I took this video at a stop along the way to CNU-18 in Atlanta last month. This is Selborne Village, in the Serenbe Development located near Palmetto Georgia.
Serenbe is a conservation development, where a very large parcel of land (400+ acres) was largely preserved in its natural state through the development of tiny villages which take up only a small portion of the site. Clustering the development in this way allows for some interesting things to happen, which I think you can see pretty well in the video below.
When you enter one of the Serenbe Villages, you’re progressing through the transect from T-2 (agricultural/rural) through T-3 (suburban) to T-4 (general urban) in rapid succession. The effect is almost magical.
You feel like you’re out in the middle of nowhere (which is true), and then you catch a glimpse of a settlement, and then you come around the corner and there’s a village center! It’s a very interesting experience, really hard to explain.
The beauty of this development is that it demonstrates two things:
I understand the attraction that rural living, with a high level of access to nature, holds for many people. The problem is, our technology allows us to collectively over-consume the rural environment, moving so many people out on small parcels that the agricultural value and ‘wilderness’ value is lost. This is especially hard on people who live farther in the city, as their access to nature is greatly reduced.
The great thing about Serenbe is that it actually is more profitable for the land owner than chopping his 400 acres into 10 acre “ranchettes” would have been. The developer is selling far more units at much higher values per square foot – but each of the units in this compact development is purchasing a share of the preserved common natural space. So, move to Serenbe and you get unlimited access to 300+ acres of stunning natural land, featuring a mix of woods, meadows, and sparkling clean creeks.
Affordability is maintained through the provision of a large number of small cottages, row houses, and condominiums. These units are perfect for people who live and work in the City, but want to be able to own a weekend home in a pristine natural setting.
This concept (dubbed “New Ruralism” by it’s designer, Dr. Phil Tabb), along with the emerging idea of “Agricultural Urbanism“, are providing us with some truly elegant solutions to the social, environmental, and economic challenges of meeting the demand for ‘country’ living and stable food production near our major cities. Most importantly, this is highly-profitable for the land owner, which means you’re not asking anyone to sacrifice for the “greater good” when you promote these ideas.
I hope you all enjoy the video, and I’d love for you to take a look at Serenbe and some of the Agricultural Urbanism concepts. Comments are always welcome, of course.