To better illustrate the thought process involved in the preparation of functional dia­grams, let us return to the Duncan residence. Having completed all the steps of the re­search and preparation phase, the designer is now ready to prepare a series of func­tional diagrams for the Duncan residence.

Figure 8—35 shows the first attempt to organize all the major spaces and ele­ments for the Duncan residence in a functional diagram. The diagram shows a widened entrance walk that extends some distance along the driveway to permit bet­ter recognition of the main entrance and easy access from the driveway. The sitting space is placed adjacent to, but separate from, the entrance walk so circulation will not disturb or divide the space. Planting areas are woven in and around these spaces to help define them and to provide visual interest for a person walking along the en­trance walk. The existing Sugar Maple is integrated with this planting.

Secondary circulation has been provided around the east side of the house for access between the driveway and the proposed work/storage space. The work/storage space is located near the side door of the garage for convenience and placement out of view from both the indoor and outdoor living spaces. The west side of the house, by contrast, is left open except for a mass of trees for afternoon shade.

In the backyard, the proposed raised terrace would function as an outdoor eat­ing space near the family room and sitting room. The grill is located to the northeast of this space so smoke from the fire would be blown away from the space (prevailing wind is from the southwest). The outdoor living and entertaining space is placed far­ther from the house so it can take advantage of views into the rest of the backyard. The eating space is made more private with the suggestion of a privacy fence on the east side of the space, and the living and entertaining space is partially surrounded by plant materials for privacy.

The lawn area in the backyard has been left open and spacious to allow for recre­ation and games. Some screening on the west, north, and east gives privacy that is now lacking in the backyard. The play area in the northeast portion of the site has been left where it presently exists so it will be very visible for supervision from the house. The existing tree in the northeast corner is also retained and integrated with additional plantings so it will not appear as an isolated element.

Figure 8—36 shows another alternative. In this concept, the sitting space in the front has been integrated with the existing stoop, making one large space rather than two isolated ones. The entrance walk has been separated from the driveway by plant­ing areas to cut down on the visual massiveness of the driveway’s pavement. In addi­tion, a turn-around has been proposed to make it easier to back out of the driveway. Planting occurs on both sides of the driveway near the street to soften and subtly hide the driveway. In the backyard, the outside eating and living/entertaining spaces are lo­cated so they function as outdoor extensions of the family room by converting the ex­isting window into a sliding glass door. The play area has been moved so it will not be

such an obvious element to look at. It is still located where it can be seen from the outdoor living spaces. And a narrower screen has been suggested along the northern property line so it will not take up as much area of the backyard.

Each of these alternative functional diagrams explores a different way of organ­izing the required spaces and elements on the site. As in most typical situations, the Duncans and the designer found some of these more appealing than others. After reviewing the two alternative diagrams, the Duncans decided they liked a combination of ideas from the different diagrams. So, the designer took the Duncans’ preferences and produced one more functional diagram, Diagram “C” (Figure 8—37).

The front yard of the Duncan residence in the functional diagram has been given more study. The configuration of the entry foyer/sitting space, entrance walk, and lawn area have been modified. The entry foyer/sitting space has now been subdi­vided into more specific use areas and the location of the seating has been suggested. The planting areas have also been subdivided to indicate the general location of differ­ent types of plants (though no shrubs or ground cover have been shown as individual plants). In addition, study has been given to the relative ground elevation of the vari­ous spaces. This functional diagram indicates the entry foyer/sitting space is to be about one foot above the entrance walk. Views and focal points are other factors that now appear on this functional diagram. The same considerations are given to the backyard.


The creation of functional diagrams entails logical, thoughtful attention to the site’s functional organiza­tion. The more consideration given to this phase of the design process, the easier the subsequent steps are. You should understand the following about functional diagrams:

• Definition, purpose, and importance of functional diagrams

• Design factors that should be considered while preparing functional diagrams

• Role of the site analysis in creating functional diagrams

• Considerations for determining where spaces and uses should be located on a site

• Implications of different plan proportions on the use of outdoor space

• Potential configurations of a space and the effect of each on the quality and use of that space

• Alternative edge conditions of a space and the effect of each on the quality and use of that space

• Types of circulation that can occur in and/or through outdoor rooms

• Different types of views that can be planned for in functional diagrams

• How and why elevation changes can be studied in functional diagrams

• Overall graphic quality and typical symbols used in drawing functional diagrams

Updated: October 10, 2015 — 8:08 am