After finding true south in reference to my site last week, the next thing to do is examine my site. I’m going to cover the site by doing the following:
1. Review location
2. Identify the topography
3. Make note of any existing conditions that may affect the design
There are several tools that can be used to look at a site. I like to use Google Earth because it allows me to measure areas in the site. Although this is a helpful tool, it shouldn’t be a replacement for actually measuring the site itself. The other tool that I use Google SketchUp, this is extremely helpful because I can place the SketchUp model in Google Earth to see how it looks on the site. If you are unfamiliar with Google SketchUp I will cover this later.
Below you can see my site, in the yellow square, viewed from Google Earth:
This is a pretty simplistic view of the site, but it gives me an idea of what surrounds the site from a perspective that I might not otherwise be able to capture. I will get closer photographs of the site so that I can look at specific details later.
The next thing to do is look at the topography for my site so that I can use this information for building my site model. The first thing to do is familiarize yourself with how to read a topographic map and what the lines mean. By entering my site’s address into the U.S. Geological Survey’s map locator and downloader webpage, I can get a map that shows the topography for my site. Since my micro-studio’s square footage will be so small, and my site is relatively level, I shouldn’t need the topographic information. However my plan is to build a site model approximately 4800 square feet, at a ¼ “ scale, so I will need the surrounding topography.
Lastly I need to collect information on the existing conditions of my site. Things that I am looking for are obstructions, trees, infrastructure, etc. Below are some pictures demonstrating items that my site currently has, which are highlighted in yellow.
As you can see below I have an existing staircase that consumes approximately 32 square ft. of my allowable space.
This is image shows the area on my site that is most accessible to the south facing axis, but as you can see I have a few obstacles in my way.
Now that I have an idea of what the existing conditions are I can begin making the site model.