Contrarian: avoid economy of scale and its problems by building small increments instead

From Frank Starkey via Original Green: "Modern development is predicated on mass-production, economy of scale (EOS).  The cost to manufacture a widget goes down when you make a large number of them because your costs are spread out among more 'units.'  But there are limits to its application, particularly in the speculative and complex world of real estate development. "Pursuing these lower per-unit costs we took on much higher total cost, which had to be financed.  That meant we had to sell those 'units' at a pretty fast clip or the debt service would not only eat up the economies, but also all our profits and eventually us!  Being indentured to debt created a cascade of pressures that compromised better place-making: suppressing prices, bending architectural standards, overlooking details in the public realm.

"So if scale is the problem, how does one argue with 'economy'?  Following clues from Seaside, and looking at how traditional cities came to be, I discovered the underlying economic principle of authentic urbanism is the economy of means (EOM).  In the days before massive debt, cities were built one building at a time.  When many individuals employ EOM, a variety of techniques develops.  So does a 'living' tradition, as folks share knowledge about what works.

"Variety, adaptation, innovation, progress, and tradition grow naturally out of EOM, whereas EOS stifles all of these.  Cities built on EOM function in richly complex ways and are adaptive and resilient.  The best-loved buildings and places embody EOM, and have proved durable, both physically and in people’s affections."  Full post here.