Can We Afford New Urbanism?

septiembre 7, 2006

By Jeremy M.W. Kelly

Have you heard of a little town called Seaside? It’s a little coastal village in Florida that began as an architect’s dream in 1981 — a small town that remembered the old days, when everyone knew your name and all the necessities and pleasures of life existed just down the street. Stories were swapped from across the fence and hardships were shared with a neighbor. Well, Seaside turned into an idea. Maybe it was nostalgia that shaped the idea into a dream — maybe it was good old-fashioned common sense. Whatever the cause, the dream became New Urbanism, an institution for smart metropolitan planning and growth that urges Americans to look away from the isolation and sprawl of the suburbs towards the urban center. New Urbanism emphasizes the reinforcement of community and social interaction through design on a level that benefits people of all incomes.

Grid layouts, pedestrian paths and access to shops, proximity to public transportation and a high level of planning most often mark new Urbanist communities. Most often these communities are designed with environmental concerns in mind, and have some aspect of sustainability, meaning you take care of the present without causing damage to the future.

The American people have embraced New Urbanism as a healthy alternative to suburban sprawl, according to Phyllis Bleiweis, executive director at the Seaside Institute, a non-profit organization promoting community development in urban areas through design and the arts. “Over four hundred developments exist across the country and all are doing very well,” she said.

How New Urbanism has embraced the American people, however, depends on who you ask. Affordability has complicated the New Urbanist theory, but that hasn’t stopped architects and planners from moving forward with developments that seem to bend or completely disregard some of the principles stated in the Charter drafted by the Congress for the New Urbanism, or CNU, a Chicago-based organization that works with developers on implementing the principles of New Urbanism. The Charter for the New Urbanism states those principles that guide public policy, urban planning and design.

FUENTE: Pine Magazine

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