John Stillich with SUDA has this new plan, Newburg, for how to make density work in the outer fringes (or suburbs really). It is an interesting model and might just be a key to how we approach chaning behaviors and travel patterns to meet the new energy and sustainablity demands we will face now and for year to come. From Planetizen:
"Newburg: Embracing High Density at the Urban Fringe", published by the Sustainable Urban Development Association (SUDA), presents an illustrative and descriptive example of a high-density city-building concept for the fringes of urban areas. It is an urban form concept developed at SUDA that is inherently environmentally progressive, fosters social vitality, is economically efficient, supports a high number of jobs within the community, and reduces the impacts of future energy shocks.
The principal characteristics of the Newburg model that serve to increase density and sustainability are:
1- Elimination of almost all single-storey non-residential construction in favour of multi-story mixed-use buildings;
2- Apartment-style residential accommodation as a significant share of all residential units;
3- A reduction in the percentage of single detached homes to a very small proportion, replacing them with attached homes (rowhouses) with private backyards;
4- Minimal or no setback requirements for most buildings (non-residential and residential);
5- Replacement of most private parking spaces on non-residential properties with shared public parking lots and garages;
6-Reducing overall road space as a percentage of total transportation space, in recognition of higher modal shares for public transit, walking and cycling, and shorter trip lengths;
7- More efficient provision and use of parkland;
8- The integration of non-residential uses into the community in ways that support active transportation.
Pie in the sky or some real principles we can start to thrive for? While some don't seem to mesh with reality, I do like the approach and think just getting a few things on the list would be a major plus for communities and neighborhoods.
I think this sort of planning on the urban fringe is absolutely realistic. When I think about every train ride I've taken in other countries, I remember being struck by how even small rural villages clustered close together, like little islands of civilization surrounded by oceans of unpopulated farmland. In the US we tend to spread out more evenly, but that might be a byproduct of the landgrabs of the past. Now that the landgrab is long gone, we can finally make conscious design choices.
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