Posted by: janineplusbrianequals | November 3, 2009

Vertical Villages – some advantages…(part 4)

Here are several advantages to Vertical Villages (VV):


Vertical Village


Suburban Inefficiency

Who wins in a fight?








Savings: (materials, money, time, space)

– telephone wire


We could manage with far, far fewer telephone poles, sidewalks, curbs and hydrants.

– electric wire

– pipes

– pavement (roads and parking lots)

strip mall parking lots

Strip mall parking lots. Often sit unused.


Road is as wide as the front yard. Yard is half taken by the driveway.

– building materials

– gasoline

– rakes, ladders, snowblowers, lawn mowers, pool cleaning equipment,

mower and ladder

Mowing and mending. Unnecessary.

– yard maintenance and house maintenance – fertilizers and pesticides.

– time in traffic and/or driving

– 2nd car

– Retailers would have fewer locations to service and could reduce their distribution costs.

– With more open land next door to high density living areas, many more people could have access to locally produced food.

produce sign

Food from within 20 miles?

Sharing Possibilities:

– swimming pools

– Gym Equipment

– 2nd car (recreational, pickup truck, bus)

P - car collage

Take your pick of second car, but don't bother owning.

– laundry and drier machine

– boat

– Concierge

– sports fields

We are used to sharing pools and gyms but often the travel required prompts us to purchase our own gym equipment and pools in addition. Living in high density would allow for many more creative sharing opportunities. (Most likely, these services would be provided by a company and offered to the residence).

2 examples:

– Several rooms in each building could be maintained as guest rooms. This would allow people to rent out extra guest space for the 8 nights each year that they needed it right in their own building. This would allow the family to use significantly less floor space (and save money).

– “Zipcar” and similar services are beginning to pop up in high density urban areas. The idea is that people can rent time in a car for short periods of time without the massive time and money costs of owning or leasing. These services are not viable in the suburbs, but could be viable in VV. Now, you can rent an SUV, Audi, Pick up truck, boat and trailer for the few occasions you need one each year without all the hassle and costs of owernership.


– Public transport more viable and quicker.


Bus leaving condominium complex.

– Easy walking distance to most shopping. Amenities of the city with views and access to the countryside in your back yard. The benefits of the city without the ugliness and clutter. The beauty of the country without the loneliness and lack of amenities.


Many shared uses are already heavily subsidized by the government with your own property taxes. If (I know its a big “if”) government would be willing to reduce taxes and let communities cover their own needs we could have massive savings in: schools, school busing services, postal services, security, water, sewage treatment, fire protection and electric.

– School bussing – in a world of VV, kids could attend elementary school one of the buildings in their vertical village. They could attend high school at a neighboring VV and could simply use the regular public busses without the ridiculous cost of special bussing services.

– Security guards could provide greater safety at much lower costs than police patrolling suburbs. They could get anywhere in the complex in 2 minutes, there could be a perimeter fence if necessary. They wouldn’t need multiple vehicles and they could easily keep 800 people in 5 buildings safe.

– Postmen could collect and distribute mail much more quickly at less financial cost and far less start-stop gasoline usage around the suburbs. (Assuming any physical mail is sent for much longer).


Improved Postal Possibilities.

– Many communities could generate their own electricity locally with windmills. This could dramatically increase efficiency (I believe) because DC could be used instead of the AC required to move electricity over greater distances.


More exercise because you can walk to get groceries, socks, a spatula and a laté rather than needing to drive to the nearest strip mall.

Less ground covered with houses and pavement means better drainage, better soil preservation and natural water purification and space for greater numbers and varieties of wildlife.

There are likely many more advantages…feel free to add anything you think of. Also, feel free to raise objections.




  1. I am fascinated by this idea Brian. I still can’t quite imagine what it would be like to live in one of these place, because I do really enjoy living in a house. I don’t mind only having a part of a house and I am all in favor of people living in smaller spaces, but I still like living in a house. And I don’t know what I would think of living several stories up off the ground. But conceptually i think that this is a great idea.

  2. Apparently DC current can be used over long distance, its just that the infrastructure is more expensive initially. Brian

  3. I have read through the stated goals of this blog, and it seems you guys are thinking about many of the same things as me.

    On this topic in particular, I wonder how living vertically would alter the relationship between the residents and nature. In the book “A Pattern Language” the authors propose a four story height limit specifically because anything higher (they say) makes stepping outside something to be planned, rather than something spontaneous. People don’t interact with neighbors across the street. Fewer children play outside, especially on their own, the higher in a building they live, and as a consequence the more sedentary they are.

    I know you are talking about something more drastic than simply putting people in high-rise apartment buildings, but do you think the indoor or rooftop common areas could really be as fulfilling to live in as a good street or vibrant city square?

    • Thanks for the comment Garth. You raise a key question. I hope to write about two more posts on this subject….and certainly need to address the issue you raise. The goal is to maintain or improve quality of life, not reduce it…so that goal must be satisfied. If we did agree that suburbs are unreasonable and unsustainable then we would need to tackle some of these issues. Maybe 4 stories is a limit. I don’t think so….and I’ll try to make the case.

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