"We need a design diet."

The wonderfully named Brooks Rainwater writes in Metropolis about how we have to build health-promoting communities.

We need a design diet. In order to do this we need to examine traditional models of development and maybe not scrap them, but instead re-imagine the places where we live. Let’s not forget that sprawl is a post 1940’s model and not a historically immutable concept. What we need are options.

We need to rethink the idea that convenience is measured only in miles of driving in mind-numbing traffic, if you’re most of us, from our homes. We need to imagine or just remember from childhood that walking or riding a bike is, in fact, a better way of getting around to many places. We need to focus less on the size of our house and more on the quality of our homes, our families’ health, and our social lives. Design makes a difference, and it doesn’t have to cost more. Our money just needs to be better spent.

There is clearly a movement afoot.

Rainwater, director of policy for the American Institute of Architects, stresses that this is not about political agendas, left right or center. Nor does it mean that we have to totally give up on single family homes with lawns. Though Dorothy Rabinowitz will pounce when she reads:

Let’s focus less on the need to move cars around and more on the need to move people around. Inviting street design, wider sidewalks with street furniture and cafes, streets that are bordered by buildings instead of parking lots, services that allow people to live, work, and have fun in the same neighborhood; these are all things that people want and desire.

Read it all in Metropolis

Tags: Urban Planning | Walking