Monday, December 21, 2009

Building Community

That was my theme when I served as AIA Chapter President in 2000, and it continues to serve as the part of the social capital component of my approach to sustainable urban planning and architecture. The other component, also missing in the calculations of the development community, is natural capital. One vision that integrates all of these elements is continuing to evolve out on the mesa above Scottsdale, Arizona. This is the Arcosanti "arcology" by Paolo Soleri that's shown in the video above.

I was a workshopper for a summer in 1978, and it was concurrent with coursework at SLO that involved the investigation of evolutionary concepts related to "Omega Point" and extensively elaborated graphically and textually by Soleri in his monographs. It's resulted in a form-based solution to human habitation at a different scale that incorporates landscapes and structures based on community and natural capitalism, i.e., living with the means of natural and human resources. It's about connections and how art, community, urban design, construction and site-based design come together in novel ways.

This vision is grounded in understanding place and form, as well as natural processes. It's about the special experience of a place and its nature, rather than the imposition of generated forms into the urban fabric or natural environment regardless of scale. These are the valuable lessons that arise from understanding a place and the needs of the people and institutions that inhabit this place. Sometimes the answer, after all the solution-seeking, is not "a building".
(Note that you might have to switch to Internet Explorer to view this video)