Week 3 – Ecologically Inspired Architecture

News about how heavily polluted our environment is has always been around since the early stages of industrialization. The problem lies in how people can actually fix the problem instead of just reminding the public about it.

In the readings for this week, Wilson mentioned a particular artist, Paolo Soleri, and Soleri’s work revolves around architecture and ecology to make a city that has a dense population to “reduce impact on natural resources”. His concept for cities involved arcology, the architectural design principles that aimed for hyperstructures that were able to supply all resources that would lead to a comfortable life. These resources included : power, climate control, food production, air and water purification, sewage treatment, etc. There would be a population size of approximately 250,000 for his type of arcology.

Conceptual design 01

Paolo soleri

Soleri’s designs of cities eliminates the use of automobiles because everything is within reach of each other and also the need for extensive pieces of land. The designs of our modern cities revolve around roads for our vehicles and it diminishes the use of land. His idea was to expand upward instead of outward to conserve as much land as possible for valuable resources such as farmland. He believes that if we want to start thinking about the future, we need to start thinking about efficiency and how to maximize the use of resources.

“The problem I am confronting is the present design of cities only a few stories high, stretching outward in unwieldy sprawl for miles. As a result of their sprawl, they literally transform the earth, turn farms into parking lots and waste enormous amounts of time and energy transporting people, goods and services over their expanses. My proposition is urban implosion rather than explosion”. 

-Paolo Soleri, Earth’s Answer, 1977

                                                        Model 01


Innovators such as Paolo Soleri often make me wonder how they come up with these ideas that seem so futuristic and why they haven’t been implemented into our society. Soleri later describes that the plans ultimately fail to account for realistic problems for sustaining large populations. If hyperstructures were developed, there would be little room for democracy because of the “rigid way of living”. Looking at the outcome in a long run, it seems that it also would be difficult to manage the desires of the inhabitants and conservation of resources. This plan assumes that people will be perfectly satisfied with limited activity, but a healthy environment.

I believe that mankind has developed to be against having their freedoms limited, even if it will benefit the future. Paolo Soleri’s design’s are indeed remarkable and offer a future possibility for self-sustaining cities, but ecology is not the only factor that shapes a city. It would be extremely difficult to manage all the factors that make up today’s typical city into a city like Soleri’s with limited activity and lower population size, but I still think that we are already moving towards his way of thinking with our current issues with global warming.

-Daniel Yang

Resouces used: http://www.archdaily.com/159763/paolo-soleris-arcosanti-the-city-in-the-image-of-man/


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