In addition to the typical site inventory and site analysis plans, there are several other means for recording and communicating site observations. One is the use of photographs that can convey information about a site in ways that are usually more
understandable to a client than a graphic site analysis. Furthermore, photographs are potentially beneficial to site inventory and analysis because they can (1) record existing information (downspout locations, types and conditions of plant materials, views, and style and materials of the house), (2) provide visual reminders of what the house and site look like as design ideas are being generated, and (3) document specific details of the house and site that may be useful during later phases of design (pavement patterns, fence character, architectural detail, and patterns of windows, doors, etc.).
In addition to these uses, photographs can be employed to record site inventory observations and make analytic notes (Figure 7—10). This can be done directly on
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photographs printed on paper with an inkjet printer, with a tracing paper overlay, or in a computer program such as Photoshop. As with the plan site analysis, these noted photographs are excellent for communicating observations and general recommendations to the client.
Another way to visualize and analyze a site is to build a computer model in Google SketchUp or another similar modeling program (Figure 7—11). Such a model can often be assembled fairly quickly by someone experienced with the program, especially if it does not attempt to show every architectural or site detail. A Google SketchUp model has three benefits for site analysis. First, it gives the designer the ability to see the entire site from multiple vantage points, many of which are not possible from the ground. This provides a better understanding of the site. Second, shadows can be cast in the model for a range of geographic locations during different months of the year. One can very quickly see where the sun and shade areas are on the site throughout the year. Third, the computer model can be used to record site analysis notes and can serve as a base for exploring design ideas.