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Zoning areas, making good use of smaller buildings
In this guide, I will show you that you don't just have to select your zones in large blocks, you can be a bit more creative and allow for more building variety as well. If you just select the entire zonable area by each road, most of the buildings by default will take a full 4x4 square, the only time you will have seen smaller buildings would have been where the zonable grid has been broken up, like on bends or with junctions with other roads for example. However, the game includes buildings to fit all sizes from 4x4 right down to a single 1x1 square.
For the first part, i'll be showing you how to create a nice row of back to back terraced houses. I'll be zoning for 1x2 size houses in low density, you can go for 1x1 if you like but I prefer them to have gardens! In this pic you can see i've drawn a set of side roads that are four squares apart, this is easy to judge as the game's marker guides space at four block intervals. Then, I've marked out the 1x2 zones individually using the small zoning paint tool. This is the important bit as you are restricting the available size to the 1x2 squares.
Let the game run on for a bit and so long as you have residential demand, you should start to see them all fill up,
Once they have all filled up, then you can zone in the rest of the squares, the large brush tool is easiest as you can just paint over the whole block. Once this is done, they rest of the empty spaces should begin to fill up. You are not restricted to 1x1 or 1x2 either, on the main street to the right here, I used 2x2 blocks for some larger houses,
If you want a real tightly packed neighborhood, you can use single 1x1 squares for a real 'Coronation Street' feel and I love how these level 3 houses fit into this,
Here is another layout combining 1x1 and 1x2. Note that the 1x1 spacing doesn't require you to 'checkerboard' it, you can just zone a single line and it will be filled by 1x1 houses and once they start to build, you can the fill in the other side of the line (assuming you are doing a 'back to back' street layout,
Here is the finished area, part of a new area on a London map i'm working on,
This can be done with high density as well, here are a couple of 1x1 high density areas that sprung up,
This one shows how a nice transition of building levels can be achieved, going from full high density, to 1x1 high density and then 1x1 low density. This can make the transition between an urban area and an open area like a map boundary or large park area look far better and more natural,
Commercial shopping streets
The same techniques can be used in Commercial as well to make things more interesting. Here, i'm zoning a small retail area next to some high desity residential using the same method as above,
Filling in the gaps,
And complete, a nice little street full of little shops, instead of all the larger businesses that would have popped up if i'd just filled the entire block in one go. This is a nice idea to put in blocks of high density residential and a nice touch would be to connect to both sides using pathways from the parks menu,
Offices and mixing zones
The same can be done with offices to create smaller 'office villages', here I am zoning some 1x1 and 1x2 plots,
To add more variety, you can of course mix your zones up as well, here i'm adding some low density commercial,
And before long, you will have a nice little office park along with a couple of shops to buy a paper from or get that morning cup of coffee!
I wouldn't recommend mixing commercial and residential as the people won't like the noise pollution that shops create however.
I'll finish with a couple of Industrial shots, first some 1x1 plots,
It has been speculated here and in the forums that the smaller buildings have a detrimental effect on land values somehow. While it made sense to me that a small house was worth less than a higher status plot, maybe the combined effect counters this as the pictures below would seem to indicate.
This is the development shown above in the residential section,
Along with a 1x1 area that seems to have the same value as the high density around it,
Another 2x1 development, surrounded by offices and commercial. You dont get ANY more bright green than that!
Finaly, here is a shot of the 'Isle of Dogs' in London's docklands area which demonstrates this perfectly, you can clearly see the two concentrations of bright green are on the terraced backstreets,
Hope you found this guide useful and that you can make some more interesting layouts with it, happy building!