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A Study on Legal Position of Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in Urban Development

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Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is one of the main features of urban area, which is always considered by urban planners. This issue has become as one of the major bases of urban development policy in Iran within the past recent years and been emphasized through the framework of several urban development plans. Therefore, a fundamental view in this regard is mandatory. The most important achievement of the current century in the field of urban development is considering citizens rights and qualitative aspects in this regard. Non-professional interference such as selling excessive FAR and uncontrolled and unplanned developments, especially for housing purposes in most major cities without considering the variability and difference of urban lands and merely for achieve earning for municipality and profitability of a limited group of investors have occurred, which resulted in a decrease in urban environment quality and lack of sustainability in the field of security, health and comfort of citizens in environmental fields. Whereas effect of tall buildings on urban area and citizens in terms of physical, economic, social, urban development, etc. is undeniable, therefore, special focus on urban development laws is required. The purpose of this study includes recognizing effecting urban laws relating to FAR and controlling urban development through examining laws on FAR and tall building construction in some sample countries across the Globe, to identify variable and suitable solutions using global experiences. Eventually, through studying Tehran and New York, as two modern cities with roughly similar conditions and comparing the laws and manner to face issues of urban development and FAR, we understand the level of success of each in this regard and what are more suitable solutions. Study method in this article is combined, in a way that using research method and documented and library base studies, the relevant information is collected and further examined using quantitative and qualitative method.


Almost all developed and developing countries face serious problems due to rapid and vertical growth of cities during the recent decades. The issues of this phenomenon not only extensively affected urban development policies, but also its consequences played a major role in economic, social, political, managerial and environmental issues of the societies. Concerns on this phenomenon caused that the developed countries, especially upon WWII, take certain measures to solve or control this crisis. The main bases of these measures include policies on tall building construction, mass development, changing taxation laws, enactment of land laws for optimized usage, improvement and renovation of old and central urban areas, plan on preparing lands of new locations, developing new cities, and above all, policy on increasing population density and FAR of cities. Through reviewing many of these polices, the undeniable role of FAR component in forming and physical aspect and form of the city may be perceived. In these plans, FAR is determined considering population expected for the plan horizon and urban development and urban region policies as well as considering environmental capacities, services and infra-structural urban installations and social, economic, and cultural characteristics. Therefore, focusing the important role of housing in the city and urban planning, focusing position of FAR in projects, its role and importance in urban area organization and factors and criteria affecting the same and legal discussion in this regard are essential. Various existing limitations in a city results in limitations to admitting population for that city and its suburbs, while due to the same reason, the regulations on level of permitted construction in urban development plans is known and therefore, the owners are prohibited to construct excessive building considering their construction permits.

Study Purpose

  • Identifying factors affecting FAR
  • Clarifying FAR concept as urban development tool for housing projects

Study Questions

  • What are the effective criteria to determine FAR?
  • Can the criteria effective in modern urban design be achieved through considering common legal aspects of FAR in the studied countries?

Study Method

Whereas this article is of analytical, quantitative and qualitative nature and collecting data has been fulfilled through research method and documented and library studies, which have further been studied, therefore, the study method in this article is of combined type.

Position of FAR in Urban Development Fundamentals: In general, the concept of density in the urban planning literature in the context of land use planning under the category of zoning regulations is the subject dealt with the spatial distribution of elements, functions and activities in urban areas. (Flame, Urban Management Quarterly, 2008, p. 36). Concentration in urban design also has a great effect on all three aspects of the artifact environment, its function, its form and meaning. This effect is achieved through the level of user activity in the functional dimension, and the methods for controlling the volume, height and spacing of buildings, in the dimension of the form through the dimensions of performance and in the semantic dimension and artifact environment.

Height: The height of buildings as one of the contiguous variables on FAR is one of the most important factors in organizing urban landscape. This criterion, in proportion to the number of building floors, is a more precise control tool that should be designed with regard to adjacent buildings and street features. The impact of building height on creating a sense of space enclosure is significant. The sense of being enclosed in space is essentially based on the relation between the eye distance from the height of the enclosing body of space.

Building Mass and Volume: This is one of the other criteria controlling FAR, which plays an important role in urban form and view. This criterion focuses controlling volume and distribution of superstructure on ground area.

Scale: It is one of the other variables dependent on density, which is a complex, multi-faceted and relative measure. So that it can be a mixture of the main criteria such as mass and volume, height, gradient etc. In this way, the effects of building density on the physical dimension are more pronounced. Disturbance in physical spaces and urban form and landscape is one of the negative consequences of increasing construction density.

Floor Area Ratio (FAR) This is the ratio of the total infrastructure construction of a fragment to the total area of that piece. (Zo Eshtyagh, 1998.4) The index of construction density is shown as a percentage. The effects of increasing the density on the urban form include spatial skew, a cultural organization, mass and space. The effects of increasing density on urban landscape are as follows: Height line, bonding of the walls, scale, granularity, hemisphericity of buildings. Therefore, if increased construction density, without comprehensive planning, can cause disturbances in the city’s space and body. The formation of the physical composition of urban bodies, without consideration of qualitative and quantitative aspects, will lead to the creation of discrete and unconnected urban areas and disparate and disproportionate towers. This is clearly visible in housing projects.

Factors effective in Categorization

  • Determine the density in each area according to its type of operation
  • Determine the amount of land needed for important urban functions such as trade, industry, residential sector and other urban activities (Shokouti, 1994, p. 343)
  • The height of buildings, the dimensions of segments, the street width, the supply area and the number of buildings in each building
  • The location and capacity of the lines of installations and main streets (Zyari, 2009, p. 67)

The theory of determinism (ecology) of the city, considering its size and population density and high buildings, … causes the mental and emotional disturbances of the citizens, which in turn undermine social relations, Superficial, apparent, and so on. But combinators claim that ecological factors do not play an effective role in social relationships, and that differences in social behavior of individuals derive from their own characteristics and characteristics. Sub-cultural theory synthesizes two earlier theories that are more consistent with the reality of urban life. The existence of complications from various subcultures under conditions of consolidation can have the same strong links and sincere connections in urban areas and, in some cases, an abnormal phenomenon. In high-rise buildings, in addition to the effects of ecological factors, non-ecological issues also play a major role. In addition to numerous global experiences, research conducted in Iran, mainly composed of academic work.

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GradesFixer. (2019). A Study on Legal Position of Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in Urban Development. Retrived from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-on-legal-position-of-floor-area-ratio-far-in-urban-development/
GradesFixer. "A Study on Legal Position of Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in Urban Development." GradesFixer, 12 Mar. 2019, https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-on-legal-position-of-floor-area-ratio-far-in-urban-development/
GradesFixer, 2019. A Study on Legal Position of Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in Urban Development. [online] Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-on-legal-position-of-floor-area-ratio-far-in-urban-development/> [Accessed 10 July 2020].
GradesFixer. A Study on Legal Position of Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in Urban Development [Internet]. GradesFixer; 2019 [cited 2019 March 12]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-on-legal-position-of-floor-area-ratio-far-in-urban-development/
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