Smaller homes need improved public spaces

If we are going to choose to live in smaller and smaller homes or apartments, it will be crucial to address the quality of life outside the small urban home. This is particularly true if large-scale shifts are going to be facilitated. It seems to me that there is a trade-off of variables - smaller personal space, improved quality of public space. What I mean is that if you live in a condo or small home, the quality of the street life and the walkable urban setting increases in importance because you haven't artificially duplicated them in the space you own.

If you live in a big home with lots of space around you that you own (inside and out), then you create within that space all that you want and need. If you go small, you place greater dependence on the public and common spaces to pick up on many of those needs. For example, if you want families to live in condos in high density areas, then the street level neighbourhood needs to enhance and enrich that family life. If it doesn't, families with children in these small spaces will be exceptions.

I wonder to what extent this will be true of boomers as well - a box in the sky is not sufficient without the rich and diverse sets of opportunities that enriched street level amenities offer. In the case of both families and boomers, the development of smaller space options will need to happen simultaneously with increased quality of urban common life. Full-scope development projects attempt to do this (often driven by formulaic assumptions about what people want, which is to say what commercial interests want) though they fail more than they succeed at this point. Not to lose hope. Over time, we'll get better at figuring this out and assessing how to design density more intelligently on the human factor side.

Thanks to Jillian Glover for this post in Urban Times on small urban homes.
Image: Lance Sullivan from The Tiny House Movement blog written by Nicole Shaw.

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