A Village Takes Shape Near Atlanta

Serenbe is a new master-planned community outside of Atlanta that is creating a new model for placemaking in the U.S., taking its form from English villages and working within the natural environment.
May 31, 2009, 1pm PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Master-planned by architect Phillip Tabb, AIA, who teaches architecture at Texas A&M University, Serenbe has a distinctive layout that achieves sustainable density while keeping nature in close proximity. The community contains about 125,000 acres, but only 20 percent of this land is to be developed as small hamlets (a total of four) that combine living and working. The scheme calls for a total of about 850 homes and several thousand residents. Right now, only one hamlet is completed, Selborne, with approximately 160 residents.

The Serenbe hamlets take their compact form from traditional English villages, Tabb explains-that of a linear spatial form following a road, with a nucleus at the center. You can see the distinctive pattern in Serenbe's layout, where four hamlets blossom at the apex of roads that appear to meander through the countryside. The serpentine roads might seem picturesque, but they have a sustainable purpose. In each hamlet, the road helps to define and buffer a central green area, usually fed by a stream or containing wetlands, that extends deep into the hamlet. House lots follow the horseshoe-shaped road, with larger lots at the ends of the horseshoe, while at the center the lots are smaller and denser. In a small amount of space the hamlets derive great spatial diversity and density (from one-and-a-half units per acre up to 20 per acre). Another advantage is that the lots back onto green space. "The curvilinear form creates and protects a central portion of the natural landscape," Tabb points out, open space designed to provide for recreation, organic farming, and scenic beauty. Open land is also used for wastewater and purification systems. Treated effluent water is then used for irrigation and toilets."

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Published on Friday, May 29, 2009 in AIArchitect
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