I was excited to read this article because the topic is one that interests me right now. I'll be honest that I was pretty disappointed and find the article largely preposterous. I'm not familiar with the author's background or other works, but to me it seems like he just cherry-picked some buzzwords from permaculture and "green" urbanism to throw into some kind of longform listicle. None of the ideas really seem to be from a systems thinking perspective, which is absolutely critical when constructing such a complex system.
For the purposes of discussion, I will go along with the author's scenario and assume there are no legal/governmental obstacles standing in the way of such a town. I will also assume that you can snap your fingers and have everyone follow your authoritarian community rules laid out by the 4 founders of the town (I believe part 2 of the article will talk about community but I haven't seen it yet).
Here are some of my major qualms with the article:
1. The author contradicts himself multiple times. He talks about keeping existing trees but then says that there should be plenty of spaces for food production (Holmgren writes about the important considerations regarding removing old non-edible trees that block sunlight from food production areas). He talks about how the town should be oval shape with houses abutting each other, but allowed to develop as high as they want in a 12x12 space. It's not hard to figure out that this would result in lots of shading of possibly productive agriculture land and solar arrays since the town is not being built to optimize southern sun exposure. He talks about using building materials of local origin but not allowing any modern vehicles or machinery, so I'm unsure where labor is going to come from to build the structures using pre-industrial technology (check out the thousands of man hours required to build other "natural" structures like Paul Wheaton or the earthship people do). He talks about having the entire city reliant on rainwater harvesting while having numerous outdoor fountains, all of which will lose a lot of valuable water to evaporation in the dry TX climate.
2. He romanticizes cities from previous eras without accounting for the fact that modern patterns of human life are quite different than earlier periods. The Transition Towns movement has had a lot of trouble because the vast majority of people are still reliant on consumerist lifestyles, which means building an alternative town is nearly impossible since their paychecks depend on the current society. In the middle ages, the population was something like 75-90% peasants because food production techniques were not nearly as efficient as modern industrial agriculture. It's like there is a disconnect between the ends that the author thinks are achievable (mostly the result of modern petrochemical-industrial complex), and the means by which to do it. If you want a town that mimics medieval structure, you're likely going to need 75-90% of the population working sun up to sundown on food production. A few Amish farm families on the periphery isn't going to cut it.
3. He doesn't account for 2nd and 3rd order effects. For example, there are numerous towns in the USA who ban vehicles and try to cater to tourists in a unique way. By nature, a town that depends on external flows of capital in the form of tourism is not self-sustaining. Any restrictions on town size and construction will ultimately result in property appreciation and the working class being priced out of living there. In other words, even if one could build such an immaculate city, it would quite quickly become a victim of it's own success.
Overall, I think there are much better resources available for those who are interested in such a subject. David Holmgren and Brad Lancaster are two people who have dedicated their lives to thinking about such topics and actually have done a lot of hands-on work in building sustainable households and communities, so their writings are much more useful if one wants to know how to go about building such a small town. I believe Low Tech Magazine also has some articles on how to lay out an entire town to maximize solar exposure for purposes of passive heat, indoor light, and food production (hint: an oval shape isn't going to cut it).*
* = https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2012/03 ... elope.html