Friday, December 4, 2009

How to Save Suburbia From Itself - Part 1

A small-lot single family home in Cerritos, CA. From Google Maps street view.

The reality is, suburbia will be with us for a long time to come, and we need to think about ways to make it more environmentally responsible.

One key is to embrace the smart growth principle of compact building design. By designing a house like the one you see in the photo, you can have a generous amount of interior square footage, while using less land. As you can see, the garage is integrated into the building and the second floor goes up directly over it. The yards on this house are also very compact.

This is the way to do detached single family homes. You get the advantages of suburbia (classic homeownership, privacy, green space, peace and quiet) without as many of the typical disadvantages (extremely low density contributing to a separated land use pattern that forces you to drive everywhere, excessive water/pesticide use on the lawn, etc.). In places with expensive land like LA County, this design also opens up the prospect of more affordable housing.

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