Editor’s Letter: Urban Jungles

Editor’s Letter: Urban Jungles

Porches, patios, renegade pools—the outdoor spaces at these homes demonstrate inspired and surprising ways to cultivate a patch of green in the city, from secret gardens to landscapes that tie together a community.

You can put in a pool no matter where you live—if you’re determined. At least, that’s how the undaunted bathers in this issue see it. They don’t let barriers like, say, not actually owning property stand in their way. And their tales of aquatic triumph sum up an issue dedicated to outdoor living spaces that carve a bit of nature out of cities and towns.

Some of these stories are adventures. In our Modern World section, we follow three excursions that range from urban hikes to nude picnics (all of which our editors have at one point undertaken) and match the gear you might need for such a trip with furnishings that will bring the spirit of the journey to your backyard. We also visit a home in Buenos Aires that combines two buildings with a few narrow slits of roughly sliced concrete to create a labyrinth-like circuit of green spaces threading together a single house and begging to be explored.

Others are about living with and in nature. A trio of townhouses provide an escape from the city—without turning their backs on it—while in Los Angeles, a landscape designer finds a kindred spirit in a developer who built a house that proved the economics of using natural, mostly local materials. The result is a cork-clad home set in a secret garden of sorts that shows how an investment in ecology can compete in even the wildest real estate markets.

Finally, there’s a story about a landscape at the center of righting wrongs, acknowledging tragedy, and supporting your neighbors. The Wiyot Tribe has been working for decades to consolidate ancestral lands in California that were brutally seized during European colonization. And in the midst of an affordable-housing crisis, tribal leaders have also established a land trust to ensure that they can provide their community with enduring homes and much needed green space. Their story is a specific effort, but it demonstrates a tactic for other communities struggling with affordability.

The landscapes, large and small, in this issue are born of their cities, communities, and ecologies. And whether you have access to a few wild acres, a nearby park, or a renegade pool, I hope these places serve as examples of how you can cultivate a patch of green that benefits the people around you.

Top photo by Javier Rojas

Dive into the March/April 2023 issue


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