Our Last Steps Home

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

By Mark Lundegren

DSC_0661-Edit~2

My title might sound like the beginning of a novel. But instead, I intend it to introduce an important and often greatly neglected principle for optimal architecture and urban planning – how we design the final steps, say the last 100 or so, to our homes and neighborhood buildings.

As a practical matter, and as a foundation for more conscious architecture and design, there are two basic ways we can take our last steps home. First, we can take them ourselves, on foot, here including using bicycles and other personal mobility aids. Second, we can finish these final steps home in vehicles – in cars, motorcycles, and the like.

13466126_955973881188950_3267108953909567158_n

This idea might seem obvious, and yet almost no one thinks about it today, including many architects and planners, whereas we, and they, all should. Why? Because the way we take our final steps home significantly determines the basic design and character of our neighborhoods and surroundings – including their scale, their livability, their inherent healthiness, their initial cost, their ongoing resource demands, and their ecological impact.

As my photo above of Serthar Larung Gar in Tibet highlights, when communities are designed so that we take our last steps home on foot, this can greatly change the form and nature of our houses, neighborhoods, and larger communities, compared with designing for the option, or requirement, of covering this final distance in vehicles. Roadways can shrink to footpaths, large labor-intensive yards become superfluous, noise is appreciably reduced, and the natural intrusion and hazard of moving vehicles is eliminated.

slide1Experientially, when the idea of walking our last steps home is part of neighborhood design, our houses and surroundings reliably become rehumanized and far more intimate. Fewer resource are required to create and maintain them. And the density of our neighborhoods can double or more, with no loss of indoor and outdoor living space per home – reducing sprawl, and the ecological harm and health risks associated with sprawl.

Our residential settings in turn become naturally healthier when they are pedestrian-focused – by requiring and thus encouraging adequate walking, by increasing social interaction, and by reducing anonymity and the potential for both disaffection and crime.

slide2But what about our vehicles? We still can have them, and of course still need them, directly or indirectly, to support modern living. But by leaving vehicles in small lots 100 steps or so from our homes, or otherwise relegating them to the edge of our neighborhoods, we can transform and greatly improve our communities and quality of life, and in category after category as I have suggested.

I’ve included two sets of photos contrasting pedestrian and vehicular-based neighborhoods to underscore these crucial points, and would encourage you to think more deeply, and more often, about our last steps home – as you plan, design, build, or choose the places where you and others will live.

Mark Lundegren is the founder of ArchaNatura. 

Tell others about ArchaNatura…promote progressive natural design!

Photos: Wikimedia

  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • ArchaNatura’s Natural Design Challlenge

  • Innovative Building Practices & New Technology

  • Spotlight On Progressive Communities

  • ArchaNatura Design’s Mark Lundegren

  • Learn About The HumanaNatura Health System

  • NaturaLife: HumanaNatura’s Gateway Blog

%d bloggers like this: