" 'Pocket Neighborhoods' For Sustainable Suburbs
Kaid Benfield. Jan 3, 2012
When talking about reducing the footprint of our living patterns on the landscape and the earth’s limited resources, I always stress that this does not necessarily mean high-rises or even multi-family living at all. Those can be perfectly accessible pathways to sustainability for people who prefer them, but one can also have sustainably designed neighborhoods of single-family homes on moderately sized lots.
The lots can be even smaller without sacrificing access to the outdoors if ample shared green space in integrated into the setting. Ultimately, more sustainable living patterns need to be about a diversity of choices within a community, rather than the ghettoes of identically sized and styled housing products typically offered during the recent heyday of sprawl.
For over a decade now, these beliefs have drawn me to the work of architect Ross Chapin, who has pioneered smaller-scaled home designs placed in beautiful community settings. He and I have never met, but my co-authors and I profiled his Third Street Cottages in Langley, Washington, in our book Solving Sprawl, and I featured the small infill development again in a 2008 article. I use images of the Third Street project often in my speaking engagements, because they are not only functional but also amazingly photogenic.
Third Street Cottages placed eight small homes around a shared common green, on about two-thirds of an acre in a walkable small town setting. To my eye, they look fantastic. To be sure, the small structures aren’t ideally sized for a large family, but their scale works for a significant part of the housing market, and the concept – a compact footprint around shared common space – can be and has been applied to groupings of larger homes that still conserve land and resources while increasing walkability.
Chapin calls the concept “pocket neighborhoods,” and he is currently marketing a book of the same name, subtitled “Creating Small-Scale Community in a Large-Scale World.” I haven’t yet seen the book, but I’ve seen its outline and am familiar with many of the projects and approaches it describes. I have also spent a great deal of enjoyable time perusing the accompanying website.”
Via: The Atlantic
Photo: Pocket Neighborhood/Karen DeLucas