Retrofitting Suburbia: Article in Urban Design International

This fall, the directors of our masters program Pere Vall-Casas and Carmen Mendoza published an article together with colleague Julia Koschinsky of Arizona State University in the urbanism journal Urban Design International. Titled Retrofitting suburbia through pre-urban patterns: Introducing a European perspective, the article outlines a unique approach to the issue of ‘retrofitting suburbia’, drawing on European planning methods that emphasize the morphology, history and culture of places, which they feel not only constitutes a promising approach in Spain but also in the United States.

Here are a few quotes from the article:

“Similar to sustainable urbanism, the perspective introduced in this article seeks to overcome the ‘long-running divide between nature-focused environmentalists and human-focused urbanists’ (Farr, 2008). It proposes to do so by improving cohesiveness of fragmented suburban areas in ways that reconnect them with pre-urban, man-made and environmental patterns of cultural, historical and natural significance.”

“We hypothesize that the reintegration of underlying historic characteristics of a place can also be a fruitful component of retrofitting suburbia strategies in more recently urbanized countries such as the United States, with a greater emphasis on a dynamic society and market opportunities.”

“The value of pre-urban fabrics goes deeper than their current physical state, which is sometimes weak and deteriorated, owing to their potential to contribute meaning of collective significance to a place.”

“It is further necessary to integrate civic network projects with other related dimensions such as, for example, neighborhood plans, tourist activities, transportation infrastructure, water management, economic development, and education and health facilities.”

The article is worth reading in its entirety for its detailed case studies in Spain and the U.S. and its in-depth analysis of pre-urban patterns that could serve as the basis for future guidelines toward sustainable urban development.

Read the full abstract or purchase the entire article at Urban Design International.

One Response to “Retrofitting Suburbia: Article in Urban Design International”
  1. Today in many cities, the design of urban environments has the potential to influence the health and well being of residents.

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