Design, Education, Preliminary Design Stage Series

Episode 5: Site Analysis

Site analysis is the process of analyzing the existing context of a proposed site which includes the climate, geography, history, and infrastructure of the site. The purpose of a site analysis is not only to be familiar with the above factors, but also it determines the starting point for the development of the actual design ideas and concepts. That simply means that the majority of the subsequent steps in the preliminary design stage are based on the information obtained from site analysis.

Site analysis is usually presented in a diagrammatic format where all the features of the site are discussed or represented by a sketch. This can usually stretch to 5 sheets or more, depending on the level of details that are required. The features that are mostly … are discussed below:

An Example of Site Analysis
An Example of Site Analysis
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Climatic and Geographical Features

These are the largest features discussed under site analysis as they form majority of the physical features of the site. Below is a list of items which fall under these features:

1. PREVAILING WINDS (Trade Winds)

  • Direction.
  • Maximum, minimum and average velocities.
  • Special forces e.g storm, tornado, hurricane

2. SOLAR ORIENTATION

  • Sun angles
  • Days of sunlight
  • Cloud cover
  • Shading of or from adjacent structures, natural features and vegetation.

3. TEMPERATURE

  • Ranges of variation.
  • Maximums and minimums.

4. HUMIDITY

  • Ranges of variation.
  • Maximums and minimums.

5. PRECIPITATION

  • Peak period tables.
  • Annual and seasonal totals.
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6. TOPOGRAPHY

  • Legal property description, including limits of property, easement, rights of way and north indication.
  • Topographic maps and aerial photos.
  • Slopes: percentage, aspect and orientation
  • Erosion channels.
  • Extent, location and general configuration of rocks, ledges, ridges, drainage, and some other unique features.
  • Visual characteristics.
  • Potential problem areas during construction.
  • Analysis of physical features and their relationships within, into and off the site.
  • Existing access and circulation; vehicular and pedestrian.
  • Vegetation.
  • Existing water bodies: Location, size, depth and direction of flow.
  • Water quality: Clean, polluted, anaerobic conditions etc.
  • Ecological features.

7. DRAINAGE CANALS (Rivers, streams, marshes, lakes, ponds etc.)

  • Natural and built.
  • Alignments and grids. 
  • Pattern and direction

8. GEOTECHNICAL/SOILS

  • Basic surface soil: sand, clay, silt, rock, gravel, loam, limestone etc.
  • Rock and soil type: character, formation and origin, geologic formation process and parent material.
  • Inclination.
  • Bearing capacity.
  • Bedrock: depth to bedrock and classification.
  • Environment hazards.

Historical and Infrastructural Features

These are features that deal with the history of the site, what it was previously used for and the site’s infrastructure, which is mostly dealing with existing infrastructure on and off the site, or the proximity to off site infrastructure. Below is a list of items that fall under these features:

1. UTILITIES

  • Portable water.
  • Electricity
  • Sanitary sewer service.
  • Storm drainage (surface and subsurface)

2. IMMEDIATE SURROUNDINGS

  • Neighboring structures: buildings, satellites, dishes etc.
  • Shading and solar access
  • Noise from streets, emergency services, aircraft etc.
  • Odours
  • Views and Vistas

3. GENERAL SERVICES

  • Fire and police protection.
  • Hospitals/clinics
  • Trash/refuse removal services.
  • Electricity services.
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Site analysis usually goes hand in hand with site zoning which will be the next episode. It gives a better understanding of the information obtained during site analysis. A good site analysis is based on a comprehensive site visit. All these details can only be obtained through a proper site visit. I hope this post gives you a better understanding on site analysis and why it fell into The 3 Most Neglected Steps in Design.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next episode!

(NOTE: My designs were done before the establishing of Quif Studio. These current blog posts are written in line with research, my experience and through consultations. Any mistakes, omissions etc. that have been noticed in my designs, were made a few years ago. The sole purpose of sharing them is to give you an idea of what each and every step should look like)

13 thoughts on “Episode 5: Site Analysis”

  1. No we did not do justice to site analysis 🤦🏾‍♂️😅. So much information required and it’s importance to the entire design process cannot be over emphasized. I wish you’d started this blog when I was still in school. Keep up the good work 👍🏾

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well Is a good will Arc . My suggestion is that, when ever you are writing such episodee e.g (site analysis) you should try to come up with lebel on your sheet e g Fig. 1, fig. 2 e.t.c in order to give reader an over on what he’s reading .
    However, Citation & reference should also be in in your episode since you said “Research” .
    Thanks you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow I never knew such blog existed ..my course mate shared the link to me ,cause I was having so challenges on how to go about my Semester Project
    Thank you🙂. Good

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! I never knew such blog existed…my course mate shared the link to me,cause I was having some challenges on how to go about my Semester Project .
    Thank you🙂.

    Like

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