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An Urban Design Experiement in the Middle of the Desert

Arcosanti is an experimental community dedicated to the principles of arcology, a concept that melds architecture and ecology.

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Continuing our theme of trying to incorporate some actual culture into our regimen of oddball roadside attractions, we stopped about an hour north of Phoenix to explore Arcosanti (read more about Arcosanti from GOOD here). Arcosanti is an experimental community dedicated to the principles of arcology, a concept that melds architecture and ecology. Paolo Soleri, the father of arcology, envisioned a scenario where fabricated and natural elements work together like organs in a body—and Arcosanti is where he attempted to make those ideas reality.


Although construction began 40 years ago, Arcosanti is still in its early stages of development. Though the master plan calls for a large complex of buildings able to support a community of 5,000 people, there are currently only about a dozen structures and under 100 inhabitants. It's still a cool place to visit, with its bizarre collection of concrete domes rising from the Arizona desert. And who knows: Perhaps some of Soleri's ideas, pioneered and tested at Arcosanti, will take hold in the rest of the world.

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