Architecture Site Analysis Diagrams and Symbols


As mentioned here, an important part of the architecture site analyse process is presentation, and the need to be able to successfully represent and present the findings and results via varied architectural presentation methods and styles.

In almost all instances, one of the most effective methods of site analysis presentation is to include a map based diagram or drawing, with graphic and symbol overlays to show the sites characteristics and features.

Graphic’s are best described as a pictorial descriptions or designs that are presented on a surface such as a piece of paper, floor or wall, aiming to describe and illustrate a meaning.

This method of representation amongst many other uses can be used to present data in an eye-catching and easily comprehendible manner that may otherwise be indigestible. It allows its audience to absorb information through combined imagery, text, illustration and colour, creating the ability to turn what could be quite dry information into something very appealing.

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When presenting architecture site analysis, we utilise this and use graphics such as diagrams, symbols, maps, graphs, and photography to show our data.

Focusing here on diagrams and symbols, diagrams are often used to visualise and explain a subject or topic through a simple and well-structured visual representation, and symbols are often found within these diagrams and are generally used to represent singular quantities or features.

These help to shape and form a visualisation of a topic or subject, in-order to communicate its meaning, i.e. site analysis 

Architecture Graphic Symbol Profiles

We have highlighted the most important areas of the site that need to be analysed here and here, and provided a step by step checklist of them here, and so now we need to think about how they can be represented.

Essentially you will require specific graphical symbols for each of the analysis recordings you’ve taken. These need to draw attention to the sites key areas and features, circulation and movement and weather patterns.

The first step is to create the profile and shape of the symbols. These will be the most distinctive element of the your presentation and should be carefully thought though in terms of relativeness variation and scale.

The following should be considered:

Lines should be used to show:

  • Boundaries (site and ownership)

  • Buildings (existing, proposed, demolition)

  • Landscape typology (contours)

  • Service locations (electrical, telephone, drainage, water)

Arrows should be used to show:

  • Access (vehicle and pedestrian)

  • Right of way (public and private)

  • Views (looking out and looking in)

  • Circulation (movement)

  • Travel (routes)

Dotted & Coloured Volumes should be used to show:

  • Areas of interest (water bodies, woodland, vegetation, monument)

  • Zoning (attractive and restricted areas)

  • Regulations (TPO’s, listings etc.)

  • Ecology (protected areas)

Weather Symbols should be used to show:

  • Sun patterns (orientation and seasonal variation)

  • Wind patterns (prevailing direction)

Vegetation Symbols should be used to show:

  • Important species (mature and protected)

  • Important areas (woodland, meadow, heathland etc)

The varied graphic and symbol types help to define the different areas and parameters that will go or have already gone onto shape your projects development, and so whilst it is important for them to be diverse, they should also all tie in together and read as a singular graphic composition.

The below infographic aims to provide a reminder and key to further help explain this…


Architecture Graphic Symbol Colour

After the profiles have been determined, a colour system and method needs to be generated to help further represent and signify each key area. Each symbol should have its own distinctive colour arrangement to avoid confusion between results, but this also wants to tie into your greater vision for the rest of your architectural presentation.

Matching colours can be a very difficult and timely process, but fortunately Adobe have created an excellent free colour matching resource called Adobe Colour CC here. This allows you to choose a principle colour, shade and saturation, and then Adobe Colour CC will match up to 5 supporting colour variations and options to match to your principle chose. 

The RGB numbers can then be recorded and transferred across into your chosen brand of software used to create your symbols.

Creating Site Analysis Diagrams and Symbols

You can create a site analysis diagram through illustration, digital representation, photography and sculpture (physical modelling), but the most popular and most versatile is via a digital method. Computer generated graphics just give the creator the largest array of possibilities and tools to work with, and remain entirely flexible.

Creating digital site analysis symbols can be done in a variety of ways, but the most popular methods are to either hand draw and scan them in to be coloured and scaled into say Photoshop, or to create them in a CAD software and repeat the same method.

As mentioned here, a site model can be a great resource to utilise but should always be supported by a good set of alternative graphics and representations of the data.


We almost always use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to drive our media production and represent our analysis. We have a stock set of architecture symbols (available here) that we use to save time, that are simply recycled and manipulated to suite each of our projects requirements.

Adobe Photoshop doesn’t need much of an introduction but one thing we will say is that given the full licence fee, Photoshop elements is a great option at an obtainable price. Yes it is a stripped down version that doesn’t have all of the professional features the full licence has, but it offers everything you should need for architectural presentations.

Amazon usually has the most competitive prices.

Creating your own symbols isn’t a quick exercise, but as mentioned, once you’ve got a good set of visually attractive symbols, they can be re-used with as many projects as you require.

If however you don’t have time to create your own, then we have a selection of our favourite site analysis symbols and graphics here from the archisoup shop. These have been created so that they can be dragged and dropped into your architecture presentations and then scaled and tailored to suite your bespoke project needs.

Providing a quick and simple method to creating visually diverse, and attractive presentations.