Smart Code Corner

As RPC professionals visit and work within your communities, they may discuss smart codes or form-based codes. The concepts of smart codes or form-based codes are an emerging trend throughout the nation and here in Alabama. What are they and how would they work in your community?  Smart Code Corner will be a recurring section of your Connections newsletter. RPC staff will compile monthly articles on smart code and formed-based code. Our goal is providing you information to help you understand smart code and formed-based code. With an understanding of the concepts, you can determine how these tools may help you shape your community.

What is smart code or form-based code?
Form-based codes have developed over several decades. The SmartCode is a model form-based code originally developed by the preeminent architectural firm Duany, Plater-Zyberk and Co., to guide the development of the Florida resort town of Seaside. Form-based codes regulate land development with more emphasis on controlling urban form and less emphasis on controlling land uses. The regulations and standards in form-based codes are presented in both diagrams and words. Form-based codes are always accompanied by a regulating plan. Most of us have in place a zoning code that is know as Euclidean zoning. Conventional Euclidean zoning regulates land development with the most emphasis on controlling land use. Form-based code does concentrate on the form of the built environment and not exclusively on the use.

SmartCode is a formed-based code. SmartCode moves beyond regulating only the form of a specific piece of land and instead further regulates how a singular form fits into the larger context of a region, this concept is know as the transect. The transect recognizes that development fits within the context of the region not just the individual site. SmartCode brings the transect and form-based code together. It folds zoning, subdivision regulations, urban design, public works standards, and basic architectural controls into one compact document. It is a unified ordinance, spanning scales from region to community to building. Ultimately, a form-based code is a tool; the quality of development outcomes is dependent on the quality and objectives of the community plan that a code implements.

One Response to “Smart Code Corner”

  1. Townbuilder March 7, 2009 6:29 am
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    Andres Duany (www.dpz.com), the principal author of the SmartCode, and PlaceMakers (www.placemakers.com) will conduct an intensive two day seminar on the SmartCode in Atlanta on April 17th and 18th.
    You can review the agenda at:
    http://www.smartcodecomplete.com/learn/next.html
    You can find out more about the SmartCode and form based coding at http://www.smartcodecentral.com and http://www.transect.org.