The Village Homes community in Davis, California was designed by wife/husband team of Judy and Michael Corbett (and was heavily influenced by Ebenezer Howard's "Garden City" proposals, as well as the "greenbelt" communities in Maryland). Its keyword is "sustainable design"----that is, designing the community in such a way that it does not damage the environment, or consume nonrenewable resources. Begun in 1972, houses and apartments in this "garden village" are built to conserve energy and to utilize solar technology where possible, promote natural drainage of rainfall, have large open spaces for residents, feature "edible landscapes" (foliage such as fruit that can be picked for free by residents), and a sense of "community" promoted by the large number of public projects (such as building a playground for children).
Architect and professor Mark Francis has written this brief, but attractively-illustrated 2003 book to explain the community. This is more of a "serious" book about architecture than other books (e.g., the Corbetts' own Designing Sustainable Communities: Learning From Village Homes), with chapters such as, "Design, Development, and Decision-Making," "Designing and Planning Concepts," "Constructive Criticism, Practical Problems," etc.
Francis states, "Village Homes ... proves that open space oriented development can be effective in creating a sense of community, reducing energy use, and fostering environment values. It is especially useful as an example of sustainable landscape architecture."
Francis cites a study of Village Homes and its residents, "Village Homes was comprised of a greater number of young families and what he called 'special interest groups,' such as students and senior citizens. He also found that the people who rated their social lives the highest tended to be Food Co-op members and community gardeners, while people who were not part of these groups socialized, recycled, and gardened less and rated the neighborhood lower on most dimensions. Lenz concludes that it is a combination of the unique values of the residents and the provision of places that bring people together that make the community more social."
He also observes, "An influential developer visiting Village Homes noted that 'It looked like a slum,' in reaction to the somewhat unkempt landscape. Most developed communities adopt a manicured approach to their landscape and reinforce this through strict regulations requiring a high degree of maintenance. Village Homes took a different approach where natural aesthetic is more highly valued."
Sadly, Francis notes, "Despite its success and fame, Village Homes has not been replicated as a whole. While many of its features, such as open channel drainage and passive solar house design, have become more standard practice in community design, its holistic approach has not been more widely adopted. This raises the question of the barriers that prevent innovative community design from being more widely implemented."
This book will be of high interest to those interested in intentional communities, ecovillages, garden cities, new towns, the New Urbanism, and similar topics.