Buildable Area

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Introduction

Zoning Diagrams (Height Limits/Land Use
Seattle Department of Planning and Development

The buildable area of a site can have a significant impact on a daylighting design. Buildable area can be constrained by planning or zoning requirements which can limit the buildable area of a site in both the horizontal and vertical direction via height limits, setbacks, and other zoning envelope restrictions. Floor area ratio (FAR) requirements can limit the amount of gross square footage of a building. Height limits and setback requirements can have a substantial impact on a daylighting design.

All of these issues shape building massing and therefore can influence daylight availability within a building. Floor plate configurations can be the key to successful daylighting design- since in multi-story buildings with typical floor to ceiling heights (9’ to 12’) the depth of daylight distribution is usually limited to about 20’. Similarly, buildings that are a single story and have access to daylight through skylights can have a very large floor plate without sacrificing daylight performance.

Zoning setbacks may also influence the orientation of a building and therefore exert influence over the solar exposure which can affect daylight availability, glare, and solar shading. As in all daylighting design, it is crucial to organize the program elements around the patterns of daylight and sunlight within the building site and footprint.

Section Key Resources
  • Baker, N., Steemers, K., (2002). Daylight Design of Buildings. James and James
  • Fontoynot, M., Ed., (1999). Daylight Performance of Buildings. James and James
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Lead Author(s): Chris Meek

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