Lecture 2: A Sense of Site

Architecture 220 – Fall 2012 Semester

Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill, California


“A Sense of Site”

Introduction to site specific design.  Examples include topography, climate, microclimate, sun, views, privacy, etc.

To view the lecture slides or to download a .pdf of the lecture, click one of the links below.

Lecture Notes for Lecture 2: A Sense of Site

A Sense of Site

Site properties and how they influence building design

What is a site?

Defining Characteristics

  • Topography
  • Climate
  • Microclimate
  • Sun
  • Views
  • Privacy
  • Other factors


  • Relative steepness or flatness of the site
  • Can determine local microclimate based on location on slope
  • Influences wind conditions on building
  • Influences how a building can be built & spatial orientation of resulting building

Hill House – Johnston Marklee & Associates

Buck Mountain House – Indigo Architecture + Interiors

House to Catch the Mountain – Takaharu & Yui Tezuka


  • Major factor in determining primary building material and method.
  • Heat or Cool? How?
  • Temperature Swings
    • Diurnal
    • Seasonal
  • Rain & Snow… managing water & runoff, snow load

Takaharu & Yui Tezuka – Museum of Natural Science, Matsunoyama, Japan

Williams Studio & Boathouse – GH3


  • Building or landscape creates a zone of different climate for inhabitants
  • Can be a warmer or cooler space depending on needs
  • Can be a shelter from wind and/or from sun.

Umbrella House – Paul Rudolph

Wallen Maybeck House – Bernard Maybeck

Forrest House – Takaharu & Yui Tezuka


  • Site conditions determine how much sun a building can get
  • Natural and built environment can limit sun through shading
  • Latitude can limit sun exposure
  • Site topography can greatly influence sun within the building

Azuma House – Tadao Ando

Avra Verde – Rick Joy


  • Probably the most self explanatory part of site analysis
  • Where are the primary view corridors?
  • Should anything be hidden?
  • Expansive view or framed view? Overload or controlled?

4 x 4 House – Tadao Ando

Lookout Cabin – Baumraum (Andreas Wenning)

Tower Home – Marlon Blackwell

Four Eyes House – Edward Ogosta Architecture


  • What is the need for privacy?
  • How does the site impact design for privacy?
  • Urban or Rural?
  • What are expectations of privacy?

K House – Hitoshi Abe

Stone House – Markus Wespi and Jerome de Meuron

House in Zushi – Takeshi Hosaka

Restaurant Tusen – Murman Arkitektr

Squish Studio -Saunders Architecture

House of Ujina – MAKER – Japan


  • Topography, Climate, Microclimate, Sun, Views, Privacy, and more play a role in how a building is positioned on a given site.
  • It is never just one of the above, siting a building requires analyzing all and finding the right balance.

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