It takes a community: Sunset Magazine proposes an "Idea Town"

Sunset Seabrook
© Sunset Houses, Seabrook

If you don't live in the western US you might not have heard of Sunset Magazine and probably never saw any of their Sunset Idea Houses that they show each year, often at their big Sunset Celebration. A decade ago I visited the Celebration to meet Michelle Kaufmann for the first time and tour her Glide House that was launched there. In that decade a lot of architects and urbanists have concluded that the problems we face in housing will not be solved through the design of individual houses, but that what really matters is community.

seabrook plans© Seabrook

That's why it's interesting that Sunset's latest is not an Idea House, but an Idea Town in Seabrook, Washington, designed around the pedestrian friendly and sustainable ideals. They are building smaller houses in a clustered design with back lanes, front porches and all the accoutrements of the New Urbanism. The "5-Minute Walking Principle ensures convenient access to all the daily conveniences and needs expected from living or vacationing in a classic beach town. Homes sit close to sidewalks, paths, parks, and other important public spaces to foster a “get to know your neighbor” friendliness."

Matt Hickman, at our sister site, knows the territory well and writes about Seabrook, home of the Sunset Idea Town:

From bungalows and townhouses to waterfront luxury properties, Seabrook's neighborhoods are home to an eclectic mix of single-family residences — well over 100 of them are available as vacation rental cottages — clustered around an expanding retail district (corner market, indie bookstore, pet boutique, etc.) and other amenities including parks, plazas, playgrounds, biking paths, walking trails, and a stunning, recently completed indoor pool complex. Designed to be “never trendy, always timeless” Seabrook’s all of residences were built green — "We believe that nothing is more beautiful than natural beauty, and nothing is greener than something that lasts" — and the landscape surrounding them is also sustainable in design with native preserve areas, watering-harvesting swales, and wildlife habitats such as frog bogs.

Matt does an interesting interview of Seabrook Town Founder Casey Roloff, looking at " his overall vision for an "authentic" beach community that incorporates the best of New Urbanist planning and sustainable design principles" at

It takes a community: Sunset Magazine proposes an "Idea Town"
You can only do so much with an individual house; the real difference in how we live is defined by our communities.

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