How can you build efficient Urban communities, homes, and businesses?

You need to log in to create posts and topics.

Front Yard - Back Yard Switch

Conventional Front yards are designed to be welcoming to guests, it faces the street, there's often a sidewalk for pedestrians and bikers, there's no fence or a low fence with an easy to open gate.  The back yard is fenced in for privacy and safety so dogs and children can play without being able to get out.  But children like to play with each other, it doesn't make much sense for the neighborhood kids to be stuck in their own back yards not playing together.  And we can't let them play in the front yard together because of traffic.  The only times I've seen neighborhood kids playing in the front yards were at cul de sacs, which are wonderful for fostering community.  But we can't all live at the end of a cul de sac.

So design one side of the house for cars and the other side for pedestrians.  The car side has the driveway and possible garage or car port.  The yard at this side could be fenced in with a privacy fence so that dogs can go out, or for those times when you want to be outside but not socialize.     The front door would have to be near the driveway and not fenced in so delivery people and guests can walk up to it.  The pedestrian side would have a sidewalk running down the property line, where the back fence usually is.  This yard wouldn't have a fence and be a comfortable place to sit on the porch and watch your neighbors walking and biking by without the unpleasant site of cars driving past.  Children could play with the neighbors without fear of cars and the side fences blocks them from getting to the street side of the houses.  People would get to know their neighbors and be able to have block parties without blocking up the street.

Combine this with a road grid that creates dead-ends so that every person can walk from their door to the school, community center, stores, without crossing a road.  Children would be able to walk to school on pleasant walking paths with no intersections or danger of cars.  This would work best with a small K-12 school that serves just a small community, but that would be wonderful for getting to know your neighbors and greatly reduce the size of the parking lot.  There's really no reason that elementary, middle and high schools need to be separated into different buildings in different places.  This just creates a lot of driving for parents of multiple kids, with multiple pick up and drop off times all over town.

In the picture the black lines are roads, the grey lines are walking paths, the brown boxes are houses, the brown lines are fences, and the green is grass.


[gallery ids="845"]

Rather than a gated community why not have a communal fence that connects between houses in front and none in back.  What I mean is that all the homes( perhaps designed in a circle) would share their back yard"space".  You could have a playground or something else in the center.  This would be a low cost way of "circling the wagons"

I guess I didn't explain it very well.  There would be fences in the front yards and between houses but none in the back so that the strangers are fenced out and the children are fenced in.  But there would still be a fenced in area in the front yard where the dogs would be let out.  And I guess I left this out of my description but I would thinking of playgrounds and sports fields, gardens or woods in the walking path areas.  People's mental health is greatly improved by nature and a nice walk through the woods to the community center would probably do wonders.  But yes, the side walk in the back yard would connect to the walking/biking path to the community center.  A circle wouldn't be a good idea because it's not an efficient use of space and curved roads are no good.  They don't actually make people drive slower and they can't see around the curve and it causes motion sickness.  But a square would do the same thing, just more efficiently.  Security cameras at the intersections into to community would provide security if a formal gate wasn't there.

It sounds like the Radburn model of superblocks. I don't think roads are bad if they are narrow and cars go slow. T-intersections and intrusions into the street slow cars. People might spend time in their private yard or garden and so the larger shared space is like a park. It doesn't have to be surrounded by the houses literally but many parks are and have public access. The school on the site can use it for recreation. Housing facing it might add a layer of supervision. Elementary schools and day care can be local to the neighborhood but I disagree about middle and high school. They need to be more city or regional because of the specialization of knowledge. It is unlikely that the kids on your street will share your interests and ability. The student pool needs to be larger for high school so there can be an advanced class and electives like band and sports. They still should be able to walk, or ride their bike there. Or take a bus if its in a city. Also, the private space could be a side yard or small back yard before the common space. I'm thinking of a Victorian neighborhood near me, where there's almost no front yard and the side yard is a driveway leading to a small garage with the back yard next to it.