Connecting Suburbia: Using Information and Communication Technologies to Readjust the Suburban House
By Joel Piecowye
The North American suburban house is continually changing, a byproduct of cultural and technological change. Within the past hundred years alone, the house has experienced countless changes in design iterations as new technologies and cultural desires persisted. In 2017, the suburban house has been largely constructed from principles absorbed from the ‘baby boomer’ generation, that being: larger houses that accommodate distinct generational behaviour, privacy, and security. Later studies show that a new generation consisting of ‘Gen Y’ and the ‘Millennials’, are currently transitioning the housing market, and becoming the dominant group of property owners. These generations were raised in a global society; constantly connected with new technologies and social media. This has not only begun impacting modern designs of the house and its internal facets, but also location, transportation, and how connected communities should become.
Connecting Suburbia explores how we can create a series of tactical interventions to repurpose the suburban house for a connected and sharing generation. Interventions are situated in underused spaces, designed to add needed program and activity to homogenous cul-de-sac blocks, that will allow for a more connected physical and digital community.
Individually, each intervention creates a significant change to a suburban house design and how inhabitants can use its space, but its capabilities are limited within an entire neighbourhood. These interventions perform best as a network of nodes working together across an entire neighbourhood. A sizable amount of interventions will densify services in neighbourhoods, and it would allow for the increased chance of hybrid interventions, where two or more suburban interventions work together to create improved services. For example, a cafe could operate with a theater to deliver snacks and refreshments for movie nights, possibly creating a movie ticket/snack deal to increase patrons. The options and possibilities are endless, and when these services become established they can network with services outside the neighbourhood block. Many connected interventions work together to reduce the reliance on car dependant services located outside of suburban neighbourhoods. The result is a connected and a social community that functions with economic networks at a local scale.
A networked community would also alter the fabric of the non-detached houses surrounding the neighbourhood. Families running small businesses would not be required to commute to big box stores for supplies with delivery services, further reducing the need for big box stores compared to the rising fulfillment shipment facilities. Partnerships with local schools can also occur, where various spaces can be shared like fabrication labs. Neighbourhood schools can also gain a greater role as being a central node for communities, having the largest flexible spaces with classrooms and fitness facilities, they can act as a meeting/ gathering space for local communities and events when needed.
Connecting Suburbia is a starting point instead of a final solution. The design series intends to show that by realizing the full potential of the suburban house, a movement can be set forward, eventually creating a livable community where inhabitants are not afraid of shared programs and adaptable communities.
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