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Surrounding Environment

Designers Knowledge Base

Including infrastructure, transportation, topography, adjacent structures and their services, the activities in the adjacent environment and site access issues.


In preparing his design the designer should be aware of, and assess the risks from, possible hazards in the surrounding environment of the site. Some possible hazards in the surrounding environment are:

Possible hazards and risks

  • collapse: caused by work in proximity to previous excavations or structures, old mine workings etc.
  • health hazards: caused by contaminated land or ground seepage, emissions from adjacent premises, dumps, sewers, dust etc.
  • existing services: overhead, buried, underground, on site or in structures
  • the general public: difficulty of perimeter security and thus the prevention of unauthorised entry
  • movement of plant and vehicles both on and off site, local infrastructure, loadings, access routes, noise
  • impact: considerations of plant lifting/over-sailing above local sensitive areas, schools,pavements, roads

Some design considerations

The designer has a duty to avoid or mitigate the assessed hazards wherever that is possible. Some possible options for achieving this end in the design are:

  • ensure local infrastructure can carry the designed elements without hazards to operatives or the general public
  • reduce contaminated ground hazards by containment
  • design to suit local conditions. For example avoid basements in flooded ground, avoid work at height in exposed locations
  • avoid oversailing adjacent property for example by designing windows which fix from within building
  • design to avoid existing services rather than re-route them
  • in sensitive areas design for off-site fabrication to minimise site activities