Archive for the ‘New Urbanism’ category

Cars Teach a Lesson on New Urban Technologies


Last September, I blogged about the new Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid, which the Swedish automaker has labelled as the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid. It’s also roomy and has pull, speed and an estimated fuel consumption of 1.9 litres per 100 km.

Oh, not to mention it looks great.

Why do I refer to this four-month-old blog post?

Because I was reminded of it today as I read this cool article about how new satellite cities could draw energy from the sun, wind, and earth.

(Note that this solar city model is influenced by the principles of New Urbanism — the same ones that influenced Mason Homes communities such as Avonlea in Peterborough.)

Heathrow Airport is experimenting with a personal rapid transit (PRT) system that some experts believe will be integral to solar-powered cities of the future.

Does having a city that relies on alternative sources of energy sound like a far-fetched idea? It may. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Cars just like the one I mentioned above would’ve seem far-fetched not too long ago.

Yet it’s here. And we’ll all soon be able to buy it in North America.

Besides an increasing amount of international New Urbanism communities, we’re already seeing real-life applications of some of the principles discussed in the article.

They include solar energy, for example, as well as personal rapid transit (PRT), a system of “fully automated electric vehicles carrying two to six passengers that provides private, on-demand, nonstop service on a network of small, usually overhead guideways.”

So I wouldn’t be surprised to see satellite cities spring up, like the ones described in the article. Who knows — maybe Mason Homes will have communities in them.

Peterborough: a Great Town to Raise a Family


At Mason Homes we try to build great communities. This is why we rely on New Urbanism principles, ensuring our communities feature ample parks and plenty of local amenities nearby while emphasizing walkability.

Of course, how well these principles work depends on the town the community is located in.


Take Avonlea, our community in Peterborough. Besides building Green for Life homes and creating a community that won the Places to Grow award, we were happy that Avonlea residents can call Peterborough their hometown.

Peterborough, after all, is affordable, clean, and safe, located only one hour away from Toronto at the gateway to the Kawarthas and known for its natural beauty and quality of life.

Thanks to its diverse economy, quality health care, recreational opportunities, and an established school system, Peterborough has become the hub for east-central Ontario.

For testimonials on what it feels like to live here, consider this short essay, written by an 8th-grader who calls her hometown “a wonderful place to live.”

Or read through this one, penned by established writer Michelle Berry, where she has this to say:

Sometimes I feel as if I’m in a 1950s sitcom – Leave it To Beaver – the neighbours all calling back and forth across the street, coming over clutching snacks and wine, or coffee, joining me on my porch. It’s idyllic. (…) How is it possible that my eleven year old can play flashlight tag in the hot summer evenings until way past dark, running back and forth between people’s back yards (with their permission even!), or my 14 year old can hop the back fence to her friend’s house still wearing her pj’s late on a Saturday morning. Isn’t this 2011?

Doesn’t this sound like a fantastic place to raise your family?

Come check it out, and while you’re at it, drop by our Sales Office, located 1224 Chemong Rd. and open Mondays through Fridays from noon to 7 pm and on the weekends from 11 am to 6 pm.

You’ll hopefully see Avonlea and Peterborough form a natural fit.

Can New Urbanism Be Applied to the Interior of Homes?


We at Mason Homes believe in applying the principles of New Urbanism to our communities, not just because they help preserve the environment, but also because they make life more enjoyable and convenient for our homeowners, who now get to walk more, enjoy nature, and reduce car usage.

But why stop there? Having applied these principles to the communities themselves, wouldn’t it make sense to apply them to the homes’ interiors as well?

Life is easy at Port Hope Golf & Country Club.

Take our Port Hope Golf and Country Club community. Designed for active adults, this is already a green community, featuring Energy Star-qualified homes and located so that amenities are within easy walking distance.

More to the point, it’s also a community whose homes are designed with ease of movement in mind. Consider their optional features that are part of our accessibility options program:

  • Wider door openings and hallways
  • Right-height raised toilets
  • Easy-opening lever handles for doors and faucets
  • Lowered light switches and upper cabinets
  • Anti-slip bathtub in the ensuite bathroom
  • Easy-reach grab bars in bathrooms
  • Accessible spaces

Thanks to these features, Port Hope Golf and Country Club homeowners can rest assured life in their homes will be effortless.  And all it took was for design to place people first and foremost — much like New Urbanism does.

New Urbanism Gains Terrain

New Town, St. Charles, MO: More New Urbanism

Coming soon to a place nearby?

There was a time, not too long ago, when New Urbanism principles seemed radical.

(Never mind that for thousands of years cities were designed according to similar principles, which are: emphasized walkability with a focus on pedestrians, tree-lined streets, and narrow roads, among others.)

Not surprisingly, people who live in communities designed according to these principles report they enjoy it very much. For that reason, and because New Urbanism is environmentally-friendly, we at Mason Homes do our best to build communities that meet these requisites, having even won a major award for it.

What may seem surprising is a worldwide surge in New Urbanism communities. Take two places as seemingly different as Texas and Saudi Arabia.

You wouldn’t expect them to have much in common (and they probably don’t), yet the small town of Bandera, self-dubbed the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” boasts of being the prototype of New Urbanism, while in Saudi Arabia much is made about the King Abdullah Financial District, a “kind of modern Paris with canals and water transport, focusing on passive design” where “water, greenery and building merge together in a sensible master plan.”

In fact, the Wikipedia entry on New Urbanism lists communities in England, Belize, France, Sweden, Bhutan, Belgium, Italy, and South Africa.

While on the surface this doesn’t mean much for the average local homebuyer, I take pleasure in imagining a future where more and more communities will follow New Urbanism ideals, whether they market themselves as such or not.

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