SUSTMNABLE COMMUNITIES: A New Design Synthesis for Cities, Suburbs, and Towns by Sim & Peter Calthorpe Van der Ryn

SUSTMNABLE COMMUNITIES: A New Design Synthesis for Cities, Suburbs, and Towns

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The authors define a sustainable community as one that ""exacts less of its inhabitants in time, wealth and maintenance, and demands less of its environment in land, water, soil and fuel."" In the book's first half, they describe how cities, suburbs and towns can be made more livable, legs energy wasteful and more self-sufficient. The second half is devoted to essays that outline ""some of the strategies that can transform our cities and towns from machines designed for consumption to sustainable habitats."" A plan to rehabilitate and humanize a decaying Philadelphia neighborhood includes, among other things, retrofitting the housing stock for passive solar cooling and heating, narrowing streets, banning through automobile traffic, and using the opened-up areas in front of the houses for recreation and vegetable growing in attached greenhouses. To make existing suburbs more livable, attractive and self-sustaining, Van der Ryn and Calthorpe call for solar technology, greater population density (which would encourage more local shops and restaurants) and narrower streets. Family cars would be parked at the end of the streets, which would then be safe for children and provide land for vegetable gardening and recreation. They describe how this can be achieved incrementally in existing suburbs and how new ones can incorporate innovative design and technology in the planning stage. The contributing experts discuss the dynamics that have shaped urban areas, and economic and cultural changes that require a redesign of existing ones and innovative design for new ones. They explain how traditional building designs plus new technologies can accomplish this. The essays evidently accompanied a 1980 design workshop in which experts were asked to submit proposals to redesign urban areas ""for sustainability."" The papers seem to have been updated to about 1983, don't reflect the recent drop in oil prices and tend to refer to the mid-80's as the future. However, the book crackles with innovations, ideas and intriguing proposals. In sum: thought-provoking, eye-opening and a welcome antidote to current indifference to energy conservation.

Pub Date: July 10th, 1986
Publisher: Sierra Club--dist. by Random House