Design Class: make analysis your friend

Have you ever had a designer ask if you’ve done any analysis?

Has it given you pause for concern, wondering if the headscarf and Jackie O sunnies you’ve been wearing to your therapy appointments are not proving such a great disguise after all? 

Fear not.

The type of analysis we’re talking about will leave your darkest thoughts blissfully unprodded, whilst helping you clearly and methodically understand what’s going on in your own back yard.

Site Analysis

A site analysis is best undertaken before starting any design work. Your designer should carry out her own analysis, based on research and observations on site.

You’re carrying out your own site analysis when you notice things that occur at different parts of the garden, at different times of day or year.  All of these observations can be compiled onto one or more site analysis diagrams.  We'll start with a simple plan that shows the location of your house on its site: 

Here are 5 things to consider when analysing your site: 

1.  Orientation

We’ve discussed Orientation in an earlier Design 101 post, so check in here to learn why it’s important to know where the sun rises and sets in relation to your place. 

2.  Noise

Whether it’s the teenage drum champion next door or the birdsong from the trees up the road, it’s useful to understand the source of both welcome and unwelcome sounds. 

3.  Views and Privacy

Who can see you, and who can you see from different parts of your property?  Where are there great views? 

4.  Drainage

What happened in the last big downpour? Where did the water go? Did it flow freely and soak away quickly, or did it pond in one place for ages? 


5.  Access and movement

Are there some parts of your garden you never use (or maintain) because it’s just too hard to get there? What about the connections between important destinations, like the house or street?  Where do different types of movement intersect: vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles? How about fencing: are there fences and gates, and who or what are they protecting - kids in? cars out? pets in?

In our next Design 101 we will complete our Top 10 things to analyse on your site before starting design. We will spend more time in future posts looking at different ways you could respond to your findings. Everyone’s response will be different, but the important thing is to start with a clear understanding of what physical conditions you have to work with on your particular site.

Now it’s over to you.

Look at your garden (or house, or room, or park) again with fresh eyes, and quickly run through these first 5 points of analysis.  How many of these items are things you’ve always been aware of, without describing what you were doing as a site analysis?  How many other things have you just noticed, even though they were there all along.

Let me know in the comments section.

Of course, if you found this interesting and useful, why not double the fun and share it with a friend.