Designing a Community from the Ground Up

Harmonious is a proof-of-concept virtual community.  Every detail was carefully considered for its aesthetic value as well as efficiency—that is, both form and function are of great importance in community development.

Harmonious is a virtual Midwestern community based on my own insights and explorations.  Having visited and lived in many different places, I have observed the best and worst of city planning.  I have been amazed by walkable communities replete with gorgeous planting strips and shaded benches.  I have been frustrated by “organic” street layout and the resultant confusion and chronic traffic congestion.  I have enjoyed hours spent wandering within the tiny shops of dense yet well-kept retail districts.  I have poked my tongue at the grotesque exposure of infrastructure—from sagging power lines to dank alleyways to the stench of sewage.

Harmonious is my vision for combating these problems, as well as many others.  It is the community in which I want to live.  Though I offer no direct advice on how we might eliminate the problems and eyesores found in cities which already exist, the creative may come away with some ideas on improving his own community.

Harmonious centers around the concept of the single-family dwelling. Homes radiate from commercial districts which are within walking distance, creating the different neighborhoods. These centralized commercial districts are mixed-use areas which also house a very limited number of apartments, adjoining townhouses, and/or condominiums. Schools and other community services are located within each neighborhood, excepting some centrally-located specialized offices (e.g., City Hall). As stated within the town charter and supported via local ordinances, no area within the Harmonious city limits may ever be zoned for industrial use; a few exceptions for manufacturing are allowed with applicable permit.

Harmonious has been generated from my own thoughts and preferences. City and community planning has long been an interest of mine; initial planning for this project, in fact, has been more than twenty years in the making.  As with all my other endeavors, I decided to just dive in and design, gaining my education on the subject independently as the journey progresses.

After working on these ideas for more than a decade, I stumbled across ideologies that are strikingly similar to what I came to independently: so-called Neo-Traditionalism and New Urbanism. Many who currently define and advocate for these reformist movements are simply brilliant in their analysis of our current communities and construction of this new (old world?) paradigm. There are many towns and cities in development or undergoing redevelopment mindful of these principles, especially within the United States and western Europe.