In the United States, many conceive of the 20th century as a time when man successfully separated humanity from nature. One of the most obvious examples of this can be found in popular visions of modern architecture. After the war, the American economy thrived and 1950s and 60s suburban development quickly churned out homes to meet nationally increasing demand. And thus the suburbs as we think of them today were born. American city growth continued to expand outside of city centers and by the 1980s, suburbia was not just a growing reality but an ideal destination for many.
But some were uncomfortable with the cost of suburban sprawl. It seemed that homes grew bigger at the risk of habitat destruction and energy waste. Born out of the 1970s environmental movement, contemporary architects have injected the concept of sustainability into their designs, seeking not to use the home to separate people from nature but as a device to re-integrate the two. For these designers, new home plans are focused on native material usage, energy efficiency, recycling and blending nature with human construction. But this isn’t completely a new concept; it’s a rediscovery of earlier principles.