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Arcology: The City in the Image of Man Paperback – September 29, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Through his work as architect, urban designer, artist, craftsman and philosopher, Paolo Soleri has been exploring the countless possibilities of human aspiration. The envisioned future taking shape in his mind has been expressed in various media. One outstanding endeavor is Arcosanti, an urban laboratory, constructed in the high Arizona desert. It attempts to demonstrate an alternative human habitat much needed in this increasingly perplexing world. This project also exemplifies his steadfast devotion to creating an experiential space to "prototype" an environment in harmony with man. Through his articulated philosophy "Arcology (Architecture+Ecology)", Soleri formulates a path that may aid us on our evolutionary journey toward a state of aesthetic, equity and compassion. The half century work of his broad-ranging and coherent intellect (so scarce in the age of specialization) has influenced many in the field in search of a new paradigm for our built environment. ...Tomiaki Tamura

From the Author

Not really knowing if things get ready for a torrid planet or for a new Ice Age, the poor architects are faced by a habitat singularly off target. In either case the single home will be the wrong package. Tightly woven minimalist packages for entire communities will become mandatory.

Not to imitate the nano-biotechnology of organisms but put to use its teaching: self containment, miniaturization, complexity, automation under the tutelage of volition and religion. Volition is the (automated) inner drive of the living. Religion is the bonding (derived from religare in Latin) indispensable for the volitional sparks. Am I speaking arcology?!?! If so, this 37-year-old publication still resonates with my current thinking.

I am advocating a Lean Hypothesis about reality and a Lean Alternative to our materialistic culture. With the lean urban development I put tangibility to my conjecturing. Years ago I declared that Leanness is frugality fraught with sophistication. The gazelle is lean, i.e. frugality wrapped in grace.

Can anyone imagine a frozen tundra or a scorching Sahara colonized by millions of hermitages, single homes? A nightmarish American Dream incapable of supporting any kind of dignified life, let alone the evolution of a civilization. Is the exurban (ever-expanding suburban) metastasis a bejeweled dream? Of food and shelter, the two indispensable needs of life, shelter is the direct responsibility of planners; architects, urban planners, builders, developers, speculators, politicians, students ... time to wake up!

...Paolo Soleri, Arcosanti, Arizona

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Cosanti Press; 4th edition (September 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883340012
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883340018
  • Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 11.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #885,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Norm on October 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
The first edition of this book is huge - several feet wide when opened, and the images are all the more impressive in that format. Given the price for this reduced size edition, it might be worth your while to search for a used copy of the big edition. Size is the only reason I gave the book less than a 5 star review.
I purchased the book when I worked for Solari in 73, and revisited the book recently when my son and I had a discussion about low environmental impact lifestyles in urban settings. It was a joy to rediscover, and I was struck how far its influence has spread during the intervening years, particularly in the field of science fiction. In many ways the book itself is a work of fiction, with designs that are outrageous in scale, and impractical to construct, at least in the here and now. That is one reason I love the earlier edition so much - the book's outrageous scale matched the scale of the concept itself.
In retrospect, I think the vision promoted in the book is even more attractive now than it was in the early 1970s. We are beginning to see mega-scale construction projects, and the one thing they so obviously lack is Solari's humanity and commitment to the individual's place in such massive structures.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Boris Starosta on August 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
I saw this book in a store in the late seventies and bought it for myself. As a teenaged reader, I was very impressed with the art, and inspired by the text (nonsensical though some of it seemed). Clearly utopian and attractive, this book will inspire many a young artist or city planner. The fact that it is so far afield of the mainstream is only a plus: it will challenge and stimulate critical thinkers.

Note: with the high cost of building an arcology, and the need for (rather unamerican) centralized control, why haven't one of the arab states tried building one? UAE is certainly spending arcology-scale sums on the construction of the Burj Dubai complex...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Seth in SF on April 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
"This book is about miniaturization"

That is the first line of Arcology and it's given two pages all to itself, emphasizing the difference in scale between the large-format book and the small text.

Soleri's vision of arcology is usually relegated to the back corners of science fiction and the odd comment in newspaper reviews of architecture, usually indicating how far outside of the mainstream Soleri is considered to be. More attention is given to the culture at Arcosanti, where 20-somethings go to live, make bells, and work on his "urban laboratory."

As with most things, going back to the source reveals a different world than the third-hand repetitions found even in excellent reproductions. Reading Arcology for yourself, you find several interesting things.

First, the writing is enjoyable. Soleri makes comments about his "lazy Italian tongue" and his poor grammar, but he learned English at Taliesin West, serving tables and waiting on Frank Lloyd Wright. The people he learned the language from were some of the best--and most idiosyncratic--minds of the time. He never shies from complex sentences and making up words seems to be a hobby. If you only like the more modern style of short and declarative prose, you may find him tiresome, but if you are willing to dive into some nuanced language that focuses down to what it means, then he's a hoot to read.

Second, the book isn't at all about making big buildings or dehumanizing people. He starts with history--social, technological, and civil--and extrapolates to what he believes is an unavoidable step in human society.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shane P. O'Connor on June 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an impressive, large format,book, full of fabulous, intricate drawings and designs
and deep, futuristic thinking. Very much recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charlie Stark on March 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is perfect for anyone looking for great pictures, and interested in the broad future of architecture.
The beginning is a little hard to grasp, as it covers a very deep theory about how people should behave. Once this theory is developed, the applications make the book, as a whole, astounding!!
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