Living City Design

Living City Design: Prescott 2035

This semester our students picked up where the Summer 2010 group left off with the Prescott 6th Street Redevelopment Project. The Fall group was asked to evolve the plan for the Living City Design Competition, which challenges entrants to design a regenerative city for 2035 that accounts for climate change and is entirely self-sustaining. The overall goals of the challenge are as follows:

“The International Living Building Institute…invites the world’s most talented and daring designers, planners, artists and animators to create a new global vision: a breathtaking, compelling model for the future of civilization. Unleash the power of your imagination to envision a city capable of thriving through the centuries – one that will heal the land and prove that the human species can in fact live, in the words of E. O. Wilson, as ‘part and parcel with creation’.

The competition is meant to provide powerful but readily accessible models of truly sustainable cities. Members of the general public should be able to view the visualizations and come away with a clear sense of how each city would look, feel and function. At the same time, entries must be grounded in real technology and presented with sufficient information to be useful to skilled designers, engineers and planners. The winning entry should be so compelling that current members of the green building movement will want to devote themselves to achieving its vision.”

Goals and Intentions

  • create opportunities for local, regional and global connectivity
  • ensure the regeneration of local ecology by cultivating a mutualistic relationship between humanity and nature
  • allow the evolution of a culture rooted in heritage and locality
  • provide through local resources all energy, water and food requirements
  • promote a self-adaptive and silient community that enables regeneration of culture

Local Ecology as a Metaphor

metaphorIn order to convey our goals and vision in a creative and effective manner, we decided that providing abstract connections between our actual design and a powerful, relevant metaphor would strengthen our whole approach and the comprehensiveness of this narrative. We felt a strong interest in portraying the local ecology and relating natural systems already in place to our own designs and conceptual systems.

sixth street energy cyclingMaterials

To assess resources available for this project, we did an inventory of physical resources and materials, skills and knowledge, and existing opportunities to collaborate with organizations, institutions, and agencies. Organized according to distance from our site, we were able to understand the distances associated with the various “resources” to be capitalized upon.


This diagram shows the various methods of energy production and storage incorporated in our design. It also shows the connections, relationships and closed loop systems made by the different energy components of 6th Street.


waterANNUAL ONSITE RAIN CATCHMENT: 14,900,000 gallons
ANNUAL WATER SURPLUS: 7,100,000 gallons

With low annual rainfall and a threat of increased aridity with climate change, the 6th Street water system was a driving factor behind our design. Rain catchment is maximized through permanent and seasonal shade/catchment structures attached to most buildings; outdoor landscaping is desert-adapted and watered through passive street runoff catchment; and the majority of agriculture is located adjacent to living space to provide for a constant greywater supply. The keystone to the success of our water system is a network of district-evel living maching wastewater purification and methane capture “Integrated Reclamation Centers”, which allow for closed-loop cycling of the water supply.


On-site food production will use drylands crop varieties that are adapted to local conditions and require minimal water use.


regional transitImplementing public transportation into Prescott’s city fabric is essential toward greater connectivity within the city, regionally and also toward a sustainable future. The diagram (right) illustrates how both regional and city systems can work simultaneously. The 6th Street Project has two transport hubs within the site. The regional rapid bus transit system will link Prescott to other cities and towns and link to the I-17 and I-40. The Pinyon Jay Bus System (Prescott’s new local bus system) would start with two bus routes circulating within town.

Throughout our site we have chosen to alter our streetscapes to provide more equal, distributed and safe transport options. The motorized vehicular lanes have been narrowed to allow room for increased pedestrian/bicycle area as well as drainage basins to help deal with water reunoff and provide food producing greenery. Thiss approach enables a more diverse yet connected landscape that enriches the site through the unison of beauty and functionality.


Riparian areas are very important in the Southwest because they filter and clean water while providing a transportation network for fauna. The creeks on the site are currently unable to perform these functions because they are too constricted. By moving development away from the creeks and allowig the natural slope to form, these healthy functions will return.

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