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Mitchell Joachim is a Co-Founder at Terrefuge and Terreform ONE. Currently he is faculty at Columbia University and Parsons. Formerly an architect at Gehry Partners, and Pei Cobb Freed. He[…]

Mitchell Joachim describes the ‘non-future’ of suburban sprawl and the need to rethink mobility in America: to uplift future-less locales and place them along moving, smart, renewable grids.

Question: What is the Future of Suburbia?

Mitchell Joachim: So if you think about the future of suburbia, there is no future. Sprawl is kind of a failed pattern so we don’t want to throw good money after bad. We want to rethink the future of America’s infrastructure alongside its existing arteries of mobility, its existing highways, for instance. Alongside the interstates there is ample opportunity to fit out these interstates with new types of renewable technologies.

Things like geothermal, algae energy systems, solar based systems and certainly wind turbine systems, etcetera. If we were to move along those existing arteries we could easily retool our infrastructure; make it smarter and renewable. And one of the things, in our opinion at Terreform 1form, we don’t actually want the suburbs to continue. We’d rather see them just rot or kind of return to nature. And a few of those elements could be kind of preserved in some fashion and become mobile.

America has always been a country on wheels. So one of our propositions and it’s forcibly out there and it’s awfully provocative, is to pick up some of those suburbs, some of those houses in the suburbs, put them on some kind of a movement device, anything possible, it doesn’t matter, a tractor, a low bed, a combine, and place it along side America’s highways, which would be expanded, getting slightly larger. And you’d dwell on the fly. Everyday you’d be moving, kind of like a new kind of trailer park I guess, between city core to city core. You could stay in one place alongside these highways and stay there for six months when the weather’s nice and then go to Florida if it gets too cold. And you move at 13 miles an hour or 30 miles an hour but you move very slowly. But you never have to be permanently in one location.

The idea here is that you are right next to this smart infrastructure. You’re right next to this food production zone, this energy production zone and your refuse zone. So the suburbs kind of become a line. A kind of linear city that attaches itself kind of like two ends to a barbell to these city centers that already exist. So that’s our reconception of the suburbs, is put America on wheels and connect them to a smart and renewable grid.

Recorded on: September 11, 2009