In constrained urban agglomerations buildings experience a tense fight for available volume of occupation. In order to exploit maximum financial floor area ratios, constructions manage to occupy as much air as possible. In the 1920s, Hugh Ferriss already visualized the 1916 Zoning Law for Manhattan by shaping invisible theoretical envelopes into fulfilled architectural volumes. His drawings represented literal translations of urban policies.
Except for counted examples releasing cities from architecture in form of representative privately-owned public spaces, air usually matters. Legislators provide paternalistic frameworks to prevent citizens from an overly built environment. As a result, streets become victims of diagonal views, sunlight and hygienic ventilation.
Every building must be legal, but according to Yasutaka Yoshimura’s research, some can also become Super Legal. This condition is a direct result from frenetic megalopolises, looking how to supersede restrictive regulations. Super Legal Buildings 超合法建築図鑑 (建築文化シナジー). 彰国社 2006 is a compilation of strange mechanisms making architecture forms in Tokyo literally follow law and building codes. Organic setbacks, twists, perforations, distortions and extreme angles appear when air is squeezed to its most. Restrictions act as invitations for new inventions.
[images> courtesy Yasutaka Yoshimura]