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Site planning

Site Planning: What does it entail?

Site planning is one of the most important concepts in urban planning and design. This is a method of arranging structures on land and shaping the space between them.

Julie Delcourt
July 13, 2021
Site planning

Site Planning: What does it entail?

Site planning is one of the most important concepts in urban planning and design. This is a method of arranging structures on land and shaping the space between them. The plan you create is used to allocate the activities and objects in time and space. Often, it is concerned with a small cluster of houses, individual buildings and the immediate surroundings, or a community in a single operation.

This post takes a closer look at site planning to answer two main questions, “What is site planning?” and “What are the main stages?” Towards the end, we will also tell you the best software to use for site planning. 

What does Site Planning Involve? 

Site planning is a process that entails implementing a specific organizational plan for exterior or interior space. To do this, planners or architects create site plans for both grounds of the surrounding homes or enterprises. It might also include the placement of both natural and artificial lighting, positioning the entry/exit points, and other amenities when dealing with built environments/interiors.

However, you need to appreciate that site planning goes beyond creating workable layouts for the targeted space. In addition, you have to ensure the selected space complies with the applicable laws, regulations, and policies, especially those related to zoning and building codes. As you can see, it is very important that you get acquainted with the local laws of the area where your site is located. 

What are the Main Stages of Site Planning?

The process of site planning can be broken into two-three stages; research phase, analysis phase, and synthesis phase. Here is a closer look at each: 

Research Phase 

This is the first step in site planning, and it entails defining the problem at hand. The process starts with the client contracting the planner about the construction task to be handled on his site. Therefore, the planner will commence the research to preliminary establish the nature of the project, zoning codes, and policies that might come into play later during implementation. 

Analysis Phase 

This is perhaps the most important phase because it involves looking deeper into all concepts of the site and the details used for creating a plan later in phase three. Particularly, the analysis phase requires the site planner to check the following: 

  1. Location of the Site

The site under consideration should be related to the current streets, specific landmarks, or previously marked points for easy identification. For example, you might want to indicate that “the site is located on Herring street, 600 meters from Barclays Bank, and opposite the National Museum.” Aerial photos and Google Maps can come in handy during the assessment stage. Also, the distances should be provided correctly to make cost calculations in the next phase easy.  

  1. Neighborhood Context

You can get information of this type from the planning department of the respective city or municipal authorities. Most issues at this stage mainly require observation to avoid getting into trouble with the law. The main features include street lighting, the condition of the existing buildings, and architectural patterns. 

  1. Natural and physical features

The bulk of the details you need for site planning can be drawn from topographic features and direct observation. For example, you can follow the contour map to learn about the area's drainage or visit to see the current natural features and soil conditions.  

The above elements are only a few of what you need to factor. Others include the utilities, climate, and manmade features in the neighborhood. Finally, do not forget to carefully look at the circulation networks of the area through roads, streets, plazas, and alleys. 

Synthesis Phase 

Once the problem has been identified and the site analyzed well, the last phase is used to provide the solution. This phase involves the schematic design of the site plan, which can further be broken into the following items: 

  1. The steps to be followed after the synthesis. 
  2. Cost estimate. 
  3. Preparation of construction documents. 
  4. Bidding contract for the project. 
  5. Construction. 
  6. Occupation and management. 

NOTE: A compete site plan extends to the construction phase, occupation, and management. Therefore, you need to work with different stakeholders and provide the right costing for the project. 

Software you can Use for Site Planning 

In addition to having the required qualifications to become a good site planner, it is also important to acquire the right software.  One of the top options is Smart Draw software, which greatly simplifies the process of site planning. It combines a comprehensive set of design features and awesome depth of site plan templates and symbols. Because of its ease of use, this software is very appealing to both new and experienced site planning professionals. Other site planning software options you might want to consider include: 

  • SketchUp: This is a 3D design tool that makes it very easy to visualize how your plan will look like from various viewpoints. It also comes with excellent integration capabilities, mobile viewing, and cloud storage
  • Digital Blue Foam: This is a real-time building design software, the most user-friendly where you will love to create real-time building design like a magician. It is cloud-based, you can quickly start using it.
  • AutoCAD Architectures: This is purpose-built software for helping building and design professionals to easily render realistic objects into their site plans. It also has 3D capabilities
  • Autodesk Civil 3D: If you are looking for simple yet effective software for site planning, Autodesk Civil 3D will be a great option. It allows you to apply different designs with ease using a simple drag and drop functionality to complete your tasks fast. Integration with other platforms and tools is also impeccable. 
  • Roomsketcher: This tool is another awesome option that works very well with both pros and novice planners. It allows you to generate 2D and 3D site plans for real estate, landscape designs, garden designs, and the entire neighborhood.  

As we have demonstrated in this post, site planning is one of the most important processes in architectural projects because they help investors and planners have a grip of the entire project. More importantly, the plan places the building project at the heart of a community/ urban area and ensures it fits well. So, make sure to get all the relevant stakeholders to involve and employ the best software for site planning.

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