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Blocks are pieces of a larger network of neighborhoods, streets, and districts. Block design should be appropriate for its location within its overall context and transect.


Understand the overall master plan in terms of hierarchy and sequence of space.

Understand regional building traditions and climatic responses and incorporate when possible.

Analyze the building scale and transect of the surrounding area.

Incorporate buildings into their appropriate place according to their spatial hierarchy and functional requirements 

Determine appropriate foreground and background relationships.​

Context Applications

Civic Hierarchy: Analyzing how a building integrates into and interacts with its context is crucial to determine the appropriate location for civic buildings. The block design should incorporate meaningful strategies to showcase the importance of a particular building or civic space within the block. The image above shows how the church is given prominence within the urban fabric by it situation on a high point in the town, as well as through the intentional placement of buildings at the block level. The two background buildings are splayed to allow for a staircase to become a focal point in line with the church. This permits access into the space, while also creating a visual connection with the street and civic space below.

Natural Amenities: Integrating significant existing natural resources on a site into the block design is essential to create great environments. These may include unique topographical conditions, natural water features and beautiful trees and vegetation. The experience of a place is greatly affected by these elements as they tie the old in with the new; the natural habitat in with the human habitat. The image shows a block designed to respect an existing old-growth tree. Were the tree not part of the streetscape, the pedestrian experience would be much different. Block design should be conscious of these amenities, while utilizing authentic forms to create comfortable and timeless public realms.
Entry Sequence: The transition from the street to the door is fundamental to the experience of the pedestrian. It allows for separation between the public street and the private realm of a home. There are many ways to achieve this separation, but the image above illustrates this idea quite well. The combination of the angled street and set back building provides an opportunity for the pedestrian to have a public space to interact in, as well as a semi-public yard behind the gate. This allows the occupant to feel a sense of arrival into the private realm upon entering the house.

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