BIMBY stands for Beauty In My Back Yard. It is a website launched by the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community – Prince Charles’s architectural shop in Great Britain. Even though Britain has tougher official laws against beauty there than we do here, it also has the Prince of Wales fighting for the right of the average Briton to beautiful communities.
Americans have the same right, as a penumbra, you might say, of the right to the pursuit of happiness enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.
Here is how the website describes Beauty In My Back Yard:
The BIMBY Housing Toolkit is a simple and practical online tool which will empower communities to work with local authorities and developers to create a regional BIMBY Housing Manual. It is specifically designed to give both certainty to house builders, who can be sure of their housing’s popularity, whilst also granting security to the community and local authority that new building projects will tie in with local preferences and needs.
BIMBY offers communities the tools to work with developers to design new projects that fit into their settings. It has a “housing tool kit,” a “housing manual” and advice on how to get your manual accepted as part of the local design and development process. Developers are not considered interlopers but as partners in a mutually beneficial transaction. The average developer cares less about the design of a project than whether it has local support, official and popular. BIMBY empowers local residents to provide part of that support in return for projects whose designs beautify the local setting.
People involved in community affairs, seeking to reduce the typical pain of economic development, should look at BIMBY to see what can be used on this side of the pond. In particular, here in Rhode Island, BIMBY might serve well as a corrective to the Tool Kit for Developers working in the I-195 corridor and other projects. If BIMBY takes hold in America as well as in Britain and elsewhere, NIMBY need not be the growth industry that sees stopping growth as the only way to protect communities.
Below is an early design conception of the proposal by Wexford Science & Technology for a project on two parcels of I-195 land in Providence, where the Tool Kit for Developers offered by the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission promotes unattractive design.
Tip o’ the hat and top o’ the day to Hank Dittmar, a consultant for and former chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation, who sent the BIMBY website to the TradArch list and who tips his own hat to the foundation’s Ben Bolgar and his team for their work creating the site.