Urban sprawl has blurred the distinction between the natural and the cultural environment, destroying nature and resulting in massive amounts of air pollution. Instead of spreading ourselves thin across the landscape, we should build compact villages as they did years ago — fostering cooperative living, with stores, schools and other amenities within walking distance. A community such as Ecoville — a proposed town of 4,000 people — would counteract urban sprawl by providing a more compact and culturally rich place in which to live.
Ecoville is designed for a large parcel of land owned by an electric utility company, on which they planned to build a nuclear power plant. I met with my students at the site on many occasions in peaceful demonstrations against their proposal. Ecoville is an economically beneficial alternative to a power plant, generating food, energy and employment. Furthermore, it offers a design in which the community is serviced by technology, not dominated by it.
Ecoville is an attractive, pedestrian-based community. Housing is a three dimensional structural grid in which dwellings are infilled, forming an interconnected linear complex. At either end of the complex is a terminal, or transportation depot, where all pollution-producing vehicles are parked. People will bicycle, use electric or methane-powered carts, or walk along a glass-covered pedestrian street connecting all buildings.
The community wraps around the southern base of two hills which protect people and the buildings from cold winter winds. Windmills on top of the hills are used to produce and store much of the electricity required by the community. Photovoltaic panels also provide electric energy. Between the community and the hills there is a public park for recreation and sports. On the south side are several hundred acres of community farms and private gardens which provide residents with most of their food. The roof of the entire housing structure — a living roof — is to be used for walking, sitting, jogging, drying clothes and growing vegetables.