Church site selection: shape matters

Evaluating potential church building sites

If your church is comparing different sites for it’s new building, how do you reasonably evaluate which one is best? Location of course. Vehicle access. Size. Price. Utilities and other site services. And while the shape of your property is not the most important factor in your comparison, it does affect the design and layout of your building.

Shape affects layout

The shape of your land determines how efficiently it can be used. The primary elements of a site plan such as buildings and parking lots are quite often straight lines and right angles, so if your land is rectangular the site can be arranged in a more efficient manner. Linear pathways, either for cars or people, are most efficiently arranged in a straight line.

Irregular shapes

Conversely, if your site is irregular you may end up with a lot of unused triangular shaped chunks as well as inefficient, curving pathways and sidewalks. You’re paying for land that’s not being used in the best possible way.

Designing for a sloped property

Flat sites are more efficient to work with than sloped sites. They’re easier to build on and they have better access, so construction may be less expensive. Parking lots are easier to lay out and construct. And you’ll have more options to locate the building and other elements on the site.

Parking and steeply sloped sites

One of the big disadvantages of a sloped site is that you may end up moving a lot of dirt to create flat parking areas. Parking lots are usually required to have a maximum slope of 4% in any direction, that is 4” of vertical for every 100” (8’ approx.) of length. Relative to a steeply sloping site, 4% is really flat. You can imagine a series of flat parking terraces, stepping down a steep slope, and how much earth sculpting you would have to do.

Sloped sites and building design

Building your facility on a sloping site can present functional challenges as well, like how to get from one level to another. Stairs, ramps and elevators take up more floor area and are costly to build. And as your building steps down many levels along a slope you may require more expensive foundation design as well.

Site shape and project costs

The shape and slope of a property can have a huge impact on building costs, so consider it carefully. Don’t be afraid to be ‘square’.

For help choosing the right shape, contact David Parker or Kelly Seminoff at Parker Seminoff Architects, or leave a comment below.


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