This is my first new topic here, and I used the ATS search to look for this, and found nothing, so I hope it's not a repeat topic.
I first heard about this project in my history of science & technology course. Paolo Soleri is an architect with some interesting ideas. He has made
it his life's goal to build an arcology
, which is basically a self-sustaining city. This one is meant to hold 5000 people and is being built
in Arizona. Construction was started in 1970. Basically, the idea is to build a city that through extensive pre-planning, is more energy efficient
and less wasteful of space.
An arcology would need about two percent as much land as a typical city of similar population. Today’s typical city devotes more than sixty percent
of its land to roads and automobile services. Arcology eliminates the automobile from within the city. The multi-use nature of arcology design would
put living, working and public spaces within easy reach of each other and walking would be the main form of transportation within the city.
While I think Soleri may be overoptimistic about eliminating cars from cities, if cities used 2% as much land as now, everything would be 50x closer,
and people would take less time to drive somewhere, and more places would be within walking distance. Obviously, this is a huge advantage in many
ways. Travel times would be lessened. Less fossil fuels would be needed, resulting in less pollution and buys us more time before the energy crisis
A couple of problems, however, also come to mind. The project was started in 1970, and it's not done yet. Of course, it's primarily being funded
by volunteer labor and donations, but how long would it take to build an arcology if, say, government or corporations started funding these?
Obviously less time, but how much less? There are buildings on my university campus that have been under construction for as long as 2 years, and
that's a single building. How long will a whole city take? How many people will be required, and how much will it cost?
Another issue raised by my prof is that of adaptability. People don't use space in their homes in the same way as they did in the past. If an
arcology was built, say, 100 years ago, you can be pretty sure it won't have cable internet. Given how close together everything is, it would be
extremely difficult to install the infrastructure for something like cable internet in a structure that hadn't considered it in the planning. What
if we started building all these arcologies, and then something was invented/developed that everyone would need/want in their home? People living in
standard (ie today's style) cities would for the most part have little problem refitting their houses for this. Houses are built to be able to be
altered, at least to a certain degree, by their owners as preference dictates. In an arcology, it is extremely difficult to alter the design once it
has been completed.
Let me know what you all think of this concept. I'm not really sure whether arcologies are good ideas or not, but I think they are really cool, so I
posted it here for general debate and discussion.