Title page for ETD etd-042199-180313

Type of Document Major Paper
Author Winter, Laura L
Author's Email Address lwinter@vt.edu
URN etd-042199-180313
Title Designing a Sense of Community: The Use of Neo-Traditional Design Elements in Public Housing
Degree Master of Arts
Department Urban Affairs and Planning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Koebel, Charles Theodore Committee Chair
Richardson, Jesse J. Committee Member
Zahm, Diane L. Committee Member
  • public housing
  • community
  • design
  • neo-traditional
Date of Defense 1999-04-08
Availability unrestricted

This paper will address the question of whether neo-traditional design elements can

promote a sense of community in low income or public housing neighborhoods. To

answer this question, I will first provide a brief history of public housing and its design,

describing the main architectural styles used over the years and their relation to sense of

community (or lack thereof). I will then examine the current meanings associated with

community and the possible implications for using design elements to aid in fostering a

sense of community for public housing residents. I will next explore the basic tenants

underlying the theory of neo-traditional design elements and how these design elements

can assist in the community building process. I will then apply these neo-traditional

design elements to a prototype neighborhood for public and low-income housing

residents in order to understand how these design elements could be implemented in

order to encourage the creation of a sense of community. Finally, I will examine Diggs

Town, a public housing project in Norfolk, Virginia that recently underwent renovations

using neo-traditional design elements. I then draw some conclusions concerning the

strengths and weaknesses of this public housing renovation effort and the possible

successes associated with the use of neo-traditional design elements in low income and

public housing.

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