A r c o l o g y

(architecture + ecology)

the integration of nature and the built environment


In the Summer of 2007, 9students met for 4 weeks to learn about Arcology. Ideas that were new and bold and challenged the very thought about how humans live or (or lack thereof) with nature giving back more than we take.

They learned about outlaw pioneers like Buckminster Fuller whose principle was "you just see what needs to be done and do it" and

Malcolm Wells who took a different perspective on human scale and flew across the United States to document how much dead space we create with highways, parking lots and dead rooftops and proposed to Recover America with plants.

Meanwhile John Todd was following in the footsteps where Bucky left off creating a living machine, letting plants clean waste, using the ecological principle that says waste from one thing is food for the other.

And spearheading the term "arcololgy" is Paolo Soleri, who challenges the American Dream of the single family house and the demise it is bringing with it.

All agree....... integration is necessary, we must give back more than we take. Disconnect from the fossil fuel world, and live for clean air, water, and plants to provide food. What humans are doing with the land that they are using is polluting and not regenerating life. We must be responsible. The students below took these ideas and applied them to a site that was chosen in SE Portland, 1949 SE Division, a vacant lot for over 10 years that is slotted for condominums. We asked can this little piece of land be part of the community to clean its waste, collect rainwater, provide food, sequester carbon and provide a community meeting of people??????

Follow below to see what we found out and options we came up with (comments are welcome) please email Candace at gossen@pdx.edu   Thank you.

Lot Statistics: site: 1949 SE Division St.
lot size: 9500sf (0.22acres)
history: previous occupant – gas station
property value 2006: $148,580
sale price 1990: $52,714

Ladd's Addition:

6,932 people in Ladd's

831 acres

8 person per acre (2000 stats)

3243 households

51% own, 49% rent

15.7% diverse

First we calculate potential of site before we design:


One tree that shades your home in the city will also save fossil fuel, cutting CO2 buildup as much as 15 forest trees


Spacing between trees is a choice between growing for a commodity of lumber or growing for wildlife & carbon or both

At 10' x 10' spacing there are on aver 435 trees per acre. For this site which is 0.2 acres we could plant 87 trees.


1 trees absorbs approx. 48 lbs of CO2 per year and emits enough oxygen for 2 people.

87 trees = absorbs 4176 lbs of CO2 yearly.

Each person emits 2.3 tons/yr

Soil Erosion

1 tree over a 50 year lifetime  controls $31,250 of soil erosion.

87 trees = $2.7 million worth of soil erosion

Clean Water

1 tree over a 50 year lifetime recycles $$37,500 worth of water.

87 trees= $3.2million of clean water

Air Pollution

1 tree over 50 years controls $62,000 worth of air pollution controls.

87trees=$5.3 million dollars of saved pollution controls.


1 tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen.

87 trees=$2.7 million of oxygen


solar potential

300btus/sf coming from the sun in portland x 9500sf = 2.85 million btus PV - 9500sf x 10watts/sf for crystalline = 95KW

PV- 9500sf x 5 watt/sf for amorphous = 47.5 KW


Household energy use = 50% for space heating; 25% hot water; 25% applicances.

for a 4 person household electric water heating can cost 50% of energy use

solar thernal potential

A 4 person household:

Size a collector- 20sf person #1; 20sf person #2; 12sf for each person thereafter for portland.

4 person household = 64sf collector

solar storage 64sf x 1.5gal/sf = 96 gallons

A typical solar water heating system costs $2500-3500. State Tax Credit = $1500, out of pocket $1000-2000.

payback time is out of pocket cost/50% savings per month.

Average american consumes 30kwh/day, reducing 15kwh day x 0.082 kwh = $1.23day x 30= $36.9 month.

$1000/36.9 = 27 months payback time

Site information:

9500sf/64sf collector per household = 148 households.

96 gal x 148 households = $14, 250 gal of hot water potential from site.

or 790 person's daily consumption of hot water.


rainwater potential

In the portland climate profile, we get about 36" or 3' of rain a year.

any area can collect rain whether it be an impervious surface like a roof, or a filtered trough system below the surface of the ground.

First figure the sq ft of the area. then multiply times the feet of rain per year. This will give you cubic feet of rain per year.

Since we use water in gallons, convert your cubic feet x 7.4 gal/cf to get total gallons per year.

This is your rainwater potential.

your collection surface will determine whether you collect 90% metal, or 85% asphalt, or 70%cedar, or 50% ecoroofs. this is the actual for the collection surface.

Design criteria is storage needed for time it DOES NOT RAIN and for Portland it is 12 weeks or 90 days.

Cistern size resorts back to cubic feet by dividing 7.4 into total rainwater potential.

Usage per average person daily is 75 gal, conservative user is 40gal per day, and ultra-conservative is 25gal/day.

In Phoenix the average user can be over 300 gal a day when irrigation is included for green law and golf courses.

Site potential: 9500sf x 3' of rainfall =   28,500 cf x 7.4 gal/cf = 210,900gallons

if each person were a conservative user at 40 gal/day, the site could collect enough rainwater for 52,725 people.

if the neighborhood houses were connected on average 20,000 gallons per household on the average 900 sf bungalow, the potential collection could offset more than 75% of use.




For a wetland to absorb waste it takes abotu 2-3 meters per person, which is about 32sf per person.

Wetlands and the use of reeds and plants are a natural process that can be used on a local, community, or city scale.

An alternative to living wetlands are Living Machines which are contained biowaste water systems.

Site potential: 32 sf per person.

9500sf/32sfpp = 297 people waste taken care of by the site


Sci 399 Arcology & Renewable Energy-- summer 2007    Portland State University   Portland, Oregon

Instructor: Candace Gossen

Students: anonymous : )


click on images for  larger view

clinton.jpg (74573 bytes) A Pet Columbarium

The concept behind a memorial pet columbarium at 1949 Se Division was to design a multi function space that provided civic and environmental value to the community while doing something positive to relieve the contamination on site.

The shrubbery and trees provide food for birds, and butterflies in addition to detoxifying the soil. The Bio-swale utilizes an under-developed resource in the rainwater runoff which will be used to create a memorial pond, water the sites vegetation, and educate the public about the practicality of living an environmentally sound lifestyle.


Cob/ash concrete will be used extensively throughout the site; benches around the memorial pond, and the main structure of the columbarium, (which will provide the niches and also function as a thermal wall).

The pathways will be covered with recycled tire flooring to reduce erosion of the soil. Eco-roofs will shade the memorial benches, channel water into the bio-swale, and provide additional space for plants intended to encourage butterflies, which are a significant pollinator crucial to local agriculture.

The crystalline solar panels on the columbarium will provide power to the site and return unused power back to the grid. Revenue to pay for care taking could be generated from niche sales.

A Living Machine

My site proposal has a "living machine®", cleaning wastewater into reusable water, which even though is cleaner than tap water, can't be drank for legal reasons, but can be reused as toilet water, or for irrigation.

The concept also contains several solar panels and two small wind turbines, to offset some coal power, and power the "living machine" itself.

There would be open touring of the facility and information about the site, as well as general info about eco-friendly power and the history and practice of "living machines".

noel.jpg (85372 bytes) The main focus would be educating people. "Living machines" are exciting and more efficient than the current system in place. I thing the Portland area would be thrilled to visit such a site. I think people would like to know about alternatives, I think people would be amazed at the possibilities.
Clean Water

A small water bottling facility will exist on the east property line. The walls will be constructed of mud-filled tires.

The roof will support bamboo and smaller reeds which will also fill the surrounding lot. Plants are able to naturally filter and purify human waste.

Directing the neighborhood's sewage underground to this site will odorlessly purify the effluent, resulting in water many times cleaner than chemically-treated water.

This exceptionally clean and perfectly potable water will be bottled on site and sold locally.

The bamboo will additionally create oxygen through conversion of carbon dioxide and, when harvested, provide a sustainable flooring product. Solar panels along the north property line will power the minimal needs of the bottling facility and provide electricity to the neighborhood as well.


jeff.jpg (83939 bytes)

moira.jpg (111096 bytes) A Playground Forest

1. A 2460sf stormwater pond holding approximately 19K gallons of water for wildlife

2. Cob Gazebo w/ an eco roof as a community space.

3. Recycled Rubber Tire Playground

4. Rainwater Harvesting System with a cister of 2800 galons of water.

5. Bioswale stream flowing thru garden

6.Bridges as design features across swale


7. Cob benches around the playground providing shady spots.

8. Indigenous Trees planted along the perimeter of the park including Willow and Black Hawthorne. 35 trees will store   48 lbs/tree for a total of 1680lbs of carbon annually.

Recycling Wastewater


My project is intended to serve the community by providing an educational
and functional garden community. The idea is to not only provide a peaceful  place for this SE Portland neighborhood, but to make it a bit more "Green" too.

This plot of land can be used to offset waste from neighboring houses
and using the recycled waste water to maintain the plants within its
borders. It also would use collected rainwater to serve the same person.


caitlin.jpg (102113 bytes)

With the natural cycle of mother nature, we can produce a garden community
full of living masterpieces, while using recycled resources to do so.

Earthship Neighborhood Center

Earthships re-use, contains, and treats its own waste water with a combination of wetlands, solar power and hydroponics. The compilation of all these integrated systems is called Biotecture.

The structural walls are made of tires, the south face captures solar energy, greywater is food for plants, rainwater is collected and used, and waste is solar composted.

This meeting and gathering space is for the neighborhood, tours and other special events and classes.


james.jpg (125524 bytes)

dustin.jpg (73500 bytes)

Living Systems


Solar panels at 29K btus per panel on a sunny day, and 19K on a cloudy day. For a price of $150-160.

On this lot you would be able to fit 92 trees at a 10 x 10 spacing. Over a 50 year lifetime, EACH TREE generates $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62K worth of air pollution control, recycles $37,500 worth of water and controls $31,250 of soil erosion.

Wind energy, called the Whisper could produce anywhere between 900/28 (watts/mph) to 3200/27.

A Living Machine could take up half the lot 3700-4800 sf leaving half the area for energy or water.

Living Systems are not just good for the earth, but also the community. not giving off order -- its anywhere from a place for people to gather and be educated, to saving money and using fewer chemicals to clean the water.

Wastewater Ecology Demonstration

michael.jpg (75258 bytes) Community vegetable garden is watered with former wastewater.

Photovoltaic panels provide enough power for the electric pumps.

Public ecology toilets



sam.jpg (122433 bytes)

Rainwater Collection



To help with Portland runoff problem leading to an overflowing sewer system, this property could easily collect 800,000 gallons of roof runoff every year by housing an underground cistern for holding water.

To use collected water, the property would be fitted with 4600sqft of working greenhouses for year-round growing, plus 4600sqft of outdoor garden space for summer growing. Because all of this gardening will only require 380,000 gallons of water each year, the other 420,000 gallons can be used to flush local toilets.

In total, instead of
800,000 gallons of roof runoff flowing into the sewer system, this water can be harnessed and used to grow over 10,000lbs of produce while slowly introducing the rest of the water into our sewer system by flushing local toilets with recycled toilet water.


reference article written on July 11 by the Williamette Week http://www.wweek.com/editorial/3335/9225/