A recent article caught my attention and it reminded me of the compatibility between design and nature. This story is about the 20 year effort by the City of Paradise Valley, Arizona to eliminate all electrical power lines and bury them underground. Having lived in this beautiful area I can tell you that it makes a big difference. Instead of looking overhead at unsightly utility poles your attention is drawn to the beautiful landscaping that either Mother Nature or the homeowner has provided.
When you are designing the interior of your home it is important to pay attention to the exterior design because one affects the other. When cities pay attention to visual pollution such as electrical lines or billboards and other signage, it pays off in the appeal of living in these neighborhoods. The only sign you will see in Paradise Valley is a traffic sign or the occasional realtor sign. Even these are required to be of a certain size and presentation so as not to interfere with the visual appeal.
Just as a beautiful painting can enhance your interior design a beautiful exterior view to nature or other design element will add to your sense of well-being and balance. One could say that this is most important when you live in a gorgeous coastal community such as San Carlos. There is no doubt that utility poles and billboards create visual pollution by detracting from the beauty of our area. In fact, the recent article by National Geographic naming San Carlos in the #1 position of Top Ten Ocean Views confirms that those of us who live here are not biased in our opinions of the natural beauty we enjoy.
However, the same visual design principles apply no matter where you live. We have all driven in neighborhoods where if some simple changes were made a huge difference would be created. Even if a city cannot afford to bury their utility lines they could certainly do what was done in Paradise Valley. The city managers budgeted this project over 20 years and now it is complete and future generations will benefit from their long term vision.
Addressing the issue of visual pollution due to billboards and other signage is a much easier matter to resolve. You simply eliminate them. Many companies feel that their billboards will bring them business when in fact, adopting a city wide visual pollution program brings business and pleasure that benefits an entire community. These types of decisions on the part of city managers set a community apart from the others and add value to everyone. It raises the stature of the area because these are communities that respect their environment and this care attracts other like-minded people.
Buying a home in Paradise Valley is quite costly and one main reason is that the city has taken great care to create a visually beautiful town. You are greeted with views of Mother Nature at every turn without a power line or billboard to disturb your view. These changes are possible for all communities. It just takes long term vision and the necessary work to accomplish the vision.
On a much larger scale, Sao Paulo, Brazil, the 5th largest city in the world enacted a complete ban on all billboards in 2007. This dramatic move added much more color and interest to this dynamic city. It exposed beautiful architecture that was not previously viewable and where there was no architectural benefit, owners created it by painting their buildings in beautiful colors.
Whether you are designing the interior of your home or the exterior of your home, the same principles apply to communities in general. As a homeowner you would never want to have the exterior paint peeling, trash or a giant billboard in your front yard. You want your home to be visually appealing as a sign of self-respect and respect for your neighbors. If costly changes in your community are not possible then take whatever steps you can to create good design through elimination of visual pollution. This is a good start to setting your city apart from the rest and showing respect for the communities in which we reside.