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Site planning

Site Planning Architecture: What Does it Entail?

Knowing what is on a selected development site is paramount when designing a building. After a site analysis is done, architects develop a plan that captures the project's details before presentation to the building owner and approving authorities.

Camiel Weijenberg
September 29, 2021
Site planning

Knowing what is on a selected development site is paramount when designing a building. After a site analysis is done, architects develop a plan that captures the project's details before presentation to the building owner and approving authorities. Therefore, site planning has to be done pretty well because it creates all the details, “call it the DNA, of a building. This post digs deeper into site planning to answer the primary question, “What is site planning in architecture?”

What is Site Planning?

A site plan is an important architectural document that contains a map of a specific building site. It provides all the information about the building that is proposed to be built on a specific site. Therefore, site planning is the process of creating this plan in line with the zoning code of the respective area. 

Site planning starts with the assessment; call it a site analysis of a potential area for development. When doing a site analysis, crucial details such as hydrology, soils, slopes, vegetation, and ownership are analyzed and correctly documented. 

Another crucial component when doing site analysis is zoning. These are regulations developed by the local municipality to break down the land into several use areas, such as industrial and residential zones. The purpose of zoning is to prevent the city from getting overpowered by a specific type of land distinction. 

During the site planning phase, architects also look at the adjacent sites and buildings to establish their features. This information can be used to inform decisions that will ultimately help them get approval from city authorities. Apart from the general analysis conducted during this phase, it is paramount to provide details of where every component of the project is positioned, such as the power, sewer, and water lines. This information is very important in developing the new project. 

Whether you are developing a single or complex mixed-use facility, feasibility studies can be done to prepare site plans for various land use and opportunities. 

The Most Important Components of Site Planning 

Putting together an architectural site plan can be compared to telling the story of the site and a building that will sit there. So, here are the main components to factor in a site plan: 

  • Property Lines

One fact about site planning is that no matter the nature of the intended project, you cannot encroach into an adjacent property. Therefore, the planning must clearly factor in the property lines. The lines are marked on the exterior of the lot. 

As you draw the proper lines, the immediate infrastructure should also be highlighted correctly. Therefore, include things such as the neighboring building's height, fire hazards, and zoning. 

  • Easement

This feature is meant to make access to the property you are developing and neighboring facilities east. For example, you need to clearly highlight the pathways running through the property under consideration to the utility lines, parks, or sections maintained by the owner. Easement sections in site planning are shown using graphics or text. 

  • What are the Construction Limits 

Construction limits in site planning shows the parts where construction will happen. It also will highlight where the supplies of the construction material will be kept. Make sure there is ample space to store the materials required for work at any particular moment. Even when most of the materials are delivered to the site every day, it is still important to have a holding site for processing, such as mixing concrete and moving blocks. 

  • Driveways and Parking 

Whether you are planning a skyscraper or a bungalow, it is prudent to capture the driveways and parking clearly. The driveways should be highlighted well with exact dimensions. You should also look for the area code for the recommended sizes and designs of driveways. 

Although parking area planning for a single bungalow might be pretty easy, it needs a closer focus when working in crowded environments. For example, site planning architecture for commercial units should indicate the actual number of parking spaces, signage, and flow of traffic.  

  • Fire Hydrants 

Professionals in site building architecture look ahead and have to imagine how various situations, such as emergencies, would be dealt with. So, they also include features that can help both occupants and emergency staff in case of emergency needs. Therefore, you need to indicate the location of the fire hydrant. 

  • Landscaped Sections 

For your site plan to be complete, you also need to include the landscaped sections of the project. For example, what erosion and runoff controls should be included in the project? Depending on the landscape and development preference, you might prefer natural or artificial fences for the project. As you indicate the details of the landscape, make sure also to highlight their measurements. 

Make Sure to Have the Right Site Planning Architecture Software

As you can see, site planning requires you to factor in a lot of things, and it is only possible if you have the right programs. So, what apps should you consider for site planning? 

One of the most preferred programs for site planning is SketchUp. It is a 3D modeling program with excellent features for crafting simple and complex site plans. Many site planning architecture professionals prefer it for easy integration with Google Maps and other programs, and ease of use. With its large collection of features and library of objects, creating a good plan is pretty easy. 

Other programs that you might want to consider are AutoCAD Architecture, Rhino 3D, and CAD PRO, and Revit Architecture. Note that most free versions of site planning programs come with huge limitations, such as the number of objects in the library. Therefore, it will be a good idea to go for full or paid versions, especially when handling complex plans for clients. 

Sire planning architecture requires not just a good understanding of the project at hand but also the area codes and neighborhoods. More importantly, you require the right software for site planning to craft plans that will be accepted by both client and local authorities. Do not just target crafting any site plan; go for the best! 


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