Levittown, NY is the home of white picket fences, trimmed, green lawns, and 2.5 children. No other place has set the tone of suburbia growth all over the country than this. That is why Dutch product designer Droog and architect Diller Scofidio + Renfro have created an ‘Open House’ (main website here) to encourage design inventiveness outside of the cities and in our suburbs.
David Glick from the Huff Post recently presented the project symposium that brought design teams from NYC to Levittown to design and document the ‘Open House’ charrette. On several city blocks, the idea of home based service economies were showcased. These ranged from: Casinos, a sign maker, a neighborhood dog sitter, drive-thru driveways, advice giver, full-time garage band rental and art galleries.
I found this to shed light on two important neighborhood dogmas. Every home functions only as a living quarter, and a suburbanite must hop in their car and drive to pick up dry cleaning, take their dog to a kennel, or watch a concert.
The collaborations produced may be unfeasible due to zoning, insurance and neighborhood welfare, but addressing them is half the battle if designers and citizens disagree with the laws and restrictions.
In a time when foreclosures are swallowing up neighborhood pride and leaving streets abandoned, it is ideas like these that can bring them back together toward ownership and community bonding.