If you haven’t been paying attention, there is a bit of a housing boom happening right now. For the past few years during the real estate slump we have been hearing about something called “the new normal”. The new normal was supposed to mean smaller homes, multigenerational housing products, budget conscious buyers, abandonment of the ex-urbs. However the latest housing boom is very, well, normal. The suburbs are booming with large homes on large lots intended for single family occupancy. It appears that if buyers can get a loan, they are going big again. It is difficult to know how long this boom will continue and if it will again be met by a bust, but the question is: how can we, the designers of residential environments, better challenge the conventions of homebuilding industry this time around?
Hypotheses are plenty when the discussion turns to urban or suburban design, the segment of landscape architecture we find ourselves engaged in. Every decade, it seems, is met with a new notion that promises to transform development patterns into utopia.