polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Stories of Suburbs

by Andrew Wade

Music, film, and (sub)urbanism are set to collide next week in screenings of the short film Scenes from the Suburbs - a collaboration between Arcade Fire and Spike Jonze, which will run from 12-18 February at the Berlinale.

While the film, like the album, will re-present the isolation and longing of suburban life in a nostalgic and exquisitely rendered piece of art, designers are concurrently re-imagining the future meaning and spatial uses of suburbia.  Both the physical remnants of suburban infrastructure as well as the lives that depend on them must adapt to a more sustainable model of peri-urban life in order to transcend the iconography of 'Suburbs' from the mid-to-late 20th century.

In a way of circumventing the arguments of 'more density v. less density', one can instead concentrate on the creation of responsive densities - landscapes that recalibrate previously established planning models for new uses and lifestyles, as suggested in 'Retrofitting Suburbia'.  What will the next generation's 'Scenes from the Suburbs' tell us?

Credits: Image from Arcade Fire