How to Do Site Analysis

In the architecture field, site analysis is one of the things you will constantly do as part of the design process. It’s like the eyes that will help you see what are the ideal things you could do and what are the restrictions. 

If you’re in architecture school, you’ll surely encounter this in your first year. To serve as your guide, this blog post will help you have an idea on how to do your site analysis. 

*This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you when you purchase through a link.*

What is Site Analysis

According to Definitions, Site Analysis is part of the design phase where we study the climatic, historical, geographic, infrastructural, and legal context of a site. This could be a sketch showing the different relations of the site to the built environment. 

In order to make this site analysis, there are a few things you would normally take note. You can base it through research alone but it is highly recommended to visit the actual site to gather data. It helps to keep a sketch of things while you’re on there to avoid forgetting. I just use a simple grid notebook, I bring it wherever I go. This is also where I place some of the details I need to take note of.

Related: What is Architecture

To Research Before Site Visits

Site Analysis can be done even without site visits which means it will be based on theoretical data from different sources. However, it is better to visit the actual site to actually feel and visualize the environment surrounding it. 

Before you go do your site visits, what do you want to look for?

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

To Look For During Site Visits

When you’re already on site, there are things you wouldn’t want to miss especially if the site is hard to get to or access. What are these things you might want to take note of?

  • What are the characteristics of the neighboring buildings?
  • What views from the site are ideal?
  • What are the noise levels?
  • How’s the typography and are there any key features or restrictions?
  • Take note of the humidity, wind direction, and sunlight. 
  • Is there existing vegetation?
  • Take note or you could interview people about pollution, flooding, and landslides aside from doing your own research online. 
  • You could also take note of the soil type and state if you can. 
  • What are the services present? Water, sewage, electricity, gas, etc. 

Related: Design Concept in Architecture

To Analyze After Site Visits

After you have gathered your data on site, you can begin sketching your analysis. What are the other things you still need to consider aside from drawing the data you already have? When doing a proper sketch of things, I recommend getting a good sketchpad to lay things out. Or if you have one, drawing on an iPad could be really helpful as it is what I do sometimes.

  • What are the legal restrictions? i.e. building height limits, etc. 
  • From your visit and research, what are the circulation routes? Vehicle access? Pedestrian access?
  • What’s the typography according to the maps?
  • What are the ideal views for public and private?
  • What’s the sun path and areas for shading?
  • What’s the wind direction from the maps?
  • Where are the possible public transport links?

Related: What’s in My Bag as a Junior Architect on Site

There may be more you can think of but these are generally what we look for when doing our site analysis. I recommend making a checklist you can refer to from time to time, and at the same time bring with you as you go on site.

Site Analysis and Site Visits go hand in hand however you can perform the former through research alone. There are different maps you can use to do so and you can even use Google Earth to do the site visit virtually. 

I’d say site analysis is one of the most valuable in the process as it will help you most in planning. You don’t want to have designed something only to realize it doesn’t fit and complement the lot and surroundings in any way. 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.