9 The key idea: within an optimum density framework, center-enhancing transformations of the neighborhood

Evolution of pedestrian (yellow)

First, we are talking about a process of extending and recreating a spine and system of pedestrian paths and spines, opening from time to time into small squares and parks. This system is to grow incrementally.
What is interesting here is that this incremental process of growing the pedestrian structure is happening — from a practical point of view — in parallel with the process of splitting lots. The question arises how can we get the land for the path system to grow. We cannot, I think, do it by eminent domain. Though possible in theory, it would be resisted fiercely and is not really practical. But we can ask instead that every time a land transaction occurs to split a lot, or build a building, the owner is asked to make a contribution to the path system. That is practical.

Evolution of lots and buildings (gray)

Second, we are talking about a process in which lots are being subdivided, and becoming smaller. This follows necessarily from the increase of density. If the density is to increase and, yet, people are to retain their individuality, then lots must become smaller, so that autonomous, individually unique, and well-adapted houses and businesses can be created. So long as lots remain larger, if density trebles, the individuality of dwellings and businesses cannot be preserved. This is an enormously important point.

Evolution of gardens (green)

Third, once again a radical departure from contemporary American practice, is the idea that green space — private gardens and private green space — is to be formed, step by step, in a way that makes only segments of Positive space. This is in contradiction to the present situation where much space is in narrow slivers along the sides of lots. Instead, here, the demand says that buildings must be placed in such a way as to form positive gardens, positive green space. This rule then controls the placement of buildings, just as surely as today’s system of setbacks controls the placement of buildings — but this new rule does it better.

Evolution of cars (red)

Fourth, and last, we are talking about incremental creation of a system of narrow lanes for cars, peppered with occasional small parking lots and parallel parking along the edges. This is to take place as a transformation of the existing road system. We start with a normal American grid and gradually close off streets, cut streets, and run lanes across blocks to create a more intricate, more convoluted, system of lanes for carrying and parking cars. That is amazing in its effect, since it would seem entirely to change the character of today’s American neighborhood.

#book/The Nature of Order/3 A Vision of a Living World/9 The reconstruction of an urban neighborhood#

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