Starkvillage: an Example of Ecological Urbanism Part 2: The Project

Posted: 2011,November 23 in Uncategorized

Ok, hopefully you have read the previous post (part 1) so that you will have some context on what I am talking about in regards to this project. As I have mentioned a few posts ago, our design studio class this semester was given a project to design a sustainable community for an infill housing development. One of my classmates, who is devoted to the incorporation of agricultural food production into urban systems (AKA agrarian urbanism) took a slightly different route on this project. Specifically the site he chose was not an infill development site, technically. His site was located just outside the city limits, practically abutting up to the university campus. The context of his site is that it is an old farmstead complete with a stately old plantation house and several acres of long-term fallowed fields. It is important to understand that the corridor that this site is situated on is the new location for many new gated mcmansion “communities”, so sprawl is coming this way regardless of how much we would like to preserve this beautiful drive through pastoral farmland with intermittent patches of forest, prairie and savanna biomes. (notice that i said “beautiful DRIVE”?)

The reason why permission was given for my classmate to choose a greenfield site for his development (even though the project specifically stated that it was supposed to be infill development) was that his concept for the project made very good contxtual sense. The context being that this is (or at least was at one time) land devoted to agriculture and that this land is rapidly becoming urbanized (or suburbanized as the case may be). His concept was to design a community that revolves around intensive permacultural agriculture with relatively high housing density, and also preserves and works with the existing ecological infrastructure on the site, which included a wetland area, patches of mature woods, and a very old and established pecan grove.

The existing farm house on the site

The reason that I say that this project is an example of Ecological Urbanism is that it conflates the lines between ecological and urban services. Also that the designer used a very deep and thorough understanding of the not-so obvious cultural, social, ecological and economic frameworks that are present in and around the site to design a development that not only preserves but INCREASES ecological productivity while at the same time providing for more human habitat. Again, the context of the site is that at one time it was producing food for the near by town and is part of an urban to wilderness transect that makes sense. In summary, the project was a response to culture, topography and ecosystem as opposed to assembling peices of architecture in order to form an urban environment. In other words, he inferred from the land and surrounding area what makes sense to be built here in terms of sustainablity.

existing character of the site



Perspective of the village center


3D model showing houses, fields and wetland


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