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Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century Hardcover – October 9, 1996
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Through magazine articles and through his previous book, The Geography of Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler has become one of the foremost decriers of the blighted urban landscape of the United States. Now, in this new sequel to the earlier book, Kunstler moves from description to prescription. The villains, Kunstler says, are zoning laws, real estate taxes, modernist architecture, and, particularly, the automobile. The solutions include multi-use zoning districts, car-free urban cores, revised tax laws, Beaux-Arts design principles, and, in particular, the neo-traditionalist school of architecture and city planning known as "new urbanism." It's possible to disagree with some of Kunstler's conclusions--the hope that large numbers of commuters will give up their single-passenger vehicles for public transit downtown has been discredited in city after city--without abandoning his larger goal: a return to a saner urban geography and, with it, to a saner way of life.
From Publishers Weekly
In a slashing, fervent, practical, brilliant critique of the philosophy?or lack thereof?underpinning today's dismal American cities and isolating suburbs, Kunstler argues that our streets, malls, parks, civic buildings and houses frustrate innate psychological needs, violate human scale and thwart our desire to participate in the larger world. An architectural design critic (The Geography of Nowhere) and a novelist, he champions "new urbanism," an architectural reform movement dedicated to producing cohesive, mixed-use neighborhoods for people of widely different incomes, neighborhoods resembling U.S. towns prior to WWII. Using photos and line drawings throughout, he highlights numerous new urbanism-inspired projects around the country, from Seaside, a resort town on the Florida panhandle, to redevelopment schemes in Providence, Memphis, Columbus and Corning, N.Y. He also lashes what he considers the major obstacles to new urbanism-banks that make loans only to projects creating more suburban sprawl; stifling zoning laws; and a property-tax system that punishes builders of quality and "rewards those who let existing buildings go to hell." First serial to the Atlantic.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
That said, he has a lot of suggestions for making improvements - some practical, some impractical. There are copious examples of things done well, stories of success, stories of failure, and discussions of why we can't sustain our current mindset.
If you're looking for a blueprint - look elsewhere such as Duany's original works, Comeback Cities, or read Planetizen. If you want concrete examples of why suburban development is moronic, and a healthy dose of spite and anger, read this book.
He found some great examples of mixed-use developments around the US and clearly states both successes and the challenges that they have faced.
The book is a little dated (that's why 4 stars) but you can see today how some of the trends discussed have been implemented in new development, at least here around Atlanta.
I enjoyed it, and believe it offers a valuable perspective on the transience ('cause we're finally starting to tear down or abandon those places...or heartily wish we could) and hostility of the modernistsuburban garbage that has been foisted on us.
This should be required reading for all architects and urban planners.
Biting critique of suburbia.