Better Suburbs


Better Suburbs
Principal Investigator: Ann Forsyth
Collaborators: Katherine Crewe, Arizona State University


Better Suburbs


Dates of project


Beyond the core of every large urban area is a band of development called suburbs. For some decades I have been examining how to make suburban development better. My first book on suburbs, Constructing Suburbs (1999, Routledge/Gordon and Breach), looked at competing approaches evident in planning for suburban development in Australia in the 1990s. Its focus was on how issues of sustainability and urban growth were articulated and how tradeoffs were made about social and ecological goals. My next book, Reforming Suburbia (2005, University of California), used multiple methods to reassess three of the largest and most successful of the U.S new towns (“planned communities”) of the 1960s and 1970s planned as intentional alternatives to problems urban sprawl–social, aesthetic, economic, and environmental. These developments used many of the techniques currently evident in smart growth and new urbanist developments. A series of articles with Katherine Crewe extended this work to look at international examples of comprehensively planned neighborhoods, towns, and villages, designed to deal with the social, ecological, technological, and aesthetic challenges of urban growth.

Current work focuses on the challenges of suburbanization globally as suburbs are a key frontier in the quest for longer term sustainability at the global level with important implications for human and ecological health.

Selected Publications

Forthcoming, A. Forsyth. Defining Suburbs. Journal of Planning Literature.

2011    K. Crewe and A. Forsyth. Compactness and Connection in Environmental Design: Insights from Ecoburbs and Ecocities for Design with Nature. Environment and Planning B 38, 2: 267-288.

2010    A. Forsyth and K. Crewe. Suburban Technopoles as Places: The International Campus-Garden-Suburb Style. Urban Design International 15, 3: 165-182.

2009    A. Forsyth and K. Crewe. New Visions for Suburbia: Reassessing Aesthetics and Place-making in Modernism, Imageability, and New Urbanism. Journal of Urban Design 14, 4: 415-438. [Abstract]

2005    A. Forsyth. Reforming Suburbia: The Planned Communities of Irvine, Columbia, and The Woodlands. Berkeley: University of California Press

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