The site analysis is the second and more difficult phase of the site study. Whereas the site inventory merely collects and organizes information about the site, the site analysis evaluates the value and importance of this information. The purpose of the site analysis is to determine the problems and potentials created by the existing site conditions so that the eventual design solution can be tailored to meet the specific conditions of the site.
This is typically accomplished by making another drawing or set of notes that answers the following questions about each fact that was previously identified during the site inventory:
• Is this information important?
• If it is important, does it create a problem or offer a potential?
• If it creates a problem, how might it be solved?
• If it offers a potential, how might it be taken advantage of?
The designer should be aware of the differences in wording in comparison to the site inventory. Notes on the site inventory are simply statements of fact, whereas the notes on the site analysis are words of evaluation and action. Key words found on the site analysis include should, need to, limit, allow for, make, save, take advantage of, screen, and enlarge. Here are some examples:
• too narrow; need to widen to 5 feet and change to a warmer material
• maintain view by framing it on either side
• should enlarge to at least 200 square feet
• should be preserved; remote sitting area might be placed beneath it
• back of house and site are • back of house should be shaded by trees exposed to hot afternoon or other means; any outside uses in this area
sun must also be protected from sun
Figure 7—9 shows the site analysis for the Duncan residence. Recall that a number of factors and conditions were recorded about the Duncan residence on the site inventory (Figure 7—1). Now, the site analysis evaluates this information and makes recommendations about a number of actions that should be taken into account as the design solution is developed. For example, it is suggested that the following be considered for the front yard:
1. The existing trees should be kept and integrated into the design.
2. A more welcoming front entry should be established by widening the existing walk between the driveway and the front door. The adjacent earth mound should be removed or altered as necessary.
3. The view into the front entry space (outdoor foyer) should be emphasized and coordinated with views from the hallway and living room.
4. Shade is needed on the southwestern and western sides of the house to provide protection from the hot summer afternoon sun while allowing the winter afternoon sun to warm these sides of the house.
5. Paved access is needed from the driveway to the east-side garage door.
There are also a number of considerations for the backyard of the site. These include:
1. Screens or barriers need to be provided to establish privacy from the neighbors to the west and to block the views to the neighbors’ entertaining space to the north. These same screens could serve as a wind break for the cold northwest winds during the winter.
2. An outside living/entertaining space needs to be developed with better access to the inside. Consideration should be given to the possibility of incorporating sliding glass doors in the north wall of the family room if the outdoor entertaining space is placed nearby.
3. The lawn area should be kept as open as possible for recreation. The existing Norway maple may provide shade on a nearby patio.
4. The swing set should be integrated into the backyard so as not to be an obvious eyesore.
5. The TV antenna tower should be screened to reduce its overwhelming scale.
These observations and recommendations are taken into account when the design program is written and during the subsequent steps of the design phase. It is a good idea to continually refer to the site analysis to make sure the design is responding to its conclusions and recommendations. In addition, it is usually advisable to present the site analysis to the client when the designer meets to present initial design ideas. The site analysis can set the stage and provide a rationale for the overall concept of the design and as well as decisions regarding specific design elements. In essence, the site analysis is a justification for the design proposal. Consequently, the site analysis should be organized in a presentable though loose manner that can be understood by the clients.