The Arcosanti Project
The welcoming sign on the dirt road that leads to the prototype community.  12-01.
Visitors traverse a bridge. climb the stairway at the right and cross the enclosed catwalk to enter on the third floor.  Although the unfinished concrete walls give the appearance of an unfinished building, it has been in use for decades..  12-01.

The prototype community of Arcosanti is long on high minded concepts and unfortunately short on execution.  Paolo Soleri, a fellow of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin and designer of bridges, buildings and ceramic bells, conceived Arcosanti as a demonstration of how the human condition can be improved by residing in densely populated structures designed so that vehicles are not necessary and the use of energy, land and raw materials are minimized.

Building began in 1970.  More than thirty years later only a very small portion of the conceived structures have been completed.  To the untrained eye, construction seems to barely outpace deterioration.

A tour of Arcosanti will interest the futurist, the architectural student, and those curious to see a ghost town under construction. Our tour guide seemed possessed of a near religions zeal for the project.  He proudly pointed out the magnificently inventive architecture and how it will bring future residents to nirvana.

Construction methods seem decidedly unusual.  The famous Soleri Bells not only provide funding for the project, but also a method for some of the construction.  The ceramic bells are formed by pouring molten bronze or clay into a sand cast.  Segments of the spherical roofs are similarly cast by pouring cement into earthen forms before they are lifted into place.

Those interested in learning the construction techniques for the buildings as well as the bells may enroll in workshops lasting from one day to several months. For total emersion, one can become an intern residing in what appears to an outsider much like an updated 1960's hippy commune. 

Soleri, the creator and apparent prime motivator of the project, is well into his 80th decade.  Without a tremendous acceleration it seems unlikely that the project's goals can be achieved under his tutelage. 

The cafe on the ground floor of the visitor's center at Arcosanti.  12-01.
Bells are cast under a concrete half dome which was cast using a similar procedure.  12-01.
Footnotes and Sources

1. Current Residents, Arcosanti Home Page, accessed 1-02. Back to text

Sources for Arcosanti:

_______The Arcosanti Project, Arcosanti Home Page, accessed 1-02.

This page was last revised on 07/13/04.