Incremental Housing - Core Insights

Charles Marohn
Charles Marohn
  • Updated

Natural systems develop strength and resiliency through a pattern of incremental growth and adaptation. This is true for a culture growing in a petri dish or a rainforest with its many different flora and fauna. The order of these systems emerge from many complex interactions and adaptations. 

In studying the most successful human habitats, we discover the same process. The most financially productive neighborhoods mimic natural systems, not in their design or their aesthetics but in the incremental way in which they are assembled. 

A pattern of development that grows incrementally allows many different concerns and priorities to be harmonized as part of the process. What is lost in rote efficiency is made up in resiliency and adaptability. Incremental approaches to development allow feedback—positive and negative—to present novel opportunities and reveal mistakes early in the process. 

We also find incremental development approaches to be more human, providing opportunities for more people to contribute to the process of co-creation and the shaping of the community. 

At Strong Towns, we still support large projects and grand endeavors, but we see them as the culmination of success, not as a catalyst for success or, worse, a substitute for prosperity. 


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