Architecture, building, and community are extremely underrated when it comes to health. The most attractive and sought-after areas are ironically usually the oldest neighborhoods because of the way they’re built. When Seaside in Florida was built, they basically used the older model for town development. The areas of Atlanta that are most like this are the areas around Decatur, Virginia Highland, Inman Park and some other older neighborhoods. As a result these are the areas most pleasant to walk in. I enjoy driving off of the interstates and visiting small towns across the south, and I’m always thinking how much like Seaside most of them are built. Georgia in particular, because it has 159 counties, has the infrastructure for countless attractive cities built around town squares. There are so many picturesque courthouses in this state, it’s amazing. I hope the trend away from sprawl, and self-defeating and unsustainably expensive building practices keeps trending towards places like Seaside. It could help with addictions, depression, obesity, crime, isolation, even mass shootings. I hope we start buildings communities, not just houses.
From the linked article below:
12 ways Seaside (Florida) changed history
- Walkability: Seaside stands as one of the first newly-built communities since the 1920s to accommodate pedestrians—thanks to traffic calming, small lot sizes and shared-space streets where people on foot, bike and cars co-exist.
- Mixed-use development: A fresh approach to urban planning which recognizes that a healthy mix of live/work/play activities enlivens a community.
- New Urbanism: An design movement restoring key urban features like street life, local businesses and neighborly gathering spots to modern life.
- Compact communities: The realization that living close to shopping, services, recreation and your neighbors fosters lively social connections as well as saving time, money and stress.
- Traditional neighborhood design: The resurrection of enduring design elements that define the character of places we love from Santa Fe to New England villages, but which were outlawed under most 20th Century zoning codes.
- Urban village: Boosting everyone’s sense of community and personal ease with a town center where people can meet most everyday needs within a 5- to 15- minute stroll.
- Traditional affordable housing: A revival of overlooked practices that sprinkle lower-income homes into neighborhoods, including small houses, apartments tucked above shops, and backyard granny flats (also known as accessory dwelling units, or ADUs.)
- Natural sustainable landscaping: Instead of planting yards with grass, using native plants that require minimal water and provide shade that keeps houses cooler (also known as xeriscapes).
- Public space and commons: Setting aside natural or community amenities to be enjoyed together rather than hidden behind someone’s backyard fence—a trademark of great 19th Century designers but largely forgotten until recently.
- Form-based codes: A 21st Century approach to zoning that ensures safe, stable communities but also fosters the essential ingredients for vibrant place—flexibility and evolution—by paying attention to the physical characteristics of buildings, not just how they will be used.
- Incremental development: Building a new community a few blocks at a time—rather than all at once—which opens opportunities to improve and refine plans based on real-lived experience.
- A town, not a development: The Florida real estate industry was shocked when Seaside developer Robert Davis gambled on creating an entire beachfront community, not just a strip of condos on the water.