Ming the Mechanic:
New Orleans Arcology

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 New Orleans Arcology2005-10-25 23:03
picture by Flemming Funch

Good old Doctress Neutopia is proposing that New Orleans should be turned into the world's first arcology. If you don't know what an arcology is, see here. It is basically building a sustainable city in one big unit, one huge building, instead of letting it spread haphazardly. And if you don't know who Doctress Neutopia is, her name is also Libby Hubbard. She was an Internet celebrity in the early 90s attracting quite a following, and an anti-following too. Her vision of the "lovolution" and her fiery temper made her a tempting target for a bunch of folks who called themselves the Monster Truck Neutopians, celebrating everything that she was against, and hanging out and irritating her at every chance they had. But she's pretty unstoppable. She was also hanging out in NCN for a couple of years. I haven't spoken with her for several years. Anyway, I don't know how practical the New Orleans Arcology thing is, but it is a valiant endavor. What I found most interesting on her site there is the story of the Yaquii Village she adopted, and the description there of old examples of arcology-like buildings in the American south-west.
"To think in terms of building a sustainable village, like the Anasazi dwellings, we have to think of designing not a house, but a village. We can not longer afford to think in terms of single family dwellings, but think about what is good for the entire community. When one thinks of all the refugees throughout the world as well as the one's who became refugees through environmental disasters like what happened to New Orleans or the millions of homeless people in the United States, we need to think in terms of building villages within villages, an arcology for millions of people.

What I am visualizing is a mass exodus occurring from our dying civilization to a more evolved, holistic developmental pattern that allows us to have individual freedom along side of the responsibility of the collective. I'm seeing the labor force of the world turning around and moving in a new direction that brings us back in balance with nature by building a network of arcologies.

I'm excited with the idea of arcology as a center of culture, a place where arts are not on the side lines of civilization but are the life blood of the people. Such a vision gives the children of the world a future of human dignity, a future where they can enjoy the revival of now-threatened plant and animal species, and have the time and resources to pursue the adventures of the mind and heart, producing great art, advancing miraculous science, and living with the beauty of star light forever."

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28 Oct 2005 @ 10:35 by Curious Observer @ : OOOPs
Eternal brother to Lizard the Queen??? I can't see that as the way forward. I am however interested to see what the All Powerful US of A chooses to do with the situation at the mouth of the main drain. A communal 'big picture' approach with input from all citizens would be a most enlightened approach. Ask the looters and other so called 'low life scumbags' for their input, maybe a process of empowerment of those who have fallen through lack of power (rather than those who have 'fallen' with the power over disease) will mark a turning point for an otherwise impoverished nation.

All power to the visionaries for putting radical ideas into the mix, fancy looking to the 'primative' peoples of the planet to sense the way forward. (we are all significant and important pieces of the human jig saw)

There is always a wonderful way to sense direction; it is a compass, and the compass most needed at this time in the flow of his-story is just possibly the long and often ignored pump the sustains all of mortal human life (his-story)~~ the heart. For 'tis in the heart that we will find all the answers we need to pull through the flood of change which is upon us.

The emergent sea is upon us now ~ time for a balance to return and her to be added to the story.

The Mother Earth is my choice for eternal partner.

Bless you all tis a time of free fall.

{see the full fall go to http://www.planetdan.net/pics/misc/georgie.htm  

28 Oct 2005 @ 13:51 by rayon : Well Benoit whoever you are
You do not sound too alive while making the above comment and perhaps that has something to with the type of architecture proposed by Flemmings' post. Following on from another discussion on happiness quotients, I am expertly informed that Joy = Energy. If something in the material world can give off an energy which the mind can sense - there will be some joy to that Individual. The illustrations of Bronze age type dwellings proposed for "the people" in the links are rather basic. Always a bit of an insult to put expensively qualified individual, with a worldwide professional backup at his disposal if required to justify his actions, to building in an indigenous, native style. Paolo Soleri's impressive web site (pics are the biz in ARchitecture) does not hide the fact that he proposes totalitarian structures (it also resembles the description of Atlantis which sunk); I advise rather Ville Radieux by Le Corbusier (1920/30's) for one which allows for the landscape to coexist, but there are hundreds of other alternatives, some built, and successful. High Density Social Housing, is postgraduate study material, of the most complex kind. It reflects mainly the type of national government organisations put together for their procurement. It is generally agreed that France has the most advanced government organisation respecting both the people's culture and needs on the one hand and the architects proposals on the other while weaving in and out of the building regulations to put up buildings within budget, and over many lunches, THAT LOOK GOOD to nearly E V E R Y O N E. Bureaucracy raised to a fine art. The Mayor proposes his schemes to beautify the town. Why waste time talking about things that don't work.

The boredom of your comments continues regarding a reference to Elizabeth1. What on earth can this mean other than a thin reference to my School Thought piece (without even a marker on the log? shame) which was to highlight the mosts unusual (and probably most interesting) out of 36 schools in United Kingdom. The theorising of architecture is big business for people unschooled in the Atelier practice, drawing, or three dimensial awareness, and team effort and only those hotly passionate on the Subject, Benoit, will survive the debate against the theorists or journalists changing with the direction of the wind.

Must do better next time.

My comments to date strived to set the accepted parameters for intelligent debate. There are many Architectural Thrillers in the business with graphics to match to take up everyone's attention. What matters is ground zero and the organisations already there to take up the baton, so to speak.

It should be taken for granted that a half decent civilisation is actually made of Individuals, some (quite alot of) architecture does the opposite of this, and this is what I am against. Paolo Soleri quotes all sorts of famous architecture groups, Archigram, the Metabolists, who on earth actually knows what these stand for, (I know, I worked with a leader of Archigram) but who else? its just pretty pictures, sounds great - the point is on the web site there is absolutely no critique by anyone that someone knows. So actually, I am so very sorry to say, it is almost meaningless, unless an author needs some material to write his latest novel, or dress up his movie.  

29 Oct 2005 @ 01:26 by ming : Sense
Wow, I'm not sure I understand what even one of you are saying. I'll try again tomorrow after I've slept.  

31 Oct 2005 @ 17:28 by rayon : Trying again -
In my experience the world of Architecture abounds with theorists (see other logs if you wish), what gets built is important. It is more than just the Architect, bringing about a project. Your New Orleans project sounds suspect, the Paola Soleri is just pie in the sky project stuff, theorising his own work for publicity, the next best thing after not actually being built. Sad there is no interest in my own postings on Architecture as there seems to be a extreme dearth of experts at the moment, I must struggle on alone here, while positing own's stance too, which of course differs from the accepted view in England anyway. Not often you are flumoxed Ming?  

1 Nov 2005 @ 16:04 by ming : Flumoxed
Ha, no it isn't. But sometimes I just don't get it. Yeah, it is much easier to promote grand plans than actually to do them. Sometimes they just don't happen because they aren't practical. Too ideal, maybe not suited for real live people. I get to think of Jacques Fresco's Venus Project. Which is beautiful and awe inspiring. But what if I don't want to live in a round house, and what if I don't want to live in the designated living zone? The trick is to make stuff that really fits live people, as well as bringing in some elements that help good things happen in maybe unexpected ways.  

3 Nov 2005 @ 18:26 by rayon : eg: Carlo Scarpa, Venetian
architect born 1906: Written by none less than the great Louis I Kahn, of famous movie made by Son, called "My Architect", go see if not yet: found this -

In the work of Carlo Scarpa
the first sense
the first word
Then Wonder
Then the inner realisation of 'Form'
the sense of the wholeness of inseparable elements.
Design consults Nature
to give presence to the elements.
A work of art makes manifest the wholeness of 'Form'
the symphony of the selected shapes of the elements

In the elements
the joint inspires ornament, its celebration.
The detail is the adoration of Nature.

Louis I Kahn.

One day I will be able to scan pics in; the work is very modern, bare concrete.
You are right about round houses tho, for reasons maybe another time. I do not know Jacques Fresco will check l'architecture Aujordhui maybe he is there. Can only do bit by bit!! thanks for the pieces, nice to see  

14 Nov 2005 @ 00:15 by pcd2k @ : New Orleans Arcology
Although I have much respect for the insights of visionary Architects like Mr Soleri, in this situation I do believe Dutch Engineering and Architecture would be a much more prudent and beneficial reality for the people of LA  

2 Dec 2005 @ 12:17 by rayon : That's an idea
Absolutely agree, my comments above reference a general discussion only. Personally, it is difficult contributing without first hand knowledge of the area and/or conditions, and local government infrastructure. However, professionals from Holland would appear ideal - What about Rem Koolhas???  

16 Mar 2006 @ 21:59 by Kris @ : Makes sense.
I've been "into" the arcology idea ever sense I came across it in fiction. My problem is that acrologies are always presented as near evil when presented to most people. What was the first mass exposure the the arcology idea? Logan's Run. That single movie most likely killed this whole city building trend before it began for the US. Personally, I'd like to see more designs for arcology from people other than Mr Soleri's near cult. They shouldn't bil it as an entire city, but rather as a new suburb/skyscraper concept. Instead of designing one of these things for 100K or 100M people why not shoot for just 5-10K people housed in one? The idea is rather older than Soleri, but everything that I've come across wants to build a replacement New York City in one go.

The idea to rebuild New Orleans as an Arcology sounds good. I love the concept. Just make sure that you keep anyone that thinks Soleri's private effort will one day be a model city off your design team. To get the maximum benefits you should aim at replacing an entire city in one go, but that will be beyong anyone's budget. Has anyone thought about an arcology for India or China rather than Japan or the US? Japan seems to have come closest to actually designing/constructing an arcology type of building. I think given another 10-20 years they may actually build one. The sad truth is that the US has too much "free" land to think about building up.  

10 Feb 2009 @ 22:03 by Groucho-Marxist @ : Arcology Concepts for New Orleans
Perhaps New Orleans should be rebuilt into an arcology. It does not seem very prudent or sensible to rebuild a city within a concave region of land, or on land that is actually slightly below sea level. At the same time, given the current location of New Orleans, a levee system is unsuitable. One would need a series of ditches, retaining pools, and high walls surrounding the city to prevent and mitigate flooding.

But how about some more radical ideas. I have some proposals for arcologies. None of them are likely to be built ever, or at least not in my lifetime, but who really knows.

This configuration is simple enough in principle. It protects the entire city from all surface weather, including the high winds and damage from wind swept debris expected in a hurricane, whilst shielding everything below from heavy rains. The obvious problem is that underground structures will flood. These structures would have to be completely watertight, and an elaborate system of pumps would be required to pump out the water that eventually accumulates in the tunnels. An underground city would be the easiest to build, but the worst option for obvious reasons (i.e. floods).

2. TOWERS-ON-STILTS MODEL (Jetson-esque City)
The next model would be clusters of buildings on stilts, a sort of Jetsonian city. Basically, the structures would resemble skyscrapers such as those found on Manhatan Island, in Chicago, or in Tokyo, only with the enclosed structure limited to the upper levels. Everything below the inhabitable parts of building would be limited to a steel skeletal frame. As a result, New Orleans ends up looking like Cloud City on Bespin (from Star Wars). This plan would keep the city high and dry, but I am unsure if it could be built high enough to avoid hurricane winds. Also, the concept of stilted towers might seem logical, considering that the weight of the buildings is reduced by lacking walls or floors and ceilings on the "stilts" that would be present in a conventional skyscraper, but the walls and floors act as load-bearing structures. Thus, there would be serious limits to buildings on stilts in terms of both altitude and mass of the supported structure. (Certainly not above the highest winds, and tall buildings can not be built very large in that manner.)

This is by far the most buildable model. Essentially, all buildings have two parts: a permanently affixed base, often containing a basement with a bouyant superstructure mounted on top. After all, cruise ships are basically floating hotels. Why not build apartment ships, mall ships, school ships, hospital ships, and houseboats too? When floods hit the city, the city can sail away to safety.

The only other possibility I can think of is to not rebuild New Orleans on the same site, instead moving everyone and everything to higher ground. This last solution os perfectly acceptable for me as long as they still have Mardis Gras and Gumbo!  

28 Apr 2016 @ 23:50 by Henrietta @ : eucEyXiXGIrQqLIACFl
This forum needed shinakg up and you've just done that. Great post!  

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