Judges of Dwell and inhabitat’s Reburbia competition split the difference between fantasy and pragmatism in picking winners out of last week’s 20 finalists.
Grand prize went to “Frog’s Dream,” Calvin Chiu’s fanciful vision of abandoned McMansions converted into wetlands. Judge Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG readily acknowledged the plan was chosen not in spite of its surrealism, but because of it: “It’s poetic, not practical – and that’s exactly why this project is positive evidence of how we might really rethink suburbia,” he said.
But the jury’s second favorite was one of the only entries, out of 400, that was a policy proposal rather than a design proposal. “Entrepreneurbia: rezoning suburbia for self-sustaining life,” submitted by Urban Nature, F&S Design Studio and Silverlion Design, suggested changing zoning laws to allow small businesses to take root in suburbia. Judge Jill Fehrenbacher, founder of inhabitat, called it “clearly the most practical, cost-effective and energy-efficient proposal submitted to us, and therefore the one which has the biggest potential to effect real change.”
Coming in third was Forrest Fulton’s proposal for turning big box store parking lots into farms, and the winner of last week’s online “People’s Choice” contest — garnering 2300 votes — was Galina Tahchieva’s “Urban Sprawl Repair Kit,” which devised infill strategies for five common suburban building patterns.