New Urbanism 101: A Human-Approach to Neighborhoods

New Urbanism 101: A Human-Approach to Neighborhoods

It won’t be long before the 2021 Homearama® Lifestyle Edition presented by CenterPoint Energy kicks off at Union Village, a brand new hometown built on the principles of new urbanism. This new community has an undeniable charm, and we’re certain Homearama Lifestyle Edition visitors will fall in love. 

But what exactly is New Urbanism, the architectural movement behind the design of Union Village? In short, it’s a human-approach to a community based on 10 important principles that lead to a more vibrant hometown, but the longer definition explains how key elements combine to create something truly special. As you immerse yourself with this innovative community development, remember this lifestyle is truly unique to Union Village and cannot be seen anywhere else in the Midwest. 

Human-Scaled

The biggest idea behind New Urbanism is the belief that everything a person needs for daily life should be within a 10-minute walk. This walkability is inspired by life before automobiles and based on the traditional neighborhood structure of human-scaled villages and towns (rather than suburbs after World War II that relied on having a car). This provides an opportunity to walk wherever you need rather than drive. Pedestrian-friendly streets and increased density make this possible. Homes, shops and services are closer together, expanding efficiency and encouraging physical health by reducing the need to drive. A well-developed master plan ensures connectivity—a grid system connects places and creates easy accessibility. 

Part of that traditional neighborhood design includes a discernible town center (like the Union Village Square) and town edge. From that center, neighborhoods radiate out with a hierarchy of streets and alleys. An emphasis on public spaces like plazas, cafés and even porches creates better opportunities for getting to know your neighbors. A common, overarching aesthetic establishes unity in the design, and attractive streets and parks ensure people enjoy where they call home. In the case of Union Village, an additional 200 acres of connected trails and parks give an even more extensive opportunity for outdoor exercise and recreation. 

Building What Matters

To create a whole and complete community, new urbanism employs mixed use and diversity. A wide variety of shops, restaurants and businesses invite a diverse community where multiple interests can be easily met. This mixed-use is not only within the community but can be present on the same block and even within the same building, in the case of commercial buildings. Equally important is the principle of mixed housing. No cookie cutter houses are present in new urbanism. Instead, communities like Union Village offer homes in a range of styles, sizes and prices. This ensures inclusivity as people of different family status, age, income and cultures can find a place. Mixed housing goes beyond neighborhoods—apartments, townhomes and single family residences can be found on the same street. 

All of this is accomplished through a holistic master plan that looks at the sum of all parts: How does each building affect the community? Quality architecture and urban design also places significance on the cohesion and beauty of the neighborhood, making it a pleasant place for people to spend time. Union Village is also using its Shaker Village roots as inspiration: Timeless, understated elegance with incomparable design is a hallmark of Shaker craftsmanship. A strict design code also assures that every home and building meets high quality standards, resulting in a beautiful and coherent community. 

Eco-Friendly

A huge aspect of New Urbanism is employing and encouraging environmentally friendly habits. Pedestrian-friendly streets promote green transportation, and not just walking, but bicycles, rollerblades and even scooters cut down on the need for driving a car. The creation of a New Urbanist community is also dependent on sustainability and minimizing the ecological impact of community development. Some of these communities are based on revitalizing old buildings and neighborhoods to minimize that impact. Since Union Village is brand new and a “ground up” project, it focuses on using the land and natural resources in the most accountable way possible. Union Village maximizes available space and connects the community to surrounding nature. It also encourages energy efficiency and utilizes local production. 

Humanity at Heart

All of these principles contribute to increasing quality of life and creating an environment where people can be happy and healthy. The core goals of New Urbanism are forging a sense of community and promoting environmentally friendly behavior. All of this is to the benefit of residents as well as businesses and the community itself. By putting people first and making a human-scaled neighborhood, New Urbanism works to uplift and enrich the people who call it home. 

Experience New Urbanism in practice at Homearama Lifestyle Edition 2021. Get your tickets now to see Union Village and tour stunning new homes in a refreshingly different community. 

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