Sol, the Sustainable Community

Sol, the Sustainable Community

Adrienne Breaux
Jul 8, 2009

A column from the New York Times that originally ran a few months back hit on a subject that will no doubt be a talking point for some time to come: the suburb. Debating the relevance of suburbs and how they might be "saved" from their decline, we paid special attention to an example of one of the newer breeds of housing developments looking to completely rewrite the idea of the suburb that happens to be designed by an Austin architecture firm...

KRDB has come up with Sol, which stands for solution-oriented living. They're claiming it to be the "first net-zero energy neighborhood of its kind". Consisting of 38 lots, these small yet efficient one and two bedroom homes are designed to produce more energy than they consume. Sol will feature lots of aesthetic ideas to set it apart from the usual cookie cutter suburb look (like varied setbacks and gorgeous modern designs). But perhaps most importantly, Sol doesn't consider itself a suburb at all, and for reasons that many would enjoy: it's only two miles from downtown Austin, one block to a bus stop and within walking distance to an elementary, middle and high school. While many suburbs are on the outskirts of a city, Sol is right in the middle of a thriving community.

According to architect Chris Krager, Sol will feature small lot zoning, with only 8 units per acre and a great pocket park in the center. Houses will be small (like from 930-1800sf) and even 40% of the project is set aside for affordable housing organized in conjunction with a local non-profit. Those houses not slated for affordable housing projects will still sell at a reasonable range between $217K-$345K (and those prices include all the fabulous sustainable features like PV arrays, geothermal HVAC and more). We're particularly fans of the fact that all the houses are designed to "engage the street" with front porches, balconies and quality outdoor space.

What do you think about Sol? Would you live in a home in this neighborhood? What's your opinion of the suburb? Are you a city dweller or do you live in a suburb right now? Let us know!

(Images: KRDB and Casey Dunn)

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