Before I get started, I would like to address what this article is not. It is not a guide for any specific grid patterns nor is it a city-building guide in a general sense. It is simply an article introducing the reader to some ideas into Suburban Design.
First of all, what is Suburban Design? What is a suburb? While most of you will know the answer and all of you will have different answers, I will give my own opinion as it applies to this article. Suburbs are the low-density residential and commercial districts surrounding a large city’s downtown area. Often they are referred to by the same name as the city. Other times they all have separate names, but are really part of the same city. So we have Downtown in the center, providing all of the dense Co$ and dense R$, and the suburbs providing the low densities.
Now, the suburbs I am familiar with are usually made up of large roads that are lined with commercial services and offices. These roads usually have freeway and interstate connections, and are fairly long and connect to other roads of that nature. Now, all of these roads together make up sort of a "grid", although it is not so rigid as, say, a continuous grid like that of what you would see in a downtown area.
From now on I will refer to these roads as "veins". Freeways will be "arteries", and the residential neighborhoods are the "flesh". Now, I am not a biology student but I am under the impression that the body has its main arteries, with multiple veins branching our, the veins being protected with flesh. So applying this to SC4 we should have this:
Now before you begin to laugh, my artistic abilities are very limited using MS Paint. You should get the idea from the diagram. The freeway, or the artery is the large grey line, the veins are branching off, lined with commercial and the flesh or the residential is the filler. That is pretty much the nature of the beast as far as suburbs go.
Step One: The Flesh
Now, it would make sense to start with the veins and fill in the flesh afterward, but it makes it much harder. Besides, you shouldn’t even have the arteries yet. Instead we begin working on the flesh.
Our goal here, obviously, is to go with realism. I would hope you wouldn’t have read this far if you didn’t want a good, realistic city with nice suburbs. In order to make our residential areas look realistic, first we must take into consideration what we know already. Think of the neighborhood you live in. It most likely has curving roads and nice cul de sacs right? Well in SC4 we have to be very creative when it comes to the roads, since curves are impossible. The main thing to keep in mind is that houses should face the way you want them to. Well, that’s easy, right? Well, when making a nice neighborhood, it can be rough. That is why we must start from the inside and work our way out.
Note: from now on, I will be using visual examples. None of the things I’m doing are set in stone, you can copy what I do, but mainly I am just giving basic ideas. Afterall, we don’t want everyone’s neighborhood looking the same, right?
Here is an example of the first "layer" of our neighborhood.
Now, this looks pretty basic. The idea is to work around it. By adding another layer, we can get something like this:
Now we have a second layer, but what are we gonna do with those pesky corners??? Simply create a few cul de sacs:
Now we are really getting somewhere! From here it is all a matter of preference. We could create another layer surrounding the entire place, with some feeder roads:
That looks okay, but we could so something a bit more creative.
Pretty much everything is up to you. You will find that as you are building that certain lots aren’t going to face the ways you want them to and you will have to demolish some of the streets and then re-lay them. That’s why is is recommended to go from the inside out; it makes it a lot easier.
Now this next diagram is an example of the commercial areas acting as the "vein". This also provides jobs for the residents.
That about wraps it up for part one. In my next guide I will go into more detail on the planning of entire suburbs, and strategic placement of important buildings such as schools and the like. Until then, feel free to check out similar articles here in the Omnibus, or ask a question in City Building Concepts or SC4 General Discussion, here at Simtropolis Forums.