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Imagine living in a city where everything you need is within walking distance. A place where green spaces and renewable energy sources are integrated into the very fabric of the surrounding built environment. Where the area you live in grows and evolves with your needs seamlessly and without disruption. This is the vision of arcology, a concept that combines architecture and ecology with the goal of creating self-sustaining, high-density urban environments that will help navigate humanity through the current climate, population and resource challenges we are currently facing.
The origins of arcology as a concept can be traced back to the 1960s when Italian-American architect Paolo Soleri initially proposed the idea. Soleri envisioned a new type of city that would minimize the ecological footprint of urban areas while maximizing their functionality. By favoring a singular compact planning model over sprawling urban landscapes, his designs incorporated bold biophilia initiatives, state-of-the-art renewable energy sources, and communities that could be self-sustaining, all within a compact and efficient footprint.
Since then, arcology has captured the imaginations of architects, urban planners, developers, countries and kingdoms across the world. The potential benefits of arcology are clear: reduced physical footprint equals reduced waste, reduced resource consumption, and more efficient, available services, all resulting in an improved quality of life at much higher levels of sustainability. At the time, the idea seemed radical and mostly unnecessary. Today however the concept of arcology, for many people, appears to be the only way forward.
As with any bold proposal, there is a myriad of concerns with projects based on arcology principles. A central issue is that some people believe that arcologies could become isolated, self-contained communities that are disconnected from the surrounding civilization and even from the global community. While the long-term benefits of reduced resource consumption and improved quality of life are clear, the upfront costs of constructing arcologies can …
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