Scale

The term "scale" has many meanings, but the in the Density Atlas scale refers to the extent of land being measured. The Density Atlas defines five levels of scale in a typical metropolitan region.

Scale

There is no universal definition for “block” or “neighborhood” or “district.” Comparisons become especially difficult when looking at projects in different geographic contexts.
For example, a neighborhood in the South End of Boston takes a very different physical form than a neighborhood in a new planned community in Shenzhen, China, such as Wonderland.  On the surface, meaningful comparison seems unlikely because these “neighborhoods” look very different from each other.

However, the Density Atlas establishes criteria to enable appropriate comparisons among seemingly different developments, as described in other pages.

Density Atlas case studies focus on two scales: A (block or development parcel) and B (neighborhood). Additionally, each case may also describe characteristics of the larger planning district, city, or regional context.

Level A: Block or Development Parcel

This level typically includes one block or a few small blocks, primarily residential, with few or no supporting services within its boundary. In most cases, the project will have been developed by one entity and is managed by one organization. Typical range of area: 1-5 hectares / 2.5 – 12.5 acres.  About 25% of the site is used for streets and open space.

A building sitting on a piece of land (say the property lines of the lot) has a certain density. If you were to include area of the street along which the property is situated, the density measure gets lower.

Kwong Ming Court, Hong Kong

Kwong Ming Court (1.2 Ha)
Area 59, Tseung Kwan O Station
Hong Kong

Cour

Courtyard Housing (3.1 Ha)
Faubourg Saint Antoine
Paris, France

Tent City, Boston

Tent City (1.3 Ha)
South End
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Scale

Level B: Neighborhood

This area is defined in two ways.

Historic neighborhoods: Area defined as a walkable area (400 meter radius), or a self defined neighborhood.

Examples: Ellis Neighborhood, South End (Boston, USA)

New neighborhoods: A cluster of walkable blocks with some local services. Many new developments, especially in the developing world, are of this size. These clusters include some neighborhood services and open space, but are still mostly self-contained. Areas will range in size, but generally will be defined by a 500 meter walking radius.

Examples: A phase of Wonderland (China); US Example (Cosmopolitan Neighborhood, South End? Reston Town Center, Seaside, Celebration?)

At this scale, the range for FAR, DUs per area and population per area is:
Note that the range of FAR is much higher for Level A, as there is less non-residential space required for smaller sites (fewer  roads, infrastructure, non-residential buildings).

Kwong Ming Court, Hong Kong

Area 59 (17.5 Ha)
Tseung Kwan O Station,
Hong Kong

Cour

Courtyard Housing (16.3 Ha)
Faubourg Saint Antoine
Paris, France

Tent City, Boston

Cosmopolitan (6.7 Ha)
South End
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Scale

Level C,D,E: District/City/Region

At the district, city and regional scales, the elements affecting overall density increase dramatically, rendering macro-level density measurements less meaningful.

Kwong Ming Court, Hong Kong

Tseung Kwan O Station (1.1sq km)
Hong Kong

Cour

11th arrondissement (3.7sq km)
Paris, France

Tent City, Boston

South End (2.6sq km)
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Scale

Relationship Between Levels

Coming Soon