I loved this Atlantic piece about “pocket neighborhoods”, though the suburbs weren’t the application that first came to mind. This design philosophy appears perfect for those “blighty” neighborhoods I see in town, just off the core. They’re often convenient locations that become marginal because of a dodgy block or a rundown house (or three).
Unfortunately, most of our redevelopment arsenal destroys the village in order to save it. I’m not just talking about old-school urban renewal with its high-rise projects and sterile plazas. The mixed-use redevelopment now in vogue tends to a gigantism that overwhelms the character of the surviving neighborhood, even if there’s a nod to affordability in the planning. On the other hand, single home approaches — think Habitat for Humanity — can fix a house or two. However, they can stick out like a crude cap on a broken tooth.
Pocket neighborhoods are an intriguing response to this challenge. They have enough scale to completely repair parts of bad blocks – like a well-fitted crown replaces a bad tooth — while connecting to the still-vibrant villages beside them. If well done, they also don’t scream “I’m poorly-built affordable housing”!