What is an Architectural Site Plan?

Here we explore the different types of site plans that may be used in different situations, and discuss the importance of...
Architectural Site Plan

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An architecture site plan, is a drawing used by architects, engineers, urban planners, and landscape architects to show the existing and proposed conditions of a specific area, usually a parcel of land that is being modified.

Architectural site plans are an important tool in the design and construction process, as they provide detailed information about the layout and features of a site, including the location of buildings, roads, utilities, and other structures.

In this article, we will discuss the role of site plans during the design phases, the types of information that they typically include, and how they are used. We will also explore the different types of site plans that may be used in different situations, and discuss the importance of accurate and detailed site plans in ensuring the success of a building project.

Architectural Site Plan

What is an architectural site plan?

An architectural site plan is a detailed drawing of a building or development site that shows the location of the building or structures on the property in relation to the surrounding area. It typically includes the location of streets, sidewalks, utilities, topographic features, and any other relevant details of the site.

The site plan may also show the proposed layout of the building or development, including the dimensions and locations of individual structures and outdoor spaces.

Site plans are used in the design and planning process for a variety of purposes, including to illustrate the layout and orientation of the building or development on the site, to show the relationship of the building to its surroundings, and to identify any potential site constraints or challenges that may need to be addressed in the design.

Site plans are typically created by architects, engineers, or other professionals working on the project, and may be used to obtain building permits and to communicate the design to contractors and other stakeholders.

What are site plans used for?

Site plans are used for a variety of purposes in the design and planning process for a building or development project. Some of the main uses of site plans include:

  1. Illustrating the layout and orientation of the building or development on the site: Site plans show the location and dimensions of the building or structures on the property, as well as any outdoor spaces such as parking lots, courtyards, or landscaped areas.
  2. Showing the relationship of the building to its surroundings: Site plans include details such as the location of streets, sidewalks, and other structures in the surrounding area, helping to show how the building or development will fit into the larger context of the neighborhood or community.
  3. Identifying potential site constraints or challenges: Site plans may highlight any physical or regulatory limitations that may impact the design of the building or development, such as the location of utilities, topographic features, or zoning regulations.
  4. Communicating the design to stakeholders: Site plans are often used to communicate the design of the building or development to contractors, engineers, and other professionals who will be involved in the construction process. They may also be used to obtain building permits and other approvals from local authorities.
  5. Assessing the feasibility of the project: Site plans can be used to evaluate the feasibility of a building or development project by identifying any potential challenges or constraints that may need to be addressed in the design.

A site plan is also often a statutory requirement for a planning application, where local authorities require a set of drawings that provide information about the proposals. These may include a location plan, a block plan, and a site plan.

A location plan: which is typically based on an ordnance survey map at a scale of 1:1250 on an A4 piece of paper, shows the proposed site with a red boundary around it, as well as the scale, a north point, and any relevant buildings and roads that help to identify the location of the site.

A block plan: is a drawing that provides more information than a location plan, typically at a scale of 1:500. It includes the scale, north point, and existing buildings, as well as dimensions to boundaries from existing and proposed buildings, rights of way, positions of trees, hard surfaced areas, and any proposed fencing or walls.

This is often used to show the layout and features of a property in more detail than a location plan. It may be used in a planning application or as part of a construction drawing set to provide information about the layout and features of a property.

After planning, an architectural site plan may contain more detailed information that is necessary for construction and may be included in a construction drawing set or detailed design package.

Architectural Site Plan

Why a architectural site plan important?

Site plans are important for a variety of reasons in the design and planning process for a building or development project. Some of the main reasons why site plans are important include:

  1. They help to illustrate the layout and orientation of the building or development on the site, providing a clear visual representation of how the building or development will fit on the property and how it will relate to its surroundings.
  2. Site plans show the relationship of the building to its surroundings, helping to understand how the building or development will fit into the larger context of the neighborhood or community.
  3. Site plans identify potential site constraints or challenges, helping to ensure that the design takes these factors into account and minimizes any potential challenges or delays during the construction process.
  4. Site plans help to communicate the design to stakeholders, including contractors, engineers, and local authorities, and can be used to obtain building permits and other approvals.
  5. Site plans can be used to assess the feasibility of a building or development project by identifying any potential challenges or constraints that may need to be addressed in the design. This helps to ensure that the project is realistic and can be completed within budget and on schedule.

What should be included in a site plan?

When creating an architectural site plan, it is important to include both existing and proposed conditions on the drawing. This helps city officials and plan reviewers understand the full scope of the project and allows them to identify any potential issues or challenges that may need to be addressed.

As highlighted below, existing conditions may include details such as fence lines, utility lines, and other existing structures or features on the site. Proposed conditions may include the layout and dimensions of the building or development, as well as any changes that will be made to the site as part of the construction process.

By presenting both existing and proposed conditions on the site plan, you can ensure that all relevant parties are aware of the project and can make informed decisions about the construction process.

Architectural Site Plan

A site plan also typically includes a full range of detailed information about the building or development site, including:

  1. Title of project: The title of the project may include the name of the building or development, the address of the site, and any other relevant details.
  2. Site boundary: The boundary of the site is usually shown on the site plan in red, and may include details such as the dimensions of the property and any adjacent properties.
  3. Property lines: The site plan should show the precise location of the building or structures on the property, as well as their dimensions and orientation.
  4. Outdoor spaces: Site plans may show the layout of any outdoor spaces such as parking lots, courtyards, or landscaped areas.
  5. The location of streets, sidewalks, and other features in the surrounding area: The site plan should include the location of streets, sidewalks, and other structures in the surrounding area, as well as the orientation and dimensions of the building in relation to these features.
  6. Topographic features and levels: The site plan may show the elevation of the site, as well as the height of the building or structures in relation to the surrounding area.
  7. Materials: The site plan may include details about the materials that will be used in the construction of the building or development, such as the type of foundation, exterior cladding, and roofing.
  8. Landscaping and tree locations: The site plan should show the location of any trees on the property, as well as any landscaped areas or plantings. It may also include details about any tree protection orders or other environmental regulations that may impact the design of the site.
  9. Zoning information: Site plans may include details about the zoning of the property, including any restrictions or requirements that may impact the design of the building or development.
  10. Access: The site plan should show the location of any roads or driveways that provide access to the site, as well as any pedestrian pathways or rights of way.
  11. Parking: The site plan should show the location and dimensions of any parking areas on the property.
  12. Buildings to be demolished or removed: If the site plan includes the demolition or removal of any existing buildings or structures, these should be indicated on the plan.
  13. Existing landscaping, fencing, or walls to be removed: The site plan may show any existing landscaping, fencing, or walls that will be removed as part of the construction process.
  14. Services and utilities: The site plan should include the location of any utilities such as water, sewer, electricity, and gas lines that are present on the property.
  15. External lighting: The site plan may include details about any external lighting that will be installed on the property, such as streetlights or security lights.
  16. Gates, fences, bin stores, and cycle storage: The site plan should show the location of any gates, fences, bin stores, or cycle storage areas on the property.
  17. Fire access points: The site plan should include the location of any fire access points, such as fire hydrants or fire lanes, on the property.
  18. North arrow: Site plans should include a north arrow to indicate the orientation of the site and the building.
  19. Legend: Site plans may include a legend to explain any symbols or notation used on the plan.
Architectural Site Plan

For complex projects, additional specialized site plans may be used to show specific details such as the structural layout, site history, site lines, services, landscape design, access and traffic flows, ground conditions and geology.

These plans may be accompanied by site sections that illustrate the topography of the site. With the adoption of building information modeling (BIM), site plans may be included as part of the project information model and may be created in 3D using techniques such as point cloud surveys or light detection and ranging (LIDAR).

Site plans may be prepared for both the existing and proposed sites, as well as intermediate stages if the development is being phased or if it is necessary to show the phasing of construction works.

Others areas to consider are:

The Distance Between Buildings and Property Lines

It is important to consider not only the boundaries of your own property when designing a building, but also the surrounding infrastructure and buildings. These factors can significantly influence the design of your building, including issues such as building height, zoning, building usage, and fire hazards.

It is essential to include dimensions for these surrounding elements on your site plan to ensure that your design takes them into account.

Easements

Easements are legal agreements that allow one property owner to use or access a portion of another property for a specific purpose. If your building or development project requires the use of an easement, it is important to include this information on the site plan.

Easements may be necessary, for example, if you need to cross or maintain an element of your design that will exist on an adjacent property, such as a pipe or utility line.

You can show the location and details of the easement on the site plan using either graphic symbols or text, but it is essential to clearly indicate the existence of the easement to avoid any confusion or disputes.

Architectural Site Plan

Construction limits

Construction limits and lay down areas refer to the specific areas on a building or development site where construction activities will take place. These areas may include the location of the building or structures that are being constructed, as well as areas where construction-related supplies, storage, equipment parking, and partial assembly may be located.

It is important to include this information on the site plan to clearly show the areas where construction activities will be taking place and to help ensure that all necessary precautions are taken to protect the safety of workers and the surrounding community.

Construction site plans

Site plans also play an important role in the documents that outline the layout and organization of a construction site. They are prepared by contractors before work begins and are essential for managing the complex process of construction, which involves coordinating the movement of materials, plant, and people on the site.

By carefully planning the layout of the site, contractors can ensure that the works are carried out efficiently and safely.

Site layout planning involves identifying the facilities that will be needed on the site, determining the sizes and constraints of these facilities, establishing the relationships between them, and optimizing their layout on the site.

These facilities may include zones for specific activities such as:

  • cranes
  • site offices,
  • welfare facilities
  • storage areas
  • sub-contractor facilities
  • car parking
  • emergency routes and muster points
  • access points and security controls
  • temporary roads and pedestrian routes
  • wheel washing facilities
  • waste management areas
  • site hoardings and boundaries
  • protection for trees and existing buildings
  • signage
  • temporary services
  • temporary works
  • mock-up areas
  • fabrication facilities and others.

Problems caused by poor site layout planning can include damage to materials and products, inappropriate plant placement, inadequate space and access, security and safety issues, demoralized workers, delays, and increased costs.

As the nature of the site may change throughout the course of the works, there may be multiple site layout plans for different phases, and more detailed plans may be needed to show specific areas or functions.

Building information modeling (BIM) can be used to create a virtual construction model of the site in three dimensions and through different phases.

How do I make an architectural site plan?

To create an architectural site plan, follow these steps:

  1. Gather all necessary information: Before you begin creating the site plan, gather all (the above) relevant information about the site, including the location and dimensions of the property, the location of any existing buildings or structures, and any other relevant details such as topographic features, utilities, and zoning regulations.
  2. Sketch a rough draft: Using this information, sketch a rough draft of the site plan by hand or using a computer program. This draft should include the location and dimensions of the building or development, as well as any outdoor spaces and surrounding features.
  3. Add detail and precision: Once you have a rough draft, add more detail and precision to the site plan by including additional elements such as the location of utilities, topographic features, and any other relevant details.
  4. Check for accuracy and completeness: Review the site plan to ensure that it is accurate and complete, and make any necessary revisions.
  5. Add a title and legend: Add a title to the site plan, which should include the title of the project, the scale of the drawing, the north arrow, and any other relevant information. You may also want to include a legend to explain any symbols or notation used on the plan.
  6. Save and print: Save the completed site plan as a digital file and print out a hard copy for review and reference.

But please note that the specific process for creating a site plan may vary depending on the specific requirements and guidelines of the project and the local jurisdiction. It is important to follow any specific guidelines or requirements that may apply to your project.

Architectural Site Plan

What scale should a site plan be?

The scale of a site plan is typically determined by the size and complexity of the project.

For medium-sized projects, a scale of 1:500 or 1:200 is common. However, for smaller projects, a larger scale may be used to provide more detail, while for larger projects, a smaller scale or multiple drawings may be needed to fit all the necessary information on the plan.

In some cases, multiple drawings may be combined onto a single, very small scale plan to provide an overall view of the project. The appropriate scale for a site plan will depend on the specific needs and requirements of the project.

Architectural site plan example

Architectural site plan example

SlottsskogsRingen by CF Moller Architects

Architectural site plan example

Museum of Forest Finn Culture by KOHT 

Architectural site plan example

FORT YORK PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE by PUBLIC WORK

Architectural site plan example

Devon Valley House by Prewett Bizley Architects

FAQ’s about architecture site plans

What is a site plan vs floor plan?

A site plan and a floor plan are two different types of architectural drawings that are used for different purposes.

As explained above, a site plan is a detailed drawing of a building or development site that shows the location of the building or structures on the property in relation to the surrounding area. It typically includes the location of streets, sidewalks, utilities, topographic features, and any other relevant details of the site.

The site plan may also show the proposed layout of the building or development, including the dimensions and locations of individual structures and outdoor spaces.

A floor plan, on the other hand, is a detailed drawing of the layout of a building or individual room, showing the dimensions and relationships between the various spaces within the building. It typically includes the location of walls, doors, windows, stairs, and any other architectural features, as well as the layout of furniture and other objects within the space.

While site plans and floor plans may both be used in the design and planning process for a building or development project, they serve different purposes. Site plans are used to show the layout and orientation of the building or development on the site and its relationship to the surrounding area, while floor plans are used to show the layout and relationships between the various spaces within the building.

Is site plan same as building plan?

A site plan and a building plan are two different types of architectural drawings that are used for different purposes.

A site plan is a detailed drawing of a building or development site that shows the location of the building or structures on the property in relation to the surrounding area. It typically includes the location of streets, sidewalks, utilities, topographic features, and any other relevant details of the site. The site plan may also show the proposed layout of the building or development, including the dimensions and locations of individual structures and outdoor spaces.

A building plan, on the other hand, is a detailed drawing of the layout and construction of a building, showing the dimensions and relationships between the various spaces within the building as well as the materials and methods used in its construction. A building plan may include floor plans, cross-sectional views, and other detailed drawings that show the layout and construction of the building.

While site plans and building plans may both be used in the design and planning process for a building or development project, they serve different purposes. Site plans are used to show the layout and orientation of the building or development on the site and its relationship to the surrounding area, while building plans are used to show the layout and construction of the building in detail.

To sum up

When creating a site plan for a development project, it is important to provide as much information as possible to help plan reviewers understand the design of the building and its relationship to the site.

Think of the site plan as a comprehensive narrative of the site and building, and aim to include as much detail as possible to leave no room for interpretation. By providing a clear and thorough site plan, you can help ensure that your design is accurately understood and can be effectively reviewed and approved.

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