Arcology: A New Social Paradigm
21st Century architecture

  • container for conscious evolution, “Gaian Mind”
  • greater complexity, freedom, and order
  • whole-systems, whole-city container, one-world design
  • compact, efficient, pedestrian-centered urban ecology
  • community oriented, just society
  • organic agriculture
  • cradle-to-cradle pollution free industry
  • Gaia's cosmic solar power economics (Solartopia)
  • longevity of structure (thousand year plan)
  • less vulnerable to natural disasters ( not built on earthquake zones,)
  • aesthetic transfiguration of the Earth, interiorization of Gaia
  • home of the universal human, a transcultural structure

Conscious evolution : “natural selection toward conscious ethical choice through human ability to affect nature: the meta-discipline of our age, a discipline in which every field and function of human endeavor recognizes itself as an aspect of a universal process that moves toward greater complexity, freedom and order.” Barbara Marx Hubbard

greater complexity, freedom, and order: We are moving from a nation state system of a perpetual war economy that has led us down the highway to social incivility and chaos, global warming, and the threat of nuclear war, to one that uses conscious evolution to plan a more complex global system. To do this, it is vital that we visualize the city in a radically new way, what Paolo Soleri calls arcology , a design where architecture and ecology work “as one integral process.” To evolve beyond social alienation and war to a more complex model requires us to understand Soleri's formula of the Complexity--Miniaturization—Duration.

Life from bacteria to Deity is continuously becoming more complex. As human science, technology, communications network and knowledge of human behavior and cultures become more multifaceted, our social and physical organizations and institutions also need to evolve. But architecture and housing patterns within cities haven't changed for thousands of years. Our perceptions and ideas have transformed the way we see the world and ourselves, but the container which we house ideas hasn't made dramatic shifts. Consequently, our concepts have outgrown the container. Now, because of this lack of structural evolution, we are in an urban and energy crisis that is threatening the biosphere with global climate change. We must change or perish.

Soleri explains that miniaturization is the container for complexity. Think of complexity as the nervous system, or in communication terms, as the Internet, the beginning of a “Global Brain.” Since it (the Internet) is more metaphysical than physical, let's give this matrix a more poetic name, the “Gaian Mind” made up of interdependent souls that make up the network.

We are at the point in the evolution of our communication technologies that they are making life more complicated and stressful rather than simplifying and bringing meaning into our lives. Urban sprawl has made it more difficult for face to face interaction. Living under unrealistic economic pressures, wars, and stressful schedules, there is little time and peace of mind to engage in personal freedom, creativity and activities that foster love. Urban life has become far too complicated, and in many instances, has become a transportation nightmare.

So what is needed for the Gaian Mind to be happy and free of centuries of suffering is for the collective imagination to envision a new container or the miniaturization of the city, an arcology developed with sustainable technologies. For this to be accomplished, greater global cooperation and social synergy is required to deliver duration, an environmentally stable world order based on arcology which has the potential to bring us far more personal and social liberty. When the Complexity--Miniaturation,--Duration imperative is set into motion, we experience Lovolution, a non-violent planetary transformation that activates a radical shift in the way we govern ourselves and ultimately, the way we design cities, work and live within them.

Soleri writes, “Complexification is the "metaphysical" side of Miniaturization without which M is hollow, a container in search of a content, a mechanism devoid of intent.” What I am realizing as I write these paragraphs is that complexification is the evolved pattern, the mind of Gaia or planetary consciousness that is intent on saving the biosphere from being destroyed for sentient beings. Without this spiritual goal, M remains hollow and unable to spark the Lovolution needed to set the new pattern of local/global cooperation and synergy into motion.


Move from King C.O.N.G—Coal, Oil, Nukes, and Gas-- to a Green Energy Trinity , direct solar and indirect forms of solar power such as windmills and hydroelectric dams. Energy crops such as hemp and switch grass, as well as, non-solar renewable such as geothermal energy and tidal energy.

Cradle-to-Cradle Industrial Model

  • nature as guide
  • economic productivity supports health of humans and the environment
  • materials flow cyclically in continuous biological or technical closed-looped nutrient cycles
  • in nature: growth, decay and rebirth; in industry: production, recovery, and reuse
  • every material supports life, biodegrade safely, restoring soil after use, generating more positive effects
  • human settlements designed are regenerative cycles; human footprints delight nature
  • new strategy of eco-effectiveness: waste equals food for another (Intelligent Product System: nutrients cycles);
  • use current solar income (living things thrive on the energy of the sun);
  • respect diversity, natural systems celebrate diversity.

Continuous biological or technical closed-looped nutrient cycles

Nutrient flow and metabolism—waste doesn't exist

1. Products of consumption—biological nutrients, organic metabolism

2. Products of service—products of technological cycles to be returned to manufacturer.

Separate cycles so that technological cycles do not contaminate biological cycles.

Commit to a new paradigm, rather than to an incremental improvement of the old. The intention is not to be slightly more efficient, to improve on the old model, but to change the framework itself.

William McDonough and Michael Braungart

Neutopian Global Economy Model

  • from owner based culture to user based culture
  • community land trust model: no one owns the land
    and the natural resources
  • common wealth = common sense = six sense
  • from car-based economy to a care-based, public transportation economy

The Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators

“are a contribution to the worldwide effort to develop comprehensive statistics of national well-being that go beyond traditional macroeconomic indicators. A systems approach is used to illustrate the dynamic state of our social, economic and environmental quality of life. The dimensions of life examined include: education, employment, energy, environment, health, human rights, income, infrastructure, national security, public safety, re-creation and shelter."

Health of the ecology is the indicator of the health of the economy.


Image by Paolo Soleri



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