The Promise of Small Cities: Connecting Urban Residents with the Environment and Their Community in Portland, Maine

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As modern American society has progressed, the need to live less expansively, more conscientiously, and more sustainably has become increasingly clear. Meanwhile, reliance on technology has driven urban residents to become further distanced from the environment, and further dissociated from their communities and local cultural traditions. Over the last 50 years, those interested in maintaining and fostering connections to the outdoors and a specific community have largely sought fulfillment in the suburban landscape. While, in recent decades, it has been recognized that the suburban residential model cannot be sustained, urban housing remains deficient. In order to acknowledge both the value of urban living and the potential for learning from the appeal of suburbia, it is incumbent upon designers to explore housing and amenities that better address the needs of the 21st century multi-family resident. This thesis aims to restore situational awareness of climate, community, and cultural traditions, by marrying opportunities for building community with higher density residences that have a strong emphasis on outdoor spaces.