In this competition, Dwell magazine and the Inhabitat blog, both big names in the design industry teamed up on a project that would put forth fresh new ideas for how to handle the problem of suburbia. That enormous sprawling mess outside every city, almost without exception these days, in almost every country. In the US it has particular characteristics, large tracts of land with single uses (ie housing, shopping centers, freeways, office parks), freeway and car dependent zones, single family houses and traffic. In response, I decided to take on the ubiquitous cul-de-sac, the dead end circular housing street known all across American suburbia for a redesign.
To start off, I took away every other house on the block thereby creating land voids where greenspace could be cultivated. Then I removed the cars from the houses and put them in a parking garage somewhere else in the housing tract, forcing people to get out, walk, and meet their neighbors. Without cars living on a cul-de-sac, there were no need for the huge driveways or garages that are so ubiquitous with this style of development. I took over that space and built smaller duplex houses on the footprints of the original single family homes. (For typical floor plans, I just went online and googled them, and several draftsman’s sites popped up selling these Xerox-style houses).
The next major design move, is that all fences are removed from the properties. Creating now the space I have entitled, “The Cul-de-Sac Village”, and the front and back yards then, instead of being planted with ornamental plants and grass that is artificially kept alive and groomed, is planted with annual crops and in the vacant lots, orchards and nut trees. Thereby the land of the cul-de-sac actually supports almost entirely the existence of its inhabitants. No longer do they need to drive for hours to a grocery store and get produce that comes from thousands of miles away, they can actually walk across the street and get their corn or avocados, or oranges, or apples. The chickens move back in (like in every traditional village, everywhere…). And just in case this picture of domesticated agriculture is too much for my non-farm oriented readers, at the end of the block there is placed a restaurant and a day-care center. Providing commercial business and employment right in the middle of the housing tract.
As a final green touch, on the project, 41 windmills power the entire cul-de-sac, and they can also be supplemented with energy from rooftop solar on all buildings. Thereby removing the Cul-de-Sac Village from the grid.