The Ways To Design a House In Sloping Site


One of the challenges we have to face when designing a housing on the site in Hexham is the condition of the site which is not flat. Site is a hill that starts from the northern site near the main road and goes up to the south. Therefore, we try to figure out how to design a house on the sloping site.

Before talking about the ways to overcome a site that is not flat, the figure below tries to explain the situations which is possible to be faced when making a home on the site. There are 4  possibilities i.e. down slope, up slope, side slope and rolling slope. All these possibilities are clearly explained in the image below.

TYPE OF CONDITIONAll people that work in any field certainly understand that a home should be made as flat as possible. Therefore, before starting the construction process, the contractors and designers have to think about what they should do with the sloping site. Perhaps, for the architects, this is a basic knowledges that already known by them, but this information may be useful to other colleagues who are not from architecture. Those ways are cut, fill and cut & fill.


CUTCut is a way of leveling the land where a house / building will be constructed by cutting the area of the land. Furthermore, to prevent the soil in the landslide, a retaining wall have to made in order to hold back the soil.


FILLThe opposite of the cut, fill is a way to level the land by filling the area with concrete or other materials. It is like creating a new platform in order to flatten the surface of the area so that a house can be built.



CUT & FILLCut & Fill is a combination of those two ways mentioned above. if we want to apply this way, we have to cut some area of the land and add it on the other side.

These 3 ways would have a different impact. All depends on site conditions, the concept of design and budget owned by the owner. When we talk about the price, “Fill” will cost higher than the 2 other because “Fill” needs more extra material. However, “Fill” could be the best option if the designer wants the house is in a higher position than the ground in order to get a view. This kind of thing can happen in other ways as well. Therefore, designers should think seriously before deciding which way that want to be used so that the selected method is good for all parties.



First In Architecture (2015) Tips for building on a sloped terrain [online] Available at: http://www.firstinarchitecture.co.uk/tips-for-building-on-a-sloped-terrain/  [Accessed 1st March 2015]

Home Building (n.d) how to build on sloping site  [online] Available at: http://www.homebuilding.co.uk/advice/beginners/plots/build-sloping-site  [Accessed 1st March 2015]

Albermarle (n.d) The neighborhood model: building block for the development area [online] Available at: https://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/forms_center/departments/community_development/forms/Neighborhood_Model/Neighborhood_Model_Design_Approch_for_Principle11.pdfv  [Accessed 1st March 2015]

Tweed Shire Council, n.d. Together Forward, Australia

7 thoughts on “The Ways To Design a House In Sloping Site

  1. Hi Dodo,
    I agree that slopes can be a big problem for an urban designer when one creates a new project. Without no doubt it takes a big effort to design a ‘flat’ housing development or a garden.
    Although, you have a chance to create a very interesting house or a garden than on a flat site. Hexham is the place where you are going to provide space for allotments and a social gardening, so why not to think that lumps and bumps in this place can create a very unusual landscape. You have an ability to transform Craneshaugh unusable slope into a pretty space, with a cohousing and space for seating entertaining.
    Please look at this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDtkvZ_T8Xc and have a quick read through this: http://www.garden-design-it-yourself.com/

    Good luck with your work, Alina

  2. Hi Dodo, topography is the everlasting problem with the designers, however, if we can take the positive of it, we can create the utopian buildings. Take the example of Falling water of Frank Lloyd Wright or The Sage are both familiar with us, both are located on a complex topography. However, by designing of architect with support from experts, buildings are the masterpiece on slope topography.
    Moreover, location is quite important with a landmark like The Sage. Building is outstanding not only by the architectural shell, unique material, but also by the location. The landmark need to be visual impact and easy to recognise from long range. In the case of The Sage, it was located on hillside slope to bank river, which is the highest point on bumpy topography so people can see building from different positions in this area, even from further as city centre.
    Therefore, in my opinion, we should optimise the advantage of topography to make the distinct for our design.

  3. Hi DODO, I have to say thank you for uploading this blog. It is really helpful to read this article and doing a slop site housing design. And it really goes to details on how we facing different kinds of not flat site. I would like to first suggest that it will be more helpful to explore how these different ways of building houses on not flat site could affect the views, front garden and back yard design, maybe the sunshine and shadow as well. Also, in terms of dealing with the soil dig out, I would like to share that our group are thinking using these soil to build a grass slop as open space for children fun, It is always interesting when try to think think deeper. I mean the thing I have learnt most from this year`s study is to consider all the impacts of every single changes you made and to make the change reasonable.

  4. Hello Doudou, I really like to read this Blog about how to design a house in sloping site. In fact, one of my friends from architect said planners are used to start to think from the plan like the distance between houses, the street width and so on. However, sometime it is completely wrong by doing this way. As urban designers, we need to consider more when designing for a particular site. Since the world is not flat, we cannot always assume that everything is flat during the design. We maybe miss lots of opportunities to shape better space like street views. That is to say, we need to think more in three dimensions rather than in two dimensions. From my points of view, designing from 3d perspective is more valuable and accurate comparing with traditional ways of masterplan designing. Hope you read my Blog about the world is not flat as well and give me your feedback and comments on it.

  5. Hello Alina, I did watch the youtube video you post. However, the video is showing the on-going construction work on the site which is like what I want it. My question is about when we designing for the site from the very beginning rather than start to move cements, bricks and metals to the site. While the engineers and workers are not assuming the site is flat, we urban designers cannot take it as a simple plan as well. That is to say, we need to design more on the site rather than on the plan, we need to put the house into the site rather than on the plan. What I wrote in Doudou’s comment is that we are not masterplan design; and I think we are doing that most of the time. We are focusing more on whether the plan is good-looking or not rather than thinking about design for a better place in the actual site. This is the biggest problem we have now and I hope we can solve it in the future design. Here future design I mean the Urban Design is also progressing and improving in many aspects to some degree. I hope urban design could become the subject which can really solve the problem between space and buildings in the future.

  6. We all know that designing and building sloping block house can be challenging and there are things that needs to be consider. It is mentioned above about the 4 possibilities when making a home on the site which is the down slope, up slope, side slope and rolling slope.

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