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  • Writer's pictureGabe Ramirez & Ciara Martins

Site Analysis: Our Process

Designing a house, step number one: Site Analysis. One of the most important aspects of the design process begins with an investigation of the project site. This study is to set the parameters to begin developing a strong design for a home, one that responds very specifically to the unique context in which it will be built.

At Farmhouse Design Studio we believe that design is strongest when it directly responds to the physical and environmental features of the site. Understanding the setting enables us to weave a new design into an existing fabric, whether that fabric is natural or human built. It is during our analysis of each site that these characteristics reveal themselves and allows us the opportunity to create in response to them.

The “Site Plan” drawing is a good starting point for every site analysis; from this drawing we can begin to layer the information we’ve collected to isolate each aspect and expand on the influence it will have.

Our analysis typically includes collecting the following information;

  • General Site Plan

    • This should include the property lines and dimensions, any built aspects on the site, prominent trees or vegetation, street names, etc.

  • Zoning and By-law information

    • This will include any building rules/restrictions that the county has for that specific site, including set-backs and maximum buildable height.

  • Circulation on the site and major traffic routes

    • This could reveal how people interact with the site and how it will be approached.

  • Orientation and sun path

    • Understanding how the sun interacts with the site will help inform the openings in the building and influence passive heating and cooling strategies.

  • Vegetation

    • This can inform shading, be used for privacy and help frame views.

  • Highlighting desirable views and locating privacy considerations

    • This will influence the placement of openings and private building components.

  • Neighbouring context

    • This will influence the scale of any proposed new building structures

  • History of existing structures

    • This may be used to draw on for inspiration of new proposed building structures

  • Local Climate including prevailing wind

    • This will influence passive heating and cooling strategies, shading devices, entrances, etc.

The list above is not exhaustive, each new site suggests differing analysis. For example we are currently working on a project where an existing Folk Victorian house is to remain on site; our scope entails an addition to this building. In this particular case we took the time to study and analyze the architectural style and define the characteristics pertinent to that style. By doing so we were able to make more informed decisions on how to authentically compliment this house with our new addition.

Site analysis is one of two sets of information we gather in our pre-schematic design phase that will influence how we design. The other set is client information. This will be expanded upon in our next blog post.

Once we have analyzed the information about the relevant physical and environmental features of the site, as well as collected the necessary client information we have the base to begin the exciting design process.

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