Architecture & Real Estate | April 18, 2020 8:00 am

Is This the Future of Intentional Communities?

Where bold design meets ecological awareness

Georgia's Serenbe.

There’s something utopian about the phrase “intentional communities,” and for good reason — a number of high-profile examples of this kind of community have countercultural or ecologically-minded elements. (Or both.) As more and more people question assumed notions of where they should live and where they’d like to live, it’s not surprising that living alongside people with a similar ethos to yourself could be appealing.

A new article at Bloomberg by Gisela Williams explores a more technologically advanced, architecturally distinctive side of intentional communities. Among them? Serenbe, located in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia — a little over 30 miles from Atlanta. Reading about it, the appeal is easy to see: geothermal heating for the homes, distinctive restaurants and an appealing design sensibility.

Williams dubs Serenbe “one of a few dozen relatively new utopian-lite communities” in the country — and also notes that not all of these communities are eager to adopt the “intentional community” label due to some of its connotations. Regardless, the other examples cited also sound intriguing:

That includes Powder Mountain in Utah, being developed by the invite-only entrepreneur network Summit Series LLC, and Salmon Creek Farm in Mendocino County, Calif., a 1970s commune being reimagined as a progressive arts colony by Los Angeles-based artist Fritz Haeg.

Not surprisingly, there’s been an increased level of interest in communities like these since the coronavirus pandemic became more and more prevalent in everyday life. If, as some have speculated, one of the enduring effects of this period in history will be an uptick in people working remotely, the idea of a more idealistic way of life could have an even greater allure.

Williams uses the phrase “eco-enclave” to describe the particular corner of intentional communities described in the article. And they’re not solely limited to the United States, either. It’s a fascinating look at a fascinating corner of architecture and urban design — one which may grow more popular in the years to come.

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