It’s a paradox, but cities can set the stage for the unscripted. These playful surprises cater both to young and the young-at-heart, and they endear the community to visitors and residents alike.
The United States isn’t France, but there are still plenty of lessons to be learned—and myths to be busted—by looking at the way their streets are designed to build wealth.
“Sustainable” is a buzzword that often conjures images of technological wizardry aimed at solving environmental problems. But what if our ancestors knew a lot more about sustainability than we give them credit for?
Giving valuable space in cities over to cars isn’t great for building walkable or productive places. But for now at least, our urban neighborhoods need some parking. This an area where thoughtful design can help us solve multiple problems at once.
Traditional architecture has evolved through millennia of trial and error to harmonize with our unconscious impulses, make us feel comfortable and encourage positive social behavior. Modernism too often throws those lessons out the window—and one architect thinks the trauma of World War I had something to do with why.
What’s the most suburban kind of place you can think of? If you said an outlet mall, you’re probably not alone. Is there a path to incrementally retrofit these malls to a more human-scaled environment… and even if there is, is it worth the trouble?
Tax-exempt properties have a significant fiscal footprint. Do we understand the impacts we create through the too-often wasteful way we design and build public facilities such as city halls, schools, libraries, and parks?
We use the phrase “traditional development pattern” in dozens of Strong Towns essays. Here’s your one-stop-shop explainer article as to what that means.
Incrementalism is not an end in itself. It’s not about stubborn insistence on some sort of small-is-beautiful aesthetic for its own sake. Incremental development is a practical means to the end of resilient, financially sound places.
We’ve destroyed so many traditional, human-scale neighborhoods in America that we tend to think of the ones that remain—like New Orleans’ famous French Quarter—as inherently exotic, the kind of place you love to visit but certainly wouldn’t live. Let’s stop treating timeless, great urban design like it’s only for tourists.
What exactly is the “human scale”? And have you ever thought about just how little of the public space in your city is designed at that scale—even in places you think of as walkable?
Human behavior can be influenced in subtle—and often very pro-social—ways through design of place.
A new Arkansas law prohibits cities from regulating the design of single-family homes in almost all instances. This is a bad idea which takes away an important tool in a city’s toolkit to nurture strong, productive places.
Forward-thinking developers are building communities that take into account the hidden long-term costs of suburban development, and offer a more resilient alternative. But what if that alternative results in homes that are too expensive to be within reach of most Americans? And does it have to?
Your Strong Towns Knowledge Base question of the week, answered here.
The answer might not be what you expect.
It matters what size chunks we build our cities in. Making room for many small-scale development projects on small lots is the universal historical model for a reason, and modern cities could stand to get back to it.
It is important when we design a building or a neighborhood to look at how it feels and interacts with the street. Too often, new development feels designed from a helicopter’s-eye-view.
The suburban development pattern is not inherently too costly to maintain: early suburbs sat much lighter on the land, with narrower streets and less public maintenance obligation. Let’s take a look at how the American suburb has evolved over time.
Professional planners are trained to yearn for tighter urban design controls, as if cities without comprehensive, top-down planning would devolve into chaos and disorder. In reality, cities evolve according to mechanisms that allow us to gradually discover optimal urban design across time.