thesis advice - methods for finding a site


I am in the beginning of my second semester of thesis and things are not progressing well. In short, my thesis is about using the design of a school to reconnect children with the natural environment. It came about from the idea that urban/suburban developments, technology, safety factors, etc. forced children indoors and into childhoods that were preplanned for them without giving them the opportunity to explore.

The problem I am having is finding a site. Unlike many of my peers proposals, which are based around a specific site, I have a list of criteria but no good ideas for finding a place. I guess I am looking for a kind of natural interruption within a developed area that creates interesting edge conditions, such as a hill, cliff, etc. in the northeast.

Does anyone have any tips on how to go about finding something like this(aside from zooming in and out of google earth for hours - which hasn't proved fruitful btw)?

Jan 31, 07 1:21 am

where are you? if ny, I always did want to a inset a building into the palisades....

Jan 31, 07 1:44 am

pick a place close to where you live. unless you can travel.

why not site of an existing school?

they are located in places where people actually want them and can use them on more than a casual basis...

actually, it sounds from your list above that place is not part of the question...the topic is broad enough you can locate your project anywhere and also design the landscape too. a didactic landscape if you want (but don't call it that cuz that would be seriously obnoxious).

when i was a kid played with/on the bales of hay in the barn (back when they were still rectangular), in the woods out by my dad's house, in the URBAN greenhouse by my mom's house, in the farm-machinery repair yard (city centre back in those days), and sometimes on the empty oil-barrels at my gramma's rural gas-station...the thing that made them fun was not their "naturalness" should be careful not to substitute your own program for the childrens' future. and anyway, natural does not always equal better, and design does not work too well when pressed into service as social engineering...gets gloop all over it...

Jan 31, 07 2:04 am

northeast of what ? where r u ???

Jan 31, 07 2:15 am

if you have time, do a quick study of existing schools in the area, and propose where the next one should be based on proximity and pop growth. keep it local, mine was halfway around the country - not very wise.

also, if you are connecting with nature, check out wg clark's lucy daniels. and then research montessori's.

Jan 31, 07 2:31 am

Just check a "free" site in an area that you are familiar with - and that could need a school. Then work with that.

don't try looking for "the perfect site" - your strategies should not depend on a really inspirational natural setting, but be aimed at finding a good solution in ordinary circumstances - dealing with the issues you are interested in - with real restraints from the surroundings rather than having a site that actually does not need architecture to be inspirational.

and remember, kids love mud.

Jan 31, 07 3:28 am

Agreed, I got absorbed in this 'perfect site' obsession and it almost killed my thesis. For reasons I cant understand it seems like 70% of the discussions during thesis crits at my school amount to "you have the wrong site", right up to the final crit. I must have gone through 10 sites before I coming back to the first one and telling my advisor to shove it up his ass.

Closeness is important too. Even at 2 hours away it was a pain in the ass.

Check population growth, towns where schools are failing, and just pick somewhere. You dont want to be looking for a site more than a week or two into second semester.

Jan 31, 07 1:48 pm

Its just part of the decision making process- you have to DECIDE on a site, and move on. Otherwise your thesis will not move along. Take two or three days and go on a whirlwind tour of your area, focusing on the characteristics you described. Whittle your list down to three places. Revisit each a week later. Pick the best one that evening. Its like anything in life, design, etc. Do some research, think it through, make a decision. If a juror or your advisor criticizes your site, stand firm. It is what is and you need that datum. Tell them this is the site ans ask them to judge the design based on the site and the decisions you have made that have been informd by the site you picked. If they continue, tell them to get over it and that this crit is over. (I saw someone do that once, it was quite shocking and amusing.)

Good luck.

Feb 1, 07 8:22 am

Thanks everyone for all the responses! I definitely agree about the whole perfect site thing, I just wish my professors could see my project in the same way! I feel like this project could be done almost anywhere, and that the site would just impact the way that "nature" is used in the project.

I still am not really any closer to having a site at the moment, but after a semi-frantic email to one of my advisors, I think he gets that something needs to happen. He even left me a message telling me that he found some good places in the area for me to look at.

Now I just have to make it through this pinup having no site and nothing related to architecture at all...

Feb 1, 07 9:41 am

I agree. There are lot's of "perfect" sites. And for thesis, it's nice to have one close enough that you can travel to it several times. Especially if you want "nature" to be a large part of the project. My thesis site was an hour drive away, and it was great. I went many times, was able to take many photos, and think about it. It was a good experience, much better than the usual single trip in a studio.

I think, just pick one, or two, and work with them.

What about picking an abandoned building and adding to it, to show how your design thinking would alter what we normally do? Pick an existing school that you particularly like or hate.

Feb 1, 07 10:33 am

My thesis sounds very familiar to what you are trying to do. I would suggest figuring why the idea of nature and education are interesting to you. Did you go to a particular area growing up to be close to nature? If so, why not pick that area?

How about where you are originally from? If these don't work, I would pick an abandoned industrial/brownfield in a city and renaturalise it.

Hope that this helps.

Feb 1, 07 11:26 am

i'd pick a state or national park. it works with your 'nature' theme and, as it is government protected, it's likely that it will stay 'natural' for the forseeable future.

it also gives you an identifiable location for presentation purposes (nothing worse than a project built on a completely arbitrary site) and it will allow you to take a logical path toward choosing a site - 'so-and-so state park is known for it's extensive hiking trails and birdwatching opportunities and this ties into the programmatic elements and theoretical undercurrents of the idea of the nature school...'

ps - unless your project is a mobile school or an easily site-adaptable prototype school, saying: 'i feel like this project could be done almost anywhere' sounds like a cop-out.

Feb 1, 07 12:15 pm

I am doing thesis on shiv temple.I have to make a temple complex. Can anyone help me with the guidelines for shiv temple and any other data to be considered while designing ? Also please suggest me some sites .

Feb 8, 18 2:44 pm
Non Sequitur

School is hard. It's much easier to ask random strangers instead.


curious who has the record for resurrecting the oldest thread?

Non Sequitur

11 years, almost to the exact date. Maybe we should only keep score from this point on.


Is anyone having information about the Iskcon temple proposed by Ar. Sanjay Puri in Ahmedabad ?

Feb 11, 18 10:22 am

yes ! email me and i will pass along


Please mail if you have the related information on


Just pick a site, and it might help if it is one that doesn't offer up a "perfect" situation for what you are trying to structure and you have to design your way into a thesis.

Feb 11, 18 11:12 pm

Screw trying to find the 'perfect' site.  Leave that untouched and for everyone to enjoy.  Go find the worst site instead, perhaps contaminated, discarded and challenge yourself to work with it, renew it and give it life.  If you can do that, you'll have a more interesting project and probably learn a lot more along the way.  Many try to find the most perfect and pristine site and want to plonk down their work on it, often times cutting it off from the general public's use forever.

Feb 12, 18 10:15 am

Pick a triangular site and then see if you haven't grounded your head down to a nub by the end of the year.

Feb 12, 18 10:53 am

If any site is large enough a group of landscape architects and civil engineers can create several kinds of biologically diverse areas within the broad parameters of any school's climate setting.

Feb 12, 18 11:20 am

Pretty sure the new OP is just looking for handouts, not ideas. 

Feb 12, 18 11:26 am

Hi new OP, if you leave your email address here:  it will give you all the answers you never needed. Good luck!

Feb 12, 18 12:26 pm
Non Sequitur

Does that actually work? I typically use that site when I get aggressive PMs of from those looking for free design services.

Finjohn You may find the perfect site from one of these schools. Good luck!

Feb 13, 18 12:34 pm

Hey everyone! Can anyone please help me in finding a suitable proposed site for my thesis on music academy ? 

Dec 30, 18 7:10 am

Use Budapest, that way you can copy submissions from that Music Academy competition that Sou Fujimoto won, even less work for you and less to learn or develop your own ideas!

Non Sequitur

Just add a few shipping containers to cleaveland, Ohio.

wurdan freo

World map, bottle of tequilla and a dart should do it...


Try university library website, and journal sites too. There are ample resources in  google scholar but one that will fit your topic could really be hard. good luck to your thesis.

Jan 1, 19 2:56 am

hello, i am currently conducting my thesis and i was wondering if any of you know how to make a site statement (parameters) for a prototype proposal? My thesis is a house that focuses on technology and I’m having trouble with how to write about my site because I don’t really have a specific one. Thank you to anyone who would help.

Nov 24, 19 7:07 pm

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