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Arcology Builders (Michigan/Arizona, USA)

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    20210505 by paul pham
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We are a cooperative investment and land stewardship project that develops sustainable community housing that remains permanently affordable.
We have a 4-person community home in Wayne County, Michigan (Detroit Arcology) and are developing 40 aces in Navajo County in eastern Arizona (Snowflake Arcology). 

Arcology Builders is named after Paolo Soleri's concept of arcology, an integration of architecture and ecology that reimagines future urban environments to be dense, walkable, low-energy, and co-existing with nature.

In contrast and complementing this original approach, we seek to regenerate and renovate big urban buildings where they exist, especially in cities that go through cyclical economic declines and where there is a need for permanently affordable housing.
These include cities such as Detroit after major automakers closed factories in the 70s and NYC in 2020s during the pandemic. Rather than requiring radical and expensive changes to the way people currently live in a short period of time, we wish to provide more approachable and affordable housing choices that work towards a healthier future in a more gradual way, consistent with energy drawdown, climate benefit, and social justice. We wish to create reproducible models that can be tested in the actual market with residents and users over long periods of time, using existing financial systems where it makes sense to do so while slowly diverting resources from harmful and unconscious crony capitalism to a more equitable future.

To do this, we plan to use the tool of a community land trust (CLT), that has been pioneered since the 1970s and has hundreds of active communities around the globe, to provide permanently affordable housing, tied to the annual median income (AMI) of the surrounding region and therefore aligning us with mutual prosperity of all our neighbors, partnering with communities of color. This provides familiar market-based options to help meet people's inherent needs to do what is good for their families and the earth, but in support of creating a parallel, permanently-affordable market that brings in all participants as partners, and helps them share in durable community wealth that does not seek to divide people into haves and have-nots. 

Detroit Arcology (Michigan)

This home was acquired in 2019 when remodeling started. It is a 2 story home with basement on a ~6,400 square foot lot zoned for two famility (R2) in the LaSalle Gardens neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan. It's current members are Adrian Laurenzi, Diana Post, Anthony Hatinger, Paul Pham, and Eddie the cat. It includes a community garden where we grow much of the vegetables we eat throughout the year, compost piles, a solar panel, rain barrels for water harvesting, and a shared carpool.
It was acquired for around $30k and current remodeling costs up to the present are an additional $40k, including replacing the roof completely.
### more garden details? (size, inputs—setup & regular labour,water?, outputs? soil?)

Visitors are welcome, if you're interested please reach out to: or
### in what capacity? could you call it a hackbase? would you want to have a model, how would it serve both parties?

We have applied to the City of Detroit to receive a preliminary plan review to develop a second lot with three micro-homes from compressed earth bricks (CEB) using designs and technologies from the [Open Source Ecology project](
### @@materials (CEB)
### ask for access?
### would you go to use ?

Snowflake Arcology (Arizona)

This is a 40 acre (~16 hectares) parcel of land thirty minutes east of Snowflake, Arizona. It was previously used as a horse pen, with no water, sewage, electricity, or internet. We are currently in negotiations with the seller to purchase it for around $20-$26k with a contract that will close on May 15th. We've had percolation tests conducted which indicate fractured sandstone at a depth of 3.5 feet at seven different locations near three potential build sites, which is where we would build a septic system. Traditional septic systems seem unfeasible, so we are now considering alternative septic systems for blackwater, which have environmental benefits over traditional sewage and septic systems, and a graywater system using a reed bed and other natural remediations that would retain.
### update on contract?
### map link? more details about the location (soil, regular&irregular weather, good and bad sides), how did you find it, decision process, etc
### this is pretty interesting

Our goal here is to allow this land to be cooperatively funded and to form a permaculture farm and food forest, to generate solar energy from photo-voltaics using the abundant sunshine in Arizona, and to help regenerate the surrounding water table. Our  
### cut off?

As a self-contained, 2-person residence suitable for Airbnb and to allow city guests and art residents to experience our project and support our mission, we are working with the AVRAME Company to build one of their A-frame kit home designs. 
### reminds me of some Slovenian wood architecture company models @

The rainy season in eastern Arizona lasts from July to September, during which the region received 40% of its rainfall. We plan to dig swales and other water retention earthworks to harvest as much of this water as possible,  while building up compost piles and organic matter from the surrounding farms, businesses, and households.

Alternative Building and Growing Technologies We're Interested in Using

Planting bamboo to regenerate the soil, produce future sources of alternative timber, and sequester carbon.

Rammed earth walls as a way to create customizable, built-in-place walls with natural thermal sinking and home temperature regulation properties, with a beautiful, organic look, that is fireproof, earthquake proof, and can be done with only freely available soil from the surrounding area.

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