|The Try2004 Hyperstructure or Megacity as featured on the Discovery Channel’s Extreme Engineering programs.||McMurdo Station of the United States Antarctic Program||Arcosanti, Arizona (see below)|
|Crystal Island is a proposed arcology project in Moscow, Russia.||ZIGGURAT: proposed Dubai Carbon Neutral Pyramid to House 1 Million||MVRDV, “Dutch Pavilion for Expo 2000″, 2000. A fanciful concept for a self-sufficient building (see below).|
Arcology, from the words “ecology” and “architecture,” is a set of architectural design principles aimed toward the design of enormous habitats (hyperstructures) of extremely high human population density. These largely hypothetical structures, called “arcologies,” would contain a variety of residential and commercial facilities and minimize individual human environmental impact. They are often portrayed as self-contained or economically self-sufficient.The concept has been primarily popularized by architect Paolo Soleri, and appears commonly in science fiction.
The term arcology is restricted mainly to theoretical discussions and fictional depictions, such as Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s Oath of Fealty or as elements in video games, such as SimCity 2000, Escape Velocity Nova, Deus Ex: Invisible War, Call to Power II, Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword and Mass Effect.
The first mention of arcology can be found in HG Wells’ When the Sleeper Wakes, published in 1899. A more in-depth description of arcology’s design principles can be found in “The Last Redoubt” from The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, first published in 1912. In it Hodgson envisions structures complete with a full artificial ecology, agriculture, and public transport by mobile roadways.
J.G. Ballard wrote a dystopian take on a self contained building which is much like an arcology in his 1975 novel High Rise.
Yet another mention of the term can be found in William Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer.
Similar real-world projects
Arcosanti is an experimental town under construction in central Arizona. Designed by Paolo Soleri, its primary purpose is to demonstrate principles of arcology.
Many cities in the world have proposed projects adhering to the design principles of the arcology concept, like Tokyo, and Dongtan near Shanghai. The first phase of Dongtan is scheduled to open by 2010.
Certain cities and urban projects exhibit some characteristics that reflect the design principles of arcology. Pedestrian connection systems, like the +15 system in downtown Calgary, or the Minneapolis Skyway System are examples. They are self-contained apparatuses, with interconnected supermarkets, malls and entertainment complexes. The +15 is the world’s most extensive pedestrian skywalk system with a total length of 16 km (10 miles), and Minneapolis possesses the longest continuous system, with eight miles (13 km) of length.
Co-op City in the Bronx, New York City is another example, with many services provided on-site.
The Las Vegas Strip exhibits characteristics of arcology inspired design. Most of the major casino resorts 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 McMurdo Station of the United States Antarctic Program and other scientific research stations on the continent of Antarctica may most closely approximate the popular conception of an arcology as a technologically-advanced, self-sufficient human community. Although by no means entirely self-sufficient (the U.S. Military “Operation Deep Freeze” resupply effort delivers 8 million gallons of fuel and 11 million pounds of supplies and equipment yearly) the base has a very insular character as a necessary shelter and protection from an extremely harsh environment, is geographically isolated from conventional support networks, and must avoid damage to the surrounding Antarctic ecosystem due to international treaty. It generates electricity with its own power plant, grows fruits and vegetables in a hydroponic green house, and provides a full range of living and entertainment amenities.
Crystal Island is a proposed arcology project in Moscow, Russia.
In 2008 the design firm Timelinks proposed a 2.3 square kilometers 1 million inhabatant carbon-neutral super-structure to be built in Dubai, UAE with many arcology concepts (see Inhabitat » ZIGGURAT: Dubai Carbon Neutral Pyramid will House 1 Millionby Evelyn Lee).
In popular culture
Novels and comics
Films and television
The “Launch Arco”, from SimCity 2000
Role-playing and table-top games
|Dutch Pavilion. Hanover. MVRDV. 2000
Ecology, congestion, population density, the relationship between natural and artificial: these are the themes addressed by MVRDV of Holland in their Dutch Pavilion for Expo 2000 in Hanover.
The Dutch Pavilion takes concepts of design and investigation of the city begun in previous years into greater depth and is one of the main emblems of the practice’s great vitality and ability to innovate, qualities its members have demonstrated in addressing the theme of new urban design since the ’90s. Here the architectural idiom acts as a go-between, a filter through which to propose new solutions to the problems of pollution, depletion of natural resources, congestion and liveability in our cities.
The pavilion structure is in fact characterised by six different overlapping concepts of landscape.
Laura Della Badia
Arcosanti panoramaArcosanti is an experimental town that began construction in 1970 in central Arizona, 70 miles (110 km) north of Phoenix, at 34°20′35″N 112°6′6″WCoordinates: 34°20′35″N 112°6′6″W,
elevation 3,732 feet (1,130 meters). Architect Paolo Soleri, using a concept he calls arcology (a portmanteau of architecture and ecology), started the town to demonstrate how urban conditions could be improved while minimizing the destructive impact on the earth.
Arcosanti is being built on 25 acres (0.1 km²) of a 4,060 acre (16 km²) land preserve, keeping its inhabitants near the natural countryside. The Arcosanti web site describes how an arcology functions in Arcosanti: “The built and the living interact as organs would in a highly evolved being. Many systems work together, with efficient circulation of people and resources, multi-use buildings, and solar orientation for lighting, heating and cooling.” Paolo Soleri is the founding architect of Arcosanti. Soleri coined the term Arcology. In an arcology, architecture and ecology come together in the design of the city. The major concepts of an arcology are complexity, miniaturization, and duration.
The long-term design of Arcosanti has changed somewhat multiple times since work began. The eventual target population is somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000. The current population generally varies between 70 and 160, depending on the number of students and interns working at the time. Existing structures include a four-story visitors’ center/cafe/gift shop, the bronze-casting apse (quarter-dome) carefully situated to admit maximal winter sun and minimal summer sun, a ceramics apse, two large barrel vaults, a ring of apartment residences and storefronts around an outdoor amphitheatre, a community swimming pool, an office complex, and Soleri’s suite. A two-bedroom “Sky Suite” occupies the highest point in the complex and is available for overnight guests.
In Arcosanti, apartments, businesses, production, technology, open space, studios, and educational and cultural events are all accessible, while privacy is paramount in the overall design. Greenhouses are planned to provide gardening space for public and private use, and act as solar collectors for winter heat.
Architecturally, Arcosanti is remarkable for its use of tilt-up concrete panels cast in a bed of silt from the local landscape. The silt gives the concrete a unique texture and color, helping the structure to blend with the land. Art is ever-present in the city, with most ceilings having silt-cast art panels embedded on them. All rooftops are accessible, adding another dimension to the city. The intricate, organic design of the city maximizes land use, so the city feels much bigger than it actually is. Similarly, the entire population of the city may be small, but living closely in a dynamic environment increases interactions and bonds, creating abundant stimulus and opportunity.
The city serves as an educational complex where workshops and classes are offered. Students from around the world are constructing Arcosanti. In addition, about 50,000 tourists visit Arcosanti each year.
Funds to build Arcosanti are raised through the sale of windbells. More funds are raised from workshop tuitions, which people (“workshoppers”) pay for a five-week hands-on experience. Workshoppers, together with the resident construction crew, are the principal means by which Arcosanti is constructed.
Jon Jerde acknowledged Paolo Soleri as being one of his influences, and continues to build arcologies throughout the world.
Arcosanti has been criticized for a lack of funding to realize its vision within a practical timeframe.
It has been suggested that even if any major discoveries or theories are achieved through the gradual development of the Arcosanti project, there is now no formal structure to gather, record, and disseminate these ideas to interested stakeholders. The internet, however, may be a perfect host for these purposes.
Others argue that Arcosanti has succeeded more as an educational project. It has hosted over 6,000 participants over what has been almost 40 years. Each person that participates brings part of their experience home with them and to their communities and professional disciplines, disseminating the principles learned.