Hybrid Codes Versus Form-Based Codes


Kaizer Rangwala

Issue Date:

Wed, 2009-04-01

Page Number:12

As form-based coding increases, “hybrid code” is used more often. Hybrid codes involve meshing conventional zoning codes with graphic urban design standards that typically address setbacks, parking placement, building bulk, materials, and architectural features. Such a hybrid is not a form-based code (FBC) and likely will not produce the physical outcome desired. While urban design standards within a conventional coding framework are beneficial, they are not enough and are not a viable alternative to FBCs.

“The conception of the public realm in this form of hybrid codes is missing,” said the Form-Based Code Institute chairman Geoffrey Ferrell. Instead, FBCs carefully combine the public realm’s elements — the buildings, streets, and open space — into a cohesive and memorable place. FBCs also integrate the full spectrum of land-use regulations such as planning, zoning, subdivision, public works, and safety standards to produce benefits in unison rather than allowing these systems to clash.

Because the form standards are not fully developed in such hybrid codes, hyper-control of uses continues. Changes in the market cycle require constant legislative changes to the zoning regulations. The lack of precise standards diminishes predictability.