Barn to convert or New Build House? The Role of Site Analysis Explained

Site analysis sounds self explanatory, but whether new build house, barn conversion or renovation, how does this inform a design? What should be analysed?

One of the most important lessons for architecture students is to study the site. ‘What about the context?’, is a consistent comment imparted by architecture tutors to their students, but what does this mean?



Context may apply to many aspects of a site with equally numerous methods of study. Below are just a few examples:

    • Maps. What is the pattern of development in relation to the geology of the area? How dense is this development? Are there any important historical features on the site?
    • Orientation. What does the sunrise and sunset, which are the best views, do they correspond with the best sunlight?
    • Is there any important planting on the site, or large trees in proximity to the site?
    • How is a site accessed, by vehicle, on foot or by cycle? What are the qualities of sequences of approach spaces?
    • Which areas of the site are in the public realm and which are more secluded and private?
    • Which is the public elevation of the site?
    • Is there an established pattern of scale?
    • Is there a local vernacular in the area or any materials that are distinctive?
    • What are the building types in proximity to the site and how are they used?
  • Even if at first view a building seems to contrast with its site, all good designs are strongly rooted to their context, be this physical, cultural or topographical. The site analysis process is fundamental to a project and should not be rushed. If you would like to find out more or have a site that you would like to discuss, you might be interested in David’s site apprasial & feasibility services.