How can humanity sustainably use the planet’s resources without ruining vital ecosystems? How can we better manage pollution and waste? How can we enable more people to enjoy better lifestyles?
Owning a freestanding house on as large a lot as possible has become the dream for many, leading to inflated prices and housing shortages.
In addition to requiring constant use of expensive, polluting vehicles, single-family houses consume land, energy, water, and resources at too high a rate to be sustainable and scalable worldwide.
Additionally, many suburbanites feel increasingly isolated and time-poor, facing constant demands of commuting to work, driving children around, and maintaining oversized, inefficient homes and ornamental yards.
Using the NewVistas pattern, humans can live abundantly and sustainably in closer proximity, with more efficient use of technology, transportation, and agriculture and with better social and economic relationships.
By drastically reducing the role of the automobile and eliminating inefficient buildings and counter-productive sprawl in its many forms, the pattern shows us how to live in green, socially dynamic communities with attractive high-yield gardening instead of unproductive, unsustainable decorative landscaping.
While a NewVistas community is as densely populated as the world’s tenth-densest city, it is also extremely green because buildings occupy only 10% of land within community boundaries, with building rooftops containing gardens and/or greenhouses.
We call this pattern NewVistas because everyone can enjoy unobstructed green vistas from apartment windows and patios.
The basic building block of NewVistas is a household module for 1–4 people. Each household module provides about 400 square feet of living space, including a bedroom, bathroom, workstation, kitchenette, and other amenities.
Household modules can start out in backyards as ADUs, eventually be joined into apartment buildings and villages, and ultimately align in a complete NewVistas community pattern, which includes 960 apartment buildings spread across 46 blocks.
Transforming technology allows household space to adapt for various uses. Within an apartment, each module’s bedroom space can join with other bedroom spaces to form a large daytime common living area, while still keeping each module’s bathroom, workstation, and ceiling storage accessible only by those who live in the module.
Like a motorhome, each household module will be equipped to handle its own utilities, including energy, water, and waste, such that each household module can function as part of a local grid or as an independent unit.
The areas behind apartment buildings are managed by farmers as vegetable gardens, fishponds, rabbit and chicken coops, and so forth, with easy access to residents so they can immerse themselves in gardening and greenery whenever desired.
Patios and Breezeways
Each of an apartment building’s three floors has its own outdoor patio for use by residents living on that floor.
Directly in front of a community’s rows of apartment buildings, covered breezeways facilitate foot and small-vehicle traffic. These breezeways allow all residents to get anywhere in a community with no stairs or other obstacles and with protection from uncomfortable weather.
Village Squares and Hubs
In front of the breezeways, village squares provide green areas where people can relax, interact, and use outdoor playgrounds and sports courts.
Where breezeways intersect between blocks, hubs provide space for local neighborhood amenities such as cafés, laundry services, daycare centers, gyms, hair and nail salons, and entertainment arcades.
Public Multipurpose Buildings
Twenty-four multipurpose buildings are located in two of the community’s three central blocks. The third central block contains storehouses, stadiums, and other specialized facilities.
Each multipurpose building has two large assembly halls, 24 smaller chambers, 120 one-person shower/toilet/changing rooms, and 12 elevators. Transforming technology allows a multipurpose building’s interior space to be quickly, automatically reconfigured around the clock, for uses such as:
- offices, workshops, and labs
- indoor sports and swimming
- social and cultural events, including theater, dance, and banquets
- worship facilities
- hotel and hospital rooms
- public-servant offices
Additional Campus Elements
A community’s inner apartment blocks are surrounded on all four sides by easements that can become corridors for utilities, waterways, transportation beyond the community, and other functions.
Beyond each community’s inner blocks and easements are located 49 additional blocks for agriculture; livestock, poultry, and large pets; industry; and drilling for oil, gas, water, and minerals.
- See, for example, Amy Morin, “Want to Be Happier? Change Your Commute or Change Your Attitude,” Forbes, 7 Dec. 2014, www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/12/07/want-to-be-happier-change-your-commute-or-change-your-attitude/#dd31fd95a731↩
- “Sprawl costs the U.S. economy roughly $1 trillion a year: $600 billion in direct costs related to inefficient land usage and car dependency, and another $400 billion in indirect costs from traffic congestion, pollution, etc.” Richard Florida, “The New Suburban Crisis,” CityLab. See also, for example, James Howard Kunstler, “The Ghastly Tragedy of the Suburbs,” TED, and Alex Balashov, “Why Even Driving Through Suburbia Is Soul Crushing,” Quartz.↩