Regional – Neighborhoods – The Street – The Building 

Over the past several years I have come to appreciate and have developed a passion for what is called New Urbanism / Smart Growth / Walkable Urbanism. It encompasses urban planning and design from the macro to the micro (Regional-Neighborhoods-The Street-The Building). The goal is to make all four of these areas work together to create a livable, heathly, enjoyable, neighbor friendly, safe, walkable environment to live in.  The ideal would be creating this environment from scratch but that is not the reality.  The challenge is how to do this as most communities have already been established, but in a piecemealed way, with restrictive zoning codes already in place.

To get a taste of the purpose behind New Urbanism / Smart Growth see the video below:

So this design approach has been formulating in the United States since the 1980’s and has been growing and picking up more and more momentum over time.  It is also spreading out to other countries as well, as many of these design approaches are universal. And an important point to make is that at the core these design principles are not anything new but time-tested principles found throughout history and around the world that have already been proven to work.

Recently I have moved to Santiago, Chile.  This is a city that is rapidly growing, even among this time when the rest of the world is struggling to recover from this global wide financial crisis.  Growth is spreading out around the city center and beyond eating up the surrounding agricultural land with highrise condo’s, strip malls, and cookie cutter suburbs poping up everywhere.  ‘Sprawl’ is happening here and at a fast rate. The sence of community is being lost and the need to rely on a car for everything is growing. So if you’re young… or old… or poor… or tired of driving all day you see your quality of life decreasing.  As well we are losing the sense of place and community.

As an Architect I am looking forward to see how I might be able to incorperate these New Urbanism and Smart Growth principles into the work I may do here in Chile and to share about it here along the way.