Sumbiopolis

FLW Broadacres

Cities, as they are currently configured, owe their existence on globalized gigantism supported by the carbon intensive global transport of goods by aircraft and shipping. Symbiocene planners agree with Bill Rees in seeing cities as “entropic black holes” (Rees 1997) defying all superficial attempts at pseudo-sustainability with their ‘green walls’.

We will need to exit the megapolis and live in the ‘sumbiopolis’, a place where the sumboikos will flourish. I have no clear idea of what this kind of city will look like, but I would not rule out the ‘living city’ of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Broadacres’ countryside, complete with skyscrapers, forests and factories surrounded by agricultural fields; an assemblage he described as “patterns of cultivation mingling with good buildings” (Wright 1958: 198). I can also see Friedrich Hunterdtwasser’s organic, living design and architecture informing every aspect of the built symbioment (Hundertwasser 1997). Finally, architects and designers will be able to create organic form and flow in their work. The era of the straight line and ‘the box’ will be over as engineers figure out how to replace Anthropocene concrete (one of the highest emitters of carbon) with new materials that satisfy Symbiocene principles.

Image by G. Albrecht from: Wright, Frank Lloyd. 1958. The Living City. New York: Meridian Book. pp. 198-199 (with thanks to Frank).

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