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Special Issue "Sustaining Suburbia: Reassessing the Policies, Systems, and Form of Decentralized Growth"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2017

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Mr. Ian Caine

University of Texas at San Antonio
Website | E-Mail
Interests: suburban form; suburban growth; urban design; New Suburbanism; sprawl; housing
Guest Editor
Dr. Rebecca Walter

Assistant Professor of Real Estate, College of Built Environments, University of Washington, 424 Gould Hall, Room 317, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: assisted housing; residential segregation; geography of inequality and opportunity

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The impulse to decentralize has always existed as a logical response to the limitations of the spatially contained city. Historically, it fueled the creation of suburbs, which in turn provided an invaluable mechanism to accommodate people and programs that did not fit conveniently within the enclosed city. Suburbs appear across a range of cultures, spanning the ancient cities of Ur and Babylon, classical Rome, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century London, and nineteenth-century New York [1]. During the second half of the twentieth century, the cumulative impact of the automobile catalyzed an unprecedented dispersion of population away from historical urban centers and towards the suburban periphery. This trend, seen most acutely in the United States, provoked a spirited and sustained critique that begins with Lewis Mumford and endures today in the wide-ranging efforts of the Congress of New Urbanism. This robust discourse, which focuses on the well-established shortcomings of post-war suburbs, has nonetheless done little to stem the continued proliferation of these environments throughout the world.

Recently, a series of counter-narratives have emerged from a variety of sources that include authors Joel Kotkin, Robert Bruegmann and architect Judith De Jong. These arguments, which might be broadly grouped under the rubric of “New Suburbanism”, are united by two characteristics: First, a rejection of the premise that suburban processes are inherently problematic; and second, a willingness to engage suburban models as a legitimate and even desirable strategy for growth.

This Special Issue seeks to advance the evolving suburban discourse by addressing two fundamental questions:

  1. To what extent are the policies, systems and forms of suburban development sustainable? The term sustainable in this context is understood to mean the effective and long-term maintenance of environmental, spatial, financial and social systems.
  2. If we assume that suburban processes and forms will continue to proliferate, what critical interventions or evolutions will be required to ensure that they develop on a sustainable trajectory?

The Special Issue invites submissions that address one or both of these questions, either directly or indirectly, while pursuing one or more of the following topics:

  • Policy. The Special Issue will explore political structures that facilitate the process of suburbanization. Relevant inquiries might concentrate on the local scale, examining issues like zoning regulations or development practices; at the regional scale, exploring topics such as transportation or environmental policy; or at the national scale, investigating federal instruments that drive the production of suburbia such as housing or banking regulations.
  • Systems. The Special Issue will explore the larger networks within which the production of suburban fabric occurs. Potential topics could include ecological, infrastructural, financial or social systems.
  • Form. The Special Issue will examine the three-dimensional realization of suburban fabric. Relevant topics here are broad and might include shifting street and block patterns, emerging housing typologies, architectural strategies for infill development, or the changing spatial character of civic life.

The editors specifically welcome submissions that advance new theoretical frameworks, test innovative research methodologies, and develop empirical case-studies.

Endnotes

[1] Bruegmann, R. Sprawl: A Compact History; University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL, USA, 2005.

Mr. Ian Caine
Dr. Rebecca Walter
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Suburbs
  • suburban growth
  • metropolitan growth
  • New Suburbanism
  • sprawl

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Becoming Urban: Exploring the Transformative Capacity for a Suburban-to-Urban Transition in Australia’s Low-Density Cities
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1718; doi:10.3390/su9101718
Received: 28 July 2017 / Revised: 18 September 2017 / Accepted: 21 September 2017 / Published: 25 September 2017
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Abstract
Metropolitan planning and development of Australia’s cities for much of the past 75 years has been strongly influenced by what could be termed the “North American model” of low-density, car-dependent suburban development on greenfield master-planned housing estates. The negative social, economic and environmental
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Metropolitan planning and development of Australia’s cities for much of the past 75 years has been strongly influenced by what could be termed the “North American model” of low-density, car-dependent suburban development on greenfield master-planned housing estates. The negative social, economic and environmental consequences associated with perpetuating this low-density greenfield model were becoming evident by the 1990s and “compact city” policies began to feature, albeit in piecemeal fashion, in the long-term metropolitan planning strategies of the major capital cities in Australia. This compact city transition, from “suburban” to “urban” (i.e., from a low-density urban form dominated by detached housing with its own surrounding private space to one where there is a significant presence of medium-density and apartment accommodation), remains a challenging work in progress, as reflected in a rapid succession of metropolitan planning strategies—and reviews—for cities such as Melbourne and Sydney since the beginning of this century. Urban infill targets of 70% for new housing construction in these cities now represents a major break with the past and a challenge to the major stakeholders involved in urban development in Australia: state and local government, the property development industry and residents of the established, ageing “greyfield” suburbs that are a focus for intensified redevelopment. This paper comprises four parts. The introduction identifies the multiple challenges confronting 21st-century urban development in Australia. The second part frames transitions required for a regenerative retrofitting of the established suburbs of its major cities, with particular focus on the greyfields. The third section extends transition management research into an examination of the transformative capacity of each of the four key stakeholder groups that are central to achieving such a regenerative transition. To date, the greatest resistance to more intensive redevelopment has come from urban residents. The final section of the paper focuses on this stakeholder group, and draws on data from a major household survey that examines the attitudes of resident property owners in the middle suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne to neighborhood change and medium-density housing development. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle San Antonio 360: The Rise and Decline of the Concentric City 1890–2010
Sustainability 2017, 9(4), 649; doi:10.3390/su9040649
Received: 22 February 2017 / Revised: 4 April 2017 / Accepted: 12 April 2017 / Published: 19 April 2017
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Abstract
This paper catalogs the suburban expansion of San Antonio, Texas by decade between the years 1890 and 2009, a time frame that saw the city reorganize its morphological structure four times. The city inhabited a 36-square mile grid until the late nineteenth century;
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This paper catalogs the suburban expansion of San Antonio, Texas by decade between the years 1890 and 2009, a time frame that saw the city reorganize its morphological structure four times. The city inhabited a 36-square mile grid until the late nineteenth century; expanded radially along streetcar lines during the early twentieth century; grew concentrically along automotive ring roads during the mid-twentieth century; and has assumed a polycentric organization within the past two decades. This research places San Antonio’s recent demographic and geographic boom into historical perspective, utilizing construction completions in host Bexar County to answer the following question: how did the form, location, and type of suburban growth shift over 120 years? The research reveals three trends: first, that historically concentric growth patterns began to assume a polycentric configuration in the late twentieth century; second, that patterns of centrifugal expansion began to accelerate dramatically during the same time period; and third, that the relative increase of multifamily completions has surpassed that of single-family completions in five of the last six decades. These findings suggest that the City of San Antonio, in order to establish a sustainable growth model, must prioritize the opportunities and constraints associated with polycentric suburban expansion. Full article
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