Monday, September 22, 2014

Alternative Models: Seaside

A bit of background on Seaside, Florida:
Eighty acres, it turned out, was the ideal size for a small town or a quarter of a city. Leon Krier, the noted urban designer who had written so eloquently about the restoration of the traditional city had used a diagram which showed that 80 acres is the area encompassed within a quarter-mile radius. This, in turn, was the distance a person would comfortably walk on a daily basis to go to work, to shop, or to go out to eat. 
A sensibly laid out town or city would, in fact, have all of the necessities and pleasures of daily existence within walking distance of one's residence. You might have to use mechanical transportation to go to the opera, but you should not need to use a car to get a quart of milk, nor should you have to be a chauffeur for your children. 

Two houses were built in Seaside before the master plan for a town was taken beyond the conceptual stage. It was important first to test the marketplace and to see whether a house which shared a beach at the end of a street could be sold for a price almost equal to that of a beach front condominium. The conventional wisdom in 1982 was that it could not be done, and that the additional constraint of strict architectural controls on all construction would be a deterrent to sales.

A pavilion was also built as a gateway to the sea and to serve as a symbol of the neighborhood sharing of the beach. The Tupelo Beach pavilion has now evolved into an almost generic symbol for Florida's remaining unspoiled beaches. 
Initial sales in 1982 were encouraging -- better, in fact, than anticipated. Sales were also helped by early recognition, in both the architectural and popular press, that the Seaside idea was quite appealing and might be a model for changing the patterns of urban and suburban growth.

No comments:

Post a Comment