site analysis in architecture

Site analysis in architecture

site analysis in architecture, is the method of evaluating a specific areas bodily, psychological and social traits with the ambition of growing an architectural solution that may each tackle and improve its inside and exterior context.

“To develop a mission of any benefit, its site should first be measured”

Each site is exclusive and can include many advanced components reminiscent of: various topography, watercourses, timber, vegetation, habitats, and climate patterns to call just a few. All of which is able to and may affect an architect’s design course of and decision-making.

The suitable evaluation of those components will initially assist decide the buildings placement, orientation, kind and materiality, however then later go on to affect its structure, sustainability and procurement route.

…offering a really important basis and essential place to begin for any architectural mission.

Why do you perform an architectural site analysis?

Previous to beginning any design, your shopper will wish to know whether or not building on the positioning is viable. Finishing up an in depth site analysis [or context analysis] will assess wether growth is financially possible, and set up parameters to implement the very best design that responds to the bodily and environmental options of the positioning.

A contextual analysis is a analysis exercise that appears on the present circumstances of a mission website, together with any imminent or potential future circumstances. The aim is to tell us a couple of website previous to the beginning of our design course of in order that our preliminary design enthusiastic about a website can incorporate thought of responses to the exterior circumstances.

An architectural site analysis will have a look at points reminiscent of site location, measurement, topography, zoning, site visitors circumstances and local weather. The evaluation additionally wants to think about any future developments, or adjustments to the websites environment, reminiscent of a change of roads designations, altering cultural patterns, or different important building developments inside the space.

Understanding the context of a site is key to enabling the designer to weave the brand new design in with the present cloth of the positioning. It permits us to know the present alternatives, or issues in a website, and make knowledgeable selections on how to reply to our findings. This response might be that the designed building displays the encircling context and is designed to be in sympathy, or maybe to show away or eradicate sure undesirable website circumstances.

Ensuring the analysis is thorough

It is crucial when finishing up a website evaluation, that we endeavour to analysis as a lot as potential and acquire all out there information that pertains to the positioning and our design. A poorly executed site analysis can result in a sub customary design because of the designer not having all out there data to reply to and develop options for. You may by no means know an excessive amount of concerning the website.

To assist with accumulating data, I’ve made a guidelines that could be a place to begin for analysing the positioning and gathering information. The guidelines is just not exhaustive, which suggests you may add to the guidelines each time you come throughout new problem or issue regarding a site.

What sort of data are we accumulating?

Our analysis information could be cut up into two foremost classes. Onerous information and comfortable information.

Mushy information seems at site circumstances that may be modified. Onerous information seems at extra concrete components such as site boundaries, site areas, utility areas, contours, dimensions, site options, local weather, authorized data. Early site investigations ought to have a look at arduous information. From this, we’re in a position to set up which components we think about to have a detrimental influence on the positioning or proposed design and which circumstances have a extra constructive affect. This enables us to create a hierarchy and offers a extra systematic method to understanding our information and growing the design.

The final classes of knowledge we will probably be taking a look at as we feature out our architectural site analysis are:

  • Location – the place the positioning is located
  • Neighbourhood context – the quick surrounding of the positioning together with information on zoning and buildings and different impacts on our mission.
  • Zoning and measurement – dimensional issues reminiscent of boundaries, easements, top restrictions, website space, entry together with any additional plans.
  • Authorized data – possession, restrictions or covenants, council associated data, future city growth plans.
  • Pure bodily options – precise options of the positioning reminiscent of timber, rocks, topography, rivers, ponds, drainage patterns.
  • Artificial options – present buildings, partitions, surrounding vernacular, setbacks, supplies, landscaping, scale.
  • Circulation – Car and pedestrian actions in, by way of and across the site. Contemplate the timing of those actions, and length of heavier patterns. Future traffic and highway developments must also be thought of.
  • Utilities – Any electrical energy, fuel, water, sewer and phone companies which might be located in or close to the positioning, together with distances, depths and supplies.
  • Local weather – all climatic data reminiscent of rainfall, snowfall, wind instructions, temperatures, solar path, all thought of in the course of the completely different instances of the 12 months.
  • Sensory – this addresses the visible, audible and tactile elements of the positioning, reminiscent of views, noise, and so forth. These once more needs to be thought of in time frames and a constructive or detrimental issue could be attributed to the situation.
  • Human and cultural – the cultural, psychological, behavioural and sociological elements of the encircling neighbourhood. Actions and patterns, density, inhabitants ethnic patterns, employment, revenue, values and so forth.

Desktop Research

Earlier than you go to the positioning, there may be loads of data you may acquire from a desktop examine. By finishing up thorough analysis previous to your go to to website, you’ll arrive effectively knowledgeable, and presumably have recognized particular issues that you simply wish to verify or look out for in your website go to.

Previous to your website go to it could be vital to acquire an OS map of the positioning. From this, and from shopper data you may make clear the situation of website boundaries.

Issues to look into earlier than you go to website:


  • Geological maps to find predominant sort of soil or rock on the site.
  • Aerial images and maps (google and bing have actually helpful and fairly completely different aerial
  • pictures). Historic maps will also be interesting.
  • Distances and journey instances between the positioning and different areas of significance

Authorized Info:

  • Rights of method, rights of entry, City and Nation Planning restrictions, is the site in a inexperienced belt?
  • Historical past of the site – something you should use to tell your design. Any tunnels, disused mines, archaeological pursuits below the site may curtail growth.
  • Historic use of the site – may industrial processes have contaminated the land?
  • If the site sits in a conservation space or near listed buildings you could want to enter extra element relating to cultural significance, historic significance, and many others.
  • Developmental controls – is the site topic to any particular planning controls, building management or well being and security?
  • Are there any timber on the site? Have they got Tree Preservation Orders on them?


  • Decide whether or not water, electrical energy, fuel, phone, sewerage and different companies are linked to the land.


  • Climate circumstances of the positioning/space.
  • Sun path and angles.
  • Is the world inclined to flooding, is it thought of a flood threat space?

Some data is just not freely out there, however a shopper or their authorized consultant ought to be capable of make clear any points relating to rights of method, rights of sunshine, authorized easements and any rights of tenants.

There are numerous extra issues to take a look at, and every website could be very completely different, however hopefully this gives you a place to begin for getting the very best out of your website go to. Within the subsequent part we are going to have a look at visiting the site, and among the gadgets on the guidelines in accordance with the classes that you need to look out for.

Visiting The Site

What to take with you

Relying on the mission you’ll want to think about taking the next gadgets with you while you go to take a look at a potential site, or proposed website on your design mission. It’s doubtless you’ll require PPE (private safety tools) so be sure you have all the mandatory gadgets earlier than heading to website.

  • Camera – important. Be sure to take footage of every part. Additionally, be sure you get some photographs of the positioning from a distance so you should use these in your remaining pictures, cgi’s and so forth. Additionally take footage of what’s reverse the site, so you should use these as reflections in home windows of your design. It’s so irritating while you go to the difficulty of visiting a site and come again wishing you had taken extra footage.
  • Good cellphone. You probably have any apps that help with taking panoramic footage, take just a few of those too. You are able to do some interesting stuff while you get to later design levels when you have just a few panoramics to play with.
  • Observe guide. Actually vital to have the ability to jot down any observations.
  • Tape measure. Some sites could also be near hazards or conditions the place you will have to measure the proximity. You probably have one, a disto, or laser measure may additionally turn out to be useful, however not important.
  • Good climate! You probably have a selection of when to go to the positioning attempt to choose a day when there’s a little bit of blue sky round. It should look higher on your site images, notably in case you are planning on utilizing them in future shows.

What to look out for

I’d counsel you go along with an inventory of things to look out for, and verify off your checklist so that you simply don’t miss something. My checklist would go one thing like this primarily based on the classes we established earlier:

Site and surroundings


  • Site location particulars (highway names, tackle, main landmarks and many others)
  • Present context – present buildings, automobile parking, roads.

Neighbourhood context

  • Have a look at present and proposed building makes use of within the neighbourhood
  • What situation are the buildings in?
  • Are there exterior areas and what are they used for?
  • Are there actions within the neighborhood that will create robust car or pedestrian site visitors?
  • Present car motion patterns, main and minor roads, bus routes and stops.
  • Road lighting
  • Vernacular context, supplies, architectural options, fenestration, landscaping, parking, building heights
  • Any close by historic buildings, or buildings of explicit significance
  • Solar and shade patterns in the course of the 12 months
  • Building context – what style, interval, state of restore are the encircling buildings? It’s a historic/heritage/conservation space? Will your design have to mirror the present style?
  • Is the positioning near listed buildings?
  • Surfaces and supplies across the website.

Site and Zoning

  • Site boundary and dimensions
  • Any rights of method by way of the positioning and the scale
  • Any easements location and dimensions
  • Buildable space of the site
  • Any building top restrictions
  • Entry to the site – automobile parking, bus routes, prepare stations, cycle routes, pedestrian walkways.
  • Entry to website for building – will there be any obstacles or restrictions that would have an effect on the development course of?

Natural Features

  • Topography of the site, valleys, ridges, slopes and many others.
  • Vegetation – landscaping, greenery, shrubs and timber, open areas.
  • Web site ranges. How will this have an effect on your design course of? How does the positioning drainage work, would there be any potential issues with drainage?
  • Soil sorts on site

Man made features

  • What was the earlier use of the site? Would there be any contamination issues?
  • Are there present buildings on the site – what’s their state of restore? Is there any signal of subsidence or settlement damage?
  • Are the present buildings a part of the mission?
  • Any partitions, retaining partitions on the site, or different constructed gadgets


  • Circulation – how do guests/pedestrians/site visitors to or close to the positioning circulate round or inside it.
  • Accessibility – present provisions of disabled entry to the positioning and the way will this should be thought of.
  • Does the present pedestrian motion should be preserved?
  • What’s the car peak masses and when?
  • Public transport near the positioning
  • Places of finest entry to website for each vehicles and pedestrians
  • Journey time to stroll throughout the positioning


  • Location of all companies: electrical energy, fuel, water, sewer, phone. This contains each underground and above floor.
  • Location of energy poles.
  • Drainage
  • Sub-stations


  • Views – the place are the very best views to and from the site.
  • What are the views of?
  • Mark out the constructive and detrimental views.
  • Which is the almost certainly function facet?
  • Have a look at views in direction of the site from completely different approaches to see how the positioning can be seen when drawing close to to the site. What are the very best views of the positioning, and would these change in the long run?
  • Noise, odor and air pollution – is the site in a very noisy space? Or close to industrial buildings that produce ranges of pollution. Is it close to a facility that creates smoke?

Human and Cultural

  • Damaging neighborhood points reminiscent of vandalism and crime.
  • What are the attitudes in direction of the site and the potential construct?
  • What are the final neighborhood attitudes concerning the space?
  • What’s the cultural, psychological, behavioral and sociological elements of the encircling space.
  • What’s the inhabitants, density, household measurement, ethnic patterns, employment, recreation actions and many others.

Local weather

  • Orientation of the site.
  • Climate – how does the climate have an effect on the site? Is it effectively shaded, uncovered?
  • How does the temperature, rainfall and many others range all year long?
  • What are the prevailing wind instructions all year long?
  • What’s the solar path all through the completely different instances of the 12 months, and day.

Take a while to stroll across the website as a lot as potential. Be aware of the final topography of the site, and any important adjustments in stage. Additionally observe any indications of what’s beneath the floor, for instance, any marsh grasses may counsel that there’s a excessive water desk, if the soil is sticky it may point out the subsoil on the site is clay. If there may be any rubble on the site, it may counsel there was earlier growth, or presumably landfill on the land.

Many of those website points (notably companies) can be picked up on a topographical survey or different skilled report, however for the good thing about a scholar website evaluation task I believe it might be good to show that you’ve thought of the hazards that might be on or across the website.

Diagramming your findings

The easiest way to current a lot of the info you’ve got collected is thru diagrams. There are various approaches to expressing the options of the site, some favor to incorporate as a lot data as potential on one diagram, whereas others will produce a lot of smaller diagrams to show explicit website circumstances or options.

Each choices work, however should you resolve to current all the info on one drawing, it is very important be certain that it doesn’t turn into muddled and tough to interpret the knowledge. So a single diagram demonstrating lots of the website circumstances will probably be a bigger drawing than quite a few particular person diagrams demonstrating one website issue. It’s also vital that the hierarchy of the drawing is evident – utilizing your pen thicknesses to show the completely different elements.

You may symbolize information out of your website go to in plans, elevations and sections, isometrics or views. Make sure you select the most suitable choice for the date you are attempting to elucidate. We wish to be certain that the diagram is easy, and clear, with the info we’re presenting graphically bolder than the referent data. You need the emphasis to be on the knowledge you might be speaking, for instance a path by way of the site, or the place of timber on the site. In the event you select to create a sequence of drawings, be sure that the site drawing is all the time the identical orientation, and ideally scale, in order that the reader can simply perceive the drawings.

Evaluating Your Site Visit

So you’ve got collected all this data and brought a shed load of images, now you’ve obtained to guage this data and think about the implications to your design course of. In addition to contemplating all of the factors under you additionally must combine the necessities of the transient. You might be slowly placing collectively the items of the puzzle to be able to give you an excellent design.

Your diagrams and information assortment will probably be beginning to construct an image of the site, serving to you to guage what you’ve got discovered and start to think about options.

When taking a look at your website and contemplating your design take into consideration the next:

The Site

  • Road patterns
  • Road part
  • Scale and the hierarchy/kind/house
  • Land use
  • Typologies
  • Neighbourhood relationships, formal road variation
  • Perspective relationships, views
  • Edge circumstances, surfaces and supplies
  • Pure and artificial
  • Motion and circulation inside and across the website
  • Car vs. pedestrian
  • Entry
  • Public house vs. non-public house
  • Open house
  • Historical past
  • Local weather – solar angles and solar shadows
  • Damaging and constructive areas – we transfer by way of detrimental areas and dwell in constructive areas

The Building

Think about how your proposal goes to hyperlink in with the positioning, and the way the site will join with the building. Make just a few notes about every of the factors under about what you wish to obtain.

  • Massing
  • Construction
  • Circulation
  • Axis
  • Symmetry
  • Scale and proportion
  • Stability
  • Regulating strains
  • Gentle high quality
  • Rhythm and repetition
  • Views
  • Geometry
  • Hierarchy
  • Enclosure
  • Area/void relationship

Throughout your analysis of the site, it could be helpful to create a mannequin of a specific facet, and even the site itself. A model might show one thing higher than a drawing or {photograph}, notably three dimensional conditions. Land contours, are sometimes demonstrated utilizing a easy site model. This base model may then be used as a part of your idea growth.

Presenting your Site Analysis

It is probably not a requirement to current your site evaluation data, however in lots of circumstances it’s. Whether or not you might be placing collectively a few plans along with your findings, or a full report, listed here are some suggestions and concepts that will help you get the knowledge throughout.

  • Give an summary of the positioning and the knowledge you’ve got discovered.
  • Present among the key images of the positioning.
  • Give extra element concerning the components of your website evaluation that you simply really feel will probably be vital in your design course of.
  • Be sure to embrace pictures. There are numerous methods you are able to do this:
    • Sketches from website
    • Pictures from website
    • Annotated images
  • Current any related information discovered (local weather, solar paths and many others). Maintain information clear and concise, don’t bore everybody with sophisticated graphs and tables. As a substitute, make your personal chart or desk that picks out the vital data.
  • Current your solar paths and angles as some form of annotated drawing. Sketchup could be a helpful method of presenting solar path drawings.
  • Relying on what has been requested of you, generally it’s helpful to current a few overlay drawings exhibiting some preliminary concepts you’ve got labored on. This can show your understanding of the site.

Crucial factor when presenting your website evaluation is to make sure that the knowledge is evident, and the reader can perceive what you’ve got discovered. In my view there is no such thing as a level labouring away on fancy graphics if the knowledge is just not clear and tough to digest. I’ve a Pinterest board devoted to website evaluation graphics and concepts, be happy to test it out for some inspiration.

Why is site analysis essential?

As already touched on, a initiatives success is constructed on its relationship to its website and environment, and due to this fact by default ought to all the time be bespoke to and primarily based on its location and native traits.

Each website has very particular photo voltaic orientations, views (good and unhealthy) and sometimes a really express character and environment. Every certainly one of these areas is a chance to generate a significant conceptual method and a option to devise a buildings form, structure, kind and materiality.

As soon as established, further analyze of entry, wind path, website ranges, vegetation, native context, prolateness, companies (electrical strains, drainage, phone strains) will assist cement any early conclusions made.

…That is the aim of site analysis, and why it greater than merely ticking packing containers to fulfill a standards, every part must relate again to the foundations established early on in the course of the investigatory interval. In order that when required it may assist present the solutions to future questions.

“Good design is generated from robust, easy and well-established ideas.”

How can site analysis be used…

When contemplating native climate patterns, the intention needs to be to all the time present a building with the very best entry to photo voltaic good points, daylight and shelter. This may be achieved by way of calculated management of the consequences of the solar, wind and rainfall, by way of good positioning of openings and rooflines to offer pure gentle, heat and shelter all year long.

To chill a building, its orientation can pull and flow into cool summer time air although its plan by aligning its lengthy axis with the prevailing wind path and by offering deep over hangs for shade. Through the winter months, its constructed volumes can present shelter and create protected exterior areas through courtyards.

When utilizing the context to affect materiality, look in direction of the native vernacular of the encircling buildings. For instance, dry stonewalls and Corten metal can be utilized as a contemporary interpretation of agricultural buildings with out mimicking.

Rammed earth partitions can be utilized to symbolize an extension of the positioning and if the native soil sort is true may even be constructed from the land.

Weathering timber creates a pleasant narrative of adjusting and rising outdated with a website.

When the site has distinguished views, buildings can tackle the panorama with massive framed apertures and choose key views and options to particularly draw consideration to. Shifting between rooms can generate completely different views and due to this fact experiences at completely different instances of day, relying on how and when the areas are used.

These concepts are website particular and solely have which means by way of being related, and this relevancy is generated by way of understanding your site analysis in architecture.


…Along with Adobe Photoshop, in case you are keen on utilizing the above symbols on your own site analysis recordings and presentation.


What is the purpose of site analysis?

The aim of Site Analysis is to provide an understanding of the site, in terms of its context, constraints and opportunities. It allows the designer to use the site to its best potential and take advantage of the resources available such as sunlight, views, access etc.

What is a site analysis in architecture?

Architecture site analysis is the process of researching and analysing the social, historical, climatic, geographical, legal, and infrastructural characteristics of a given site, and synthesizing these analyses into visual information — usually in the form of site analysis diagrams.

Why do architects do site analysis?

An architectural site analysis is needed to understand the environment around your building. The site analysis is quite important regarding the physical constraints of the project. It helps you draw up plans and create views of your building as if it were completed.