About SmartCode

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The SmartCode® differs from contemporary Zoning practices as follows: Zoning does not encourage any particular physical outcome -it is based on unpredictable and negotiable principles rather than on urbanism and architecture; Zoning separates homes from offices, shops, churches and schools -as if these places were infected with some rare disease; Zoning standards are designed to support the automobile and to deny the rights of the pedestrian; and, most importantly, Zoning responds favorably to the homogenization of America and the unbridle consumption of agricultural land in the name of suburban development.  The practice of Zoning has produced strip shopping, big box stores with enormous seas of peripheral parking, and sadly gutted downtowns; it has produced tracts of banal housing, drive-in eateries and billboards, cul-de-sac developments, poor cycling thoroughfares, impossible public transportation, and places of damnation for teenagers, children and the elderly -the 20th century phenomenon known as Sprawl.

The SmartCode® was created to attack these problems and provide an opportunity to build traditional towns or neighborhoods like those where our grandparents used to live. The SmartCode® is a form-based code, meaning it envisions and encourages a certain physical outcome -the form of the region, community, street, block or building. The SmartCode® encourages the creation of places that are comfortable, safe, and ecologically sustainable. It allows a mix of uses within the neighborhoods, so its residents don’t have to drive everywhere. It simultaneously preserves the form of urbanism and rural open lands. The SmartCode is Transect based -operating on the principle that certain forms of city and countryside belong in certain environments. The SmartCode® does not limit our choices; it expands them. Instead of one-size-fits-all development, it enables different patterns without becoming a free-for-all situation. The SmartCode® allows urbanism to evolve and mature without losing its sense of order -hopefully a 21st century phenomenon known as Community Building.

The SmartCode® does the following:

  1. It integrates the scale of planning concerns from the regional Sector, through the Community scale, to the individual lot and its architectural elements.
  2. It integrates the design process and the approval methods across professional disciplines.
  3. It integrates a range of zoning categories called Transect Zones that range from the wilderness to the urban core.
  4. It integrates methods of environmental protection, open space conservation and water quality.
  5. It integrates architectural, landscape, signage, ambient, and visitability standards.
  6. It integrates protocols for the preparation, processing, and approvals of plans and projects.
  7. It encourages administrative approvals and includes expedited review processes.
  8. It specifies standards parametrically (by range) in order to minimize the need for variances.
  9. It generally increases the range of options over those allowed by conventional Zoning Codes.

For more information please refer to:

Bohl, Charles and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. THE TRANSECT: building community across the Rural-to-Urban Transect. PLACES, Forum of Design for the Public Realm. Volume 18, Number 1, Spring 2006. University of California at Berkley.

Brain, David. DEMOCRACY AND URBAN DESIGN: the Transect as Civic Renewal. PLACES, Forum of Design for the Public Realm. Volume 18, Number 1, Spring 2006. University of California at Berkley.

Elmund Peter and Charles Bohl. PLACES OF ETHNIC COMMERCE ACROSS THE TRANSECT. PLACES, Forum of Design for the Public Realm. Volume 18, Number 1, Spring 2006. University of California at Berkley.

Correa, Jaime. COUNTERPOINT: Transect Transgressions. PLACES, Forum of Design for the Public Realm. Volume 18, Number 1, Spring 2006. University of California at Berkley.

Talen, Emily. SMARTCODE JUSTICE. PLACES, Forum of Design for the Public Realm. Volume 18, Number 1, Spring 2006. University of California at Berkley.

Hall, Richard. THE TRANSECT AND THOROUGHFARE DESIGN. PLACES, Forum of Design for the Public Realm. Volume 18, Number 1, Spring 2006. University of California at Berkley.

Duany, Andres et al. SMARTCODE AND MANUAL: SmartCode version 8.0. New Urban Publications, Inc. 2007.

Duany, Andres. NOTES ON THE LEXICON OF THE NEW URBANISM. The Seaside Debates: a critique of the New Urbanism. Rizzoli, New York, 2002.