Slow Food Slow Homes: Expanding the role of architecture in the North American housing industry

John Brown


The North American city is dominated by suburban sprawl, that vast formless, center-less, fragmented urban structure that the Sierra Club calls the ‘Dark Side of the American Dream.’  These places are like fast food. On the surface they appear easy, cheap, and cheerful. However, this marketing veneer masks a world of thoughtless design, careless construction, and waste that is bad for both us and the environment. In the same way that fast food disrupts the historically rich cultural context of cooking; these fast homes replace the experientially deep potential of urban dwelling with a shallow standardized product. 


The world wide ‘Slow Food Movement’ provides an interesting antidote to the dilemma of fast food. It promotes individual empowerment through the use of natural ingredients, thoughtful preparation, and a renewed culture of the table.


This article critically surveys the current problems with the North American Housing Industry and proposes the potential for a ‘Slow Home Movement’ to generate a renewed role for the architecture profession within this milieu and to begin to make design matter again. 


Housing, Mass produced housing, slow design

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