Arcosanti was conceived by Paolo Soleri as a new form of city—one that would exist in harmony with nature and promote community by being free of cars. He called his philosophy arcology, a merging of architecture and ecology. He found a home for his city in Arizona on the edge of a canyon an hour north of Phoenix.
Construction began in 1970, with a crew of volunteers casting Soleri’s sweeping concrete forms in the desert sand. Thirteen buildings were built this way through the 70’s and 80’s, but construction stalled because of a lack of funding. Originally intended to hold 5,000 people, today Arcosanti is home to a transient population of just 50 to 100 people.
Arcosanti supports itself through the creation of bronze and ceramic bells based on Soleri’s design. The residents first complete a five-week workshop on Soleri’s ideas, and then are employed either in the workshops or in the daily operation of the city. They comprise a community of idealists as Arcosanti slips from dream to relic.