The Blueprint for a City of the Future is in the Arizona Desert

Welcome to Arcosanti

In the Arizona desert, a community of fewer than 100 people are building a model for cities of the future. Their project –Arcosanti – was started 50 years ago as an experiment in urban development by a revolutionary architect. Arcosanti was meant to challenge our assumptions of what living in a city looked and felt like. Is there a better way?

 

Imagining the City of the Future

A resident sketches in the expansive and bright dining hall, taking a break from a hot desert workday. With those windows and that view, we could get some serious work done here. (Photo by: DUST + GRIT )

 

In the late 1960s, architect Paolo Soleri felt frustrated at how rapidly cities were growing out of sync with nature. He lived in a canvas tent in the desert for over a year while studying under the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He created “arcology” – a fusion of architecture with ecology – while conceptualizing Arcosanti, his model for a utopian metropolis in the middle of the Arizona desert.

At the core of Arcosanti was a philosophy that cities should integrate within their natural landscape, and not forcibly against it. 

(Photo by: DUST + GRIT )

 

At the core of Arcosanti was a philosophy that cities should integrate within their natural landscape, and not forcibly against it. A place that used fewer resources, facilitated face-to-face interaction and looks objectively beautiful. Sounds like the city of our dreams.

There are no roads in the sense that we know them. Instead, an interconnected network of hallways weaves through the entire city.

Jona is a full-time resident of Arcosanti who contributes her talents and expertise to welding and construction. She has designed and built many of the tight-knit community’s structures, chairs, and tables. (Photo by: DUST + GRIT )

 

Arcosanti Comes to Life

Originally crafted by Soleri himself, ceramic and bronze wind bells have been handcrafted and cast on-site since Arcosanti’s early days. A portion of bell proceeds goes towards supporting the continual development of Arcosanti. (Photo by: DUST + GRIT )

This 24/7 living experiment houses dozens of full-time residents and welcomes thousands of visitors annually. Everybody who lives here believes in the mission of Arcosanti and Paolo Soleri’s vision for a more integrated, harmonious urban structure.

(Photo by: DUST + GRIT )

 

Arcosanti was meant to be an efficient alternative to the growing urban sprawl. Super dense buildings with a focus on natural materials and hyper-efficient designs would greatly reduce energy consumption. No, this isn’t a sci-fi film set. Earth – believe it or not – regulates itself quite well, and Arcosanti sought to tap into that natural balance. No need for air conditioning to cool your home, or even a car to get to work – there are no roads in the sense that we know them. Instead, an interconnected network of hallways weaves through the entire city. The views speak for themselves.

Sweeping curves and round casted concrete structures are found all throughout Arcosanti. We could happily get lost for days exploring the city’s innovative form (Photo by: DUST + GRIT )

Construction started in 1970, and nearly 50 years later Arcosanti is still a massive work in progress. But when Soleri started the city, concepts of minimalism and environmentalism were laughed at, and even deemed un-American. It’s time we revisited these once-radical ideas and reinvented the way we live, work, and play.

Daily Life in a Natural Urban Utopia

This 24/7 living experiment houses dozens of full-time residents and welcomes thousands of visitors annually. Everybody who lives here believes in the mission of Arcosanti and Paolo Soleri’s vision for a more integrated, harmonious urban structure. Their lives are shaped by contributing to the construction and expansion of Arcosanti. These are the people that are building the cities of the future. We spent a few days getting familiar with them and their land. Our takeaway has us ready to play our part.

Everybody who lives here believes in the mission of Arcosanti and Paolo Soleri’s vision for a more integrated, harmonious urban structure.

(Photo by: DUST + GRIT )

 

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