Who makes our buildings, cities, towns and neighborhoods, and why we should care.
Today on the show we talk with Urban Designer and Incremental Development Bootcamp leader R. John Anderson.
Not everyone out there realizes the importance of what the Urban Designers are doing, and how it connects to our health, well-being, social structures, and the future of our cities.
But they should.
In this episode we talk to John about the basics of Urban Design, the quest for decent buildings, and the value of getting started as a small developer.
First, what is Urban Design?
Basically it’s the study and practice of methods of design that create cities, blocks and neighborhoods built for quality human existence. It differs from city planning (what is conventially practiced in most cities; by most city bureaucracies. Unfortunately…) in that, rather than laying out a city as a bunch of flat rectangles, largely separated by use, it crafts a city based on a study of what actually creates a nice environment.
This means places that feel good to live in, to walk around in, that are convenient and encourage community.
What is Incremental Development?
This is where things get exciting, and it’s a concept that’s catching on like wildfire. It is a plan for organic change, much in the way that the great cities would have originally grown and evolved. This scenario is less reliant on grand plans, and massive developers handling huge amounts of risk, politics, red tape, and time. It teaches that small developers (who are typically living in the neighborhoods where they work,) working on an individual scale, working with simple, attainable financing structures, can change and improve communities one decent project at a time.
Why decent buildings?
It sounds simple. Make a decent building. So why can’t anyone do it? Buildings seem to be either crappy or massively heroic. Sometimes decent is all that is needed. Make a nice building with respectable use of materials and proportions for people to live in. As a single unit, it might not be noteworthy, but placed in a row of decent buildings, with proper lot proportions, all of a sudden you have a place that people remember, that people want to live in, whether or not they can explain why.
Where to find out more about R. John Anderson :
Books and resources mentioned in this episode:
(Click the links below to learn more…)