Sacred Arcology Verses the New Urbanism

By Doctress Neutopia

Summer 2007

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Our species is in dire need of a vision that uplifts us into harmony with a healed global ecology. What we need from our architects, engineers, urban planners, and landscape architects is a sustainable model that is original and radically different from what 20 th Century urban planning has offered us--a vision that can inspire a whole generation of thinkers and doers to build an ecological city, or arcology, powered by the sun and based on our newest insights into the sacred nature of our planet and its inhabitants.

Albert Einstein once cogently wrote that “the world will not evolve past its current state of crisis by using the same thinking that created the situation.” Recently I attended the final evaluation of Tucson, Arizona by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Sustainable Design Assessment team. I was hoping to connect with others who have arrived at this new level of sustainable thinking. But what I found instead was the same old development pattern, deceptively dressed up in a few unsustainable and individualistically oriented “green” technologies. The model ecovillage development near Tucson that they were praising is called Civano, which they tout as a prime example of the New Urbanism.

The New Urbanism 

The New Urbanism uses a traditional approach to neighborhood design while claiming to put architecture back on a “human scale.” Walking through Civano that day made me feel intense nostalgia for the time when America consisted of small town, Jeffersonian family farm communities, when people knew and cared about their neighbors and had more of a direct connection with the Earth.

Civano homes use passive solar energy, solar hot water heaters, cool towers, water harvesting, and other green technologies within single-family houses, each of which has a two-car garage. Located at the edge of urban sprawl, it isn't on a public bus route, so having a car is a necessity.

When I saw the Civano community center, my heart ached for interaction with true community, because I realized that I had been living without such interaction all my life. At present I live surrounded by a “grey city” and deprived of community involvement. At first, walking around the narrow, winding streets of Civano put me in a good mood. I even imagined myself living there, having the key that opened the door into the swimming pool area. I had fleeting thoughts of getting a bank loan to raise enough money to move into this upper-middle-class housing development, where I could become part of the privileged few who are well-off enough to “go green.” I argued with myself: As one person, how could I possibly find a way to save the world anyway? Why shouldn't I live as green as possible and just not think about the rest of humanity? Of course, these thoughts didn't last, because they go against everything I believe.

Later, as I left Civano, I noticed other new housing developments spotting the hills with newly built houses. My mind left the fantasy land that is Civano as I emerged back into the real world. Now I was back on the road, fighting miles and miles of traffic in order to return to the Mexican barrio where I live near downtown Tucson . I realized that Civano is essentially an isolated and unsustainable cul-de-sac, because the main, unsolvable problem with Civano is that it is dependent on, and an extension of, the car culture.

During their presentation, one AIA Assessment team presenter had encouraged the use of biodiesel cars. But running a car using green energy doesn't touch the issue of the automobile culture itself. Using such a car solves a few problems associated with the automobile (even big ones like gasoline-related air pollution and our addiction to foreign oil), but it doesn't eliminate the problems created by the car itself--from traffic deaths to traffic jams to, most importantly, the valuable space wasted on highways and parking lots. Biodiesel cars also create new problems, the main one being the ethical dilemma of growing crops for fuel when there are so many hungry people in the world. The social inequalities of the car-have and car-have-nots would still be with us with the conversion from fossil fuels to biodiesel cars.

Square miles upon square miles of placeless suburban neighborhoods can not be refitted for walk-ability within the perimeter of a modern city, because the latter's design is based an autotopia. Car selection “choices” and home addresses reflect and reinforce our class divisions. Further, while biodiesel cars work well for the privileged few within the New Urbanism vision, and though they demonstrate that the technology for clean fuel is here, they fail to address our need for a public transportation network. Civano isn't the solution to ending urban sprawl; it is just developing “greener” sprawl, while destroying precious desert land.

Sacred Arcology

So, the fundamental unspoken problem with the AIA Sustainable Design team's attempt to “green” a city and its environs is that the whole infrastructure is basically flawed. The New Urbanism doesn't provide us with an overarching framework to redesign cities that work for everyone. Architect Paolo Soleri has called a horizontal-city approach to design, “a better kind of wrongness.”

Religious and spiritual questions are basic to humanity's quest for wholeness. A characteristic common to all patriarchal religions is that they strictly divide space into the sacred and the profane. We live in a fragmented culture that fails to unite “reality” and mystery, a union that is critical to the creation of global sustainability. Here, too, the AIA team failed to offer me an image that can solve these ancient religious dualities. Lacking a non-patriarchal divine component, the AIA plan prevented me, for one, from experiencing those moments of “cognitive ecstasy” that come when I recognize a sustainable pattern of development.

Moving from an unsustainable to a sustainable global culture is a paradigm conversion, a structural transformation of networks and hierarchies. It restructures value systems by stretching the boundaries within which we normally think and feel. Metanoia, a Greek word meaning a profound change of heart and mind, must take place so that we can truly see architecture in terms of new possibilities. Only with metanoia will we let go of old rigidities, and turn ourselves in a new architectural direction that can free our imaginations to find real solutions to our mammoth problems.

To arrive at good living design, architect William McDonough asks the questions, “How do we secure the local society, create world peace, and save the environment? How do we love all the children of all species for all time?” But these sorts of questions, of course, went unasked by the AIA Assessment team. What I mean by a holistic or non-dualistic approach is that the sacred design not only fuses architecture and ecology, but unites art and science, matriarchy and patriarchy, spirit and matter, the cave and the clearing, and darkness and light. It understands apparent dualities as different sides of one reality.

Holistic architecture makes us conscious of the sustainable design model that has been buried within our collective unconscious for thousands of years. This planetary field is a self-organizing consciousness that can bring about morphogenesis. In developmental biology, morphogenesis creates the shape of cells. In terms of culture, morphogenesis is creation of new, interconnected forms within a planetary grid. As people recover such long-lost memories, a new/old planetary morphogenetic field will open up.

An architecture that arises from our collective unconscious needs a new vocabulary. One important word in that new vocabulary is arcology, a term coined by Soleri meaning ecologically sound, evolutionarily based, architecture. For me, arcology must include positive ideas about the natural and spiritual world, the social order, and the physical infrastructure. For modern civilization to mutate into arcology, every piece of the spiritual, natural, physical, and social system has to “mutate” simultaneously in one transformative process. Leaving out one part or step will lead to a dead end. It's all or nothing, like a caterpillar's mysterious metamorphosis into an entirely new form that can fly!

Our planet Gaia is, in the view of many, becoming aware of itself through humanity's own cultural evolution. The non-material morphic energy field is an invisible blueprint used to peacefully point us toward the next phase of architectural development. It is guiding us toward ways to integrate isolated pieces of data and separate insights into a coherent system of relationships that can in turn form a new global framework.

It's no wonder that architecture has been called the “mother of the arts.” It is surely the highest and most complete artistic expression for creating infrastructural change, as well as the spiritual changes that will accompany such change. It creates the foundation upon which all other art forms are built. It represents an ideology. Great architecture must reflect not only cosmic order, but cosmic mystery and magic as well. Ecological architecture is both a symbol and a shelter--a symbol of divine reality created with the intention of communicating eternal truth, and a shelter for our physical bodies in order to provide for our biological needs and those of generations to come. Built upon a vision of eternity, great architecture thus transcends our mortal lives.

Architecture that lacks insight into cosmic order and its own social significance within a culture means that all the other arts suffer from loss of purpose and meaning. In the United States, we see evidence of this loss now in the general public's indifference towards the need for social and economic support of the arts. Thus, most artists in the richest nation on Earth nearly starve.

Architecture, then, is much more than a collection of separate buildings constructed by “signature architects,” as it has become in contemporary society. It is, rather, a whole belief system, as well as the physical manifestation of a morphic field. At its base, true architecture is religion--a system of seeing and living life.

To guide us away from global tragedy, we must choose to evolve by using our intuition and insight to build proper architectural frameworks for scientific, computer, engineering, and telecommunication technologies. We need to think of arcology in terms of a cross-millennial plan, built for eternity.

Sacred Geometry

To build for eternity requires that arcology be founded on a morphic blueprint that also uses a universal language. Galileo Galilei wrote, “You cannot understand the universe without learning first to understand the language in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its letters are triangles, circles, and other geometric forms. Without this language humans cannot understand a single word of the universe. Without it we wander in a dark labyrinth.”

Archetypal or sacred geometry has been called the scaffolding of reality, the symbolic language of the universe. Maria Szepes writes, “Symbols are the highest effective powers of nature, which are enclosed in the simplest possible form.” Because we did not base our civilization on the sacred geometry of the universe, we have ended up where we are today--in doomsday cities where people live meaningless and disempowered lives, so alienated from their true natures that they are destroying the planet. The chaotic design of modern cities is the antithesis of an eco-cosmic architecture, one that could free us to hear the iconic language of universal harmony, peace, and love, if we but could listen.

As stated above, the model of sacred arcology based upon the morphic field of sacred geometry contrasts sharply with patriarchal society's strict division of space into sacred and profane spheres. Built upon sacred geometry's pure forms, dynamic equilibriums, and eternal beauty, sacred arcology would mean the attainment of human spiritual wholeness. The ratios of universal creation would actually be embedded within the physical design of sacred geometry.

Living within a sacred arcology founded on sacred geometry would be an education in how to lead a self-reflective life in service to Gaia. It would give us a spatial representation of the inward journey toward the authentic Self. It would also teach us about social relationships, helping us discover our spiritual gifts and their place within the creative social order. We would learn about the forms of nature and their vibrational resonances. Natural shapes are energy emitters that produce a penetrating geometric wave form; their symbolic foundation finds the unity hidden in diversity and actually unites the two sexes, moving us towards the two-as-one world philosophy. Geometrically, this is represented in the form of the vesica piscis (two intersecting circles), one of the fundamental patterns found in nature. Moreover, visualizing reality in terms of sacred geometry directs us back to ancient high civilizations, thereby tying us to an invisible thread running through the perennial philosophy.

A geometer is a mathematician whose area of focus is geometry. Geometer Robert Lawlor writes, "the implicit goal of this education [is] to enable the mind to become a channel through which the 'earth' (the level of manifested form) could receive the abstract, cosmic life of the heavens.” Basing arcology on sacred geometry means that the entire new city becomes a vortex, attracting both the inner workings of the natural world and that of human consciousness. Such an edifice would allow anyone so predisposed to integrate oneself with the spirit of Gaia, the Goddess of our planetary support system. Arcology thus enables cosmic prayer, and building arcology becomes an act of worship. Uncovering the universal natural order on Earth, we could finally live by the Hermetic maxim, “ As above, so below; as below, so above; as within, so without; as without, so within.” In such a world, every creature becomes a channel to the holy. This, then, is the full meaning of an ecological architecture!

Arcology would become the magnum opus of society, a sacramental undertaking. Like the building of Chartres Cathedral, it would affect all of society. Medieval class, race, and gender divisions were transcended during the building of this cathedral, as both rich and poor worked together over generations to haul stones to the site in wagons. On a more mundane level, in our globally warmed world, only arcology can provide the type of sustainable shelter necessary for our species' physical survival.

One theory about the building of the Great Pyramids is that they were not built by slave labor. Instead, there was a call for the best craftspeople of every village to journey to the sites to take part in its construction; it was an honor to be called to work on the sacred sites. If this plausible theory is true, the construction of the pyramids brought Egypt together, just like the building of a network of arcologies can bring the world together.

Back to the AIA Presentation

One suggestion made by the Sustainable Design Assessment team was to revive downtown Tucson by making it a point of focus, an axis mundi around which the rest of the city would then revolve. But without drastic change beyond the imagination of the AIA, downtown Tucson , with its phallic-symbol skyscrapers of banks and insurance agencies, is not a symbol that draws the soul toward it. Instead, these buildings simply reflect the corporate greed endemic to modern Western cities. Our materialistic consumer culture is truly void of true spiritual connection with the Earth.

AIA suggests replacing high-water toilets with low-water toilets throughout Tucson , as well as water-harvesting runoff storm waters from rooftops, as ways to solve our serious water crisis. These ideas are simply band-aid measures in a city in which elected officials have refused to set a limit upon urban sprawl.

We are the frog in a pot of water being heated up by our own nuclear power plants. More and more of us smart “frogs” are realizing that we have almost reached the boiling point! We want to make that quantum leap out of the pot into a new, ecologically based architectural paradigm. But we will all need to leap together if we are to have the strength to build the new urban/rural infrastructure, one that could then function as a prototype for sacred arcology.

When one listens to the AIA presentation, it becomes clear that, like them, the vast majority of modern architects have lost a sense of sacred art and social mission. Stuck in the traditional models of building office buildings and the single-family boxes they call homes, they are clueless when it comes to understanding the greater architectural blueprint needed for planetary survival. Viewing the city simply as a machine in service to material wealth has blinded architects to the need to instead create a holistic urban organism.

There was a time in many cultures when shamans or priests played the role of architect. They were not only responsible for connecting our spirits to symbols that illuminate a higher reality, they also supervised the construction of shelters to house our bodies. This is the role in which we need architects to re-engage in today.

Crop Circles 

Building a new world of sacred arcologies presents a daunting challenge. As we look at the problem of vast urban sprawl as visible from satellite images, it seems an impossible problem--indeed, beyond all human ability--to solve. If we are to avert our own possible extinction due in large part to non-arcological thinking about cities, we have to look beyond the rational mind to the realm of mystery. One of the great Earth mysteries, crop circles, have been appearing mainly in the grain fields in southern England. These circles have evolved over time from simple forms of sacred geometry into complex fractals. Fractals are “fragmented geometric shapes that can be subdivided in parts, each of which is a reduced-size copy of the whole.” The beauty of crop circles is stunning and awe-inspiring. No one knows how they are created, but we do know that all moments of great spiritual transition are mysterious.

There are three mystery-embracing theories about crop circles. One theory is that crop circles are created through the Earth's energy fields in the form of vortices. If the Earth is more than a dead rock circling the Sun, if it is in truth a biospiritual entity, perhaps Gaia Herself, Goddess of the Earth, is guiding us back to patterns of sustainability and life through crop circle formations. We evolved from the planet, not the other way around. A second theory is that humanity's collective consciousness is creating an ion-plasma vortex through psychokinesis, which in turn becomes the circle maker. Viewed from either of these perspectives, crop circles are indeed moments of incredible Grace. If Gaia and/or our collective unconscious is trying to communicate with us through these physical vortices, we need to listen.

These are also times when a temporal vortex could open up from the infinite “time-stream.” If so, it will create a shift in consciousness, as more events cluster before and after the defining moment. We will be able to move from temporal time to sacred time, experiencing a mythogenetic (myth-creating) moment. Event waves will ripple around the temporal vortex. Old ways of thinking will dissolve into the vortex as new ways of thinking simultaneously emerge. Perhaps these processes have already begun. Clearly we are living at that moment of history in which the Gaia Religion is re-emerging. This is a time of mass resonance as we recognize one another as one soul family—a family in sore need of a network of arcologies on Earth and, eventually, in Outer Space.

A key message delivered by the crop circle maker is that they are created near ancient sacred sites, most likely in order to draw our attention to these sites as guides to building “starship” arcologies on Earth. This is significant is because many of these sites work as a cosmogram; buildings were aligned for astronomical meaning to coordinate with equinoxes and solstices, or to correspond to star constellations. For example, ancient pyramid sites in both Old World and New have striking similarities in design structures, pointing to the idea that there was and is one Intelligence directing the construction of a single unifying global pattern. Using such information as the guide, arcologies could be placed on these sites around the world in accord with the requirements of local ecologies.

Theorists still find it difficult to explain the increasing complexity of circle formations. The third theory about them is that they represent part of the “sky mysteries.” That is, that their source could be a non-human intelligence, not from the Earth. If crop circles are indeed the artwork of the inhabitants of UFOs, it is reasonable to assume that these beings have come from a civilization that is more advanced than ours—one which has solved its own problems of species immaturity, and which values benevolence and beauty.

Decoding these messages could help us in our leap from a “Type 0” civilization to a “Type 1” civilization, as outlined in physicist Michio Kaku's book, Visions. We currently live in a Type 0 civilization. Nation states and patriarchal religions divide the world into dangerous armed camps fighting over the remaining fossil fuels. Nuclear war and environmental collapse threatens our species with extinction. A Type 1 civilization has developed a planetary economy, culture, and communication systems founded on the values of universal human rights. It overcomes the possibility of extinction by making the quantum leap of building a network of solar energy based arcologies. Spiritual channeler Barbara Marciniak, in Earth: Pleiadian Keys to the Living Library, channels the following: “We are here to help you dismantle the blueprint that you have been living within and to give you suggestions of very general laws around which you can build new structure.” Perhaps crop circles are best summed up as morphogenetic blueprints for the consciousness required to build arcologies.

Arcology Arizona

Here in Arizona, cities are becoming a continuous sprawl of highways and housing developments, more and more resembling the gigantic megalopolis of Los Angles. In such sociostructural chaos, it isn't possible to have an urban axis mundi around which the built environment can circle. Instead it's time to start a new, cosmologically based arcology using the timeless geometric codes discussed above—codes pointing to a cosmic axis point, if we but heed them.

The Arcology Arizona project would work as a “strange attractor.” This means that the project would “seed” the morphic field in a way that attracts a better future. In such a reality, the future uses our particular geniuses and has a creative place for us, drawing us towards it until the dream becomes reality.

Actualizing the blueprint of humanity's sustainable future, Arcology Arizona could become a magnet for world media, construction experts, engineers, architects, sociologists, anthropologists, medical doctors, human rights lawyers, ecologists, craftspeople, and so many more, because this would be a project that builds something new on the face of the Earth, and on a scale of its greatest monuments. Arcology could become the symbol of a new bridge between Heaven and Earth as it creates a literal “vertical” connection between the two. Twenty-first Century technology is already wired into the project from its conception. People are also becoming capable of complementing these technological changes with their wholehearted support for the inner lovolution (love-based evolution) needed to finally transform social hierarchies into a new planetary management system, or holocracy.

Esoteric wisdom must and will work in harmony with exoteric knowledge, allowing a new relationship between the arts and the sciences. For example, regarding the question of where to place the network of arcologies, planners will rely not only on geographers, geometers, and environmentalists, but will likewise listen to geomancers, or spiritual ecologists. The latter will map out the energy fields or ley lines of the planet in order to ascertain the proper placement of the arcologies. Ley lines are truly Gaia's own life arteries or meridians. The intersections of these energy lines are where ancient peoples knew to build their sacred sites. Landscape architects will work closely with Feng Shui practitioners in order to read the Earth in a way that is sensitive to all aspects of its topography--procedures that modern cities have ignored to their peril.

Through the wise application of sacred arcology and sacred geometry, as well as our new understanding of ancient sites, Arcology Arizona can be built on the correct energetic spot within the Arizona State Land Trust, thereby helping restore the holy land of the Native American people and their conscious European descendants.


Human Extinction or Lovolution?