We often hear complaints about zoning bylaws preventing innovation and change; books have been written about it. Suzanne Labarre of Fast Company has gone so far as to call French zoning regulations "Fascist."
But I think a case can be made that there are reasons for many of these rules, and that good architects can work with them. A good example is this entry from the World Architecture News' House of the Year competition, in Antony-Paris, by Djuric Tardio Architects.
WAN writes about the restrictions that appear to demand a uniform traditional roofline:
Antony-Paris is an example of the belief that architecture, whether heterogeneous and homogeneous, is shaped by outdated zoning regulations. The urban rules and the site context, which is very typical, have suggested the template, which has proved a real asset to the project.....The shape of the roof/pergola, which looks like an unfinished roof, has a specific function. On the one hand, it takes the archetype of the context, inserting the project in its environment without disrupting the urban rhythm; on the other hand, it won't accommodate a closed roof that would become a catch-all attic or a wasted space. So the architects have inserted inhabitants in it, and have left it open by transforming it into a vegetable terrace, intimate and sunny.
The house is built of a panelized system of Finnish larch:
This is a building system in Finnish wood panels that come from sustainably managed cooperatives of small private forest owners. The pre-cut panels, supplemented by wood fiber insulation and non-treated siding, arrived at the site almost finished, reducing pollution to a minimum (the site being located in a dense suburb). The patios and the south façades, deliberately oversized, capture the sun in winter and are sheltered by a canopy and a pergola in summer. The main facade on the street, lodging the rooms in the north, is a composition of large glazed openings and single opening shutters designed in stainless steel mirror with no glazing. The reflections of the vegetation and the movement of these shutters in stainless steel mirrors make the façade changing. The ventilation of the rooms is regulated by the openings of the shutters, and the penetration of light through the windows. The recovery of rainwater can water the garden and planters allow homeowners to cultivate aromatic plants and garden without water over-consumption.
So here is an innovative, modern house built with new technologies that is probably more interesting and effective because there was some crappy old bylaw that said it should fit into the neighbourhood. Property rights may be the darling of everyone from Tea Party wackos to fans of extreme modern architecture, but sometimes, controls are there for legitimate reasons, and sometimes, architects are talented enough to work within them.