Showing posts with label burbclave. Show all posts
Showing posts with label burbclave. Show all posts

Sunday, October 3, 2010


There are currently 4 directions the "Comprehensive Plan" for Austin's future development could go in and the city is asking for public feedback. I tweeted this morning that Plan C might as well be called the "Burbclave" plan, referring to my distaste for prefab neighborhoods vs. a more organic approach as detailed here. To be clear, the intention of Plan C is organic, to direct development toward multiple centers and coax multi-use neighborhoods. My fear is that in this century there is virtually no chance that these "centers" as their being referred to, won't be anchored by Domain-style burbclaves run by corporate interests. If not, then this is probably the ideal plan, retaining the existing urban center, but ensuring that it's possible to live and play in the outlying areas as well. The key is in letting these areas develop naturally and in regulating the involvement of large corporate entities. The outlying areas are already inundated with national chains compared to those neighborhoods closer to the city that take local business and keeping Austin "Weird" to heart. If Plan C can be used to spur local growth further out and create organic, sincere, neighborhoods that aren't just cookie cutter corporate conclaves of some bland "real American" ideal, then it will be a good way to go. If not then just image the Domain expanded and copy-pasted throughout the cap metro area. Burbclaves of conformity, run by corporate interests, stifling locality and originality with money and power.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Rhetoric - Burbclaves

Urban developments these days always seem to be of this "contemporary" community ideal. Developers buy tracts of land and don't just put up retail space or housing, they create the conglomerated nightmare hybrids that ape the true feel of well worn neighborhoods. These burbclaves are popping up everywhere, especially in the underdeveloped outskirts of urban centers. I live near one in Austin called the Triangle that isn't so bad, but I also work in one further north called the Domain that's simply soul-sucking. These developments are nothing but outdoor malls with housing, complete with directories, security, and sometimes even it's own internal transportation.

It's not the development itself that bothers me though, it's the nature of what's being developed. Normal urban development happens over time where residential and commercial zones crop up and feed off of and into each other. The resulting interconnectivity becomes a neighborhood, the key being that the development is completely organic and evolves naturally. These burbclaves don't develop organically at all, they're cut from whole cloth and plopped down as a fully realized prefab neighborhood and despite the convenience, there is zero sincerity in this type of space.

I don't like being corralled or over sold, I like to choose my life experience organically. I don't want the packaged goods, I want the freedom to pick and choose. I may still end up with 99% of the same experience as someone else, but that remaining 1% is unique and of my choosing.

Austin is a developing area and I fear the future is locked within these burbclaves. My fear is that, as independent as this city is, that people won't associate the concept of "keep Austin weird" and supporting local business with the construction and use of these burbclaves. Even if the businesses within are all local, these are still packaged experiences meant to provide and inadvertently breed uniformity of thought and action. I want the world I choose, not the world that's given to me and I fear that the future may abscond with this freedom of choice before anyone even notices.

Sent from my iPhone @ Epoch Coffee