March 5, 2012
Many homes have few driveway options because the distance from the home to the street is too short, thus limiting the amount of space available for layouts that require more room. Even then there are a number of design elements to consider, which will be discussed in a future article. This article is about the popular “circular” driveway option. Like any improvement you must address the functional aspects of your design problem. Some questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you have room for circular driveway?
2. Do you need guest parking?
3. Where is the circular drive in relation to your garage?
4. Are there significant trees within the project area?
5. What is your sites topography?
6. What aesthetic style do you want?
I would recommend that you simply start by determining whether you have enough room for a circular driveway. I would also suggest that you only consider a circular driveway that allows room for cars to park while still having enough space for cars to pass. This means that you need room for a 70’ diameter circle. Using a tape measure place a spike in the approximate center of your circle drive and layout 35’ radius circle. Considering space and the slope of your property do you have enough room to make it work?
If you have room to proceed you should then study a path for the approach drive that presents drivers with a minimum number of decisions. Create an approach from the street to the circular portion of the driveway that respects the natural landscape while following the easier grade. You also want to provide a connection to the circle drive that encourages traffic to enter from the right side. This is best as it places the passenger side of the car on the outside of the turn-around, which is preferred for drop off. This also keeps vehicles moving in the same the direction. Locating and designing the best approach drive is another topic, which will be discussed in a future article.
The inner circle should be a minimum of 30’ diameter with a 20’ drive lane. In addition to the circle drive the approach drive should also be used to access the garage. The approach drive, circle drive, turn around, garage access and guest parking are all separate elements of the overall driveway design and layout that need to be addressed. The interaction and transition from each one of these elements is a very important when preparing good solution.
Lastly, it is also important to design your walkways connecting the various areas of your driveway to the corresponding entry points of your home. For example, the circular drive and/or guest parking would have en entry walkway taking visitors from the drop-off and parking to the main entrance of your home. The area in front of your garage might connect to a secondary entrance, such as, a mud room. If you have a pedestrian entrance from the outside to your garage you also determine if you want to provide a walkway to and from the driveway. Where to store trash cans is another design topic to think about. I typically design a trash storage location out of view and large enough for one trash can, one yard waste (organic) can and one recycle can.
Many residential circle driveways are poorly conceived, but when properly designed they provide excellent vehicular circulation and exciting aesthetic possibilities.
If you would like our help with your driveway project contact us, Niwa Design Studio, at 952-470-1882.