Village Homes is a planned community in Davis, Yolo County, California. It is designed to be ecologically sustainable by harnessing the energies and natural resources that exists in the landscape, especially stormwater and solar energy.
The principal designer of Village Homes was architect Mike Corbett who began planning in the 1960s, with construction continuing from south to north from the 1970s through the 1980s. Village Homes was completed in 1982, and has attracted international attention from its inception as an early model of an environmentally friendly housing development.
All streets are oriented east-west, with all lots positioned north-south. This feature has become standard practice in Davis and elsewhere since it enables homes with passive solar designs to make full use of the sun’s energy throughout the year. The development also uses natural drainage, called bioswales, to collect water to irrigate the common areas and support the cultivation of edible foods, such as nut and fruit trees and vegetables for consumption by residents, without incurring the cost of using treated municipal water.
Grass lined swale collects rainwater, which then slowly percolates into the soil, where it is protected from runoff and evaporation.
Village Homes is a seventy-acre subdivision located in the west part of Davis, California.
It was designed to encourage both the development of a sense of community and the conservation of energy and natural resources. The principal designer was Mike Corbett.
Construction on the neighborhood began in the fall of 1975, and construction continued from south to north through the 1980s, involving many different architects and contractors.
The completed development includes 225 homes and 20 apartment units.
A number of design features help Village Homes residents live in an energy-efficient and aesthetically pleasing manner:
Orientation — All streets trend east-west and all lots are oriented north-south. This orientation (which has become standard practice in Davis and elsewhere) helps the houses with passive solar designs make full use of the sun’s energy.
Street Width — Our roads are all narrow, curving cul-de-sacs; they are less than twenty-five feet wide and generally aren’t bordered by sidewalks. Their narrow widths minimize the amount of pavement exposed to sun in the long, hot summers. The curving lines of the roads give them the look of village lanes, and the few cars that venture into the cul-de-sacs usually travel slowly.
Pedestrian/Bike Paths and Common Areas — Alternating with the streets is an extensive system of pedestrian/bike paths, running through common areas that exhibit a variety of landscaping, garden areas, play structures, statuary, and so on. Most houses face these common areas rather than the streets, so that emphasis in the village is on pedestrian and bike travel rather than cars.
Natural Drainage — The common areas also contain Village Homes’ innovative natural drainage system, a network of creek beds, swales, and pond areas that allow rainwater to be absorbed into the ground rather than carried away through storm drains. Besides helping to store moisture in the soil, this system provides a visually interesting backdrop for landscape design.
Edible Landscaping — Fruit and nut trees and vineyards form a large element of the landscaping in Village Homes and contribute significantly to the provender of residents. More than thirty varieties of fruit trees were originally planted, and as a result some fruit is ripe and ready to eat nearly every month of the year.
Open Land — In addition to the common areas between homes, Village Homes also includes two big parks, extensive greenbelts with pedestrian/bike paths, two vineyards, several orchards, and two large common gardening areas. The commonly owned open land comes to 40 percent of the total acreage (25 percent in greenbelts and 15 percent in common areas), a much greater proportion than in most suburban developments. Thirteen percent of the developed land area is devoted to streets and parking bays, and the remaining 47 percent to private lots, which generally include an enclosed private yard or courtyard on the street side of the house.
- About Village Homes; “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on June 9, 2007. Retrieved June 13, 2007.; Smart Communities,
- “Village Homes.” Archived August 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Village Homes, Davis, California; Bill Browning and Kim Hamilton,
- “Village Homes: A model solar community proves its worth”; Smart Communities, Ibid.
- Village Homes information on the Davis Wiki.
Documentary videos about Village Homes
- Global Gardener: Urban Permaculture feat. Bill Mollison (1991)
- GeoffLawton.com: Food Forest Suburb (2015)