Bye Bye Strip Mall: 5 Design Trend Reversals We Hope Stick


Strip mall photo via Flickr

Good design and the psychology of the human mind go hand-in-hand. How do want to live our lives? What are the social norms? How can we make these two super important factors greener, without being a pretentious green ass? The ideas milling around TreeHugger lately allow us to envision a Jetsons-style green world of the future, and this future is optimistic. Maybe we will live in towering skyscrapers in which we can reach out and pluck a tomato off the side of the building, thanks to vertical farming. Maybe all plastics will be biodegradable--ending the massive pressure on our landfills and the death of ecosystems and endangered species like the Leatherback sea turtle. Until then, the progress is slow, but promising. Keeping in mind TreeHugger Lloyd Alter's fantastic definition of green design, here are five design trend reversals we hope are here to stay.

1. The Strip Mall


As the economy tightens its belt and the average citizen doesn't feel the need to be trapped inside a light-less, airless box, strip malls are becoming vast wastelands across America. It seems the only people found in these cold, sprawling structures are arcade-crazy teens--which, with limited allowance, aren't exactly the target audience. Typically constructed disconnected from the community, without generating community income, strip malls tend to be only accessible by car, not generally a source for local goods, and dominated by one or two story buildings, creating urban sprawl. Which brings us to the second trend on this list now getting bad press.

2. Urban Sprawl

Urban Sprawl photo via Flickr

In just a few decades, we have suddenly moved away from the idea of the little house with the picket fence and realized that a towering skyscraper can actually be pretty darn green. If done right, skyscrapers can be pillars of self-sufficiency, harvesting 100 percent of electricity from the sun and wind. But the best part is the tiny footprint, which allows for more green space. And who doesn’t want a park next door? According to the BBC, Studies also show that access to a local park bridges the health gap between the rich and the poor. Increasingly, cities are tearing down structures to convert lots back into green space.

3. The Need For So Much Stuff

Photo: via Wired magazine

One of the most popular New York Times articles right now is about having too much stuff. Those times of trumping your neighbor with the latest gadget ordered off the infomercial channel are over (if they were ever truly here) and folks are now beginning to ponder the idea that minimalism can actually create a bit more sanity. It's sure not original: Bauhaus architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe delivered the revolutionary oxymoron "less is more" sometime in the early part of the 20th century.

Discover more design trend reversals we hope stick on page 2.

Tags: Activism | Architects | Architecture | Cradle To Cradle | Furniture | Green Building | ICFF/ New York Design Week | Life Cycle Analysis