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Density Atlas: The New Online Planning Tool

Density Atlas: The New Online Planning Tool

Density Atlas is a new online tool designed to help urban planners, urban designers, developers and students that work in the public realm. But what is the added value of this platform? ArchDaily released an article that explains more about the interface developed by the firm Sasaki.

Density Atlas is a platform that provides information and metrics 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 communities under development”.

After the pandemics, the future of the cities is being evaluated. A Post-Covid world requires people to be more cautious about city planning or community level design. Atlas platform provides to every user knowledge about density regarding a city, region of neighborhood.

“Its main purpose is 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”.

4 key metrics provided 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".

These types of projects look to improve and build spaces for change. Collective, contextual and values driven projects can help to create more value and a bigger impact on society. The exchange of knowledge is the best way to actually promote awareness and development at all levels.

At MKThink we are also working on projects that involve urban design and planning through a process of community integration. We run community-based workshops where we prototype designs and/or play games that elicit creative ideas from people young and old. We believe that cities should uplift and connect us all, and we love working on projects that bring that dream a bit closer to reality.


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