April 6, 2022

Five Subdivision Design Considerations for Orientation and Water Flow

Subdivisions, Water Flow, Drainage Design, Road Layout, Planning & Landscape Architecture Subdivisions, Water Flow, Drainage Design, Road Layout, Planning & Landscape Architecture

Transforming a piece of land into a subdivision can take multiple design directions. There are numerous stakeholders who can benefit from these unique design considerations. Some of these stakeholders include the public, future homeowners, developers, architects, contractors, engineers, and local governing bodies. Land planning professionals will provide guidance on balancing these considerations with stakeholders, specifically related to grading, view corridors, constructability, drainage design, and road layout options. Early consideration of these elements helps avoid costly mistakes during project design and construction while creating a better development for future users. 


Land planning professionals provide direction on the orientation of streets and homes in the development. Certain orientation can increase value and desirability.  

1. Down or Across the Grade 

The first consideration concerning a layout is orienting roads down or across the grade. Sometimes a street orientation is picked to maximize views. Other times, to minimize construction costs and ease constructability. Land planning professionals will work with developers to determine the best option based on current needs and future users.  

2. View Corridors  

View corridors create enhanced lines of sight towards something important. This could be the view of a nearby mountain range or a significant building. When done correctly, a subdivision near a mountainous terrain will provide homeowners with breathtaking views. Taking each home’s view corridor into consideration helps increase overall value.  

3. Road Layout Options  

It is important for residential layouts to fit within the context of development in the area. The consideration for placemaking comes through the aesthetics of curvilinear or straight roads, interconnectivity through the site, and the use of open space. On one hand, straight roads can be easier to build and more efficient. On the other hand, curvilinear streets can add aesthetics and interesting design elements, some of which may be required by cities.  

Water Flow  

Land planning professionals are also well-versed in matters related to drainage design across the site. Their expertise helps minimize infrastructure costs while utilizing existing geographic features to the subdivision’s advantage.  

4. Efficiency and Cost Savings 

Depending on the density and preferred design solution, storm water can flow through an open channel across the tract or storm water piping under the tract. Open channels tend to be more cost-effective to build but require more space, which can adversely impact the total density of a subdivision. It is important to access storm water needs based on the type of site and cost.  

5. Preserve Natural Features   

There is an increased desire for subdivisions to include or provide access to nature trails. To best preserve and enhance natural features, developers need to be aware of site-specific opportunities for active open space and local regulations. Westwood’s land planning professionals will identify unique site features and work to enhance these elements as placemaking enhancements specific to the subdivision.  

Westwood’s land planning professionals are well-versed in the nuisances of orientation and water flow. Interested in learning more? Reach out.  


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