12th hour for Arcology.

Author:Neutopia, Doctress
Position:Less Energy

Truly it is the 11th hour for humanity, so when 11th Hour documentary came out, I rushed to see it. I wondered if the film would show me how humanity could overcome our multi-layered crisis of fossil fuel depletion, global warming, the lack of adequate housing around the world, and agricultural failure. Politicians don't seem have plausible solutions. Would the experts in the documentary 11th Hour?

Great ideas in creating a new ecological paradigm are presented in the film such as John Todd's idea of building living machines and William McDonough's idea of building cities as efficiently as nature grows a forest. The film shows us the latest developments in hybrid cars and solar-powered single family houses. It shows us a way we can retrofit our present civilization with renewable energies. But is this the whole vision that we need? Biomimicking nature, building structures the way nature designs the biological world, is a key point in the film. But is retrofitting the old pattern of detached buildings and endless sprawl the best way to biomimic natural systems?

Architectural critic James Howard Kuntsler calls investing in suburbia the "greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world." He writes, "The suburbs have three destinies, none of them exclusive: as materials salvage, as slums, and as ruins. In any case, the suburbs will lose value dramatically, both in terms of usefulness and financial investment. Most of the fabric of suburbia will not be "fixed" or retrofitted, in particular the residential subdivisions." For Kuntsler, the era of suburbia is over. Our natural wealth went into building a pattern of housing that had no future because it is unsustainable. So, as we wake up to the fact that for a half-century our national wealth and identity went into an economic black hole, what comes next? I knew that architect Paolo Soleri was one of the experts in the film. Since I knew his work on arcology, I was eager to see what he would say. Arcology is an architectural design approach that unites various parts of the city into an intregrated whole system. It is an energy efficient, pedestrian-centered development that integrates the living, working, social, commercial, industrial, and artistic aspects. In a car-free arcology, transportation networks connect parts of the city as easily as blood vessels and arteries circulate blood throughout a healthy human body. Natural landscapes are accessible within a walkable distance. Arcological design saves natural resources used in traditional transportation, heating/cooling and land use schemes because it brings biological and social systems together under one roof, a new realistic model of sustainable development for the world.

The practicality of building arcology is integrated yoga or union in that it fuses all societal disciplines together into a coherent whole. It is a framework in which intellectual disciplines merge in a way that creates harmony with the global ecology. Arcologies are designed...

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