The Info List - Floor Area Ratio

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FLOOR AREA RATIO (FAR) is the ratio of a building's total floor area (zoning floor area) to the size of the piece of land upon which it is built. The terms can also refer to limits imposed on such a ratio.

As a formula: Floor area ratio = (total amount of usable floor area that a building has, zoning floor area) / (area of the plot)


* 1 History * 2 Purpose

* 3 Terminology

* 3.1 Similar terms

* 3.1.1 Floor Space Index (FSI) vs Floor Area Ratio (FAR)

* 3.2 Regional variation

* 4 Impact on land value * 5 Criticism * 6 Japan * 7 FAR in India
* 8 Footnotes * 9 References * 10 External links


One of the purposes of the 1916 zoning ordinance of New York City was to prevent tall buildings from obstructing too much light and air. The 1916 zoning ordinance sought to control building size by regulating height and setback requirements for towers. In 1961, a revision to the zoning ordinance introduced the concept of FLOOR AREA RATIO (FAR). Buildings built before 1961 often have FARs that would be unachievable today, such as the Empire State Building
Empire State Building
which has an FAR of 25 - meaning that it earns considerably greater rent than a newer building on the same land could hope for.


The FLOOR AREA RATIO (FAR) can be used in zoning to limit the number of people that a building can hold instead of controlling a building's external shape.

For example, if lot must adhere to a 0.10 FAR, then the total area of all floors in all buildings on the lot must be no more than one-tenth the area of the parcel itself. (In other words, if the lot was 10,000 sq. ft, then the total floor area of all floors in all buildings mustn't exceed 1,000 sq. ft.)

Common exclusions to the total calculation of square footage for the purpose of FLOOR AREA RATIO (FAR) include unoccupied areas such as mechanical equipment floors, basements, stair towers, elevator shafts, and parking garages.

An architect can plan for either a single-story building consuming the entire allowable area in one floor, or a multi-story building that rises higher above the plane of the land, but which must consequently result in a smaller footprint than would a single-story building of the same total floor area. By combining the horizontal and vertical limits into a single figure, some flexibility is permitted in building design , while achieving a hard limit on at least one measure of overall size. One advantage to fixing this parameter, as opposed to others such as height, width, or length, is that floor area correlates well with other considerations relevant to zoning regulation, such as total parking that would be required for an office building , total number of units that might be available for residential use, total load on municipal services , etc. The amounts of these things tend to be constant for a given total floor area, regardless of how that area is distributed horizontally and vertically. Thus, many jurisdictions have found it unnecessary to include hard height limitations when using floor area ratio calculations.




Floor Space Index (FSI) Vs Floor Area Ratio (FAR)

While in terms of the outcome both will give the same built-up area that is allowed to be built on a certain area of land, there is an important difference in the representation of FSI "> noted that the allowable FAR has a major impact on the value of the land. Higher allowable FAR yields higher land value.


Andres Duany (2000) notes:

* Abdicating to floor area ratios (market forces) is the opposite of aiming a community toward something more than the sum of its parts. * FAR, a poor predictor of physical form, should not be used when the objective is to conserve and enhance neighborhood character; whereas traditional design standards (height, lot coverage and setbacks or build-to lines) enable anyone to make reasonably accurate predictions, recognize violations, and feel secure in their investment decisions. * If FAR is carelessly combined with traditional setbacks, assembled lots have a considerable advantage over individual lots, which has a negative effect on fine-grained cities and the diversity of ownership.


Japan has extensively adopted the floor area ratio in the zoning system since 1970. The evaluation of the adoption is, however, controversial: some say that it has deteriorated the skylines and building lines in Japanese cities; others claim that it has protected the residential environments.


In India
FAR and FSI are both used. FAR regulations vary from city to city in