- Two Ways to Grow
- The Five Components of Sprawl
- A Brief History of Sprawl
- Why Virginia Beach is not Alexandria
- Neighborhood Plans versus Sprawl Plans
-- Le Corbusier, The Radiant City (1967)
Two Ways To GrowThis book is a study of two different models of urban growth: the traditional neighborhood and suburban sprawl. They are polar opposites in appearance, function, and character: they look different, they act differently, and they affect us in different ways.
The traditional neighborhood was the fundamental form of European settlement on this continent through the Second World War, from St. Augustine to Seattle. It continues to be the dominant pattern of habitation outside the United States, as it has been throughout recorded history. The traditional neighborhood -represented by mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly communities of varied population, either standing free as villages or grouped into towns and cities- has proved to be a sustainable form of growth. It allowed us to settle the continent without bankrupting the country or destroying the countryside in the process.
Suburban sprawl, now the standard North American pattern of growth, ignores historical precedent and human experience. It is an invention, conceived by architects, engineers, and planners, and promoted by developers in the great sweeping aside of the old that occurred after the Second World War. Unlike the traditional neighborhood model, which evolved organically as a response to human needs, suburban sprawl is an idealized artificial system. It is not without a certain beauty: it is rational, consistent, and comprehensive. Its performance is largely predictable. It is an outgrowth of modern problem solving: a system for living. Unfortunately, this system is already showing itself to be unsustainable. Unlike the traditional neighborhood, sprawl is not healthy growth; it is essentially self-destructive. Even at relatively low population densities, sprawl tends not to pay for itself financially and consumes land at an alarming rate, while producing insurmountable traffic problems and exacerbating social inequity and isolation. These particular outcomes were not predicted. Neither was the toll that sprawl exacts from America's cities and towns, which continue to decant slowly into the countryside. As the ring of suburbia grows around most of our cities, so grows the void at the center. Even while the struggle to revitalize deteriorated downtown neighborhoods and business districts continues, the inner ring of suburbs is already at risk, losing residents and businesses to fresher locations on a new suburban edge.
Next -> The Five Components of Sprawl
~ From Suburban Nation
Copyright © 2000 Duany, Plater-Zyberk, Speck
Reprinted with permission