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Monday
Jan302006

"New Suburbanism" getting press...but isn't it really Urbanism?

Two recent articles refer to "The New Suburbanism," a term apparently coined by author & scholar Joel Kotkin.

"...This is what Joel Kotkin calls the New Suburbanism. These new suburban villages, he says, will combine with revived older suburban villages, like Naperville, Ill., and Fullerton, Calif., to create an 'archipelago of villages' -- a new sort of landscape that is neither city nor sprawl. " (1)

Article 1: A Nation of Villages, David Brooks, New York Times 1/19/2006

Article 2: Back to the 'Burbs, Diane Wedner, LA Times 1/28/2006

The question we must ask is, at what point is dense pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use, mixed-density, mixed-price suburban redevelopment not "suburban?"  Suburbia, by definition, is low-density, single-use, single-price homogeneity.  Why are we so afraid to say that an area is "urbanizing," or that we are building "new towns?"

We can HOPE that Kotkin & Brooks are right, that we will develop an Archipelago of Villages.  The big question is what is the sea between the islands?  Is it rural? Is it suburban? Or worse, is it dead suburbia, the dangerous gangland of vacant and neglected real estate?  (beautifully depicted by the Sierra Club in their recent ad campaign - see image below)

The Congress for New Urbanism espouses a concept called the Transect.  If our municipalities were INTENTIONAL about creating an archipelago of villages, the Transect would be the model to follow.  In essence, it encourages a full range of human habitats from fully rural to fully urban.  (more about the Transect)

sierra club outdoors.jpg

 

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