Out of control

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Sprawl traffic near Washington D.C.

Suburban life often appears to be the most controlled life imaginable, compared to the unpredictable mixtures of the dense city. Yet though suburbia is composed of neatly planned units, suburban sprawl as a whole may seem totally out of control, flowing outward, voracious, irresistible mediocrity.

Like cities, sprawl rides and feeds off systemic and cultural flows that no one can dominate. Like cities, too, sprawl develops in systems and patterns whose stability is only temporary.