Arcosanti is an experimental town that began construction in 1970 in central
Arizona, 70 miles (110 km) north of Phoenix, at coord|34|20|34.72|N|112|06|05.93|W|, elevation 3,732 feet (1,130 meters). Architect Paolo Soleri, using a concept he calls arcology(a portmanteauof architectureand ecology), started the town to demonstrate how urban conditions could be improved while minimizing the destructive impact on the earth.
Arcosanti is being built on 25 acres (0.1 km²) of a 4,060 acre (16 km²) land preserve, keeping its inhabitants near the natural countryside. The Arcosanti web site describes how an arcology functions in Arcosanti: "The built and the living interact as organs would in a highly evolved being. Many systems work together, with efficient circulation of people and resources, multi-use buildings, and solar orientation for lighting, heating and cooling."
The long-term design of Arcosanti has changed multiple times since work began. The eventual target population is somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000. The current population generally varies between 70 and 120, depending on the number of students and interns working at the time. Existing structures include a four-story visitors' center/cafe/ gift shop, the
bronze- casting apse(half-dome) carefully situated to admit maximal winter sun and minimal summer sun, two large barrel vaults, a ring of apartment residences around an outdoor amphitheatre, a community swimming pool, and Soleri's suite. A two-bedroom "Sky Suite" occupies the highest point in the complex and is available for overnight guests.
In Arcosanti, apartments, businesses, production, technology, open space, studios, and educational and cultural events are all accessible, while
privacyis paramount in the overall design. Greenhouses are planned to provide gardening space for public and private use, and act as solar collectors for winter heat.
Architecturally, Arcosanti is remarkable for its use of tilt-up concrete panels cast in a bed of silt from the local landscape. The silt gives the concrete a unique texture and color, helping the structure to blend with the land.
The city serves as an educational complex where workshops and classes are offered. Students from around the world are constructing Arcosanti. In addition, about 50,000 tourists visit Arcosanti each year.
Funds to build Arcosanti are raised through the sale of art objects. More funds are raised from workshop tuitions, which people ("workshoppers") pay for a five-week hands-on experience. The workshops are the principal means by which Arcosanti is constructed.
It has been noted that at the current rate of construction, it may take several hundred years to complete Arcosanti.Fact|date=March 2007 Therefore, it is suggested that advancing technologies may solve the problems of overpopulation and environmental degradation well before completion, making the Arcosanti project redundant. Similarly, it has also been criticized for a lack of funding to realize its vision within a practical timeframe. Furthermore, with one of the major sources of funding being the workshoppers' fees, a number have been known to leave their workshop stays early having perceived the course as little more than a chance to pay for the privilege of doing hard physical labor.
It has been suggested that even if any major discoveries or theories are achieved through the gradual development of the Arcosanti project, there is now no formal structure to gather, record, and disseminate these ideas to interested stakeholders. It is argued that, as of 2008, the 38-year project has yielded few tangible results in scientific theory or development toward advancing our knowledge of arcology in theory or practice.
Others argue that Arcosanti has succeeded more as an educational project; rather than a working arcology. It has hosted over 6,000 participants over what has been almost 40 years. Each person that participates brings part of their experience home with them and to their communities and professional disciplines, disseminating the principles learned. Even if what they learn is just concrete casting techniques from the 1950s, this creates an international network of teachers.
* [http://www.arcosanti.org Official Arcosanti website]
* [http://www.arcosantiglobal.org Arcosanti alumni address book]
* [http://knut.kumoh.ac.kr/~stevekorea/arco72frame.htm The Arcosanti Work Song (c)1972]
*Andrea Sachs, [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/04/18/ST2008041802218.html "Arcosanti: A 'City' Grows Green in the Arizona Desert"] , "Washington Post", April 20, 2008
* Chris Colin, [http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/09/16/travel/16next.html "Sipping From a Utopian Well in the Desert"] , "New York Times", September 16, 2007
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