This graduate seminar examines the search to establish new sustainable communities, - environments that are livable, humane, accessible, compact, integrated, resourceful, and with low carbon footprint. As such, designed neighborhoods should also offer delight, be supportive of children, and built to last. The seminar therefore looks at the ideals, theories, and principles that people have held in the belief that a designed community is preferable to random incremental growth, commonly referred to as sprawl. These experiments act as models of “ideal” layout and design.
The seminar is structured in three sections, each reviewed against an economic, social, and political context:
1. Early Model Settlements. This section considers the basic ideas towards the formation of designed new communities in non-urban and urban settings from early origins. Early 19th century concepts are explored as a basis to a thorough examination of the garden city and garden suburb movements, and opposing deterministic propositions of architects. This leads to contrasting views of 20th century ideals ranging from planned suburbs to new towns.
2. Late 20th Century Settlements. An examination of more recent theories and designed case studies related to the urban edge condition, and designed urban infill projects, plus ways that cities have approached rapid growth and expansion. An examination and critique of the work of the group broadly referred to as the “New Urbanists” is undertaken.
3. New Housing and New Communities.
The twenty first century has seen rapid urbanization combined with a re-examination of the prospects of the inner city, often involving difficult, vulnerable, and brownfield sites.
The Urban Land Institute Hines Competition has also focused on inner city communities.
Examination of these, and the previous case studies, aims to promote understanding of pedestrian and bike systems, new transit, sustainable housing, and urban ecologies, innovations in energy, water, and waste.
By offering a critique of previous attempts at settlement design, theories and principles are devised for possible approaches towards the design of new communities in review city contexts. Recent built case studies are considered, particularly with regard to sustainable design practice. New designed communities in cities such as Stockholm, Malmo, Amsterdam, Freiburg, Vancouver, and London provide insight and principles for ways ahead. A central feature of this part of the seminar will be a design case study undertaken by students for the design of a new community.