Weed, Arizona is a prototype for a small sustainable, post-industrial, post-automotive city. Located on an existing artificial lake created by a dam on the lower Colorado River near Yuma, Weed occupies a portion of what is presently a very large military base. The fantasy that sustains and enables the project – undertaken as a speculation – is one of conversion, both by civilianization of an enormous wasted social and territorial resource and by the intervention of consciousness, by new modes of sustainable production and agriculture, and by the radical reordering of relations of proximity brought on by the deluge of new instruments of artificial adjacency, by faxes, phones, computer nets, television, and the global culture in which they swim.
Weed is one look at the morphology of such a city, a city with both tight links to the world and aspirations to basic self-sufficiency. However, while embracing certain principles of occupation and use, Weed is – formally – just one place located at a particular convergence of landscape, culture, technology and architecture: it rejects the idea of “correct” architecture, of a single expression, isomorphic with these principles. Dense and pedestrian, laces with water and greenery, with thermal ponds and small farm plots, with solar sails and an abundance of gardens, Weed proposes a non-coercive variety, a city structured like a loft, a city in which architecture, water, landscape and agriculture are seen as continuous phenomena, the lines between them ambiguous. It is a city that celebrates these phenomenal seams as the sites where new forms and solutions can grow, new splicing, and new occupations.
Cities must change. Urban ecologies must be realigned with natural ones even as urban morphologies are transforms to support new ways of living. Arizona – from Taliesin to Biosphere, a historic site of speculation about community – is stressed today by an in-migration of people who – abandoning failing cities – seek to integrate their living and working lives with more natural rhythms. Weed is meant to be a place where the hacker and the farmer, the craftsperson and the scientist, the mechanic and the artist, find a lush and democratic space of convenience, sustainability, and pleasure which can support all kinds of activity and growth, both predictable an un-envisioned.
Credits: Michael Sorkin, Andrei Vovk - Silva Adjaman, Partick, Clifford, Doug Gerber, Jeffrey Johnson, Peter Kromer, Matthew Mueller, D. Schwarzer, Zingg.