Fall 2021

ARC 327R (00820) ARC 386M (01155) CP 386 (01565) LAR 388 (01800) UDN 388R (34073)


Course Description
This graduate seminar examines the search to establish new sustainable communities, - environments that are livable, humane, accessible, compact, integrated, resourceful, ecological, 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, or spec housing. These experiments act as models of “ideal” layout and design. Diversity and equity take many forms but all persons should be afforded a well planned and designed home and neighborhood, with choice of lifestyle, and one where the enhancement of life is facilitated. Focus throughout is placed upon a close examination of case studies, the final assignment being a design proposal based on insights from the studied housing and communities.


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 newcommunities 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 inner city housing to planned suburbs and 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 focused2 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, designs to ensure closely related homes with work, schools, and amenity, and innovations in energy, water, and waste, as well as moves towards more resilient cities.

By offering a critique of previous attempts at settlement design, theories and principles are devised for possible approaches towards the design of communities in new city contexts. Recent built case studies are considered, particularly with regard to sustainable design practice. New designed communities in cities such as Stockholm, Malmø, Amsterdam, Freiburg, Vancouver, London, and New York 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.


Expected Learning Outcomes
A knowledge of the evolution of designed settlements, and the principles that have shaped them.
Insight regarding values with particular reference to:

  • • design related to context;
  • • design and community;
  • • landscape, architecture and settlement design aesthetics;
  • • critical sustainable design practice;
  • • knowledge of contemporary housing design case studies.
  • *an introduction to design skills applied to the design of a new community


Course Requirements
Students are expected to have read background notes, videos and readings in Canvas prior to the seminar. Class meetings will take the form of a careful presentation of selected case studies requiring thoughtful discussion as the means to eliciting key principles informing settlement design. Participants will be expected to produce to scale drawings and critical argument in examining a range of planned and designed settlement, as well as making their own proposals for future settlements