Site Specific DesignWhilst the client largely dictates the form of the building through their project brief, another important factor that shapes the design of a building is the site context. Elements of the site context, which we take into consideration include climate / weather conditions, sun path (solar orientation) and the surrounding buildings / landscape features.
One of the first considerations is the location of the building within the site. If we take topography as our starting point:
Do you site your building on flatest part of the site (A)? Or do you select the steepest part of a site and work against the contours (B)? Or do you work with the contours (C)? Each will give a different sense of space to the site and building, though such decisions will be influenced by other criteria, such as access, views, landscaping and solar gain.
With solar gain, orientation in relation to the path of the sun is important. Locating buildings in the site to maximise solar gain will help make the most out of the sun's capacity to heat spaces in winter and to optimise the amount of natural light in a building, thereby minimising the need for excessive arteficial light. We take care to consider internal spatial layout, so as to maximise solar gain / natural light in the rooms you really need it.
Buildings are seldom located on an empty site, and will often have surrounding features, which also dictate building location. Surrounding trees and buildings can shadow building sites or influence access points. In such cases more careful and creative methods of optimising solar gain, access and site setting are required. This then can start to influence building form.
These are just some of the complex considerations we take during the design of every project we get involved with. There's more to it than just a square box, windows, doors and roof!