2017 April Blog
Designing A Place Called Home, Reordering the Suburbs (2017) by James Wentling
This new edition by residential architect James Wentling should be part of every architecture and urban planning school’s library. Professional architects, builders, designers and students have much to learn from Wentling’s knowledge and experience both of historical and regional house builder and community development trends across United States.
The author’s detail and illustrations of detached dwelling lot patterns, floor plans, building interiors, and building exteriors provide both the good and the bad examples of housing in various parts of this country. Specific sketches of variations on these details illustrate his critiques and recommendations for clarification.
Special chapters on low-rise multi-family housing of various types as well as manufactured housing provide current improvements to both of these housing types which add to their external appeal as well as efficient interior plans.
Arguably the best chapter for long-timers in this business is the well-researched “Toward More Sustainable Homes and Communities.” Wentling summarizes recent additions to the improvement of the house building business, with succinct summaries of the many organizations promoting “green building” and “net zero energy” dwellings, with particular attention to the increasing popularity of solar homes and sustainable suburbs. He also covers the recent growing interest in small homes for efficient living.
The author’s concluding chapter presents a strong argument for improving land use regulations as a direct means of reducing the cost of new housing, an important message for local officials responsible for the shape of new community development. Wentling compresses all of this valuable insight and graphics into only 242 pages of text, plus a lengthy bibliography on other books on residential design. I recommend it to everyone involved in the housing industry.