September 15, 2011

Utopian Architecture Thread continued

Our most recent recent travels have led us back to a certain form of civilization - Arcosanti, and Biosphere 2 -
both located in central Arizona, but offering the opportunity to experience and to investigate two very different and contrasting models of Utopia. The community of Arcosanti describes itself as "an urban laboratory focused on pursuing lean alternatives to urban sprawl through innovative design with environmental accountability". The slow, incremental construction of the settlement has been mainly financed through the sale of bronze and ceramic bells crafted on-site, and through ongoing workshops that draw people interested in immersive, hands-on learning.




Long-term resident and work crew leader Jeff Buderer kindly acted as our guide, describing different construction techniques and innovations developed over the years and sharing his thoughts on what the future may hold for the community as Paolo Soleri, the visionary architect who dreamed Arcosanti - steps down as president of Cosanti, the foundation that oversees educational and architectural projects.


We have come here to immerse ourselves in Arcosanti's model of learning by doing and using what resources are at hand. Jeff has identified a number of issues that need to be addressed, including retaining walls and various runoff mitigation projects. The group decides to help him with a project he has inherited from a former resident - a worm farm, or vermicompost operation that was abandoned as soon as it was set up. Jeff has been doing his best to maintain the operation, but thought we might help him make the area more functional and aesthetically pleasing.








Before.

After.






Biosphere 2 is a completely different world. A high-tech research facility that was built quickly, with massive influxes of money and essentially abandoned by the original crew. The story behind the original project is a fascinating one. "Dreaming the Biosphere"













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