Coed DarcySim Darcy: An illustration of the Welsh urban villageCourtesy The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment Coed Darcy is an oddly named urban village that’s going to be built from the ground up over the next 20 years in southern Wales. It’ll have an impressive 4,000 compact homes, plus commercial space and 1,300 acres of parks and greenery. It’s also got a high-profile engineer–the Prince of Wales, whose Foundation for the Built Environment is building it on a brownfield formerly occupied by a BP oil refinery.

The idea is to unite the best of British village traditions with 21st century sustainability principles. The BBC has a well-produced video with glitzy simulations of the completed village and an interview with Prince Charles about his commitment to “a return of human values to architecture.” Sadly, it’s not embeddable, but it’s available on Youtube.              

Most of us will never live in new towns built from the ground up. And they certainly have a spotty track record (see the latest trouble for Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City). But these sorts of projects–from the sleepy, pastel-hued Seaside, Florida, to the futuristic, $35 billion Songdo, Korea–can show us what’s possible, and they’re fun to think about. There’s something useful in the way these things appeal to people’s pioneer spirits, or at least their inner SimCity nuts.

The Prince’s focus on the built environment also complements the many-pronged Welsh clean energy project.

(Hat tip to Kaid Benfield at Switchboard)