VILLAGE HOMES

A model of subdivision smart planning — Village Homes demonstrates how the addition of community amenities, a thoughtful block layout, and sustainable features can add value.

Conceived of and built just as smart design principals were being developed in the 70s, Village Homes has become a treasured part of Davis, California, and an inspirational case study for planners around the world.

instead of facing the street, houses face footpaths

footpaths weave between backyards

this subterranean house maintains a steady temp

rainwater swales instead of concrete gutters

seasonal shade for south-facing windows 

solar panels and edible landscaping

community gardens, offices and cafe

narrow, soft-shouldered streets reduce heat

community amenity — the Big Green park

rainwater swales instead of concrete gutters

seasonal shade for south-facing windows 

solar panels and edible landscaping

community gardens, offices and cafe

narrow, soft-shouldered streets reduce heat

community amenity — the Big Green park

Village Homes Smart Planning Features

 

community shared space 

open land: 

  • there are 23 acres of orchards, vineyards, greenbelts, common areas, and parks including ’the big green'  

  • and many pocket parks 

  • making Village Homes a popular destination to stroll for residents and Davis locals

 

shared amenities  

  • the solar heated pool

  • community center 

  • preschool

  • cafe

  • dance studio

  • offices and workshop spaces

an innovative subdivision layout     

the layout:

  • clustering homes on small lots

  • saves room for shared community amenities and open space

  • unfenced backyards connect to a network of walking paths

  • most homes face the shared green space and walking paths instead of the street creating a friendly, community-oriented neighborhood

sustainable features

swales

  • grading property to create streambed drainage 

  • allows rainwater to be absorbed — no cement gutters 

heat from the sun

  • enclosed greenhouse porches warm homes

  • planted arbors offer shade in the summer months, and light in the winter

  • solar panels and extra insulation keep homes at a steady temperature

  • solar panels heat the community center and pool

innovation:

  • subterranean design uses the same energy-efficient concept as traditional prairie homes

orientation:

  • streets trend east-west and lots are oriented north-south to make full use of the sun's energy.

less asphalt

  • streets are slender — less than 25' wide (with 30-foot side easements to meet requirements for emergency vehicles)

  • no parking on the streets, instead: off-street parking bays

  • short, curved streets = slow car speeds

  • less asphalt & tree planting keeps the area 10º-15º cooler in the summer 

edible landscaping & community orchards 

  • 26 types of fruit and nut trees and 2 grape vineyards are shared by residents

       and beautify the subdivision 

 

affordability — buyers/renters

  • inclusion of duplexes, triplexes and smaller house sizes kept development and purchase prices down 

  • there are 20 rent-controlled 'forever' apartments  

  • the swales provide one third of the water for landscape needs

  • orienting homes for sun saves 10% in heating costs annually

  • less asphalt and lots of trees keeps the neighborhood 10º -15º cooler in the summer

affordability — developers

  • Smart Planning techniques lowered development costs

  • the swale run-off system saved about $800 per household in construction costs (in 1975)

  • the slender street design and clustered homes saved land costs

  • the neighborhood plan saves space by giving each of the houses a modest private front yard, and clustering homes together on smaller sized lots

  • although houses and lot sizes are smaller, the shared amenities & green space give community residents a high quality of life

both a positive and negative result of developing a smart-planned subdivision: 

  • property values tend to rise faster. 

  • Village Homes is now the most desirable subdivision in Davis    

the stats & block plan

  • the principal designer was Mike Corbett — who along with a group of other architects and urban planners created the Ahwahnee Principles. (Some of the group were the original members of the Congress for New Urbanism.)

  • the crime rate in Village Homes is only 10% of the average for Davis

  • a much greater proportion of total acreage is shared than in most suburban developments. 25% in greenbelts and 15% in common areas

develop a Village Homes subdivision in your community

http://islandpress.org/book/designing-sustainable-communities

https://www.lgc.org/about/ahwahnee/

funding assistance

https://www.lgc.org/funding/