Tuesday, 22 March 2011

In the US, suburban shopping malls can become green community spaces

At the recent Ecobuild conference, architect Ellen Dunham-Jones spoke about how some suburban shopping malls in the United States are changing into green community spaces. Juliet Heller reports

With much of the suburban landscape in the United State now aging, architect Ellen Dunham-Jones, author of Retrofitting Suburbia, says there is an opportunity to re-develop and re-invent malls and business parks into green and “walk-able” spaces.

The carbon footprint in suburbs is three times bigger than in cities. People in the suburbs depend on fossil fuels, particularly oil, and there are public health issues also emerging. For instance, obesity from the sedentary lifestyle is leading to heart disease and diabetes.

There has also been a surprising demographic shift: it looks as if around two-thirds of suburban households will no longer have children. Increasingly the suburbs is populated by retirees and young professionals, so the needs and demands of these spaces are changing accordingly.

By greening the landscape with trees, greening the transport system to reduce car use, and redesigning the buildings to be more comfortable and efficient, the areas are being transformed, and others are following their example.

You can watch Ellen Dunham-Jones's TED talk on retrofitting suburbia

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