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Sustainable Communities: A New Design Synthesis for Cities, Suburbs, and Towns Hardcover – May 12, 1986


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books; 1st edition (May 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871568004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871568007
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,442,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

By "sustainable communities," the authors mean largely self-reliant cities and towns whose use of fossil fuels has been sharply cut and whose economies are in balance with what the region can supply through natural processes. The bioregional approach, which some will deride as utopian, links the essays in this often provocative volume, the outgrowth of a "Solar Cities Design" workshop. Contributors include architects, community planners, ecologists and biologists. Case studies that demonstrate how human-scale communities could be built range from the undeveloped Chino Hills near Los Angeles to Philadelphia's gentrified neighborhoods. One essay faults agribusiness for its massive waste of land, energy and human resources; another calls for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. While it has the disconnected feel of a volume of symposium proceedings, this book offers innovative solutions to the renewal of communities. Photos.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Addressing what the authors identify as a societal conflict between "long-term social and economic health" and "short-term gain," this book offers examples, real and proposed, of sound environmental planning for communities. Three case studiesSunnyvale, California; Golden, Colorado; Philadelphiaand a group of essays on the "Context for Sustainable Design" are included. The vision of the contributors, many well known in the planning field, is that of a transition from fossil-fuel dependency to one of community reliance, enhancing the quality of life in the face of impersonal technology. Recommended for environmental studies and planning collections. Jim Heck el, Lewis & Clark Lib., Helena, Mont.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Sim Van der Ryn has been a teacher, writer, researcher, and practitioner of design for forty years. A leading authority on ecologically sustainable architecture and design, he is Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1961. As California's State Architect in the 1970s, he initiated landmark programs in energy-efficient building and environmentally appropriate technologies. His innovative designs for homes, sustainable communities, retreat centers, schools, and commercial buildings have received many awards and been widely published.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steven H. Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on January 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
Peter Calthorpe is one of the leaders of the "New Urbanism" movement, and Sim Van der Ryn is a leader in the "sustainable architecture" area. The original impetus for the book was a 1980 conference of 45 people for a week-long "Solar Cities Design Workshop."

This 1986 book was reissued in 1991 by the Sierra Club, and gathers ten essays (two by Calthorpe, one by Van der Ryn, and one by both) on subjects such as "The New Suburban Fabric," "Design as if People Mattered," "Local Self Reliance," "Metropolitan Food Systems and the Sustainable City, "Real Possibilities in the Transportation Myths," "A Short History of Twentieth Century New Towns," etc.

There are many interesting observations throughout the book, such as, "A 'village' is different from a suburb or a 'bedroom community' in that it brings together homeplace, workplace, and necessary services and amenities into a well-balanced, complete community. Thus, the integration of employment centers and convenience shopping and services is an important aspect of the solar village plan"; "With the exception of Village Homes in Davis, California, today's 'solar villages' or village-scale experiments are mostly intentional communities, drawing to them people who already have a value system that includes an ecological awareness and a desire to live by consuming less and sharing more."

In Calthorpe's concluding essay, he soberly notes, "it is important to note the failings and problems of the garden city concept. Though the garden cities succeeded in a real mix of housing, workplaces, and commerce, it was a mistake to believe they could be autonomous."

Although somewhat "dated," this book is still of interest to those interested in urban planning, the New Urbanism, ecovillages, intentional communities, etc.
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