An overview of the suburbs in history, the theories that have underpinned their development—particularly in relation to Australia—and background to the dominant, frequently disparaging, views of suburbia by architects and urbanists. Precedents are located for a non-judgemental approach, and for examples where designers have been able to look of the potential of the suburbs with fresh eyes.

We see in the actualities of suburbia an emerging set of opportunities for one of the fastest growing areas of employment—caring for ageing populations. Rather than sprinkling purpose-made, single-function, old-age homes or nursing homes through the suburbs, risking supersession through shifts in taste and in modes of care, we propose an acupuncture approach in which sites are identified and jujitsu-like facilities of various scales and kinds grafted onto existing centres of activity, while the routes to and from these are also upgraded with people/pedestrian-friendly design. In this combination, the usually hidden ecologies of suburbia are nurtured and progressively enhanced.