Existing building/site analysis is a multi-faceted process that can involve a number of methods and tools. Here are a few examples:
Site Surveys: These are used to gather detailed information about the site's topography, boundaries, existing structures, vegetation, and other physical characteristics. Traditional surveying tools, as well as modern technologies like drones and GIS (Geographic Information Systems), can be used.
Building Surveys: For existing buildings, a detailed survey may be required to document the current structure, including its dimensions, condition, and any existing issues such as structural defects or outdated systems.
Solar Path Analysis: Tools like Sun Path Diagrams or software like Ecotect and Google Sketchup with solar plugins can help architects understand how the sun will interact with the site and the building throughout the year. This can influence the building's orientation, shading design, and energy strategy.
Wind Analysis: Tools such as wind rose diagrams can provide information about wind speed and direction, which can influence the site layout, building design, and ventilation strategies.
Contextual Analysis: This involves studying the surrounding environment, including the architectural style of nearby buildings, local materials, historical context, and neighborhood character.
Regulatory Analysis: This involves reviewing local zoning codes, building codes, and other regulations that may impact what can be built on the site.
Environmental Assessments: These can include soil testing, checking for potential contamination, and assessing local flora and fauna. Tools like Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) can be used for this purpose.
Thermal Analysis: Tools like EnergyPlus or IES VE can be used to simulate the thermal performance of a building design, helping to optimize insulation, HVAC systems, and other aspects of the design for energy efficiency.
By using these methods and tools, we gather a comprehensive understanding of the site and existing building, which can inform and inspire the design process.