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Augmented Ecologies

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?’ Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand.” -Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

Augmented Ecologies Dissertation

ByMohammed Mansoor

Cover: Alberta Oil Sand Mine - Canada Left : Alberta Oil Sand Mine - Canada


Contents Preface 6 What is Augmented Ecology?


Why Augmented Ecology?


Design with Nature


Architecture + Ecology = Archology


Lean Linear City


An Augmented Ecology of Wildlife and Industry


Illustration Credits


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Lean Alternative What is Archology? Arcosanti Proximity (24/7 Mixed-use Continuum) Urban Scale (Pedestrian Environment) Ecological Envelope (Bounded Density) Less Consumption (Embodied Efficiency) Energy Apron (Energy and Food Nexus) Elegent Frugality (Creative Resourcefulness) Educational Opportunities (Environment as a Learning Asset) Mixed-Use Urban Environment Energy Production Water Conservation Waste Management Agriculture/Green House Transportation


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

Bibliography 39

Preface To embody in architecture, that which has never been architecture before. I hope to explore this possibility. Likely, this will mean tabula-raza methods of constructing architecture. In doing so, we might encounter the most unexpected world of another environment, never perceivable before. The augmented ecology is neither a Manifesto nor a Radical theory; it is a modus operandi which redefines the way one approaches to architectural solutions. It breaks away from the Modernist notion of Man’s superior to nature, Man the pioneer in technological advancement always trying to overpower nature but over time needed to be reminded “Man and Nature are not two different entities, but Man is part of Nature and his dependency is not Technology but Nature itself.” It is a Biblical phrase to all architects ‘Make the world a better place to live’ but I totally disagree to the above statement. Let’s agree to disagree, wouldn’t it be better to rephrase it as “Make better places to live in this world” I would be interesting to know, how many worlds do we really have? Do we really have an option? Technology is the cradle for all the solutions to the problems of the society. By playing the role of curator, it cannot fill in the gaps that have developed between the man and the nature, which can only be filled by technology playing the role of a mediator. One of the interesting revelation is found in the quote by Albert Einstein “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”


In 21st century, Climate change, Sustainable architecture, and Green technology have become increasingly a subject of architectural discourse, this is transforming into a capitalist propaganda without delivering much of critical solutions for our environments immediate concerns. In order to response to these problems with grater integrity one has to approach ecologically, to heed an imaginative and practical methods for addressing existing as well as new architecture.

So hence Augmentation of ecology with Architecture would give rise to multidimensional view towards all our existing problems that is fluid in scale and humanly focus, with the goal of providing a multi-layered, diverse, and nuanced understanding of ecology and architecture. In order to achieve this, one has to comprehend the complexity of the nature, systems that govern the functioning of the physical world, emergent behaviors, archaeology, anthropology and the evolution of human culture. This understanding would effectively challenge the established cultural and architectural histories. It would expand the conventional world view by placing human development alongside ecological development. It is clear how humans have extensively modified the surface of the earth, the ecological systems that exist upon it. But it is time to understand how development can be carried out in the future without drastically modifying the surface of the world, which would result in a high density, Compact living systems resulting in ecological development along human development. I have focused on three projects that which are primarily focused on ecological development along with human development, which are of three different scales giving a brief analogy of what augmented ecology can do.

I deeply acknowledge the Faculty at the university school of design without whom this dissertation would ever have been started. I also wish to acknowledge Santosh Thorat for the understanding and knowledge I gained by discussing with him during my time at Serie Architects, who introduced me to post-modern philosophy and various other Philosophical theories, also to Neha Momaya for her endless guidance and discussion about architectural profession, and also to Pranav Chande for being a friend and guiding me in various interests. I would also like to thank Ar. Kapil Gupta for giving me opportunity to work in Serie Architects, and I would like to thank Renu Gupta, Priyanka Karpe, Suril patel, Sameer Sawanth, Deepthi for innumerable support during my time. I also like to thank Siddhanth Agarwal for countless coffee break talks and suggestions. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank My Parents and friends for their support. - Mohammed Mansoor, June 2013


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

This dissertation is not a complete study in itself, it gives you a brief introduction to the subject which is vast and time consuming to comprehend. Due to my time constrains and limited scope of work, I regret the inefficiency. But it opens up for new discourse and challenges which can result in new theory and practices.


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD


“A civilization is a heritage of beliefs, customs, and knowledge slowly accumulated in the course of centuries, elements difficult at times to justify by logic, but justifying themselves as paths when they lead somewhere, since they open up for man his inner distance.� - Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Augmented (aug•ment•ed /ôgˈmentid/ Adjective) • Having been made greater in size or value: • Denoting or containing an interval that is one semitone greater than the corresponding major or perfect interval: "augmented fourths". Ecology (from Greek: οἶκος, “house”; -λογία, “study of”) is the scientific study of the relationships that living organisms have with each other and with their abiotic environment. Topics of interest to ecologists include the diversity, distribution, amount (biomass), number (population) of organisms, as well as competition between them within and among ecosystems. Ecosystems are composed of dynamically interacting parts including organisms, the communities they make up, and the non-living components of their environment. Ecosystem processes, such as primary production, paedogenesis, nutrient cycling, and various niche construction activities, regulate the flux of energy and matter through an environment. These processes are sustained by organisms with specific life history traits, and the variety of organisms is called biodiversity. Biodiversity, which refers to the varieties of species, genes, and ecosystems, enhances certain ecosystem services. Ecology is an interdisciplinary field that includes biology and Earth science. The word “ecology” (“Ökologie”) was coined in 1866 by the German scientist Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919).

“Religion is the opium of the masses -Karl Marx (1843)” “New Ecology is the opium of the masses -Slavoj Zizek (2007)”

Augmentation of Ecology with Architecture Is an ideology of a modus operandi developed through understanding of ecology and its crisis, the complexity of the nature, its underlying systems of the physical world, emergent behaviors, anthropology, archaeology and the evolution of human culture. It has long been the tradition in the Western education of architects to think of architecture as a professional domain with a history predicated on a succession of emperors and monuments, kings and cathedrals. In this tradition man and the works of man are separate from nature. However, the word architecture has a much wider meaning in this world, generally referring to the organization and internal infrastructure of a natural or culturally produced object. In this Dissertation I use the term in the simplest way, to refer to the arrangement of material in three dimensions and through time. All the forms of the world have architecture: from the smallest molecule to the tectonic plates of continents, from the simplest cultural artifacts such as stone tools and bone calendars to the largest mega-city and all are subject to change over time. Forms come into being, persist through varying periods of time until they collapse and their materials are reorganized and new forms emerge. All the forms and systems of the climate, the oceans, the mountains and rivers, deltas and deserts, emerged from the complex processes of systems through which energy and material flow in fluctuating patterns. All the forms of life emerged within those systems, evolving all the variations of differing species as the forms of the climate and land changed. Life emerged and flourished, proliferated and speciated in response to those changes. Mankind is one species among all the others, a variant of the living forms of nature. The human form evolved, as other living forms, in response to changes in the climate, the surface of the earth and to changes in other living forms. Human culture evolved as a means of transmitting ecologically contextualized information down through time, encoding knowledge of how to live, how to gain food and fuel and how to shelter from the forces of the climate. Biological and cultural evolutions are distinct from each other but closely coupled. All the forms of civilization have arisen from the processes of cultural systems that are inextricably entwined with the processes of the climate and the ecological systems of life on the surface of the earth. Energy, information and materials flow through all the forms of life, through humans and all their 11

Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

What is Augmented Ecology?


• • • •

Life processes, interactions and adaptations The movement of materials and energy through living communities The successional development of ecosystems, and The abundance and distribution of organisms and biodiversity in the context of the environment.

• Ecology is a human science as well. There are many practical applications of ecology in conservation biology, wetland management, natural resource management (agro ecology, agriculture, forestry, agroforestry, fisheries), city planning (urban ecology), community health, economics, basic and applied science, and human social interaction (human ecology). Organisms and resources compose ecosystems which, in turn, maintain biophysical feedback mechanisms that moderate processes acting on living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the planet. Ecosystems sustain life-supporting functions and produce natural capital like biomass production (food, fuel, fibre and medicine), the regulation of climate, global biogeochemical cycles, water filtration, soil formation, erosion control, flood protection and many other natural features of scientific, historical, economic, or intrinsic value.

works. As with all natural forms, the forms produced by human culture have emerged, evolved, spread and persisted through time, collapsed and new forms have emerged from their reorganization. Over time humans have proliferated across the face of the earth until all the forms on the surface of the earth have been modified, to greater or lesser extent, by their works. All the forms of the world, of nature and civilization, interact with each other as the environment of any form is comprised of the other forms. Energy, information and material flow between the forms of the world at multiple scales of space and time, and it is the fluctuations in these flows that induce change. Study requires the recognition of all the forms of the world not as singular and fixed bodies, but as complex energy and material systems that have a lifespan, exist as part of the environment of other active systems, and as one iteration of an endless series that proceeds by evolutionary development. In the natural world change is normal, but its intricate choreography is now further accelerated and perturbed by human activities. Global climate change is upon us; its effects will be local and regional — more energy trapped in weather systems produces behavior and consequences that are not entirely predictable. So too, the behavior of local economies and cultures, now connected and interlinked globally, is in the process of substantial reconfiguration. The cultural and physical parameters of the changes to all the forms of the world are becoming clearer, and it is evident that causality is dynamic, comprised of multi-scaled patterns of self-organization in the flow of energy, information and material across all spatial dimensions, and all temporal scales, including human generations. To study form is to study change. Studying this would effectively challenge the established cultural and architectural histories. It would expand the conventional world-view by placing human development alongside ecological development: the history of cultural evolution and the production of cities are set in the context of processes and forms of the natural world. The emergence of the human species and the evolution of culture to be closely coupled to the changes in climate and ecology, while it is clear how humans have extensively modified the surface of the earth, the ecological systems that exist upon it.


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

Ancient Greek philosophers such as Hippocrates and Aristotle laid the foundations of ecology in their studies on natural history. Modern ecology transformed into a more rigorous science in the late 19th century. Evolutionary concepts on adaptation and natural selection became cornerstones of modern ecological theory. Ecology is not synonymous with environment, environmentalism, natural history, or environmental science. It is closely related to evolutionary biology, genetics, and ethology. An understanding of how biodiversity affects ecological function is an important focus area in ecological studies. Ecologists seek to explain:

“We don’t ask to be eternal beings. We only ask that things do not lose all their meaning.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 14

Why Augmented Ecology?

The constant reminder has come for many sources about the challenges that face us and our environment. The Brundtland report of 1987, a scientific study on impact of global warming, and former U.S Vice President Al Gore’s passionate pleas have all made their mark. But a great deal of skepticism and resistance is matched to growing concern for the environment. The United States has not only failed to ratify the Kyoto protocol with Canada and many other Gulf states, among the largest per capita users of energy resources. The failure of Copenhagen summit in 2009 to produce a legally binding agreement further confirms the scale of the challenges that lie ahead. Architects have been aware of the issues for some time, of course, but the proportion of those committed to sustainable and ecological practices has remained small. And until recently, much of the work produced as sustainable architecture has been of poor quality. Early examples were focused mainly around the capacities of simple technologies to produce energy and recycle waste. Sustainable architecture, itself rudimentary, often also meant an alternative lifestyle of renunciation, stripped of much pleasure. This has changed, and is changing still. Sustainable design practices are entering the mainstream of the profession. In the United States, LEED certification-the national standard for the evaluation of sustainable buildings-is being more widely applied. But there remains the problem that the moral imperative of sustainability and, by implication, of sustainable design, tends to supplant disciplinary contribution. Thus sustainable design is not always seen as representing design excellence or design innovation. This situation will continue to provoke skepticism and cause tension between those who promote disciplinary knowledge and those who push for sustainability; unless we are able to develop novel ways of design thinking that can contribute to both domains. The argument above is not new; it has been echoed over and over again. The most important of these arguments is beautifully explained by Mohsen Mostafavi in his book Ecological Urbanism, “The Gregory Bateson’s argument that, in contradistinction to the Darwinian theory of natural selection, “the unit of survival is organism plus the environment.” 15

Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

7 billion as on 2011 and expected by 2050 to be 9 billion


The World’s population has reached 7 billion and continues to grow, resulting in a steady migration from rural to urban areas. Increase in population and number of cities go hand in hand with a greater exploitation of the world’s limited resources. Every year, more cities are feeling the devastating impacts of this situation. What are we to do? What means do we have as designers to address this challenging reality?

Promenade Plantee in Paris,

A broader articulation of Bateson’s ideas can be found in Felix Guattari’s The Three Ecologies, a profound yet concise manifestation of a relational and holistic approach to our understanding of ecological is-sues. As Guattari’s ethico-political concept of “ecosophy” is developed in the form of three ecological “registers” (environment, social relations, and human subjectivity). Like Bateson, Guattari places emphasis on the role that humans play in relation to ecological practices. And according to him, the appropriate response to the ecological crisis can only be achieved on a global scale, “provided that it brings about an authentic political, social and cultural revolution, reshaping the objectives of the production of both material and immaterial assets. ‘One of the most important aspects of Guattari’s argument concerns the interrelations between individual responsibilities and group actions. An emphasis on the role of the “ecosophic problematic,” as a way to shape human existence within new historical contexts, leads to a proposed reformulation of the “subject.” In place of the Cartesian subject, whose being is solely defined by its thinking, Guattari has “components of subjectification” who engage with real “territories of existence,” that is, with the everyday domains of their lives and actions. These alternative processes of subjectification are not rooted in science but instead embrace a new “ethico-aesthetic” paradigm as their primary source of inspiration”. Guattari’s position, developed at the end of the 1980s, is as much a criticism of a depoliticized structuralism/post-modernism that ”has accustomed us to a vision of the world drained of the significance of human intervention” as it is an ethical and aesthetic project that promotes the “reshaping of the objectives of the production of both material and immaterial assets.” Such a radical approach, if applied to the urban domain, would result in a form of ecological design practice that does not simply take account of the fragility of the ecosystem and the limits on resources but considers such conditions the essential basis for a new form of creative imagining. Extending Guattari’s suggestion that the “ecosophic problematic” has the capacity to define a new form of human existence, we might consider the impact of the ecological paradigm not only on ourselves and our social actions in relation to the environment, but also on the very methods of thinking that we apply to the development of the disciplines that provide the frameworks for shaping those environments. Every discipline has the responsibility to constantly create its own conditions of progress—its own instabilities—and today it is valuable to recognize that we have a unique opportunity to reconsider the core of the disciplines that help us think about the phenomenon of the urban: urban planning and design.’ The prevailing conventions of design practice have demonstrated a limited capacity both to respond to the scale of the ecological crisis and to adapt their established ways of thinking. In this context, ecological urbanism can be seen as a means of providing a set of sensibilities and practices that can help enhance our approaches to urban development. This is not to imply that ecological urbanism is a totally new


and singular mode of design practice. Rather, it utilizes a multiplicity of old and new methods, tools, and techniques in a cross-disciplinary and collaborative approach toward urbanism developed through the lens of ecology. These practices must address the retrofitting of existing urban conditions as well as our plans for the cities of the future. In recognizing the productive values of the relationships between reality and this project, the methods of ecological urbanism include the feedback reciprocities that Henri Lefebvre described as “transduction.” Take the case of the Promenade Plantee in Paris, the precursor of the High Line in New York City, where a disused railway line, part of which is on top of a viaduct, has been transformed—reused—as an urban park that traverses a variety of conditions and prospects. Given the undulating topography of the city, the promenade affords an ever-changing sectional relationship to its surroundings. As a result, the park produces a different experience of the city compared, for example, to that of the Persian boulevard. This is achieved though the discovery and construction of stark juxtapositions and contrast that include the experience of the city from different horizon line. This type of urban recycling of the remnants of the industrial city benefits from the unexpected and given context of the site that needs to be remade, a context far from a tabula rasa. In these examples, the site acts as a mnemonic device for the making of the new. The result is a type of relational approach between the terrain, the built, and the viewer’s participatory experiences. Other examples of this type of development includes the Downsview competitions in Toronto, and the forum area of the North East Central Park project in Barcelona, designed by Abalos and Herreros, which combines infrastructure and public space by juxtaposing a municipal waste-management complex with a new waterfront beach on the site of an artificial landfill.

Its implication is clearly manifested, in multiple scales among three different project but closely inter connected. They all have one underlying common principle.


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

High Line in New York City

The argument Ecological Urbanism, which draws from ecology to inspire an urbanism that is more socially inclusive and sensitive to the environment, as well as less ideologically driven, than green urbanism or sustainable urbanism. In many ways, ecological urbanism is an evolution of, and a critique of, Landscape Urbanism arguing for a more holistic approach to the design and management of cities.


“The city historically constructed is no longer lived and is no longer understood practically. It is only an object of cultural consumption for tourists, for aestheticism, avid for spectacles and the picturesque. Even for those who seek to understand it with warmth, it is gone. Yet, the urban remains in a state of dispersed and alienated actuality, as kernel and virtuality. What the eyes and analysis perceive on the ground can at best pass for the shadow of the future object in the light of a rising sun. It is impossible to envisage the reconstitution of the old city, only the construction of a new one on new foundations, on another scale and in other conditions, in another society. The prescription is: there cannot be a going back (towards the traditional city), nor a headlong flight, towards a colossal and shapeless agglomeration. In other words, for what concerns the city the object of science is not given. The past, the present, the possible cannot be separated. What is being studied is a virtual object, which thought studies, which calls for new approaches.�


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

-Henri Lefebvre (1968)

Design with Nature In the period between 1965 and 1975, there was an incredible ability to take difficult conditions seriously, to take different climates seriously, to take on question of energy use seriously, and to try and combine the words “design” and “science.” This joint entity, design and science, was stimulated and sponsored not only by designers and scientists, but also by free-form intellectuals like Ian McHarg, in his book Design with Nature, McHarg wrote one of the most subtle manifestos on how culture and nature could exists. One of the projects from his book Design with Nature, it manifests an ecological cycle with in a scale of a room. A radical approach which he confronted with his collaboration with great architect Louis I Khan, searching for the appropriate Elysian site for a prospective temple of science, the research arm of a large corporation. He encountered a member of research organization, who was designing an experimental environment: his task was to find out how an astronaut might be sent to the moon with the least possible baggage to sustain life. This, of course, required a recirculating, which is to say, a biological system. The experiment design required a plywood capsule with a fluorescent tube representing a sun, a quantity of air, some water, and some algae growing in water, some bacteria and a man. This is, you will agree, a modest hoard of groceries for so long trip, In the hypothetical capsule the man breathes air, consumes oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide; the algae consumes carbon dioxide and expels oxygen in to the air which the man breathes, and so an oxygen carbon dioxide cycle is ensured. The man thirsts, drinks some water, urinates, this passes into the water medium in which the algae and bacteria exists, the water is consumed by the algae, transpired, condensed, the man drinks the condensation and a closed cycle of water exists. When hungry, the man eats some algae, digests them, and then defecates. Subsequently, the decomposers reduce the excrement in to forms utilizable by the algae, which grow. The man eats more algae, and so the food chain has been created. The only import to the system is the light from the florescent tube-fossil sunlight; the only export from the system is heat. The experiment of this kind has not been sustained for more than twenty four hours, a sad commentary of our understanding of man and nature. Nonetheless, they do contain splendid instructional material for the ob¬server. The system depends first upon the sun, the net production of photosynthesis after 20

respiration, upon the water and upon the cycling and recycling of the materials in the system by the decomposers. It is quite clear that the process requires that the sub¬stance or wastes, the output of one creature, are the imports or inputs to the others. The oxygen wastes of the plant were input to the man, the carbon dioxide of the man input to the plant; the substance of the plant input to the man, the wastes of the man input to the plant; the wastes of man and plant input to the decomposers, the wastes of these the input to the plant: and the water went round and round and round.

Aboard the Shenzhou-8 capsule after reentry was one surviving snail in a algae-based life support system (Credits: Xinhua/Li Gang).

Is this indeed the way the world works? Yes, at least in essential terms. United we are as men, plant parasites, happily consuming the oxygen wastes of plant metabolism, rescued from encompassing ordure by both the decomposer and the plant, eating, burning and thus sustaining life from the energy of the sun, transmuted by photosynthesis. Now before we indulge in fulsome self-praise for our services to both plant and bacteria, let us stop to consider that they both existed before man and need him not at all. Our wastes are useful, but not necessary.

“Almost 40 years ago, Ian Mcharg proposed a bold theory and set of ecologically related planning methods in Design with Nature (1969). While the practical measures he proposed have been incorporated into subsequent design and planning practices, the theoretical implication have not yet been fully realised. Present-date forms on the model include the amalgam “Landscape urbanism,” with its focus on infrastructure and urban ecology, a hybrid discipline arguably indebted to McHarg while distinct in its avoidance of the more strenuous effects of his project”.


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

- Fresrick R. Steiner, “the ghost of Ian McHarg”, Log, 2009

Architecture + Ecology = Archology

Lean Alternative

"In nature, as an organism evolves, it increases in complexity and it also becomes a more compact or miniaturized system. Similarly a city should function as a living system. Arcology, architecture and ecology as one integral process, is capable of demonstrating positive response to the many problems of urban civilization, population, pollution, energy and natural resource depletion, food scarcity and quality of life. Arcology recognizes the necessity of the radical reorganization of the sprawling urban landscape into dense, integrated, three-dimensional cities in order to support the complex activities that sustain human culture. The city is the necessary instrument for the evolution of humankind." —Paolo Soleri


Paolo Soleri calls what is happening in today’s green movement reformation. We put solar panels on a single family home but can’t change the impact of inefficient construction or the consumption inherent to moving around the suburbs. We buy hybrid cars but must drive in the gridlocks of daily commutes. We buy “green washed” products but continue the same hyper consumption that sprawl mandates. These improvements produce a “better kind of wrongness.” Soleri suggests instead of reformation, we need reformulation of the way that we think about living and design for habitats that get to the root of the problem. Do we have enough land and other resources to sustain the current types of development? Does green consumerism get to the root of the problem? Could the American dream be reconsidered and reinvented? Arcology seeks to embody a “Lean Alternative” to hyper consumption and wastefulness through more frugal, efficient, smart, yet elegant city designs. Leanness is inherently obtainable via the miniaturization intrinsic to the Urban Effect.

What is Archology? Arcology is Paolo Soleri’s concept of cities which embody the fusion of architecture with ecology. The arcology concept proposes a highly integrated and compact three-dimensional urban form that is the opposite of urban sprawl with its inherently wasteful consumption of land, energy resources and time, and tendency to isolate people from each other and the community. Miniaturization creates the Urban Effect, the complex interaction between diverse entities and individuals, which mark healthy systems both in the natural world and in every successful and culturally significant city in history. Arcology reduces city’s dependence on the automobile. Today’s typical city devotes more than sixty percent of its land to roads and automobile services. The multi-use nature of arcology design would put living, working, and public spaces within easy reach of each other and walking would be the main form of transportation within the city. Pollution is a direct function of wastefulness, not efficiency. In a three dimensional city, energy and resources are used more efficiently than in a conventional modern city. Suburban sprawl mandates a hyper-production-consumption cycle and creates mountains of waste and pollutants.

The Direct manifestation of Archology is very relevant in his project Archosanti. Which is explained as followed. 23

Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

An arcology’s direct proximity to uninhabited wilderness would provide the city dweller with constant immediate and low-impact access to rural space as well as allowing agriculture to be situated near the city, maximizing the efficiency of a local food distribution system. Arcology would use passive solar architectural techniques such as the apse effect, greenhouse architecture and garment architecture to reduce the energy usage of the city, especially in terms of heating, lighting and cooling.

Arcosanti Arcosanti seeks to embody a “Lean Alternative” to hyper consumption through a smartly efficient and elegant city design. Leanness is inherent to the sustainable health of any living system. The city needs to be such a system. The following principles foster miniaturization (compact optimization) resulting in complexity. Together they manifest an urban system that can function as a hyper-organism.

Proximity (24/7 Mixed-use Continuum)

Arcosanti’s design provides an efficient and lively urban environment by physically connecting a mix of activities such as living, working, learning and leisure. In this way efficient and equitable access to most of the city’s amenities are available within minutes. Although life in such a setting will be intense and exciting, at times it could be taxing on individuals. For this reason, Arcosanti also features immediate access to open space and nature, to provide opportunities to decompress. Richness in life may be measured not by possessing 'more' materials as individuals, but rather by requiring 'less' materials through a more fully shared and higher quality environment.

Urban Scale (Pedestrian Environment)


Human scale is generally recognized as physical proportion we can personally relate to. Urban scale results from having a densely organized human environment. However, when dense and efficient urban spatial arrangements are adopted for pedestrian (and cyclist) mobility, such robust three-dimensional living can become human scale once again.

Eliminating automobiles from the city core can lead to an environment that is less polluting and wasteful and healthier overall for urban residents.

Ecological Envelope (Bounded Density)

A major tenet of Arcology requires that in order to sustain the health of a city, we define the ecological envelope as the carrying capacity of the environment containing our human activities. Opposed to sprawling development, the Arcosanti project means to “interiorize” itself by designing an urban condition with strict boundaries. “Growth within limits” is the inward developmental mindset necessary to reduce our environmental footprint.

Less Consumption (Embodied Efficiency)

By applying appropriate technologies such as passive climate control systems, innovative water/sewage treatment systems, and using proper green building materials and recycling technology, we can certainly increase the ‘lean’ factors in our project, as long as the effort results in less material and energy consumption within the community. A reduction in material and energy waste can be achieved not only by technological innovations, but also by how we organize ourselves and our relationship to the earth.

Energy Apron (Energy and Food Nexus)

Urban agriculture reduces our ecological footprint by bringing food production closer to the habitat where consumption occurs. In addition to open field cultivation, a terraced greenhouse, Arcosanti’s Energy Apron, is intended to extend the growing season and provide diversified crops within its stratified micro-climate conditions. This glazed productive environment substantially reduces the amount of water required to grow food and, in addition, provides rainwater reclamation opportunities, while diverting excess heat to upper structures for space heating when needed.


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

Arcosanti also actively seeks less polluting renewable energy production systems such as solar, wind and other systems in place of hydrocarbon and nuclear based energy sources.

Elegent Frugality (Creative Resourcefulness) “Doing more with less” is certainly the goal of the project; much of it is achieved through the process of bricolage (Fr. put together using whatever materials happen to be available.) To accomplish “leanness” requires actual creative resourcefulness. Aesthetic expressions are inherent in elegant solutions that are found in any creative process, especially when economy (frugality) becomes an intrinsic part of our effort to be more sustainable.

Educational Opportunities (Environment as a Learning Asset) Prototypes, constantly fine-tuned, are laboratories that remain exempt from perfection. At Arcosanti, time and space are given to research and development in pursuit of ‘leanness.’ Arcological fragments, found in the current (micro) Arcosanti, reflect sustainable elements that will also be learning assets in a more complete (macro) Arcosanti. Arcosanti attempts to encourage an environmentally coherent context through a more holistic approach to issues of sustainability. The design of Arcosanti’s surroundings is meant to translate into educational opportunities.


"The most recent reshuffling of space nudging toward a more self-aware speck of reality. I call it the Lean Alternative in contrast to the consumption unlimited of our society.

Each apse exedra leaf "knows" more than the preceding, not out of magic, but out of experience (of the preceding). The enriching experience of a growing urban effect. It is the prototypical instrument adding accesses to the richer sound which the players, residents and guest, might want to employ while growing from 100 to 5000 or so." —Paolo Soleri


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

A process architecture, space organizing itself, aware and use of the sun presence, in moving incrementally (the six phases) into higher degrees of complexity, the urbanizing process.

Lean Linear City Lean Linear City proposes a continuous urban ribbon of twenty or more stories high, extending for many kilometers. Two main, parallel structures are built in modules measuring 200 meters (600 feet) in length. Each module accommodates about 3,000 residents and spaces for commercial, industrial, educational, cultural, recreational, and health maintenance activities. Lean Linear City suggests a possibility of sustainable urban development within its structure and the environment beyond. While carbon neutrality is within its reach through innovations in building technology and energy conservation, the most important contribution of Lean Linear City is, perhaps, its logistical approach to define and control the growth pattern of the existing and future cities. Here are some issues addressed as examples of “lean alternatives” in Lean Linear City to sustain urban mobility.

Mixed-Use Urban Environment

24/7 use of the Lean Linear City continuum provides an efficient and lively urban environment through mixed-use activities such as living, working, learning, and leisure. Although such urban life could be taxing on individuals, Lean Linear City also features immediate access to nature and open space, to balance urban intensity. Commuting occurs on foot and/or by train. While offering substantial urban activities within its linear structures, Lean Linear City is meant to ‘connect,’ providing residents with access to larger urban nodes (existing cities and new arcologies) that offer a different scale of socio-cultural and economic dynamism.

Energy Production

The relatively low-cost and highly efficient (in dollar value per energy output) forms of non-renewable energy, namely fossil fuels, have certainly brought our western world unprecedented progress in the last century. We are also aware of the environmental and human costs that have resulted from such progress with ever-increasing carbon emissions in our atmosphere as the rest of the world shares our prosperity. Depending on regional climatic and topographical conditions, Lean Linear City introduces alternative energy production options: continuous arrays of photo-voltaic modules harvesting solar energy and a series of windmills capturing wind energy. Both systems are located at the top of the structures taking advantage of non-polluting renewable energy. Passive solar features such as glazed atrium spaces and attached greenhouses (Energy Apron) add to the energy efficiency of the building. If all combinations of the suggested energy production/efficiency systems are employed for the urban modules, they would support 80 - 100% of the modules’ energy needs. 28

Water Conservation

Efficient organization of water supply and wastewater reclamation systems requires substantial capital investment even in a highly dense lean linear urban environment. However, Lean Linear City tries to focus on the reduction of water usage by introducing a climate-controlled atrium for urban activity and greenhouses for agricultural production. Additionally, alternative energy systems reduce dependence on more conventional energy production facilities such as power plants and ore/oil refineries that consume substantial amounts of water for their industrial needs. The residents also enjoy immediate access to recreational areas that feature bodies of water such as rivers and lakes within pedestrian reach or via other means of public transportation. The open agricultural fields are in close proximity to reusable, treated water, augmenting their irrigation needs. Lean Linear City logistical approach to design makes waste material collection more efficient. The linear transportation system provides easier access to waste processing and recycling locations and disposal sites. The biologically processed (composting) materials fulfill the landscaping and garden soil enrichment needs. An energy recovery system that proceses solid, liquid and gaseous materials into usable energy could also be adopted. Perhaps the largest contribution to waste management in Lean Linear City is the reduction in the absolute amount of material consumption by redefining the “quality of life� for its residents and giving pedestrian access to many amenities so that each resident does not have to own everything (but can share). Lean Linear City creates an environment in which less materials are needed and less waste is produced through the efficient use of resources.


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

Waste Management

Agriculture/Green House

Sustainable agriculture may be a somewhat elusive concept, especially with the complexity of varied and shifting environmental conditions along with the socio-economic needs of the communities that produce and consume the goods involved in the process. However, our attempt to reduce the food mileage that piles up our energy and environmental costs necessitates bringing agricultural activities much closer to the habitat where the consumption occurs. Lean Linear City explores urban agriculture in the adjacent open field and vertical farm built into the structure where applicable. Another unique feature of Lean Linear City is the terraced greenhouse unit (Energy Apron) intended to extend the growing season and provide diversified horticulture and floriculture practices within its stratified micro-climatic conditions. This glazed, productive environment substantially reduces the amount of water usage while diverting excess heat to upper structures for space heating when needed



Although the lifestyle within Lean Linear City occurs primarily in pedestrian mode, the linear nature of the urban ribbon structure is meant to follow the urban logistical system connecting different cultural interests and economic needs both horizontally and linearly, mass-transit systems are employed, including local shuttles and moving walkways as well as regional trains occasionally ‘touching down’ at major urban centers (existing cities or new arcologies) where Lean Linear City intersects. This transit-oriented development (TOD) approach provides a more controlled urban growth strategy as opposed to a seemingly unstoppable urban sprawl driven by our automobile dependence. Lean Linear City is also high density (20+ stories), enough to justify a multi-level, public circulation system including the integration of vertical transport systems such as elevators and escalators.

Public accessibility at multiple levels encourages walking, cycling, and the use of other low impact transport mechanisms. Sustainable mobility should address the problem of energy inefficiency and pollution caused by conventional logistical systems while creating a healthier lifestyles for residents. In conclusion, Lean Linear City is a complimentary piece to existing cities in need of urban growth and re-development, as well as an integral part of proposed ‘ecological’ communities built along the way. No matter how robust an eco-city proposed elsewhere may become, it still must address urban growth issues beyond its ‘protective’ ecological envelope. While the Lean Linear City possesses arcological elements within the system, its main focus is to map out the urban growth pattern in a more controlled manner by linearizing the ecological footprint needed to support activities within the nodes (larger cities) along its path.


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

Macro (logistical) urbanization is the key to transcend our daily life in gridlock.


An Augmented Ecology of Wildlife and Industry An existing salts mine sits as a scar on the Galapagos Landscape. Once the natural habitat of Flamingos, this salt lake has long been a desolate space ravaged by the nearby restaurant industry. The Galapagos is caught between its massive contribution to the Ecuadorian economy and its value as a historic wilderness. This project is conceived of as a provocation and speculation on how these two demands may be hybridized as an alternative to the typical conservationist practices applied across the islands. The two traditionally mutually exclusive programs of salt farming and Flamingo habitat are re imagined as a new form of symbiotic designed ecology; a pink wonderland, built from coloured bacteria and salt crystallization, dissolving and reshaping itself with seasonal and evaporative cycles. The building becomes an ecosystem in itself, completely embedded in the context that surrounds it. Formed from fine webs of nylon fibres held in an aluminum frame, this strange string instrument allows the salt farming process to be drawn up out of the lake, returning it to the endemic flamingos whilst at the same time ensuring the continuation of a vital local industry. Using just capillary action, salt water from the lake crystallizes on the tension strings forming glistening, translucent enclosures. It encrusts the infrastructure of a flamingo observation hide and solidifies into a harvestable field ready to be scraped clean by miners. The project has been developed through scale models that were used as host structures for an in depth series of crystallization experiments. Material erosion, spatial qualities, structurally capacity and evaporative cycles were all determined through physical testing. The architecture and its physical models grew slowly across time, emerging from the salt waters they were immersed in, to become fully developed crystalline structures.


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

The Galapagos is ecology in crisis. The project is positioned as part documentary, part science fiction offering both a rigorous technical study and a speculative near future wilderness. An evolving future for the islands is imagined and it demands an evolved and mutated architecture.

The scarred mining landscapes of the Galapagos salt lake

The salt lake forms both a habitat for endangered flamingos and vital part of the tourist economy

Physical experiments- through capillary action salt crystals are drawn out of the lake to return it to the flamingos whilst maintaining industry


Physical experiments- crystalisation patterns on fibres informs architectural development

Physical experiments- the material effects of salt is tested to create a structure the erodes and decays across time


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

Physical experiments- the final model sits in salt water as an ongoing crystal growth experiment

Program distribution- flamingo habitat, salt mine, tourist centre and shrimp hatchery all become part of a designed hybrid ecology

Salt crystals are deployed in varying densities across the string structure


The building becomes a string instrument gathering salt and supporting flamingo flocks

The strings of the building are periodically scraped clean by salt miners

Glistening crystals form translucent enclosures

With weathering and evaporative cycles the building grows and dissolves with the cycles of its context

The building becomes an ecosystem in itself, completely embedded the growth cycles of the Salt lake

A strange designed nature filled with flamingo flocks and glistening salt 37

Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

A hybrid ecology where tourists,industry and endemic wildlife can co exist

Illustration Credits 1 4 ap556752651901.jpg 9 10 12 Ta Prohm Ruins Photo credits- National Geographic. 14 16 16 AAAAAAAABRA/sSoZ4nko-TE/s1600/6659_promenade-plantee_paris.jpg 16 a6514_53200e7f_orig 17 17 17 18 21 22 22 23 23 half%20page.jpg 24 AAAAAAAAB-M/hiBjL3Sa8sg/s1600/SOL01.jpg 24 24 25 25 38 half%20page.jpg 25 25 26 AAAAAAAAB-Q/fqg_NWnHcUw/s320/SOL02.jpg 26 Thumbnail/image_gallery/C113-stm-800.jpg 27 Thumbnail/image_gallery/wSOLARE-09.jpg 28 Thumbnail/image_gallery/wSOLARE-11.jpg 29 Thumbnail/image_gallery/wSOLARE-10.jpg 30 Thumbnail/image_gallery/wSOLARE-08.jpg 31 Thumbnail/image_gallery/wSOLARE-01.jpg 31 Thumbnail/image_gallery/wSOLARE-00.jpg 31 34 34 34 35 35 35 36 36 37 37

Bibliography Reference

• • • • •

The Architecture Of Emergence: The Evolution Of Form In Nature And Civilisation Michael Weinstock Ecological Urbanism - Mohsen Mostafavi The Three Ecologies - Felix Guattari Design With Nature - Ian L. McHarg - Paolo Soleri, Architect Foundation


Augmented Ecologies Dissertation Mohammed Mansoor, USD

Mohammed Mansoor 2009AR25 The University School Of Design

Mohammed Mansoor 2009AR25 The University School Of Design

Augmented ecology dissertation  

Undergraduate Architecture Dissertation

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