Design Concepts Re-Imagine the Dream of Suburbia

Airship Commute

Airship Commute

The "Airbia" concept envisions helium-based airships connecting the suburbs to city centers.Alexandros Tsolakis / Irene Shamma

Residents of suburbia have long since awakened from the American dream to the downsides of tedious work commutes, bloated McMansions and lackluster civic life. Now a design competition wants to look at new ways to reinvigorate the suburbs with concepts ranging from airships to reclaimed backyard pools.

The competition has narrowed the field down to 20 finalists. Some standout favorites include a "T-trees" concept of stackable cube modules providing living space and even renewable wind power, and an "Airbia" vision of suburban, teardrop-shaped airships replacing that horrendous commute through traffic.

Suburban Growth Goes Skyward

Suburban Growth Goes Skyward

The T-Tree takes box living to a whole new level, with cube modules providing both living quarters and housing for wind power.Adil Azhiyev, Ivan Kudryavtsev (Light+Space)

One of the top vote-getters, an "Urban Sprawl Repair Kit," lays out a more practical plan for re-purposing or adding new structures instead of demolishing space-wasting gas stations, strip centers, restaurants and homes.

McMansions alone get two redesign proposals that would transform uninhabited homes into wetlands and green spaces. And another idea would create "Regenerative Suburb Medians" in the middle of wide roads that treat sewage, produce agriculture and boost social activity within neighborhoods.

So why wait on giving American beauty a makeover? Go here to vote on your favorites among the top 20 finalists. Or check out PopSci's own eco-savvy Green Mega City blueprint for the future, and a previous list of America's 50 Greenest Cities.