Walking the Walk


Urban design from the front lines

Kevin Klinkenberg

Using urban design to make our lives more enjoyable and create wealth

This site is for all those interested in the making of cities and towns, and especially the lives of the humans that inhabit them. Kevin Klinkenberg is an architect and urban designer who's practiced from coast-to-coast. 

Path to Prosperity: One-story buildings, built in an urban fashion

In an earlier post (Path to Prosperity – how to implement walkability regardless of the economic times) I extolled some of the virtues of one-story buildings as a means to "seeding" an urban market in many of our communities. To reiterate, while we still have some fine examples of walkable neighborhoods, the reality is that we've spent decades destroying most of what we had, and building new places with limited walkability at best.

While grand ambitions are nice, we have to understand how to realistically create the first phase of urbanism in places that have little or none. And, it has to work financially for all parties.

One solution that is still in evidence in many places: one-story buildings, built in an urban fashion. They are cheap to build, even with good detailing. They park easily in this transitional phase we're in now on transportation, and they effectively create street walls, especially in combination with good landscaping.

As I travel around the country, I love to take photos of quality urbanism at this scale. It's still evident in many smaller towns - especially in places that haven't been wrecked by the state DOT.

Occasionally I will share some of these examples, since I think they are good prototypes for us to look toward in so many of our communities. Today's photos are of some one-story structures that are more "cottage-like" in part because they are likely converted single-family houses. Again, when considering your own plans and codes, I'd suggest looking at these models and seeing if they have a role. And imagine this sacrilege - walkability not just with one story buildings, but completely detached. Food for thought…

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