architectural site analysis - methods and tools

Site analysis for architects – methods, tools, and proper data storage

A lot of beginner architects are neglecting the importance of site analysis and think their best work is done at their desk. However, before you even get at your desk you need to make sure that the construction idea and the whole concept of the project is viable, sustainable, and logical.

Why is an architectural site analysis necessary?

A lot of beginner architects are neglecting the importance of site analysis and think their best work is done at their desk. However, before you even get at your desk you need to make sure that the construction idea and the whole concept of the project is viable, sustainable, and logical. 

This is when site analysis comes in and it’s an extremely important stage of every project development.

Contextual analysis

Contextual analysis of a site is the research that looks at conditions in which the site is located – literally it’s context. 

Contextual analysis is important for you to start thinking about the design being embedded into the context and the landscape. In a way, contextual analysis is a more general procedure.

Architectural analysis

Architectural analysis deals with more specific issues, such as size, location, zoning, roads and traffic around the site, climate and so on. Within your architectural analysis you need to take into account any possible future developments and changes that might happen near your project.

Site analysis is important not only to make your project look good and relevant in the context, but also to avoid future logistical, legal, and technical problems. Your clients expect you to take everything into account.

Site analysis that’s not executed properly can cause all sorts of problems  that will affect the work of other contractors and the professionals. Make sure you are thoroughly gathering data and drawing the right conclusions from it.

s architects ourselves we know the importance of document management – that is why the PlanMan document storage module is extra-well planned. Our tool lets you share all the data and media however you like, so make sure you sign up to PlanMan before you run your site analysis.

What data does architectural site analysis collect

The architectural site analysis collects two types of data mainly. Those types are soft data and hard data.  Soft data describes things about the site that can and sometimes have to be changed, while hard data deals with unchangeable elements of the site. 

Architectural analysis stages

There are also two stages of architectural site analysis – desktop study and the actual site analysis visit.

Both stages require different tools. The desktop study will require a computer, online and printed maps, aerial photographs, historical maps, utilities’ plan, your project management software (as well as a paper sketchbook of course).

The site visit analysis on the other hand, needs more tools. During your fieldwork and while visiting the side, make sure you are equipped with a camera, a smartphone, and paper notebook, and a tape measure.

Types and categories of data

Here’s the list of the most common types of data that our users are gathering and storing for architectural site analysis.

Not all of it will be applicable to every project, there will also be new data types for some projects. Make sure you’re taking absolutely everything into account while running your analysis.

Legal

Any information on ownership, restrictions, development plans, city property, and city plans will go here.

Natural features

Everything that’s not man-made, like landscape and topography – rivers, trees, rocks, water drainage and movement patterns.

Man-made features

This type of data includes buildings, walls, monuments, landscaping elements, parks and so on.

Utilities

Electricity, gas, water, sewers, Internet & telephone cables, – everything needs to be included, measured, and considered.

Sensory data

This is all the data that deals with sensory perception of the site. Lighting from other buildings and public lighting, smells, noise, views and much more – basically everything you can feel while visiting the site.

Human and cultural data

This type of data is often hard to obtain but is extremely important nonetheless. Human data deals with the safety of the location: population dynamics, crime rate, employment, ethnic population patterns, population density, and so on. 

In order to get this data you might need to interact with local residents. 

Basically this type of data evaluates what kind of neighbourhood the site is in and what to expect because that may influence the design. 

Logistics and circulation

This concerns roads, pedestrian walks, planned roads, popular movement times, high traffic situations and more. 

Proper architectural site analysis will make your job easier, and it will make all other contractors’ jobs easier as well. Make sure you are attentive to detail while analysing  the site and store everything you collect in PlanMan file storage to share with your team.

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