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September 29, 2007

Arcosanti near Scottsdale, Arizona

I haven't been there and will probably forget this place before I am able to venture to Arizona, but it is interesting. On September 16th the New York Times had an article describing Arcosanti and Arcology, a made up term to describe this style of eco-design/living. Cosanti is an experimental city in the Arizona desert, designed by Italian Architect Paolo Soleri. It was started in 1970 and still in construction. It was designed to redesign the 'City' and our relationship to the planet.
I don't want to be critical without first understanding the principles behind it, but I will be critical with the caveat that this is just a feeling i had...
How can you design a city without people first? This City will consist of all people who buy into the architects dream of what the city should be like. Like-minded people all in their own cultish way supporting someone's vision. And that may work for a designed culture, but how about for existing urban centers that are dying? Maybe some of the ideas can be transferred, but more likely they are filtered because they probably wouldn't let joe schmoe move in and start an adult sex toy shop, or let a messy recycling operation co-exist with the chamber orchestra. People's individual dreams and the striving to reach them really seem to fuel a thriving community. Those dreams are chaotic and extremely diverse. Not so in a utopian vision of architected lifestyle. I should really learn more about the experimental city, but this feels like to me to be just like so many other architectural/social constructions, where the design is created and then the people are found to live the vision. Seems backwards to me. I would like to see planners and architects find a community and redesign it to meet whatever the community needs and want's, to bring them closer and help them all fulfill their own dreams, no matter how chaotic and vibrant that gets. Is that possible?

Posted by carl1236 at September 29, 2007 5:26 PM | Life