Arcology

simcity arco

Arcology, a portmanteau of the words ‘architecture’ and ‘ecology,’ 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 would contain a variety of residential, commercial, and agricultural facilities and minimize individual human environmental impact.

They are often portrayed as self-contained or economically self-sufficient. The concept has been primarily popularized, and the term itself coined, by architect Italian-American architect, Paolo Soleri, and appears commonly in science fiction.

An arcology is distinguished from a merely large building in that it is supposed to sustainably supply all or most of the resources for a comfortable life: power, climate control, food production, air and water purification, sewage treatment, etc.. An arcology would need no connections to municipal or urban infrastructure in order to operate.

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.

Paolo Soleri proposed later solutions, and coined the term ‘arcology’. Soleri describes ways of compacting city structures in three dimensions to combat two-dimensional urban sprawl, and economize on transportation and other energy uses. Like Wright, Soleri proposed important changes in transportation, agriculture, and commerce. Soleri explored reductions in resource consumption and duplication, land reclamation, and proposed to eliminate most private transportation. He favored greater use of shared social resources like public libraries.

The largest arcology project under current development is Masdar City near Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. It is projected to house between 45,000 and 50,000 inhabitants on 6 square kilometers, and to have a sustainable, zero-carbon, zero waste ecology.

Arcosanti is an experimental town under construction in central Arizona. Designed by Paolo Soleri, its primary purpose is to demonstrate principles of arcology.

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