Performing a thorough site analysis is a critical step for the success of any landscape architectural project. It is important for developers and all players on a development team to understand the potential impact of site conditions prior to making significant financial commitments.
A thorough inventory and analysis of the site is important to determine the best use of the site. In a perfect world, we would do these things before the architect begins their designs, and we would collaborate with them on a common vision for the landscape design concept.
Site Analysis and Evaluation: Starting from scratch
‘Analysis” and “evaluation” may not sound too appealing, but they are essential. As landscape architects, we want to fully understand what works and doesn’t work on the property. It gives us a place to stand so that we can create. With that foundation, we can confidently move earth, move trees, create focal points, frame views. and design outdoor places that users will highly desire to want to be and experience.
A Site Analysis is just taking a little time to study your landscape site or property, and analyze the basic features found there. Think of it as a brief description of your property, listing its assets and liabilities by area, as well as environmental factors that may affect a final design (i.e. sun angle, wind direction, pleasant views, unpleasant views).
A Site Analysis helps understand unique problems associated with the property and how they can be best used to create a functional and enjoyable outdoor living space.
Remember the user
The users are typically tenants and visitors, and each have their own needs. There are three things to consider: 1) how do you want to use the outdoor areas?; 2) aesthetically, how do you want them to look?; and 3) what is your budget?
It is very important to consider how you want outdoor areas to look and perform in the future. Thinking about this determines how to organize new spaces and amenities. It is also important to remember driveways and parking areas, which are space intensive.
The next step: from site evaluation to site plan
Collecting information about a potential building site is only the first step. From this information can evolve a site plan and specific exterior design elements that are based on what the land offers —both opportunities and constraints.
The site plan represents the overall landscape architectural design and is the primary tool used by the landscape architect to lay out the space. Landscape architects are trained to create the design in plan view as one of the first phases in the design process. Often the site plan is also the first drawing presented to the client.
The site plan is critical because it’s how landscape architects communicate their vision for layout of all site, landscape, and architectural elements.
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