Global design firm Sasaki has announced the launch of Density Atlas, a new online platform for planners, urban designers, developers, and students immersed in the public realm, to have a better understanding about density. The platform explores the limitations of density and defines a more standardized set of metrics for understanding and comparing density across different global contexts, such as in urban centers, college campuses, or community under development.
Now that the future of cities is being heavily evaluated in the post-COVID world, Density Atlas provides users with a deeper knowledge in regards to the density of a particular region, city, or neighborhood. The platform aims to clarify what density is, isn’t, and can be, to create significant progress and improvements around planning, development, and design. The website has been constantly reworked and improved over the course of 10 years by the late Tunney Lee, professor emeritus of urban planning and former head of the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), with the help of many students and collaborators.
Density Atlas provides four key metrics for users to measure density:
- Population Density (POP) – "Refers to the number of people living in a given area. It is a helpful way to measure density, but it does not take into account the amount of living space per person. Are dwelling units a comfortable size? Is there public space for people? How many people live in each household"?
- Dwelling Unit Density (DUD) – "Refers to the number of dwelling units built on the lot, and is often used by realtors or developers, as their focus is the marketable number of units in a given area. The density of an area can change based on the number of dwelling units – although we use individual dwelling units as a measurement, we don’t measure the size of the units".
- Floor Area Ratio (FAR) – "The ratio of built area (a building's total size) to the lot area (the property upon which the building is built). It is a measure used by planners, regulators, and developers to discern the intensity of a development".
- Coverage (CVG) – "The percentage of a site covered by buildings. Development scenarios with the same FAR but different coverage will produce varying types of development: for example, low-rise or high-rise. Height by itself is not density. A tall building is not necessarily dense. It may cover only a small portion of the site, or it may have very few residents".
In other means of celebrating community, three interdisciplinary leaders of design firm Sasaki are building space for change. Defining the future through collective, contextual, and values-driven projects, they are showing how working together produces greater impact. Following the belief that better design comes through open exchange and deep engagement, each of these women are creating more sustainable and inclusive futures. ArchDaily held an interview with the leading women to celebrate their extraordinary work.