Introduction to Measuring Density

This atlas measures projects using dwelling units per acre, population per acre, and floor area ratio (FAR), the three most commonly used measurements of density. Projects are grouped into "neighborhood" scales and "block" scales, for proper comparison. Comparing projects within a defined scale is important because the larger the land mass, the more non-residential space will exist in a given area - retail, parks, services, etc., automatically lowering the dwelling units, population and FAR, and total density of an area. Density will almost always be "higher" at the "block" scale, so it is important to make comparisons within their assigned scales.

Measuring Density

Density Measurement Profile

  • High, High, High

    High FAR, High Du, High Population

    Neighborhoods with high population, dwelling units and FAR can be very livable, comfortable environments, using an efficient development pattern. The livability of these neighborhoods is highly dependent on the urban and architectural design of the buildings within this space, to ensure all units have good access to light and air, and the streetscape feels pleasant and uncrowded.

    Ming Court
    Ming Court, Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong
    FAR = 12.5
    DU = 247 / Ha
    Pop = 804 / Ha

    The Visionaire, Battery City Park, New York
    FAR = 16.4
    DU = 755 / Ha
    Pop = 1585 / Ha

    Man Wai Building
    Man Wai Bldg, Jordan, Hong Kong

    FAR = 10.1
    DU = 242 / Ha
    Pop = 969 / Ha

  • Low, Low, Low

    Low FAR, Low Du, Low Pop

    Neighborhoods with low population, low dwelling units and low FAR are the least dense case studies in this atlas. The following are examples of some of the least dense case studies in the Density Atlas.

    City des Fleurs
    City des Fleurs, Paris, France
    FAR = 1.5
    DU = 12 / Ha
    Pop = 62 / Ha

    Ju'er Hutong
    Ju'er Hutong, Beijing, China
    FAR = 1.3
    DU = 89 / Ha
    Pop = 264 / Ha

  • High, Low, Low

    High FAR, Low DU, Low Population

    The following examples of neighborhoods with high FAR, low dwelling units and low population illustrate neighborhoods that may appear dense due to the relatively large building size, however, the number of people living in the area is relatively low, leading to a less crowded environment. Dwelling units are fairly large, giving each person a sizeable amount of personal living space.

    The Esplanade
    The Esplanade, Cambridge, MA, US
    FAR = 9.6
    DU = 59 / Ha
    Pop = 97 / Ha

    Plan Voisin
    The Plan Voisin, Paris, France
    FAR = 7.2
    DU = 49 / Ha
    Pop = 196 / Ha

    Block 1002 Census Tract 105.01 on Fifth Ave
    Block 1002 Census Tract 105.01 on 5th Ave
    FAR = 8.0
    DU = 94 / Ha
    Pop = 186 / Ha

  • Low, Low, High

    Low FAR, High DU, High Population

    In contrast with the examples above, the following examples illustrate crowded neighborhoods with relatively low FAR. Most informal developments have a similar Density Measurement Profile.

    Dharavi, Mumbai, India
    FAR = 2.0
    DU = 255 / Ha
    Pop = 5714 / Ha