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"…but i really like my car."

Over time the domestic landscape has evolved along with technology. As settlements developed they transformed from church based communities to the individual based “gated communities.? We are driven by consumption into a future in which we are disconnected from each other and the environment.

Landscape designer J. B. Jackson explored the evolution of the American landscape from New English village to “modern gated communities.? The typical New English village had a focus on the church. The individuals had their place in the community, united by a common religious bond. During this time period the little energy consumed was renewable. Then small towns developed across the United States. The focus of the towns moved from the church and to the family. This was the high point of “the American home.? The increase in individual’s independence called for an increase in energy consumption. Then the modern town was made possible by the automobile. Highways allowed people to work in the city and live in suburbs and gated communities. The modern town had a complete focus on the individual. With parents spending time in the city and commuting families have deteriorated. This lifestyle requires an enormous consumption of nonrenewable resources.

Where do we proceed from here? That is the question. The architect Paolo Soleri had one proposal: an Archology. An archology uses architecture to create a self-contained city. The idea is to increase population density and decrease the environmental impact. An example is Arcosonti. The interconnected town brings back a sense of community. The people there lead productive lives. They live, work, farm, cook, and eat together. This lifestyle promotes interactions that create social unification. Soleri utilizes some passive technologies. He takes advantage of the sun and wind to maintain a comfortable temperature in the Arizona desert. However, this does not significantly decrease energy consumption. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart say in Cradle to Cradle “…being ‘less bad’ is no good.?

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Image 1

Architect William McDonough has a different approach. He does not directly reinforce social unification; however, he has an amazing sustainable philosophy. “Consider the cheery tree; thousands of blossoms create fruit for birds, humans, and other animals, in order that one pit might eventually fall onto the ground, take root, and grow…The tree makes copious blossoms and fruit without depleting its environment. Once they fall on the ground, their materials decompose and break down into nutrients…? (McDonough 73) He suggests using building materials that are not harmful and may even be beneficial to the environment. He encourages the recycling process to be included in the initial design process. Finally, he has designed a building that actually functions like a tree.

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Andy Goldsworthy says “life ebbs and flows?. Modern centers of life, cities, have evolved to only consume the natural flow of energy. Even the inhabitants of these cities are disconnected from each other and the flow of social interaction. Paolo Soleri and William McDonough have provided two approaches to help reconnect us to the environment. What would J. B. Jackson record as the next transformation in the domestic landscape?

Image 1 http://picasaweb.google.com/EGDEric/EricArcosantiPhotos/photo#51113197040771453783
Image 2 http://architecturelab.wordpress.com/2008/01/14/mcdonough-reveals-tree-tower-concept/

McDonough, William and Michael Braungart. Cradle to Cradle. New York: North Point Press, 2002.