Ecology, sustainability and the city : towards an ecological approach to environmental sustainability with a case study on Arconsanti in Arizona
As the world population moves toward 10 billion people over the next 50 years environmental decline seems inevitable unless changes are implemented. Issues of ecology, sustainability and the city are now being recognised as critical. The systemic and holistic nature of the problem means that sustainable policies must address a wide range of social issues, political attitudes, economic practices and technological methods. Volume One offers a wide-ranging and comprehensive review of Environmental Problems and Sustainability and seeks to map out both the historical and contemporary basis for a widespread transition towards a more sustainable society. The world's cities now offer the critical context within which sustainable strategies can be developed and tested. Much current academic and policy literature describes a range of sustainable development models representing radically different views of how the processes leading towards the planning and implementation of cities needs to b e realised. Volume Two describes Paolo Soleri's Arcology Model and the Arcosanti Laboratory as a relevant methodology and case study. The arcology model attempts to address issues of sustainability by advocating a balanced relationship between urban morphology and performance within cities designed to conform to the complexity - miniaturization - duration (CMD) paradigm. The methodology recognises the need for the radical reorganisation of urban sprawl into dense, integrated compact urban structures in which material recycling, waste reduction and the use of renewable energy sources are part of a sustainable strategy aimed at reducing the flow of resources and products through the urban system. As governments, eager to deliver major environmental improvements, press on with, as yet, untried and untested 'centrist' urban policies, there is a need to research relevant models of compaction. Over the last ten years, as the criteria of urban sustainability have become more widely accepted and understood the relevance of the Soleri's model has become clearer. Arcosanti in Arizona, begun in 1970, offers a laboratory for testing the validity of the theory. Volume Two concludes by critically reviewing arcology and Arcosanti in the context of the discourse on sustainability offered in Volume One. Since the energy crisis of the mid-1970s efforts at Arcosanti have been directed toward the definition and testing of various architectural effects that, when combined, could offer a response to many of today's environmental problems. But today progress is painstakingly slow. Lacking the level of funding and resources that would enable it to be convincing, it now represents not so much a specific prototypical solution but an activist engaged strategy that advocates the possibility of building our dreams and visions. In a world plagued by so many problems, and so few alternatives, it continues to offer a beacon of hope for a sustainable future.