Fusion Architeture’s Garden City Park

Ghana born Kobina Banning (he was cited by the Phoenix New Times as 100 of the most cultural influential people in Phoenix) is founder and lead of Fusion Architecture (FA), an architectural group based in Phoenix.

The Fusion Architecture team has come by Arcosanti several times to look at the place and engage in discussions with some of the staff. Their work is diverse and experimental yet they hope to have a pragmatic impact. Most recently they were featured in a article by the Phoenix New Times regarding their submission to The Netherlands’ Afrika Museum and African Architecture Matters which made the finals of the “Blueprints of Paradise”, competition.

While FA was at Arcosanti, we had a chance to discuss their vision on the future of urban Africa. As their research notes, the challenges are many and includes effectively managing the rapid rise in people living in Ghana as a whole as well as urban areas. Their perspective on this is a human scale, oriented densification process that includes taller buildings, but interspersing that verticalization with more open space and community aspects. A key component to this is helping develop thriving marketplaces for local commerce.

Garden City Park is plan for a 1.7-mile-long, 19-square-acre Linear Park. It is to be located in Banning’s native Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa and “incorporates the area’s Ashanti-established traditions while taking into account the modern hustle and bustle of Ghana’s second-largest city.”

The proposed site, located at an abandoned spot next to a disused railway station, lies adjacent to the Kumasi Central Market, an area that’s so mammoth in size and all-encompassing in products that locals have joked that you can even find human body parts for sale (which is a definitely an urban myth, though niche items, such as vulture heads, are available for purchase). The park would act as a welcome reprieve to the urban chaos of the Central Market.

The forward-thinking design of Garden City Park is bold yet realistic, and also considers overall sustainability while incorporating solar-powered applications in the perpetually warm region. The design includes a public transportation system, an art gallery, a community football (aka soccer) field, and a “Living Kiosk” project that modernizes the street vendors’ shed-like spaces that populate nearly every roadside in Ghana. (FA’s “Living Kiosk” was also submitted to the Afrika Museum competition; it received an honorable mention designation.)

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Current Composting Research & Practices at Arcosanti

One of the things I do at Arcosanti besides construction right now is the composting of the kitchen scraps from the cafe.

My realization is that any effort to get back to the root should involve farming of some kind and starting with a process to learn how to effective compost materials for building soil quality and mass.

Currently, we are trying to develop a research component at Arcosanti to develop a greater understanding of what appropriate technologies are relevant for consideration in building an Arcology. In particular with regards to our renewed focus on developing the long envisioned Energy Apron Greenhouses.

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Experimentation with Vermiculture Composting at Arcosanti

About a year ago the Arcosanti Community Council invested about 1000 dollars in a vermiculture system based on a funds request by Bamboo (Bob Ransom).

While the system has not proven itself well or at least we have not figured out how to use the system (Worm WigWam) as it was designed, the worms are doing well and I am experimenting with different techniques for expanding their numbers and the rate of biomass degradation.

We hope to eventually develop a program by which all the composting is done by the worms and that this includes selective introduction of paper materials (More on this later) into the composting mix. In the meantime we are slowly scaling out the system towards the larger vision.

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Arcosanti’s Soleri Office & Drafting Building (Red Room Greenhouse) Undergoes Renovation

We are currently working on a renovation of the Red Room Greenhouse that is located in the Soleri Office and Drafting Building (SOD). This is part of an effort to upgrade and better utilize existing infrastructure. Arcosanti now currently has four greenhouses (Camp Greenhouse Camp Bathroom Greenhouse, High Tunnel Greenhouse and the Red Room Greenhouse) with a fifth one planned as the first section of the Energy Apron Greenhouses (Guest Rooms Greenhouse).

The goal of this month’s renovation and upgrade effort is to incorporate the Red Room Greenhouse into our existing greenhouse growing system.  Our plan involves renovating the space and adding new growing beds to better utilize the space. In addition to the construction aspect, we will adding this space to our existing operations (High Tunnel Greenhouse); germinating, cultivating irrigate plants as well as managing/maintaining the Red Room Greenhouse on a continual basis as needed adding to what we now produce.

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