Monday, January 19, 2009

Recycling the Suburbs

The American suburb—fuel-intensive, automobile-based, and without walkable neighborhoods—is coming to the end of its useful life. Rising fuel costs and the collapse of the mortgage market mean that some planned developments will not proceed, some developments that have begun will never be finished, and many suburban residents will have to move to smaller and less expensive houses.

Those who, like James Howard Kunstler. dislike the suburbs, expect and hope that they will collapse of their own weight. Others, including this blog, have tried to find ways to make existing suburbs more sustainable by measures like connecting them with public transit and revising zoning codes.

One of the most interesting recent discussions of the design problems posed by the decline of the suburbs is a recent posting in Alison Arief's By Design blog. Although the article reaches no conclusions—Arief admits that she has no perfect solution—it outlines the difficulty of finding creative approaches to recycling the suburbs even while it hopes they will be found.

Well worth reading.

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