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WELL ! There's always a #BIG Question Mark When it comes to Architectural SITE ANALYSIS.... RIGHT !

SO, Lets Clear the Confusion in very crisp and Detailed  TO DO List....


Why do you carry out an architectural site analysis?

Understanding the context of a site is key to enabling the designer to weave the new design in with the existing fabric of the site. It allows us to understand the existing opportunities, or problems in a site, and make informed decisions on how to respond to our findings.

What kind of information are we collecting?

The general categories of data we will be looking at as we carry out our architectural site analysis are:

  • Location – where the site is situated

  • Neighborhood context – the immediate surroundings of the site including data on zoning and buildings and other impacts on our project.

  • Zoning and size – dimensional considerations such as boundaries, easements, height restrictions, site area, access along with any further plans.

  • Legal information – ownership, restrictions or covenants, council related information, future urban development plans.

  • Natural physical features – actual features of the site such as trees, rocks, topography, rivers, ponds, drainage patterns.

  • Man-made features – existing buildings, walls, surrounding vernacular, setbacks, materials, landscaping, scale.

  • Circulation – Vehicle and pedestrian movements in, through and around the site. Consider the timing of these movements, and duration of heavier patterns. Future traffic and road developments should also be considered.

  • Utilities – Any electricity, gas, water, sewer and telephone services that are situated in or near the site, along with distances, depths and materials.

  • Climate – all climatic information such as rainfall, snowfall, wind directions, temperatures, sun path, all considered during the different times of the year.

  • Sensory – this addresses the visual, audible and tactile aspects of the site, such as views, noise, and so on. These again should be considered in time frames and a positive or negative factor can be attributed to the condition.

  • Human and cultural – the cultural, psychological, behavioral and sociological aspects of the surrounding neighborhood. Activities and patterns, density, population ethnic patterns, employment, income, values and so on.



  • Geological maps to discover predominant type of soil or rock on the site.

  • Aerial photographs and maps (Google and Bing have really useful and quite different aerial Images).

  • Historical maps can also be interesting.

  • Distances and travel times between the site and other locations of importance

Legal Information:

  • Rights of way, rights of access, Town and Country Planning restrictions, are the site in a green belt?

  • History of the site – anything you can use to inform your design. Any tunnels, disused mines, archaeological interests under the site could curtail development.

  • Historical use of the site – could industrial processes have contaminated the land?If the site sits in a conservation area or close to listed buildings you may need to go into more detail regarding cultural significance, historic significance, etc.

  • Developmental controls – is the site subject to any specific planning controls, building control or health and safety?

  • Are there any trees on the site? Do they have Tree Preservation Orders on them?


  • Determine whether water, electricity, gas, telephone, sewerage and other services are connected to the land.


  • Climate conditions of the site/area.

  • Sun path and angles.

  • Is the area susceptible to flooding, is it considered a flood risk area?


What to take with you

  • Camera – essential. Make sure you take pictures of everything. Also, make sure you get some shots of the site from a distance so you can use these in your final images, and so on. Also take pictures of what is opposite the site, so you can use these as reflections in windows of your design. It is so frustrating when you go to the trouble of visiting a site and come back wishing you had taken more pictures.

  • Smart phone. If you have any apps that assist with taking panoramic pictures, take a few of these too. You can do some interesting stuff when you get to later design stages if you have a few panoramics to play with.

  • Note book. Really important to be able to jot down any observations.

  • Tape measure. Some sites may be close to hazards or situations where you will need to measure the proximity. If you have one, a disto, or laser measure could also come in handy, but not essential.

  • Good weather! If you have a choice of when to visit the site try to pick a day when there is a bit of blue sky around. It will look better for your site photos, particularly if you are planning on using them in future presentations.


I would suggest you go with a list of items to look out for, and check off your list so that you don’t miss anything. My list would go something like this based on the categories we established earlier:

Site and surroundings

  • Location :Site location details (road names, address, major landmarks etc.)Current context – existing buildings, car parking, roads.

  • Neighborhood context :Look at existing and proposed building uses in the neighborhoodWhat condition are the buildings in?Are there exterior spaces and what are they used for?Are there activities in the neighborhood that may create strong vehicle or pedestrian traffic?Existing vehicle movement patterns, major and minor roads, bus routes and stops.Street lightingVernacular context, materials, architectural features, fenestration, landscaping, parking, building heightsAny nearby historical buildings, or buildings of particular significanceSun and shade patterns during the yearBuilding context – what style, period, state of repair are the surrounding buildings? It is a historical/heritage/conservation area? Will your design need to reflect the existing style?Is the site close to listed buildings?Surfaces and materials around the site.

  • Site and Zoning :Site boundary and dimensionsAny rights of way through the site and the dimensionsAny easements location and dimensionsBuildable area of the siteAny building height restrictionsAccess to the site – car parking, bus routes, train stations, cycle routes, pedestrian walkways.Access to site for construction – will there be any obstacles or restrictions that could affect the construction process?

  • Natural Features :Topography of the site, valleys, ridges, slopes etc.Vegetation – landscaping, greenery, shrubs and trees, open spaces.Site levels. How will this affect your design process? How does the site drainage work, would there be any potential problems with drainage?Soil types on site

  • Man made features :What was the previous use of the site? Would there be any contamination concerns?Are there existing buildings on the site – what is their state of repair? Is there any sign of subsidence or settlement damage?Are the existing buildings parts of the project?Any walls, retaining walls on the site, or other built items

  • Circulation :Circulation – how do visitors/pedestrians/traffic to or near the site flow around or within it.Accessibility – current provisions of disabled access to the site and how will this need to be considered.Does the existing pedestrian movement need to be preserved?What is the vehicle peak loads and when?Public transport close to the site Locations of best access to site for both vehicles and pedestrians Travel time to walk across the site

  • Utilities :Location of all services: electricity, gas, water, sewer, telephone. This includes both underground and above ground.Location of power poles.Drainage Sub-stations

  • Sensory: Views where are the best views to and from the site.What are the views of?Mark out the positive and negative views.Which is the most likely feature aspect?Look at views towards the site from different approaches to see how the site would be seen when drawing near to the site. What are the best views of the site, and would these changes in the long term?Noise, odour and pollution – is the site in a particularly noisy area? Or near industrial buildings that produce levels of pollution. Is it near a facility that creates smoke?

  • Human and Cultural :Negative neighborhood issues such as vandalism and crime.What are the attitudes towards the site and the potential build?What are the general neighborhood attitudes about the area?What are the cultural, psychological, behavioral and sociological aspects of the surrounding area?What is the population, density, family size, ethnic patterns, employment, recreation activities etc?

  • Climate :Orientation of the site.Weather – how does the weather affect the site? Is it well shaded, exposed?How does the temperature, rainfall etc. vary throughout the year?What are the prevailing wind directions throughout the year?What is the sun path throughout the different times of the year, and day?


Evaluating Your Site Visit

Your diagrams and data collection will be starting to build a picture of the site, helping you to evaluate what you have found and begin to consider solutions.

When looking at your site and considering your design think about the following:

The Site

  • Street patterns

  • Street section

  • Scale and the hierarchy/form/space

  • Land use Typologies

  • Neighborhood relationships, formal street variation

  • Perspective relationships, views

  • Edge conditions, surfaces and materials

  • Natural and man made

  • Movement and circulation within and around the site

  • Vehicle vs. pedestrian

  • Access

  • Public space vs. private space

  • Open space

  • History

  • Climate – sun angles and sun shadows

  • Negative and positive spaces – we move through negative spaces and dwell in positive spaces

The Building

Think about how your proposal is going to link in with the site, and how the site will connect with the building. Make a few notes about each of the points below about what you are looking to achieve.

  • Massing

  • Structure

  • Circulation

  • Axis

  • Symmetry

  • Scale and proportion

  • Balance

  • Regulating lines

  • Light quality

  • Rhythm and repetition

  • Views

  • Geometry

  • Hierarchy

  • Enclosure

  • Space/void relationship


  • Give an overview of the site and the information you have found.

  • Show some of the key photographs of the site.

  • Give more detail about the elements of your site analysis that you feel will be important in your design process.

  • Make sure you include images. There are various ways you can do this:Sketches from site Photographs from site Annotated photographs.

  • Present any relevant data found (climate, sun paths etc.). Keep data clear and concise; don’t bore everyone with complicated graphs and tables. Instead, make your own chart or table that picks out the important information.

  • Present your sun paths and angles as some sort of annotated drawing. Sketch up can be a useful way of presenting sun path drawings.

  • Depending on what has been asked of you, sometimes it is useful to present a couple of overlay drawings showing some initial ideas you have worked on. This will demonstrate your understanding of the site.

The most important thing when presenting your site analysis is to ensure that the information is clear and the reader can understand what you have found. In my opinion there is no point laboring away on fancy graphics if the information is not clear and difficult to digest.

Hi guys ! you can download the PDF of this total guide, This will help you in referring while doing a complete Site Analysis.


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