Arcosanti: The Bizarre Little Town
In 1970 an unusual experimental town was constructed and named “Arcosanti”. Arcosanti is located about 70 miles north of Phoenix and was built using a concept called, arcology. This principal combined architecture and ecology and developed to show how a town can “demonstrate how urban conditions could be improved while minimizing the destructive impact of the earth. The town aims to combine principles such as minimal resource use and access to the natural environment.”
Arcrosanti was constructed as a tentative town and located on 25 acres of land preserve. With the most current structure completed in 1989, this site housed around 50 to 150 inhabitants who were either students or volunteers living on this location. There are 13 buildings which are quite a few stories high and include a visitors’ center, café, gift shop, a bronze-casting apse, a ceramics apse, two large barrel vaults, a ring of apartment residences, and various stores. All these places surround an outdoor amphitheater, a community swimming pool, an office complex, and Soleri’s suite which is a two-story “Sky Suite” at the highest point of the complex. This space is reserved for overnight guests.
“Many features are particular to the design and construction of Arcosanti, for example the use of tilt-up concrete panels that are cast in a bed of silt acquired from the surrounding area, which gives the concrete a unique texture and colour and helps it blend in with the landscape. Many of the panels were cast with embedded art. Most of the buildings are oriented toward the south to capture the sun's light and heat — with roof designs that admit the maximum amount of sun in the winter and a minimal amount during the summer. For example, the bronze-casting apse is built in the form of a quarter sphere or semi-dome. The layout of the buildings is intricate and organic, rather than a North American style city grid, with a goal of maximum accessibility to all of the elements, increased social interaction and bonds, and a sense of privacy for the residents.”
Today, Arcosanti contains its own greenhouses, gardens, and agricultural fields. The place has workshops and classes where students from all over come to participate in. There are plans to build more structures such as a large-scale building which will be the biggest one in the town. Present day construction is done by workshop participants and volunteers. People visiting the bizarre settlement can take a guided tour or spend the night in one of the guest housings. Arcosanti sales metal and ceramic bells made from the bronze located in the town and donations/fees for the workshops taught there to keep it going. Do I plan to visit there? Maybe someday.