You may have heard the term ‘New Urbanism before. What is it? It is a housing-revolution, redefining what the popular living environments will be here in the US as we move through the 21st century. Environmental concerns are, or should be, on the forefront of our planets mind, and our population is ever growing. New Urbanism addresses these issues.
After World War II, conventional suburban development, or sprawls, were implemented nationwide. These sprawl developments replaced tight-knit neighborhoods with a wide separation of uses. The majority of US citizens live in suburban communities built in the last 50 years. Although these suburban sprawls have been popular, they do carry a significant price. These sprawls consume large areas of countryside. Automobile use per capita has soared, because a motor vehicle is required for the great majority of household and commuter trips. Those who cannot drive are significantly restricted in their mobility and there is an increase in exhaust pollution. Meanwhile, these American sprawls are usually dominated by strip malls, auto-oriented civic and commercial buildings, and subdivisions without much individuality or character.
New Urbanism is a reaction to sprawl. It is a growing movement of architects, planners, developers, engineers, public officials, investors and community activists. New Urbanism is based on principles of planning and architecture that work together to create human-scale, walkable, environmental friendly commnities. The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is the leading organization promoting these New Urban developments, alternatives to sprawl.
New Urbanism offers denser and diverse housing, recreational activities, shops, schools, transportation alternatives and job opportunities – all within five minutes walking distance. New Urbanism promotes more lifestyle choices for city dwellers and suburbanites and brings back walkability to all types of communities. New Urbanists are also focused on creating or retrofitting neighborhoods with pedestrian-friendly sidewalk; to calm traffic and encourage walking, bicycling and neighborhood socializing in playgrounds, pocket parks or public squares.
Downtown San Diego is definitely a New Urbanist community. Everything you need is within walking distance. More parks and public infrastructures are popping up, (check out past blogs on Pedestrian Bridge, North Embarcadero Visionary Plan). Most who live downtown work downtown, and there is more than enough to do to play downtown. Check out more about New Urbanism at CNU’s website