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Monday, December 27, 2010

Arcosanti; Paolo's Desert Flower a living emblem of Arcology

Former Frank Lloyd Wright student and pioneering architect Paolo Soleri is not only the founder of the Arcology (Architectural design principles based on the ecology of high numbers of humans living in one place) discipline / movement, he is creating a living village in the Arizona desert embodying these principles.

Arcological structures contain a variety of residential, commercial, and agricultural facilities and minimize individual human environmental impact. An arcology is distinguished from a merely large building in that it sustainably supplies all or most of the resources for a comfortable life: power, climate control, food production, air and water purification, sewage treatment, requiring no connections to municipal or urban infrastructure in order to function.

Arcologies reduce human impacts on natural resources. Arcology designs often apply conventional building and civil engineering techniques in very large, but practical projects in order to achieve economies that are difficult to achieve in other ways. Frank Lloyd Wright proposed an early version called Broadacre city. His plan described transportation, agriculture, and commerce systems that would support an economy. Critics said that Wright's solution failed to account for population growth, and assumed a more rigid democracy than the U.S. actually has.

The Las Vegas Strip has many arcological features to protect people from the 45C (110F) heat. Many major casino are connected by tunnels, footbridges, and monorails. It is possible to travel from Mandalay Bay at the south end of the Strip to the Las Vegas Convention Center, three miles (5 km) to the north, without using streets. In many cases, it is possible to travel between several different casinos without ever going outdoors.

The underground concourse in downtown Toronto also offers a wide network of architectural connectivity protecting humans from the elements, however like Vegas, it is far from ideal in terms of sustainability and functionality. They are transportation corridors with daytime (dining, washrooms) usefulness.

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