Housing

Modern Families: Fact from Fiction

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I sometimes struggle with our willingness to look straight through evidence to see only what we want to see, or what we believe we should be seeing. Some recent interpretations of the Australian census and conclusions about housing form and consumer choice regrettably fall into this category.

Early results from the Australian census may have disappointed some boosters who have actively promoted the view that the typical family household is a thing of the past. The argument has had many forms but usually includes one or more of the following:  read more »

Coney Island's Invisible Towers

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When crowds thronged Coney Island for the annual Nathan's hot dog eating contest on July 4th, they found a boardwalk amusement strip that was, for the umpteenth year in a row, undergoing a summer of change and transition.  read more »

Localism As An Anti-Depressant

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Are we heading into a new era of local solutions?  read more »

Gentrification? Brixton's Angell Town Story

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In the US, urban planners talk about the 'redevelopment' of a neighborhood. In the UK, 'regeneration' is heard more often. What is the difference, from both the planner and the resident perspective? Are they both synonyms for 'gentrification'? Angell Town , a UK 'estate' in Brixton — it would be called a 'public housing project' by Americans — provides a good example of how these questions are answered in practice.  read more »

Questioning the Messianic Conception of Smart Growth

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A new analysis from the United Kingdom concludes that smart growth (compact city) policies are not inherently preferable to other urban land use policy regimes, despite the claims of proponents."The current planning policy strategies for land use and transport have virtually no impact on the major long-term increases in resource and energy consumption.  read more »

Will Servants' Quarters Come Back, Too?

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As the Great Recession enters its fourth summer, America continues to separate into the multiple economic strands that characterized an earlier day. Our cities, built mostly since the 1930s, poorly accommodate this lack of unity, and will require radical revision if our class divisions continue to deepen.

Back in the era of the streetcar suburbs, at the turn of the 20th century, we also experienced a tiered, multiple economy. The post-Victorian prosperous middle class had carved itself new residential beltways around inner core cities – the so-called “suburbs”. The look  read more »

Millennials’ Home Ownership Dreams Delayed, Not Abandoned

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Eighty percent of Americans buy their first house between the ages of 18-34. While the Millennial Generation’s (born 1982-2003) delayed entry into all aspects of young adulthood has sometimes been characterized as a “failure to launch,” the generation’s  preference for single tract, suburban housing should become the fuel to ignite the nation’s next housing boom as Millennials  fully occupy this crucial age bracket over the next few years.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Cairo

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Cairo, Egypt's capital, has long had some of the highest neighborhood population densities in the world. In the 1960s it was reported that one neighborhood had a density of 353,000 people per square mile (136,000 per square kilometer).  read more »

Vermont: The Cost of Joining the Gentry Class

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There’s nothing particularly modern about traditional rural gentrification. The English roots of successful upper-middle-class urbanites retiring to newly acquired country estates with large houses and small livestock flocks are 18th century or older. Perhaps its earliest American example is Alexander Hamilton’s flight from below-Wall-Street-New York City to the Haarlem that was then the farm country of northern Manhattan Island.  read more »

Subjects:

Midcentury Modern

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Midcentury modern tours now are taking place in cities all over the country. Renewed interest in this era capitalizes on the millennials’ interest in design from a time that seems almost impossibly optimistic compared to today’s zeitgeist. Most cities around the country boast a healthy building stock from this postwar period, nicknamed “the suburbs,” although these are ritually condemned – and designated for annihilation – by academics, urban land speculators and the urban clerisy.  read more »