Even though I'd poured over their website and read Gerhard's 2013 post I wasn't sure what to expect. This place is very difficult to imagine unless you've been there. I had a much more "polished" look in my head. Polished it is not, and that's a huge part of it's charm.
From their website: "Arcosanti is an urban laboratory focused on innovative design, community, and environmental accountability. Our goal is to actively pursue lean alternatives to urban sprawl based on Paolo Soleri's theory of compact city design, Arcology (architecture + ecology). Built by over 7,000 volunteers since the commencement of the project in 1970, Arcosanti provides various mixed-use buildings and public spaces where people live, work, visit, and participate in educational and cultural programs."
The building below houses their cafeteria, gallery and visitor's center. There are also bathrooms and (I'm assuming) offices, even a few residences. I spied one from a balcony that had a nice little garden going in the windows. I thought those popped out squares with the circular windows were quite fantastic.
The area surrounding the complex was minimally disturbed, which I really liked seeing.
Rough, but oh so stylish.
This is the cafeteria, it wasn't in operation during our visit but the smell took me back to the college food halls of my younger days.
Have you noticed the bells in the last few photos? Arcosanti is famous for them, among the bell-collecting crowd that is, and they're actually called "windbells". They make both ceramic bells and bronze bells on site, the sale of which helps to fund their operation.
This is the ambitious "master-plan" — and again from their website: "In 1970, the Cosanti Foundation began building Arcosanti, an experimental town in the high desert of Arizona, 70 miles north of metropolitan Phoenix. A dozen buildings used for current activities occupy a small fraction of the full 860 acres of Arcosanti property."
Paolo Soleri was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright's, until he split to further develop his own vision of arcology (architecture + ecology). I would love to see this documentary, but until that's possible I enjoyed the trailer.
The staircase from the cafeteria up to the visitor's center...
Which is where you can purchase the windbells, and tiles too. There was a small bronze tile I considered purchasing (not pictured) but as much as I loved it, and wanted to support them, I just kept looking at and thinking...but I don't "need" it. I passed.
I also came close to purchasing this, but small house = not a lot of wall space.
Everything was exquisitely made.
Back outside and ready to look around. Except somehow my brother and I both managed to miss the fact you need to be part of a tour to walk the grounds. We showed up thinking we were on our own for the entire visit, duh! Do not make this mistake...
Luckily we didn't have long to wait before a tour started and we were off to explore.
First stop was the ceramics apse, where the ceramic bells are made...
Our tour guide (I wish I could remember her name, she was wonderful) demonstrated the sand casting process...
I mainly stared in awe at the surroundings.
And then it was time to move on...I couldn't help feel like I'd stepped back in time, to the '70's.
Or maybe (this will sound ridiculous to serious Star Wars fans) to another planet, the buildings seemed like they would have been right at home on Tatooine.
Here a stick sunshade is being used to cover the skylight and the midribs are in place for a covering over the patio.
And a peek inside a residence. The outer doors (white frames) are closed in the winter to keep in the warmth. The buildings are all situated to make the most of summer shade, I imagine winter nights can get quite cool.
There are several signs of Paolo Soleri's Italian heritage, the olive trees are one of them. The olives are harvested to produce olive oil.
This structure (the Vault) is magical, really. The building at the end is a shared workshop space where residents can work on their own projects.
These paintings! I loved them. I have very similar framed drawings of my own that I did sometime in the late 90's. Mine are just charcoal on a green vellum.
I don't know if these are forms for tiles or tiles themselves, but they make for very dynamic wall art.
Looking out at the Italian Cypress and olives. Such a beautiful view.
More living spaces below, and I should note it is possible to stay here as a guest too, at very reasonable rates (more info). While to some (like my sister-in-law) this place could appear a little run-down, I found it extremely captivating. I am not ready to embrace a communal living lifestyle (shared bathrooms, kitchens and laundry facilities are not for me) but I found the campus (grounds?) breathtakingly beautiful and parts of this way of life definitely appeal to me.
Oh, what's that?
Ha! One of my favorite vignettes from a very picturesque place.
More living spaces, and the steps on the far right head down towards a swimming pool.
And more tiles...
I appreciate the simple design of the wall sconces.
A Loquat I believe? These buildings surround the performance space, Colly Soleri Music Center, (behind me, I was too busy staring at the beautiful Loquat)...
Our final stop on the tour was the apse where the bronze bells are formed. What a great view while you're working...
The Cypress have been allowed to grow up through the floor of the work-space.
Here's our tour guide again, showing us the forms for the bronze bells. I couldn't help but notice the galvanized watering can.
And the ceiling!
Our guided tour ended and we made our way back to the car. I couldn't help but want to descend that staircase, dangerous as it looks.
Ha! Poor buried Barrel Cactus. I REALLY wanted to pull back the weeds.
Hope you enjoyed this visit to a very special place. If you're in Phoenix proper and unable to head north maybe you'd enjoy checking out Cosanti in Paradise Valley. Gerhard wrote about his visit here.
Finally here's a panoramic shot I scanned (thus the poor quality and creases) from the visitor's guide. It gives an interesting overview of the entire sight.
All material (except for the scan) © 2009-2016 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.