the sun path, wind path, and what is the humidity of the site? (This can be known through research using different maps.)
  • Is there existing vegetation?
  • What is the pollution like? Does it flood and are there landslides? You can also ask the townspeople about their experience with this.
  • Where are the links for water, sewage, electricity, gas, etc.? You can ask for these details from the local government office.
  • What are the possible circulation routes such as vehicle access and pedestrian access?

Site Analysis Checklist

You can download a checklist format below of the list above and you can bring it with you on your site visits! 

How do you sketch a Site Analysis?

There is no default way of sketching a site analysis. What matters is that you’re able to show visually all of the content you noted from the checklist above. A sample I like is Ar. Eric’s in his video from the 30×40 Design Workshop.

You can start to visualize your form as you sketch or you can just focus on analyzing the site and identifying opportunities. You can sketch manually or present visually through Powerpoint presentations or the use of digital tools such as Adobe Photoshop.

What software is used for Site Analysis

If you plan to do your site analysis digitally, it helps to access maps you can overlay. For projects in the Philippines, I mostly use Project Noah’s maps, but there are other online tools you can use for sun paths, wind paths, and others.

Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Powerpoint are two of the widely used programs for presenting.

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