Urbanization today resembles a condition of infinite suburbia: peripheral urbanization that extends endlessly. Around the world, people are moving to cities not to inhabit their centers, but largely to suburbanize their peripheries. Thus, when the United Nations projects the number of future “urban” residents or researchers quantify the amount of land that will soon be “urbanized,” these figures largely reflect the unprecedented suburban expansion of global cities. By 2030, an estimated nearly half a million square miles (1.2 million square kilometers) of land worldwide will become urbanized, especially in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In the United States alone, an additional 85,000 square miles (220,000 square kilometers) of rural land will be urbanized between 2003 and 2030. Given that these figures represent rural to “urban” conversions, the reality is more likely to be rural to suburban conversion. The sheer magnitude of land conversion that is taking place, coupled with the fact that the majority of the world’s population already lives in suburbs, demands that new attention be given to a world of infinite suburbia.
In this light, the Infinite Suburbia publication project begun in the summer of 2014 to find the most recent, cutting-edge research on suburbia that point towards more productive futures. Through a literature search involving over 500 references, we invited over 50 authors to contribute to the publication who could make constructive arguments about a low-density future. Thus, the publication will be a groundbreaking tome on suburban issues, including but not limited to the following topics on suburban development: design, architecture, landscape and planning, history and demographics, social justice and familial trends, policy, energy, mobility, health, environment, economics, and applied and future technologies. Given the richness of themes represented in the book, the publication also features a radical organization of the content, abandoning the linear chapter-by-chapter setup of a conventional volume and instead exposing the complex interrelationships between suburban issues. In this way, the publication offers the skeletal formation of a new theory of suburban planning and design.
Infinite Suburbia will be available Spring 2017. Samples will be on view at the Spring 2016 conference.