A student group from the University of Idaho shared with us their proposal, titled ‘Coeur d ‘Alene After the Reign,’ for the Living City 2035 Challenge competitionwhich won the ‘Can Do It’ Award (third place). Their proposal endeavors to imagine the impact of even a modest increase in the cost of fuel and the repercussions it might have on our built environment and the way we live within it.
Design Team : Students from University of Idaho
World oil production peaked in 2010. Given current figures for population growth and industrialization of third world countries, it seems demand for oil will continue to increase and the supply will continue to decrease. As the distance between demand and supply grows wider, cost will inevitably go higher.
Coeur d’ Alene, ID is automobile dependent and relies upon imported products to sustain its current population. What impact would $7 gas have on this oil invested community? We imagine two important transformations 1.) It becomes no longer cost effective to commute from the suburbs. 2.) Coeur d‘ Alene has enough assets to encourage many of its current inhabitants to continue living there, even if it requires some change to their current lifestyle.
Human beings are resilient. For example if oil were no longer available, we believe people would discover new ways to live without it, transforming their lives and environment. This transformation would be aided by the potential for cooperative efforts within the community. Specifically, by readapting and reusing the existing, suburban space and materials, adapting houses, garages and yards into multi-family housing, businesses, industry, and agriculture, people might be able to provide resources to satisfy personal needs while supplementing income, cultivating a prosperous community, and transitioning into a sustainable lifestyle. Here a focus on local production and trade limits the dependence on imported currencies and supplies, and eases the loss of oil as the primary engine of our society.
The ‘community’ of the suburbs learns to solve problems of the suburb. In this way a new suburb emerges, one that is a dynamic, complex, and livable community, one that could never be planned or controlled.