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Paolo Soleri : architect biography

famous architect : Paolo Soleri





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Paolo Soleri architect
Paolo Soleri architect
Paolo Soleri architect
Paolo Soleri architect
Paolo Soleri architect

Paolo Soleri

Paolo Soleri architect Italian architect Paolo Soleri is one of the best-known Utopian planners of the twentieth century. His elaborate sociological philosophies and city plans, bearing the unmistakable evidence of a highly creative mind, depict the ideal self-sufficient societies that have always been the stuff of visionary dreams. His controversial megaplans and experimental communities are poetic manifestos of the type of world that is possible once man decides to live in harmony with nature.

Paolo Soleri was born in Turin. Italy in 1919. After receiving a doctorate with highest honors from the Polytechnic University of Torino, 1946, Paolo Soleri moved to the United States where he was apprenticed to Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West from 1947 to 1949. Wright's philosophies, particularly the twin theories of plasticity and continuity, had a profound effect on Paolo Soleri's later work. In 1950 Paolo Soleri returned to Italy where he designed and built a uniquely sculptural ceramics factory on the Amain Coast, south of Naples. Although the factory at Vietri sul Mare is decidedly influenced by Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, it is a remarkably original work. Bulging, thin-shelled walls enhance rather than disturb the natural curves of the cliffside setting. Another important project from Paolo Soleri's early years was the tubular bridge designed in the late 1940s. This ingenious reinforced concrete bridge unfolds where structural stresses are small, then closes back into tubular shapes at midspan. Although the project was never built, it is possibly the first innovative concept in bridge design since Maillart.

In 1955, Paolo Soleri moved to Paradise Valley, a small desert outside of Phoenix, Arizona, where Paolo Soleri built his own "earth house" (1956-1958), just a few miles from Taliesin West. The earth house, one of two related structures, explores natural forms and building techniques. Here again are traces of Gaudi's work and suggestions of Wright's Philosophies. Built with the help of an apprentice system similar to Wright's, the partially subterranean complex, later named Cosanti, incorporated residences, ceramics studios, and apprentice quarters. Based on passive solar principles, the structures are cool in the hot desert days and warm in the cold desert nights. Cosanti is 25 x 35 ft, 6 ft below the level of the desert floor, and is covered by a 3-in.-thick curved and ribbed shell roof that touches the desert floor on two long sides of the plan. The ends of the house open onto excavated patios designed with collection pits for rainwater that supports a planting system that will eventually cover the entire roof. The technology is innovative. Paolo Soleri first built a huge mold from hardened desert sand. This was scored with crisscrossed indentations from end to end and covered with reinforcing rods and mesh. Concrete was then poured and sprayed over the mold. Once the shell was completely cured, the sand mold was excavated with a bulldozer.

Paolo Soleri eventually moved 70 mi north of Cosanti to escape the encroaching suburban sprawl of Phoenix. This was chosen as the building site for Arcosanti, a minicity capable of supporting 3000 people on 10 acres of land surrounded by a greenbelt. Ultimately designed to be 20 stories high, the prototype city supports a study center for experimental workshops and performing arts. Its builders are typically students under contractual agreement in which they promise both fees and labor for the privilege of being a part of Paolo Soleri's community. Apprentice quarters are 12-ft concrete cubes with porthole windows.

Arcosanti was a prototype "arcology," an idea developed by Paolo Soleri in the 1960s. Arcology, which conceptually addresses the interrelationship between architecture and ecology, was conceived by Paolo Soleri as a vital process as well as an end product. Arcologies ultimately provide alternatives to horizontal growth that characterizes most American cities and their resulting suburbs. By contrast, arcologies are self-contained, vertically layered megabuildings that combine living, working, and natural environments into condensed superorganisms. Although unconventional in form, the underlying assumptions are intensely urbanistic in that they support a complex philosophical position that relates megacities to the entire process of evolution. Paolo Soleri makes a scientific analogy between the compactness in nature and the density, or critical mass, essential to urban societies. Because the degree of liveliness, energy, and efficiency is directly proportional to density, the city must be predicated on compactness: lack of density is synonymous with inefficiency.

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Arcosanti is only a small test model in comparison to Paolo Soleri's ultimate vision. Paolo Soleri compiled 30 other arcologies in the 1969 publication, Arcology: The City in the Image of Man. Included in the selection are Veladiga. supporting 15,000 people on a site near a dam. and Babelnoah. a community accommodating six million people on a site ideally located near a coastal swamp. Paolo Soleri has also experimented with arcologies that turn with the sun and incorporate bases of economic activities including timbering and mining. All of these concentrated cities can be traversed by foot or bicycle. Cars are not allowed, thus eliminating vehicular circulation as a determining factor of form as in other modern city planning. Paolo Soleri has a deep dislike for cars and suburbs and the flat, amorphous dispersal of community that they produce. The stated objectives in all of his plans include the development of an extended list of environmental variations and posibilities; the illustration of benefits to be garnered from concentration and high densities in cities; the expansion of conceptions of inner space and volume; the development of alternatives to vehicular traffic; the exploration of the varieties of economies made possible by automation, standardization, and density; the conversion of leisure activities into useful contributions to the city; and the reinterpretation of the artist's role in society.

The second planned arcology is the dreamlike "City on a Mesa," which Paolo Soleri designed and drew in meticulous detail on dozens of rolls of butcher paper, each several hundred feet long. Mesa City will support more than two million people on approximately 55,000 acres of land, 13.5 mi long and 6 mi wide. Thirty-four villages will be grouped around civic buildings and shopping centers in clusters of five. This city plan begins with the conviction that the city is the most relevant aesthetic phenomenon on the earth. Mesa City is to be located in the western United States or a similar region. The land is internationalized under a world government authority. Located on a semiarid plateau and surrounded by grounds for agricultural activities, the ecology is closely controlled by a complex system of watersheds, dams, and canals. Providing Paolo Soleri backbone of the society are a man-made park a center for advanced study, and a theological complex.

Paolo Soleri believes that in this world of ever-changing beauty and splendor, architecture offers a path for man to equal the power and grace of nature: Paolo Soleri is searching for that path. Of all the demands inherent in the act of architectural design, he sees the creation of an environment harmonizing with nature as the most urgent.


other books about Paolo Soleri

Paolo Soleri: The Omega Seed: An Eschatological Hypothesis
The Bridge between Matter & Spirit Is Matter Becoming Spirit: The Arcology of Paolo Soleri
Paolo Soleri: Arcosanti: An Urban Laboratory?
Paolo Soleri's Earth casting: For sculpture, models, and construction
Paolo Soleri: The Omega Seed
Paolo Soleri: Arcology: The City in the Image of Man
Documenta; the Paolo Soleri retrospective
Paolo Soleri: Technology and Cosmogenesis
Paolo Soleri: Life Time Furniture Cloister Styles
Fragments: A selection from the sketchbooks of Paolo Soleri : the tiger paradigm-paradox
The Sketchbooks of Paolo Soleri
Paolo Solieri, the 21st century: Envisioned cities
Fragments: A selection from the notebooks of Paolo Soleri : the tiger paradigm-paradox
Paolo Soleri: Arcology and the future of man
Selected bibliography of materials published by Paolo Soleri
Paoli Soleri, a bibliography (Architecture series : Bibliography)
Paolo Soleri: Illustrated chronology
Asteromo: Soleri
The development by Paolo Soleri of the design for the Cosanti Foundation, Arizona, U.S.A (North Carolina State University. School of Design. Student publication) (North Carolina State University. School of Design. Student publication)
Paolo Soleri: Cosanti Foundation
Paolo Soleri: a bibliography

Title | Adolf Loos | Albert Kahn | Aldo Rossi | Alvar Aalto | Alvaro Siza | Antonio Gaudi | Carlo Scarpa | Eliel Saarinen | Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Owen Gehry | Fumihiko Maki | Gottfried Boehm | Henry Hobson Richardson | Charles Ormond Eames | Christopher Wren | Ieoh Ming Pei
James Stirling | Kenzo Tange | Kevin Roche | Le Corbusier | Louis Henry Sullivan | Louis Isadore Kahn | Ludwig Mies van der Rohe | Luis Barragan
Marcel Breuer | Mario Botta | Michael Graves | Oscar Niemeyer | Paolo Soleri | Renzo Piano | Richard Meier | Robert Venturi | Tadao Ando

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