This new car-free neighborhood redesigns suburbia | Impact Lab
A new development in Mannheim, Germany, is the ultimate walkable community.
It’s possible that some people might own a car in a new neighborhood designed for Mannheim, Germany. But they won’t be able to drive up to their doors: The entire neighborhood is car-free, with parking hidden underground.
Instead of roads, the neighborhood will have sidewalks that connect with paths in a surrounding park. “Essentially the project recreates the park experience on a residential scale, and removing the road allows the park to permeate throughout the site unrestricted,” says Johannes Pilz, one of the architects from the design firm MVRDV, which worked on the development for Traumhaus, a German affordable housing developer.
“By getting rid of the cars, you then open up the streets, whether it’s for children to come out and play with each other, or to encourage residents to sit outside their house, chat with one another, or go for a stroll,” he says. “By getting rid of the [pavement] barrier between households, you then increase interactions between neighbors, and the community then starts to bond.”
The neighborhood will also try to deliberately build diversity. Instead of the standard suburban pattern of long rows of single-family homes, the development will include a mix of different sized houses and apartments designed for young couples, students, the elderly, and families. Residents can pick the design that matches their needs; a new family might choose a house built on stilts with room to expand and build out the first floor if they later need the space.
Because the development will maintain a ratio of different housing types, it hopes to stay relatively diverse and avoid gentrification. The houses are also designed to be affordable to build. Like Traumhaus’s other developments, using standardized components makes mass production cheaper. MVRDV just tweaked those basic components to create a catalog of variations.
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