The Power of Good Design
Building houses and community with New Urbanism
Synopsis: The first installment of the Fine Homebuilding House: Kentucky 2019 build introduces the Norton Commons development in Louisville, Kentucky, a mixed-use community designed with the principals of New Urbanism. The article addresses the town plan, including specifications for ground-source heat pumps and the pattern-book design bible for each Norton Commons home, as well as the specific framing details of the Fine Homebuilding House.
The 2019 Fine Homebuilding House is part of a planned New Urbanism community outside Louisville, Kentucky, called Norton Commons. A central theme of the three previous FHB Houses was the high-performance details that help them achieve net-zero energy. With the Kentucky house, we’ll be focused on the importance of design—both the urban planning of the Norton Commons development and the design choices for the house.
An antidote to sprawl
In the early 1990s, a Louisville family was looking to sell 600 acres of land that had been an educational farm. Concerned about the farm’s progressive legacy, they were particular about potential buyers. They wanted a better development model than the sprawl of repetitive houses on dead-end streets far removed from retail spaces, which, by zoning custom, were plopped together like an asphalt island miles from the residential areas.
The landowners ended up partnering with a pair of developers enamored with New Urbanism, a design movement that combats urban sprawl by breaking down typical segregated zoning for residential and commercial spaces and creating walkable communities. The developers were committed to bringing Andrés Duany on board to create the town plan. About 15 years earlier, Duany’s firm, Duany Plater-Zyberk, had introduced New Urbanism ideas to Seaside, Florida. Also called a Traditional Neighborhood Development, Seaside struck a chord with people for the quality and human scale of its architecture.
From Fine Homebuilding #283
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