Monday, May 28th, 2007

The SmartCode is an attempt to provide a zoning code compatible with New Urbanism or Traditional Neighborhood Development:

The Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) has the following physical attributes:
  • The neighborhood is a comprehensive planning increment: when clustered with others, it becomes a town; when standing free in the landscape, it becomes a village. The neighborhood varies in population and density to accommodate localized conditions.
  • The neighborhood is limited in size so that a majority of the population is within a 5-minute walking distance of its center (1/4 mile). The needs of daily life are theoretically available within this area. This center provides an excellent location for a transit stop, convenience work places, retail, community events and leisure activities.
  • Streets are laid out in a network, so that there are alternate routes to most destinations. This permits most streets to be smaller with slower traffic as well as having parking, trees, sidewalks and buildings. They are equitable for both vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Streets are spatially defined by a wall of buildings that front the sidewalk in a disciplined manner uninterrupted by parking lots.
  • The buildings are diverse in function but compatible in size and in disposition on their lots. There is a mixture of houses (large and small), outbuildings, small apartment buildings, shops, restaurants, offices and warehouses.
  • Civic buildings (schools, meeting halls, theaters, churches, clubs, museums, etc.) are often placed on squares or at the termination of street vistas. By being built at important locations these buildings serve as landmarks.
  • Open space is provided in the form of specialized squares, playgrounds, and parks and, in the case of villages, greenbelts.

Conventional Suburban Development (CSD) has quite different physical attributes:

  • Sprawl is disciplined only by isolated “pods,” which are dedicated to single uses such as “shopping centers,” “office parks,” and “residential clusters.” All of these are inaccessible from each other except by car. Housing is strictly segregated in large clusters containing units of similar cost hindering socioeconomic diversity.
  • Sprawl is limited only by the range of the automobile, which easily forms cachement areas for retail, often exceeding 50 miles.
  • There is a high proportion of cul-de-sacs and looping streets within each pod. Through traffic is possible only by means of a few “collector” streets that, consequently, become easily congested.
  • Vehicular traffic controls the scale and form of space, with streets being wide and dedicated primarily to the automobile. Parking lots typically dominate the public space.
  • Buildings are often highly articulated, rotated on their lots and greatly set back from streets. They are unable to create spatial definition or sense of place. Civic buildings do not normally receive distinguished sites.
  • Open space is often provided in the form of “buffers,” “pedestrian ways,” “berms” and other ill-defined residual spaces.

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