They say that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, and nowhere is this more true than in the world of design. Oftentimes it doesn’t matter how brilliant an idea is, if it can’t be visualized effectively it is often hard to convince people of its merit. Readers who are familiar with Inhabitat will know that we are guilty of this visual bias as much as anyone: we are suckers for sleek, glossy, eye-candy renderings. Imagine our surprise then, when we realized that some of the best ideas submitted to our Reburbia Design Competition were the ideas with the least visual punch. In fact, one of the most powerful (and certainly the most workable and cost-effective) idea submitted to the Reburbia Competition isn’t a design proposal at all, but instead a policy proposal — called Entrepreneurbia — to get rid of the idiotic zoning laws which led to most of the major problems in suburbia in the first place. Makes a lot of sense, right?
Current zoning laws in most suburbs make it illegal to operate a business out of a building in a residential area, and vice versa. Basically, the law necessitates that people live far away from their jobs — forcing people to commute to work. It also means that people have to drive long distances to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, coffee shop to pick up the staples of their day; ensuring that people in suburbs have to spend several hours a day in cars, thus decreasing quality of life. These idiotic zoning laws are what has lead to massive sprawl, 2 hour long commutes, ‘neighborhoods’ with no basic shops or amenities, and the demise of small businesses in favor of big-box stores.
So what to do? The smart designers behind the Entrepreneurbia project propose this: abolish poorly conceived zoning laws to attract forward-thinking small business owners and start-up companies, creating a community of entrepreneurs who will naturally transform inefficient single-family dwellings and purely decorative landscape spaces into intelligent home-based businesses.
What we love about this idea is how simple, efficient, and elegant it is. No expensive, energy-intensive, massive overhauls needed! Simply allow enterprising people to do what they do naturally, and the suburbs will gradually and organically become more dense, vibrant, and sustainable – much like their urban counterparts.
We’re feeling very warm towards the Entrepreneurbia proposal right now, but what do YOU think? What is the best way to repair our suburbs?