There are numerous factors to consider in the design of a residential site. The designer must take many items into account, including the clients’ wants and needs, the relationship between the interior (rooms, doors, windows, etc.) and the exterior, budget limitations, and the opportunities and constraints of the existing site conditions. As the designer graphically begins to put ideas on paper to create a design solution, additional considerations should address the functional relationships among the required uses; the character of the spaces to be created; and the specific sizes, shapes, colors, and textures of the materials selected for the design. However, there should be one central theme that guides all reflections about residential design: the creation of usable space. Creating usable outdoor space, perhaps more clearly understood as outdoor rooms, should be the principal way of thinking about a residential site and the basic building block for developing a design solution.
The importance of outdoor space is based on the philosophy that residential site design is a three-dimensional organization of space and not just the creation of twodimensional patterns on the ground or the arrangement of plant materials along the base of a house. Space is the entity where we live, work, and recreate. Consequently, all the site elements that make up the outdoor environment, such as plant materials, pavements, walls, fences, and other structures, should be considered as the physical elements that define outdoor space. A residential designer should think of design as the creation and organization of outdoor space and should study how these other components define and influence the character and mood of space.
This chapter discusses what outdoor space is, how it is created, and how it is used. We do this by comparing and contrasting outdoor space with indoor space. In addition, guidelines are suggested for the location and design of such outdoor rooms as the arrival and entry space, entertaining space, outdoor dining space, and recreation space. Overall, this chapter establishes the basic philosophy for residential site design that is followed throughout the remainder of the book.