Posted by: janineplusbrianequals | October 30, 2009

Vertical Villages: stating the case (part 1)

Where do we begin the project of rational land use?

skyscraper foundation

foundation of the future. Maybe.

When will we stop paving and building over the best farmland in the area?

best philadelphia farmland

Top farm land in PA (Philadelphia)

How can we replace the most energy-ridiculous style of living?

ugly suburban sprawl overhead2

pretty winding roads, terribly inefficient use of land

This is likely to be the first of several posts where I discuss one of my current leading obsessions.

I began thinking about the idea of building up rather than out when my brother Lincoln first described to me the concept of “vertical villages.” (I don’t know whether its his term or not). The idea has stuck with me over the years and been fueled by the thinking, writing and speaking of others since. (Tom Hylton is a particular favorite).

Recently, as I bike through the elegant and disastrous suburbs of Etobicoke, Toronto every day, the idea has captivated me. Most days I use the commute to make up numbers about houses and skyscrapers, then multiply them and attempt to do comparisons in my head. I’m sure the math is terrible but the obsession continues. Every other morning I wake up thinking about how much garage space and materials we could save if we cut our use of riding mowers by ¾.

lots of riding mowers

much too much

My solution is blogtherapy.

The basic premise is that we drastically reduce our footprint on the land by replacing suburban homes with beautiful and efficient skyscrapers.

I know that you (just as the market has till now) are likely to reject this idea for one of several reason which pop to mind. Fine. Through pictures and facts (loosely related to reality) I will make the case anyway.

If I do succeed in selling you on vertical villages then you may assume, as most do, that the easiest and most efficient way to achieve the goal is through government intervention (coercion).

I don’t make that assumption, as you may know.

Certain countries have used government zoning to achieve results which I appreciate.

edge of amsterdam

Amsterdam's development is contained, leaving room for agriculture.

However, my assumption is that the misguided efforts of government are as likely to do harm as good.

For example, our amazing highway system in the USA, has enabled (and, as it were, subsidized) the wide spread sprawl of suburbia.

Also, most areas use zoning laws to strictly separate commercial and residential. This leads to 2 and 3 car families and far less walking.

So are you hungering for more – wondering if you can be convinced to give up your indulgent suburban lifesyle?

The goal is to demonstrate that vertical villages do not only offer incredible environmental advantages but also offer greater desirability to the consumer and economic viability for the developer*.

chrysler building

A beautiful future? (Chrysler Building).


* I don’t really know if any of these claims are true. But we’ll find out.


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