Introducing ArcoPedia: an Alternative Approach to Arcology Theory

I have set up a wiki that I call ArcoPedia. The idea is to consider an alternative perspective of Arcosanti in terms of how it could be contributing more effectively to current best practices in the ecological design movement as it is increasingly impacting the mainstream society.

My most recent addition to the wiki was a page on Green Roof an ecological design concept that has long intrigued me. The page/article is titled: Why Green Roofs are more than Just about Keeping Buildings Dry

This is related to the upcoming discussion on School of Thought today in terms of my thinking about the need for a comprehsive approach to rethinking existing and prevailing urban design and development practices. Actually most of the planning community has been extremely disguisted with current “best practices” that perpetuate sprawl and the commercially dominated aesthetic of urban/suburban spaces that is of course a key driver to the consumption/consumer driven economy.

Thus the idea is to consider the possibility of

  1. limits to growth of the city and the urban effect – in that a point is reached where the urban no longer can create a positive aspect of urban life called the urban effect. So then at what level might an Arcology be too big?
  2. design of cities with the Arcology model that considers diversity of density in terms of thinking about different gradations of density as the city goes from core to periphery.

Also in relation to the above is the idea of building urban spaces that balance and combine the best of urban and rural life rather than simply saying that Urban is BEST. Complementary to this is the idea of seeing the suburban as a flawed but possibly well intentioned way to do this. Also important is seeing suburbs as a way to naturally transition urban life with rural. So for example in permaculture theory we are taught to promote this idea of gradations between human habitat and pristine nature. The key consideration is to think about what is most appropriate for zonal gradation. One thing that is stressed in this school of thought is locating food as close to the human habitat as possible. Of course for permaculturalists,  food production systems are most ideally integrated with the built environment/habitat itself.

Thus the core goal is to consider how to remake the suburban so that it undergoes a process of densification and at the same time offers a menu of choices for people to consider in terms of density and lifestyles. Possibly the Linear City model that Soleri puts forward can be seen as a way to combine that densification of suburbia by offering nodes of convergence at key mass transit stops within each of the concentric rings that typically define the evolution of suburbia in metropolitian areas.


Upcoming Event: Dec 6th Solare Linear City Presentation (as a Potential Solution to the Sprawl between Phoenix and Tucson)

Arcosanti’s Nadia Begin has been putting together a presentation on the Solare Linear City that will be presented to the general public in Phoenix on Dec 6th. Panelists include Paolo Soleri as well as Arizona State University (ASU) Architecture Professor Dr John Meunier. The basic concept is that the Linear City Model that Paolo has developed can be used as a potential solution to linear city sprawl that is now engulfing transportation corridors between our cities. In particular is the prediction that Phoenix and Tucson will merge and become a Megalopolis in the next 30-40 years yielding a population of around 8 million people.

For more about this event see the Life@Arcosanti blog post that includes the Press Release.

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Life@Arcosanti 10.13.08

It has been very cool here at Arcosanti lately but a warm up is expected.

We just had the last performance of the year at Arcosanti in the Colly Soleri Amphitheatre. Sonya Kumiko Lee – a classical pianist – performed (while I washed dishes in the cafe for some extra cash).

A major pour is planned today to complete the Handicapped Access Ramp or at least much of the concrete part of the project. The project was made possible thanks to a 50k grant from the AZ Dept of Tourism. We plan to pour about six yards using the old ready mix truck and it’ll be a good opportunity for the workshoppers in the Oct workshop to get some more concrete experience.

One of the more interesting aspects of my recent Arcosanti experience has been my part time job as a Arcosanti Tourguide. It has its ups and downs but overall it is worth the effort not just for the extra money but also for the chance to meet so many interesting people.

Today I actually went on David Tollas’ architectural tour of Arcosanti which included a presentation by his wife Nadia Begin. She spoke about the Hyper Building and Solare Linear City in the Cafe. She as a practicing architect and former manager of the planning dept at Arcosanti was involved in the design of both projects. She is currently working to present the Solare Linear City as a potential solution to urban sprawl in the Phoenix-Tucson Corridor).

Doing a search on Google I see that one of the people in one of the tours I gave in Sept (Stefanie Stubbs architect and editor of American Institute of Architects newsletter) recently published something (Is It Time to Go (Back) to Arcosanti?) about her experience at Arcosanti in the AIA blog:

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to satisfy a 30-year-old jones: I finally made the architectural haj to Arcosanti, Paulo Soleri’s urban vision-come-reality in the Arizona desert. The anticipatory road trip and resulting tour, guided by construction worker Jeff Buderer, lived up to decades of anticipation, and—for a brief shining moment or three—I reveled silently in a private fantasy of chucking Washington, D.C., packing up the cats (they’d have lots of new friends there), and becoming an Arcosanti construction worker myself.

Toa Caterina who interned at Arcosanti from June to Sept in construction is currently going to school at Boston Achitectural College. The dean of the school is actually the chair of the Cosanti Foundation which runs Arcosanti – Jeffrey Stein (who recently represented Arcosanti along with Paolo Soleri at the 2008 EcoCities Conference).

Toa is working on a project with Rafaelle Elba who is an architect from Italy and also is an alum of Arcosanti. From 2008/09/30 to 2009/02/10 the project will be partially graded by the number of the entrances of visitors on the web page so she has asked that people in her network go to the site and also spread the word of this project.

When you are on the web page:

  1. First go to “degree database”
  2. Select “2008 edition” and write in “Elba” in “search by author” and then press search.
  3. Finally click the link that says ”VIEW THE PROJECT.”