The Tomorrowland movie releases this week and at the heart of it is a concept where brilliant people work and live in an amazing city where they can enjoy some of their creations first hand long before the rest of us see them. For some time this concept, called an Arcology, has been under consideration. This idea of combining where you work and where you live into a single secure structure has merit particularly if you value security. The Syfy channel had a show that was popular for a number of years called Eureka which seemed to explore his concept and Mountain View wanted Apple to build one when they first floated their flying saucer headquarters concept largely to help reduce what will undoubtedly be insane traffic when the building goes into service.
Let’s talk about that this week.
The concept of an Arcology goes back to the beginning of the last century and it is a self-contained, often domed, city where people live and work and largely consume what they make. Arcosanti, in Arizona, is one such project but I doubt it will finish in my lifetime if ever. But the underlying concept would be very dense, dense enough where you could mostly walk to everything and where you couldn’t you’d take some kind of elevator like transportation to get around. Something like Disney’s old People Movers would be idea. It would collect likeminded people together, say folks that worked for one or few companies that would all be closely grouped and where access was sharply limited to protect secrecy and safety.
Disney’s dream of the EPCOT (Experimental City of Tomorrow) was supposed to be a city like this but his unexpected death (and some pretty unethical moves by his attorneys who bought up all the land the Disney Corp would need to finish the city in the hope of making a killing) killed that project. In some ways the concept of the Tomorrowland movie reflects what might have been had Disney lives or his attorneys hadn’t worked against the project.
Apple or Google
I’d always thought that Apple was most likely to build one of these things largely because of their huge focus on secrecy and security, and partially because the traffic around their current headquarters in really horrid. But now I think it more likely that Google will come around to this idea because they are growing like blockbusters, have a deep desire to outdo Apple, and as they expend they are aggressively looking at improving housing for their employees along with offices because of the traffic and adverse publicity they are getting for pushing up house pricing massively in places like San Francisco.
Wrapping Up: Imagining the City of the Future
We talk a lot about renewable energy, traffic, the horrid condition of our infrastructure, and global concerns like shortages, global warming, and pandemics. Arcologies are the natural defense against all of this and, I expect, in a decade or two will be forced to reconsider them broadly to address everything from shortages in core needs like water, to reducing the need for our collapsing roads, and increasing our ability to defend against pandemics and terrorist attacks.
So, as you watch Tomorrowland consider, particularly if you are a Google employee, that this could be your future. Granted with a lot less of the violence. A place where folks can work, play, and socialize safely and where their common interests and focus on amazing things creates those amazing things. For now it is only a movie, but damned if I don’t want a set of those shutters (if you want to know what I’m talking about see the film).
In any case have a great long weekend and join me as I dream about and watch, Tomorrowland. I can hardly wait! Hang on!