Introduction to FAR Illustrated

Rua 5 de Outubro, Évora

The next 10 pages illustrate Floor Area Ratios (FARs) of homogeneous neighborhoods like the one above. Each page includes a plan at the same scale. Amsterdam was chosen as the site for most examples because that city has a variety of nearly homogeneous examples of many city forms. The pages are in order of decreasing FAR. A scale, in meters, can be found just below the plan. The small increments are 10 meters; the large increments 100 meters; the final increment 60 meters.

The selection of the area to be mapped and measured is somewhat arbitrary. Clearly, shifting the area of measurement would yield different statistics, and in some cases the changes would be fairly large. However, the area included is reasonably representative of the neighborhood and accurately reflects its density. North is at the top, within about five degrees.

Statistics apply to the full area of each plan, which is in all cases 360 m (1181') square. The FAR is given first and then the average number of floors. This is followed by the percentage of the site devoted to each of the following four uses. "Buildings" are shown in black and are the bases of the buildings, irrespective of setbacks, overhangs, or canopies. "Paving" is shown in light gray and includes open pavers with grass growing between. "Green" is shown in white and is any earthen surface. "Water" is shown in dark gray.

Following the statistical summary is a description of the area and its uses. Nearly all the photographs were taken fairly close to the center of the mapped area, and all with the 20 mm lens.

Maps were compiled from site inspections and a variety of sources. The maps and the resultant statistics are fairly accurate, but minor systematic errors (such as tracing the inside or the outside of building outlines) will have noticeable effects on the statistics. The same method was applied consistently, and the statistics are accurate enough to give a good understanding of the relative efficiency of different urban forms in providing floor space per unit land.

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©2004 J.Crawford