TED TALK: Christopher Gielen’s Images of Sprawl

By on November 15, 2010.

Original impetus for article at The Dirt

Skye Isle Florida

At the TED Mid Atlantic conference this year, German photographer Christopher Gielen presented telling images indicative of American sprawl. The pictures are startling, but nothing new to us residents of suburban Florida. It seems that the more space there is without geographic obstructions, the more packed our development becomes. Even when such obstructions exist, engineers will find a way for development to occur (see the Skye Island Florida pic above).

Deer Crest California

From The Dirt, “To find his sites, Gielen first examined statistical databases and honed in on areas with the highest foreclosure rates, which he said indicate where the most unsustainable development is. In Houston, he found perfect web-like networks of prefabricated houses with trees exactly in the same place. One community in Nevada (see image above) is “so perfect” incoming aircraft use it as a marker on their way to the airport. As for the community, “it’s sold as active living, but it’s isolated in the middle of the Nevada desert. It’s a prison of our own making. People are really inside their cars or homes watching TV.””

Housing Subdivision Arizona

Housing Subdivision Nevada 1

Housing Subdivision Nevada 2

Sterling Ridge Florida

Photos via Sustainable Cities Collective


Benjamin Boyd is a student of landscape architecture at the University of Florida. He is the editor for Landscape Invocation and aspires to practice in the DC area upon graduation.

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