CarFree Cities

FAR Explained

FAR illustrated
A FAR of 1.0

The illustration above shows a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 1.0. This simply means that, if the area of the plot is 100 square meters, then 100 square meters of gross floor area has been built on the plot. The illustration above shows a 4-story building covering 1/4 of the site, giving a FAR of 1.0. Four floors of 25 square meters each are built on a site of 100 square meters.

The reference design for carfree cities is based on a FAR of 1.5. Here are some ways to get to a FAR of 1.5:

  • Build a 2-story building on 75% of the site (2 x 0.75 = 1.5)
  • Build a 3-story building on 50% of the site (3 x 0.5 = 1.5)
  • Build a 4-story building on 37.5% of the site (4 x 0.375 = 1.5)
It will be noted that a FAR of 1.5 is quite high, although this density is not unusual in Venice or central Paris, and is considerably exceeded in most of Manhattan. It requires 4-story buildings and narrow streets with modest interior courtyards. (Higher buildings would leave more room for streets and gardens, but buildings higher than 4 stories are not desirable because they are expensive to construct and unpleasant to live in.)

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