BUILDING ECOCITIES:An Interview with Richard Register

2010-01-15 from:ecotecture author:R.Register

Designer, builder, visionary, and pragmatist, Richard Register is the veteran of thirty years of frontline action in the battle against urban sprawl—and for the rebuilding of our cities so they harmonize with nature. Based in Berkeley, California, but a well-traveled citizen of the world, Register has campaigned locally and globally to turn his vision of the compact, pedestrian-oriented ecocity into a reality.

His impressive list of achievements includes writing two books (he's at work on a third) and numerous articles, founding two active organizations, Urban Ecology and Ecocity Builders, restoring urban creeks and streets, and being one of the prime movers behind three International Ecocity Conferences (with a fourth scheduled for this April.)

In this three part interview, Register shares his ecocity vision, reflects on his successes and failures, and looks to the future. In Part I (this issue), he discusses the role of cities in the biosphere and evolution, and basic principles of ecocity design. Part II, to be published in our February 1, 2000 bonus issue, he focuses on the past and upcoming International Ecocity Conferences. Part III, in our regular March/April issue, discusses specific tools for urban revitalization, such as transfer development rights, and Register's work in his home town of Berkeley.

I met with Richard Register shortly after he returned from a conference on habitat, the internet and evolution held at the futuristic city of Arcosanti in northern Arizona.

ECOTECTURE: Tell me about the conference on the electronic future of design at Arcosanti.

RR: There was a fellow there name Marcos Novak. He was talking about trans architecture, liquid architecture, and architecture that is electronically animated. For example, he was talking about walls that had little pistons that you were supposed to touch, and you feel whatever is transmitted to the piston wall from some remote location. If someone else is pressing on the opposite of the piston wall in New York, and you were feeling the other side in, say, Los Angeles, you would have a tactile contact. It is fun, it seemed like an art piece and all kinds of communication was possible. You can imagine all sorts of erotic things evolving. (laughs) Then there were examples of projected imagery using holographs and tying them in with computers and these would move across the countryside and people could get communications. This all in the conference at Arcosanti on habitat, the internet, and evolution.

The way a lot of the people representing the cyberspace world were thinking was that we are now at another (rapidly growing) level of evolution which is the cyber evolution in the conscious realm. Part of what is going on at Arcosanti is the city, the "arcology" as Paolo Soleri calls it —architecture and ecology working together— is a step in the evolution of consciousness on the planet, and in the universe for that matter. This thinking is based on the ideas of Teillard de Chardin who Paolo admirers, and he's taken some of these ideas farther than de Chardin himself.

Previous page:[1 2 3 4 5 6 ...8 >>] Next Page 1 of 8