Construction regulation: Good servant, bad master

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Construction regulation is a never-ending subject and, no matter the year, continues to incite a range of questions: is it still needed, what should it actually look like, and what exactly is it for? Is it not just an artefact of the olden days that we can finally get rid of with a clear conscience? Putting aside historical monument protection, let us look a little closer at typical construction projects and decide when and why regulation is necessary and when it is no longer beneficial.

When regulation is necessary…

Let us begin with the most important point: construction regulation is truly necessary. The majority of us would most likely not like a house that, although original and interesting in terms of design, could be blatantly out of place in an area, without respect to whether it is a newer or older construction. This is the case of builders who would like to have their dream home without regard to the character of the surrounding structures and those who already live in the area.

And this is where construction regulations are necessary. The absence of clear rules leads to thoughtlessness, from which it is only a small step toward the disruption of neighbourly relations and other undesirable phenomena. The purpose of regulation is the protection of the architectural quality of an area for the present as well as for the future. The establishment of basic regulation parameters – such as spatial layout, distances from property borders, or the height of a structure – are, therefore, truly necessary.

…and when it isn’t

Similarly to the necessity of observing the above-mentioned rules, one should also not forget about the contributions of the architect and the vision of the investor. Regulations, one can see, do not just define easily measurable parameters (such as the above-mentioned distances), but also limit the contributions of the architect and the builder. And these limitations should truly only relate to those fundamental parameters, and not the architectural expression of a building. This is because if regulations are established to the smallest detail, such as the size of windows of the pitch of a roof, the new building will be appreciably deprived of modern elements, and the given area will stagnate without the natural development that is integral to architecture and that enriches every locale.

So how should regulations be handled? The phrase “just right” comes to mind, like from the fairy tale “Salt Over Gold” with Jan Werich in the main role. It is important to realise that it is necessary to combine contemporary requirements with what the given area already offers. And at the same time to think about what we will leave behind.