Suburbia is the expired perception of the American dream; it is shaped by the desire for land, green space, privacy, and safety. Whereas, the metropolis is shaped by economics, business, culture, and the exchange of ideas. These different environments create separate lifestyles that seldom overlap. Dense urban centers are naturally more sustainable than a low density suburb as they consume less energy, are less dependent on automobiles, have greater access to economic opportunities, and have more cultural amenities. With future population growth, communities must respond to the increasing housing demand. In the United States, metropolitan growth does not increase density, it increases sprawl. Why does the U.S. expand through sprawl? Land ownership, privacy, and refuge are the driving cultural values that encourage sprawl and contribute to the “American” fear of density. The fear that giving up land ownership takes away one’s independence, individuality, and control. Contemporary forms of density do not acknowledge these ingrained cultural values. Failing to recognize these values will lead to indefinite sprawl.
Suburban Swell reacts to fears of density by using the lifestyle of the suburbs as a framework for a new vertical morphology of density that embraces light, community, land ownership, individuality, and the American dream. Suburban Swell is based on the form of the cul-de-sac, an urban form that is ubiquitous in American suburbs.
Suburban Swell is a structure designed to be built above any cul-de-sac; it vertically extends the cul-de-sac, transforming any given neighborhood into a denser and more urban version of itself. As such, removing the necessity of the automobile, and encouraging the use of alternate modes of transportation. The intimacy, community, and green-space found in a cul-de-sac is preserved, while the density is increased.
Suburban Swell does not provide a finished living space; instead, it provides a base for a vertical neighborhood. There are unbuilt plots of land, where each person can build to suit their needs and preferences. With this land ownership, the ideas of the American dream are not lost but rather embraced. There is still a backyard, there is still a place for the children to play, there is still the single family home. If architecture integrates density and the American dream, density is no longer scary. If density becomes desirable suburban sprawl can be eliminated.