Authentic Living

​Principle 1: Pedestrian Priority

​Principle 2: Proper Size & Density

​Principle 3: Consolidated & Shared Efficiency

​Principle 4: Diversity

Principle 5: Incorporations of Nature

​Principle 6: Natural Materials

History & Considerations

Authentic Living Inspiration

Authentic Living is a culmination of design and planning principles based on innate human lifestyle characteristics that promote socially healthy environments​​​​.

Authentic: of undisputed origin; genuine.

​Plan and design centered around people, not vehicles. This forces social connectivity and activity within the larger framework of the community. While vehicle infrastructure should be incorporated into planning, it should be prioritized the least. In other words, walkability should be prioritized first, bicycles secondarily, and vehicles and other modes of transportation last.

Early cultures used raw earthen materials to create socially engaging housing and structures from as early as 11,600 BC. Around 1800 AD European settlers brought the art of timber framing to America which was later replaced by light frame timber construction. Mass production of the automobile allowed vehicles to dominate our environment and lead to planned suburbs in the 1940's. The assembly line processes entered the food industry in 1948 with McDonalds. Similar processes entered the construction industry, which currently rely on an assembly of on and off-site trades to complete individualized tasks, and our current building system was born.

The Consequences of current system:

  • Use-based zoning which leads to lack of diversity and increased isolation (which leads to a decrease in socialization and exercise)

  • Suburban sprawl which lead to the above consequences plus a heavy reliance on the automobile and increased infrastructure (which lead sto high costs & pollution)

  • Unskilled laborers and cheaper, more synthesized materials (which leads to poor design and construction and increased health issues)

Authentic living principles are counter-reactive to these consequences. When executed properly these concepts can lead to less infrastructure, create a more diverse and socially connected lifestyle (which leads to decreased costs and better physical and mental health). Similar principles can be found in movements for sustainable design, slow food, and new urbanism.

Design buildings and infrastructure using less synthesized materials as much as possible. Natural materials tend to promote more green, timeless, and longer lasting buildings and infrastructure which in turn promote infrastructure longevity, healthier environments, less maintenance, and greater life cycle costs. 

Use plants, trees, water, and natural lighting as much as possible. Bringing nature into your buildings and creating transition spaces that blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces; or blur the lines between natural and artificial spaces can increase physical and mental health. Large expansive glass, for example, allows daylight into the space which can cause a feeling of connection with nature while retaining all of the protective benefits of being indoors.

Provide a balance of mixed uses to be enjoyed by a mix of different people to be enjoyed at different times of the day and night. Having a variety of uses (i.e. residences, offices, retail spaces, etc) allow communities to be more holistic thus reducing the need to drive long distances and promoting local social activity at all times. Having a cafe, for example, that can serve coffee in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, and alcoholic beverages at night can create steady activity throughout the day and night for different demographics.

​Buildings and infrastructure should be consolidated as much as possible within overall human comfort levels. Infrastructure should be planned around shared open spaces and amenity spaces. This principle should be incorporated in planning as well as the building design. For example, creating a common courtyard for a building complex or integration of a dining table into your kitchen counter space rather than creating a separate dining room.

​Plan and design to meet overall human comfort levels in terms of scale and personal space. While personal thresholds can vary, overall comfort levels generally lie somewhere between the high rise micro-unit and the sprawling McMansion manor. This sweet spot is often referred to as 'the missing middle' in communities that are based on poor planning or segregated (or exclusionary) zoning, such as Austin, TX.