Every wonder why all that sunken retail space? Post-1961 zoning loophole – it doesn't count towards allowed density! pic.twitter.com/LTiVtpPuRC
— Market Urbanism (@MarketUrbanism) April 12, 2016
There are many, many other examples. Auckland’s sausage flats, for instance, were designed to respond to zoning rules. A mid-1970s reform allowed people to add units on standard residential sites, but they didn’t waive setback and height rules. The result was a lot of long, skinny ‘sausages’ running down the centre of suburban lots, as seen in Royal Oak:
Sausage flats are not the most beloved aspect of Auckland’s urban fabric. (Unjustly, in my view, as they serve a valuable role in housing people who may not be able to afford a typical standalone house.) But some responses to zoning are more well-loved. Take the Mansard roof, which probably forms a key part of your mental image of Paris: Steeply pitched roofs with windows facing out and apartments built within:
According to Wikipedia, this emerged as a response to French zoning codes:
Later examples suggest that either French or American buildings were taxed by their height (or number of storeys) to the base of the roof, or that mansards were used to bypass zoning restrictions. This last explanation is the nearest to the truth: a Parisian law had been in place since 1783, restricting the heights of buildings to 20 metres (65 feet). The height was only measured up to the cornice line, making any living space contained in a mansard roof exempt. A 1902 revision of the law permitted building three or even four stories within such a roof.
Humans are great. We’ve never seen a rule that we didn’t try to weasel our way around.