Arcosanti is an anomaly in the high desert of Arizona. On a trip through the southwest, traveling between Sedona and Phoenix, it appeared out of nowhere. Remembering the name from studies of urban design theory I made a last minute decision to pull of the interstate and down a nondescript gravel road.
Described as an “urban laboratory focused on innovative design, community, and environmental accountability” Arcosanti is the brain child of the design thinker Paolo Soleri. His philosophical approach towards human settlement focused on integrating architecture and ecology, what he termed arcology. Arcosanti is an ongoing manifestation of this philosophy.
It is a work in progress that has continued even after Soleri’s passing in 2013. The ambitious plan and it’s implementation offer new ideas about how we connect and build community.
Watching the resident artisans craft the siltcast windbells provides a glimpse into the same technique that was used to construct some of Soleri’s structures. In fact, it was the technique used to construct the open air apse where you can watch the ceramics being made. And it’s these ceramics that fund a significant portion of the ongoing construction of Arcosanti.
Look out for this place if you’re in the area. It’s well worth the stop. Take the tour, eat at the café and buy a windbell