AUTONOMOUS CITY

First Prize, Arizona Challenge

Drew Adams, Fadi Masoud and Daniel Ibañez

Emerging from the collapse of the global financial system and facing both the peaking of our single most important energy resource and a population whose demographics are changing rapidly, the default form of North American (sub)urbanism is confronted by particular challenge. The densest cities struggle to import goods and resources with logistical routes choked off while those inhabiting the most sprawling areas struggle to cope with the vast expanse and lack of personal mobility. Exhausted and taken to its logical conclusion, our current urban form is faced with a broad series of conflating forces which are poised to challenge its present conception.

In the wake of this, new settlement emerges from this diffuse patchwork of more or less built form. Enclaves of self-reliance and resilience. Establishing new territories beyond the current urban reaches, these net-zero communities have embedded themselves in the landscape and linked strategically to the infrastructure and sites of resource cycling and production which sustains them. They are models for the future. Concentrations in a dispersed landscape. Independently they are self-sustaining and self-contained cities. As they duplicate, a network of compact autonomous communities emerge and connect to form an extensive web.

The Central Ideas of The City are:

1. Compact and self contained: The City is established with vision and in response to the physiology, hydrology and ecology of its context. Logical boundaries are formed and a whole vision worked toward without wanton, haphazard growth beyond the carry-capacity of the city-locale.

2. Self-Reliant: The City is a site of production and consumption with all waste, effluents and emissions are resources recovered and cycled to replenish and feed the closed-loop system.

3. From Core to Spine: The City's dated notion of the ‘core’ is replaced by a looping spine that centralizes service and offers high order transport. In place of the voided core is ecologically-based waste reclamation areas and production sites that supplement neighborhood and home scaled agriculture.

4. Low Tech Meets High Tech Sustainability: passive and active systems work holistically on a joint landscape, city and building scale. These environments rely on orientation, self-shading, passive heating and cooling and courtyards of the mat-building fabric for great performance. The porosity enables lush garden courts of native planting where rainwater is reclaimed for use. This is enhanced by leading edge green technologies with the whole city powered by solar fields extending beyond the city.