12th Hour For Arcology
Truly it is the 11th hour for humanity, so when the 11th Hour documentary came out, I rushed to see it. I wondered if the film would show me how humanity could overcome our multi-layered crisis of fossil fuel depletion, global warming, the lack of adequate housing around the world, and agricultural failure. Politicians don't seem to have plausible solutions. Would the experts in the documentary 11th Hour?
Great ideas in creating a new ecological paradigm are presented in the film, such as John Todd's idea of building living machines and William McDonough's ideas of building cities as efficiently as nature grows a forest. The film shows us the latest developments in hybrid cars and solar-powered single family houses. It shows us a way we can retrofit our present civilization with renewable energies. But is this the whole vision that we need? Biomimicing nature, building structures the way nature designs the biological world, is a key point in the film. But is retrofitting the old pattern of detached buildings and endless sprawl the best way to biomimic natural systems?
I knew that architect Paolo Soleri was one of the experts in the film. Since I knew his work on arcology, I was eager to see what he would say. Arcology is an architectural design approach that unites various part of the city into an integrated whole system. It is an energy efficient, pedestrian-centered development that integrates the living, working, social, commercial, industrial, and artistic aspects. In a car-free arcology, transportation networks connect parts of the city as easily as blood vessels and arteries circulate blood throughout a healthy human body. Natural landscapes are accessible within a walkable distance. Arcological design saves natural resources used in traditional transportation, heating/cooling and land use schemes because it brings biological and social systems together under one roof, a new realistic model of sustainable development for the world.
The practicality of building arcology is integrated yoga or union in that it fuses all societal disciplines together into a coherent whole. It is a framework in which intellectual disciplines merge in a way that creates harmony with the global ecology. Arcologies are designed into the watersheds and ecosystems within a particular bioregion. Each arcology is uniquely suited to its particular climate and surrounding landscape.
Using agricultural greenhouses as part of the heating and cooling "energy apron," arcology localizes food production. The energy apron envisioned as part of an arcology has a step-down terrace topography draped around the habitat. "Tree columns" support a taut membrane structure to cause a usable green-house effect. It delivers energy in three forms: warm air, hot water, and green food.
Experiments in Arcology
Experiments in arcology are being conducted in places around the world like in the United Arab Emirates which is building Masdar City, a $22 billion zero-waste, zero-carbon community. Another low-carbon city being built is Dongtan, an island off Shanghai.
Arcology not only disrupts the American Dream of life in suburbia, it replaces it with a new form of city design, a "biomorphic" city designed as a living entity based upon molecular structure.
Architect Vincent Callebaut, is using a similar approach to Soleri's arcology model to design in his visionary architectural drawings. He calls his urban designs "Ecopolis." His Lily Pad series shows the evolution of a seafaring ecopolis that integrates all renewable energies such as solar, geothermal, tidal, wind, and biomass within the infrastructure of the ecopolis. He writes that the metabolism of the city "would be in perfect symbiosis with the cycles of nature," and that ecopolis would be a "true biotope entirely recyclable."
Another project proposal describes how this new archetype might work is the Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid, to be built in the Tokyo Bay, Japan. Shimizu is designed to house 750,000 people. The mega-infrastructure will use super-strong, light-weight building materials -- carbon nanotubes -- that are being developed now to construct the 6,575 feet high city. The plan calls for the trusses to be coated with a photovoltaic film that will generate electricity for the city. The truss structure will be assembled by large robots. The trusses will also work as transportation nodes. Italian architect Dante Bini has proposed a construction process that uses air bladders to elevate the trusses into place. The Shimizu proposal not only gives us a glimpse into a completely new approach to urban life, but a fundamentally new construction process using robotics. Such an approach using robots as laborers frees humanity of the master/serf economy that built our present day oppressive civilization.
The geometry of Shimizu's pyramid exoskeleton is similar to the designs of Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes in that it biomimics crystalline structures. Fuller writes, "architecture of compression is replace by an architecture of tension, or equal stress, whereby the stress on the structure is carried equally across the entire form." What this means in terms of symbolism is that if we want to build a democratic city such a cooperative structure is necessary. The design of "equal stress" allows us to understand the function of the citizen or individual within the city. Each must carry her or his own weight to make the democracy work. With robots doing must of the construction labor, people will have time to become responsible, well-educated citizens able to wisely manage the planet.
Soleri who has been building his own arcology Arcosanti for 25 years in central Arizona, was included in the 11th Hour, but his idea of arcology wasn't brought up. In fact, on the 11th Hour web site, they don't even list him as a designer even though in 2007 the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum's Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to him at the White House. So, I was puzzled why Soleri appeared in the film, but he didn't talk of his evolutionary city design that has been the driving force behind his life.
Retrofitting the American Dream
I further noticed on the web site that Kenny Ausubel, founder of the Bioneers conference, was a central adviser to the film. The Bioneers deal with retrofitting our civilization with green technologies much more than with the idea of building a new pattern of ecocity design.
Using such an ideology allows life as we know it, the American Dream, the McMansion and the consumerist lifestyle, to go on with an upgraded national energy grid. One characteristic of capitalism is that it can mutate in order for the money to continue to flow to the power elite. Big oil tycoons such as T. Boone Pickens, who is investing in giant wind energy farms, will continue to control the grid as they have controlled the pipe lines to the oil. They may receive huge government subsidies for building the infrastructure while they personally prosper from the profits of cleaner power.
Electric cars might replace fossil fuel motors and suburbia could be lit to some extent by solar power panels installed on top of green roofs of two car garages. "Greening" current models, the old civilization gets a face lift. In many cases, these green developments become gated communities for those who have the money to live within the green zones of class-war-torn megalopolises.
The superrich may have access to the green technologies filtering air and water to themselves and to their offspring who might have to be conceived through the new reproductive technologies, while the poor continue suffering from life in toxic waste zones, existing on food that is innutritious. In a world where a billion people don't live in adequate housing, the parking garages for new hybrid cars attached to single-family houses is far better housing than many may every experience. Living outside gated communities and green zones, the poor's precious DNA is being rapidly destroyed from the toxic environment, giving birth to what may become a future generation of devolved mutants.
The capitalist solution is for consumers to buy smart: buying organic foods, natural fiber clothes, and eco-friendly carpets, bedding, and furniture. But the poor masses have no purchasing power within green capitalists' market solution to the crisis of "smart growth." And, the middle class is being slowly but surely squeezed out of existence by diminishing supply of resources.
The old civilization designs are not a viable means to house everyone sustainably because there are not enough building materials to go around using traditional building methods. Even to the extent that these materials can be procured and produced, they are further degrading the livability of the environment. In an article in Synthesis/Regeneration by Australian author Ted Trainer, "Renewable Energy Cannot Sustain a Consumer Society, he writes, "A global consumer-capitalist society cannot be made sustainable or just. We cannot solve the big global problems such a society generates unless we face up to transition to a very different kind of society."
Taking Care of Everyone
As much as it is an environmental crisis, it is a moral and spiritual crisis deep within the human heart that has created class warfare. The environmental crisis is only a reflection of inner, spiritual turmoil of living in an unsustainable, unjust civilization.
"Sustainable" stems from the Greek verb "prosecho" which means to take care and to take notice. It is time we take notice of the homeless and poverty stricken people around the planet and take care of them. Such care is an evolutionary necessity. At best, the approach that the 11th Hour advocates just buys a little time for an ever decreasing minority before catastrophic destabilization causes their façade to crumble. Thus pursuing the old archetype of civilization that allows the masses to live without adequate shelter is useless folly.
On the seal of the United State Interagency Council on Homelessness, it reads Domicilia Omnibus Americanus, "a home for every American." When the environmental movement co-opts this slogan as our underpinning principle then mobilizing to build a network of solar-powered arcologies to house everyone sustainably seems possible. In this spirit, architecture becomes a container for compassion, a home for all. To make the new model happen, common sense demands that we convert the one trillion dollar a year military budget away from intimidating weaker societies to give up their resources and into building a livable future by producing arcologies on a massive scale.
During World War II, the government put a moratorium on building new cars. It is time to do so again placing a moratorium not only on cars, but on new housing construction that falls within the framework of the old architectural paradigm. The war we are really confronting is not with other tribes within our own species, but with an increasingly hostile environment of our own making. Biologist James Lovelock writes, "By changing the environment we have unknowingly declared war on Gaia."
Climate reports don't look good for humanity. Last year's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reinforces Lovelock's observation. It says that the world needs to prepare for things to get very, very bad because the battle to create climate stabilization has been lost. We are headed towards catastrophic climate destabilization as the Earth's oceans and forests -- in their weakened states -- are losing their ability to soak up carbon pollution. In climate projections, it is assumed that natural CO2 sinks half of all carbon emissions. But now these natural sources are overwhelmed by the "fossil carbon pool" created from the release of coal, oil and gas deposits of CO2. Former head of the IPCC, Bob Watson, reported that world needs to prepare for a 4C degree rise, which would cause floods, extreme food and water shortages, and could produce hundreds of millions of environmental refugees.
In addressing the solution to global heating, we could scarcely do better than to follow some of the aspects Buckminister Fuller outlined in his book Critical Path. Unless people fulfill a critical service that requires them to be at a certain location, he says it is time to temporarily pay people to stay home from work until a complete evaluation of the current economy is conducted to determine how to retool a "smart growth" economic model with a steady-state economic model. Economist Herman Daly points out that "grow" is a verb meaning "to spring up and develop into maturity." He writes, "The very notion of growth includes some concept of maturity or sufficiency beyond which point physical accumulation gives way to physical maintenance: that is, growth gives way to a steady state." He says we must remember that "growth" is not synonymous with "better."
To move us away from "growth" into "steady-state" such an economic evaluation of our current economy is called for because most jobs in our society just waste the energy (especially fossil fuels) needed to construct or sustain a livable model. With many Americans commuting two hours a day from their homes to work, paying people to stay at home is a fiscally responsible way to begin our severe conversion efforts because many jobs go into destroying the ecology rather than healing it. This would be done in conjunction with implementing comprehensive public transportation and a fair permit issuing process to regulate travel and transportation outside the public system.
Along with retooling our economy, we must retool our educational system to meet the needs of moving us into a network of arcologies. To stop this brain drain and misdirection of human resources, and to save the remaining oil reserves from being wasted in metastasizing suburbia, a new purpose for education needs to be immediately integrated and administered. No longer can the hidden agenda of education be to get a college degree in order achieve the well-paying career needed to qualify for credit cards, car loans, and home mortgages so as to buy into the "debt until death trap" of the hyper consumerist suburban dystopia. The unsustainable "deathstyle" of the American dream of education must be replaced using a transparent educational curriculum of constructing a network of arcologies for our evolutionary survival.
The task of educators becomes to convince a generation that is it time for them to abandon the ever degrading inertia of suburbia and find a part to play within these massive engineering projects that building arcology requires. As a container for our survival, through its symbolic beauty and the profound life-meaning it offers us, arcology opens a way for collaborative leadership to envision a better world. It is a collective way that we can shed the old membrane of massive illusion and build a new membrane that inspires everyone.
One of our first tasks in this vision to build a network of arcologies is to build a world energy grid energized with renewable energy not only using Earth-based renewables, but by building solar powered satellites that beam solar energy from outer space. The plan is to immediately convert outer space military laser weapons technology (designed to send death rays) into solar powered satellites which use the sun as a fusion nuclear power plant. The outer space solar collectors convert energy into microwaves and beam the energy into collectors on Earth 24 hours, day and night. The "Gaia grid" would be the energy source needed for the construction of arcologies in different bioregions around the world.
Public transportation networks composed of mag lev trains could use energy from the world-energy grid and other renewable sources to move people from arcology to arcology. Arcologies would also have a fleet of publically-owned vehicles for personal and professional uses outside the boundaries of the arcology for accessibility of wilderness areas.
With the building of a Gaia Grid comes the need to build something like Buckminster Fuller's idea of an Earth Bank. Global managers would be responsible for the accounting, distribution, and protection of our "natural capital" using a world-wide computer data bank. Other councilors oversee the world-energy grid, seeing to it that energy and other resources are distributed fairly throughout the world. Such cooperation could well be a means to surviving global climate change and building a planetary culture that is freed from needs -- a post-scarcity world which would truly bring about global security.
Using our remaining oil supplies to research and develop arcology would mean using advanced computer technologies and robots to their fullest degree. Within an arcology, life-support systems such as the filtration of air and water are maintained by artificial intelligence. Think of an arcology running as efficiently, automatically, and effortlessly as the movement of oxygen, nutrients, and wastes in and out of cells in our bodies, doing an estimated six trillion things per second. Each organelle within the cell has an important part to play in the overall heath of the organism just as every citizens of an arcology would know what they must do in order to keep the arcology healthy. Arcology, then, becomes the body politic of humanity. If the way we have designed cities has created the monoculture of suburban waste and a global shopping mall and is the source of our crisis, then designing arcologies that restore wholeness is our answer.
So the question we can not ignore is should we use up diminishing fossil fuel reserves to patch up the old, gluttonous, decaying civilization or do we re-direct the energy to build a new one that works.
Arcology is not a step backward in time to reshape sprawl into the images of home town, Main Street, USA as the New Urbanists visualize. It is a quantum leap to a new civilization pattern. Lovelock writes, "We are the species equivalent of that schizoid pair, Mr. Hype and Dr Jekyll; we have the capacity for disastrous destruction but also the potential to found a magnificent civilization." Arcology is that magnificent civilization.
Our global crisis is not individual in nature, but collective, which means the crisis requires public resources and a collective solution. Because arcology requires a steady-state economy, it is based on allocating resources, not privatizing them. Thus it may be difficult for some to comprehend the way an arcology works without accepting a collective point of view. Such a viewpoint is diametrically opposed to the American dream lifestyle of 4% of the world's population consuming 25% of the planet's resources. The arcology model utilizes efficiency, frugality, and mutualism. Using a fraction of the landscape of traditional farming practices and city designs, the arcology model saves landscape for forests, wetlands, and for other natural areas to go back to the wildness needed for Gaia to regulate the climate. Lovelock writes, "The natural ecosystems of the Earth are not just there for us to take as farmland; they are there to sustain the climate and the chemistry of the planet." When adopted, the arcology model becomes a healing biotope within the planetary superorganism.
The government needs to be prodded into backing arcology with the effort that went into the Manhattan Project except this project builds the container for a whole new kind of society that engenders and ensures peace. Whereas the Manhattan Project was a top secret nuclear project in the battle for victory in World War II, the Arcology Project must be public, inspiring a whole generation in our battle to regain our precious global balance with Earth.
Arcology as Shelter for the New Species and the Global Brain
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's Law of Complexity/Consciousness says that there is a tendency in matter "to complexify upon itself and at the same time to increase in consciousness." We see this complexity tendency in nature evolving from inanimate matter, to plant life, to animal life, to human life, moving in consciousness from the geosphere, to the biosphere, to the noosphere, the thinking-envelope around the world where brain waves are transmitted through our technology. In each stage, life increases in consciousness with the ability to reflect upon itself. Teilhard suggests that life has been on a spirally path that is moving toward a critical threshold what he termed the Omega Point where humanity reaches the highest point of complexification (socialization) and consciousness. In 1971, John David Garcia expanded the idea of Teilhard's Omega Point. He realized that to reach the Omega Point required not only increased intelligence, but more importantly, increased ethics.
Soleri calls this driving evolutionary movement of people into cities the Urban Effect which has now drawn most of the world's people into urban areas. When people live in densely populated areas the exchange of ideas and knowledge intensifies causing an acceleration of evolution. His formula for evolution is Miniaturization + Complexity = Duration, what he calls the MCD paradigm. I've added to his formula to make it more clear how intertwined our cultural evolution is to designing a new container allowing for greater social cooperation, synergy and interdependence.
Complexity = Internet = Interdependence
Miniaturation = Arcology = Synergy
Duration = Sustainability = Cooperation
The new miniaturized form of the city does more with less, allowing the social organism of humanity the possibility of surviving for a longer time frame than was possible in its old form of civilization. An example of the Urban Effect can be seen through invention of the computer.
In the 1970's computers were as big as large rooms, but as computer chips grow in power and speed, they miniaturized, becoming not only smaller but faster and more complex, doing more with less, that is. With computer chip miniaturization came the use of desk top computers which made computer technology accessible to the average person, expanding its realm of consciousness. Our current MCD process of the Urban Effect is intimately connected with the world-wide computer network in co-creating the next stage of human civilization. Cyberspace is the place where carbon-based humans are merging with silicon-based intelligence in a way that has the potential to be liberating for all.
Now on the verge of artificial intelligence becoming self-aware, its complexity factor is exponential.
Founder and CEO of 03B Networks Greg Wyler explains the mission of his corporation on a CNN web report. O3B stands for the other three billion people in the world who are not yet connected to the Internet because they live in a "developing country" in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. They are not connected because the price to connect has been too expensive, but Wyler plans to change this by launching communication satellites needed to connect the rest of the world by 2010 in a way that is affordable to Third World people. Wyler says his goal is not only to increase the world's information exchange, but to build economic growth in developing regions.
When the 03B Network theoretically connects everyone in the world to images of First World lifestyle, it will not take people in failed nations to learn, as Ted Trainer writes that, "We in rich countries could not have such high ‘living standards' if we were not taking most of the world's resources and wealth and condemning the Third World to a form of ‘development' which benefits us and our corporations but not the mass of the Third World people." Opening up the minds of the world to our present injustices and unattainable lifestyles will only foster massive resentment, rebellion, and war as well as uncheck human greed for the material goods of First World lifestyle unless a new image of development is immediately put into place.
In our current chaotic situation within the ecumenopolis, the tentacles of urban sprawl have spread out all over the planet. The Internet could be seen as the elementary neural system of this planet-metropolis seeking a way to metamorphose into a network of arcologies so that it has a new more complex body. Cyberspace becomes Gaia's cerebral cortex in that it can be considered to be both the body or the hardware of technology, and the mind, or human spirit -- the software of the global brain. Seeing the true mission of the Internet as being the cerebral cortex of Gaia -- a Superorganism in which humanity is a part -- we recognize its purpose is to become a global network of super intelligence and wisdom necessary for its next great evolutionary step.
Such a step is as giant as when prokaryotic organelles, our primordial cells, banded together to create the eukaryotic cell in order to create a membrane for protection from a toxic environment. Prokaryotes overpopulated. Their waste product was oxygen. In order to survive in an oxygenated atmosphere, a new container for life was necessary. So, this is not the first time in the history of life on Earth where atmospheric chemistry was changed due to a species' pollution. Of course, this time around, the toxic gas that is causing the evolutionary drivers of change is CO2. So, it is not the first time that pollution threatens a species with extinction unless it evolves into something else.
Arcology becomes the home of this new evolving species which futurist Barbara Marks Hubbard calls the universal human. Each arcology built would be a node of this planetary nervous system which has been termed a cyborgism (cybernetic organism). Since arcology is a system that biomimics Gaia, its complexity will surpass human capacities as computerized social structures within the network of arcologies become far too complex to comprehend. Teilhard imagines that when this critical threshold occurs, consciousness will rupture rising itself to a higher plane of existence from which it can not go back.
Could this step be the moment when Teilhard's Omega Point, Ray Kurzweil's Singularity, and Einstein's Grand Unification happen, when artificial intelligence unites with the ethical human mind to create a new superhuman species? Could this be a simultaneous moment when machines become self-aware and humans become enlightened to their next evolutionary move?
The Internet, Suprasexuality, and Arcology
In a New York Times article, Survey Asks: Internet Access or Sex? (December 12, 2008), Ashlee Vance reports that "46 percent of women and 30 percent of men would opt to forgo sex for two weeks rather than give up access to their precious Internet for the same period." This is not surprising since we live in an overpopulated world that is headed toward the chaos point if we can't birth into existence a more complex pattern of civilization.
Barbara Marx Hubbard explains that we are moving from sexual arousal caused by the desire to reproduce, to being aroused by the desire to cocreate, fusing genesis codes --these blueprints for an intelligent species surviva -- instead of our genetic codes which has caused our species to overpopulate. Joining genius codes, what she calls suprasexuality doesn't create babies, but it does have the potential to birth arcologies. Thus, supra sex associated with cocreation has the potential to drastically decrease the human population to move us into a steady-state economy. Suprasexuality that is based on caring for the planet's long-term future moves us out of our patriarchal ego-based civilization to a partnership, geo-based global culture where the new civilization's duration is counted in terms of a geological timeframe. Suprasexuality focused on constructing arcologies and the collective life-style pattern that it requires is the bases of Lovolution, a non-violent world-wide metamorphosis.
The purpose of Cyberspace becomes clear. It is not to foster a culture of pornography and simulated war games (as much bandwidth within Cyberspace is being use now), but to be a virtual shelter for philosophic eros, where ideas for our survival have a chance to synthesize. One of the most important jobs during this transition stage from metropolis to arcology is for computer programmers to invent the software needed to organize pleasure teams required to build arcologies. The blueprints will become more complex as people of the world discover the merits of the programming. Selecting a pleasure team in which to join will be the call of the individual. Within the arcology paradigm, making money in order to make a living is no longer relevant to finding a job. Finding one's inner desire and innate talents is what counts.
Cyberspace has the potential to create world democracy for the first time in the history of civilization as the economic base moves from industrial to a global resource organization. The potential to form a new global power structure of the people moving us beyond kings, oligarchy, dictatorships, stifling bureaucracies, and capitalist pseudo-democracies is possible. But presently, this emerging super-intelligence has outgrown its shell, so to speak, and it is searching for a more fitting space where it may excel, mature, morph, and miniaturize into its new urban form.
Our planet has been consumed by an unsustainable planetary megalopolis. Those who feel the call of leadership within this arcology vision must remain patient and calm under the stress of living in time of extreme systems failure. It seems apparent that the formation of this new blueprint of a network of arcologies is being drawn in Cyberspace as more and more of our technologies allow for greater connectivity, synthesis, greater speed of information flow, and global organization.
What is to be done?
The makers of the 11th Hour and Bioneers' advisor Kenny Ausubel were not consciously aware of how central the concept of arcology is to the ecological debate on what to do about living in a globally heated world. Maybe in their minds, arcology, ecopolis or ecocity is confusing or too huge a task for the public eye.
Perhaps Bioneers as a group need to step outside of the old civilization model and participate in a conference on "Manifesting an Arcology." That is a starting point to visualize a model arcology in its totality, both its physical and social architecture: how sciences, art, education, healthcare, and industry would interact within a new steady-state, low-carbon economy. Using Barbara Marx Hubbard's Wheel of Cocreation, we already have a way to organize the different fields bringing in cutting-edge experts who see that the arcology provides the best shell in which to repattern civilization. Their presence would be to represent the various spokes on the wheel. Their role as experts would be to imagine the best possible live/work environment for their discipline so that we can get an overall picture of the interiorization of arcology.
Using the "what if" scenario of building an arcology on a parcel of state or federal land (such as on Arizona State Trust Land), we would have physical locations in which to map out our strategy to take back our democracy by building a truly democratic ecological city in North America. Using Hubbard's Peace Room model, we would be able to map out the social experiments that are making some success, such as Auroville in India, Tamera in Portugal, Twin Oaks in Virginia, Findhorn in Scotland, Damanher in Italy, and other intentional communities around the planet whose knowledge can be appropriated and fostered within the arcology model.
The conference attendants should be given time for input and feedback so that there is a balance between experts (the meritocracy) and the people (democracy) creating a "synergistic democracy." Using electronic personal voting pads similar to the ones used at the San Francisco Global Summit 2008, each participate could vote on the manifesto being created.
State of the World Forum and Wisdom University is holding a similar conference to the one envisioned in this essay in Washington, DC November 2009 that will use an integral framework in which to develop a planetary vision and social movement for addressing global heating. Their call to action is an attempt to gather the "cultural creatives," a progressive group of American citizens who according to a recent study by sociologist Dr. Paul Ray account for roughly one third of the public.
According to the State of the World Forum website, "The new progressives have now reached critical mass so we must organize accordingly. We are no longer on the margins. As the largest single voter constituency, we now constitute the emerging center of gravity for politics, values and culture." The goal of the conference is to guide this critical mass from being a population into being a political group that has the influence to produce lasting change.
What I have attempted to do in this essay is to convince "cultural creatives" that we have an architectural framework of a car-free ecological city in which to build to restore our health and revitalize our collective energy. We don't need to reinvent the wheel. We need to put arcology in the center of Hubbard's Wheel of Cocreation and collectively work out its social architecture.
I discussed the arcology theory with Dr. Ray some years ago. He thought Soleri's Arcosanti was a failure. On that point I agree with Ray. Because of the lack of complexity, consciousness, and freedom within the social hierarchy of the project, it has not been able to attract its proposed "critical mass" of 5,000 people. Moreover, Ray said Soleri's designs in his book City in the Image of Man were simply too big and would require a suppressive bureaucracy or fascistic government in which to manage it. Since that discussion, computerized management has accelerated. The nature of our housing crisis now mushrooming requires compact, impressive architecture in which a new form of clean "cradle-to-cradle" industries and green-collar jobs can manifest.
Soleri is a half genius who saw the need to build a sustainable urban design without the automobile. Now we are waiting for the other half of the genius required to manifest arcology, the power of the people -- that spirit of a true global democracy to design the interiorization of arcology, a morphic field necessary for its materialization. It is up to the cultural creatives to invent a social architecture so that arcology can be a model of liberation.
Jim Garrison, founder of Wisdom University said in an address to the democratic national convention in Denver, "We are not in a global crisis because there are no solutions. We are in a global crisis because we are not adopting the technological solutions that have been here for a very long time." The word architecture is composed of three words: arch which means primal or prototype, the epitome of the good, a model from which all others are created; techne a Greek word from which technology is derived; and ure the Greek word for substance or matter. In short, the word architecture means spirit-making-matter. Once the spirit of democracy is found within the arcology building process, then the "how-to" needed to build an arcology can be addressed as well as the issue of calculating and accounting for the materials needed to build a world-wide network of arcologies. It is time to make arcology work as our shelter from the storm. It is an ark which can save habitat needed by plants and animals to recover from the onslaught of urban sprawl.
As the 11th Hour so vividly portrayed, the ocean is dying and, with the death of important oxygen producers -- the phytoplankton -- so are we. Yes, this indeed is the 12th hour! Will a network of arcologies be born or will eukaryotic cells, the cells that make up the human body, suffocate in the CO 2 polluted air?
Lester Brown makes the point in his book Plan B that "Saving civilization will take a massive mobilization, and at wartime speed." Paul Ray's statistics show that 70-80% of American people want a plan to bring about social justice, a sustainable economy, and care for the ecology. They are willing to take action on global warming. Building arcology is the plan of action that can mobilize the masses. If the new administration doesn't respond to the arcology solution by funding urgent urban laboratories on federal or state public land, then design/science teams will have to go directly to the people with educational campaigns, town meetings, etc., for civilization to avoid the converging catastrophes.
Noted inventor Ray Kurzweil pointed out that ideas are patterns; technology is a pattern. The heart of human intelligence is pattern recognition. He says that our ability to recognize patterns accounts for 99% of our intelligence. Above all, arcology is the pattern of an evolved civilization. Can we see it in time?Tweet