Arcosanti (Cordes Junction, Arizona, USA)

The Arcosanti also appears in the wilderness all of a sudden .

It was 1970 when architect Paolo Soleri begun to construct the Arcosanti based on the ideology of Arcology, that is, the coined word of architecture and ecology.

He planned to built an organic city of centralized style where people work and live there and an energy loss was reduced as as an antithesis to an expansive and inorganic modern city. Now, everyone exclaim ecology and sustainability, but Soleri has been staunch since long before.

Soleri opened his design office after having learned under Frank Lloyd Wright. When he had some good prospect on the fund by sale of famous wind chimes, he started on a construction of the Arcosanti. Since then, the Arcosanti keeps being construced with the helo of volunteers from all over the world for 40 years but the complete rate is currently 5 percent of his plan yet.

To tell the truth, I had sympathized with his concept but had been perplexed about the output for a long time. That was the same even after I had visited there actually.

If an energy efficiencies is clearly pursued, this kind of organic design must not appear. If it was realized to improve a slum in a modern city, it would be wonderful. But, it was developed in the ecosystem in the wilderness of Arizona and generates delicate contradiction to the concept of an ecology.

Unlike the Biosphere 2, the design, which brings an emotional reaction to people, is projected on space and creates the Arcosanti which is nothing but Arcosanti. If its design was done for a private house, it would be no problem, but, for the city which accepts an unspecified number of people, it gives a strong impression.

First and foremost, it would be a city ? The word Arcology includes a concept of architecture, so it may aim at an architecture big like a city. The gap against an ordinary city may be natural.

The methodology that the architecture, the chimes of the funding source and all are designed by Soleri himself is very architectural. And, a community, which the absolute design or intellectual rules, is different from a city where various selfish parts accumulate and eventuality is built-in. The Arcosanti may be just an antithesis to such a modern city by Soreli.

However, I was not very comfortable to be there and I couldn’t image to live there. If they deviate from the thought or design of the Arcosanti, they must have no choice but to go away from there. For example, even if they have an idea on the quite different wind bell design, it would be difficult to realize it there.

I could not also find the image of a family. There may be rhetoric that all people are the family but it is hard to image a usual scenery that people who meet there and become a family, a child is born, laundry is dried and a smell of cooking drifts in air.

There must be circumstances that the speed of self-construction can’t provide an enough dwelling for a permanent resident. Therefore, I could not imagine the existence of the next generation who succeeds the project and makes it develop for a long time.

Then, they would considered the change of era ? As IT advances, the significance to concentrate to live is changed largely. However, in a sense, in the situation that people come and go with the speed rapider than a usual city may precede the future of a modern city even if that is different from the intention of Soleri.

Anyway, to make think about various things is the power of the Arcosnati and I admire his will that had kept building for a long time. I feel uneasy to judge hastily the project for which it has taken much time. That should be decided by people of 100 years later.

It was 51 years old when Soleri started on a construction. Time when each people create each Arcosanti from now must be left.

To Japanese Version

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Phoenix Carnegie Library : Within the walking distance of downtown Phoenix.
Tucson Carnegie Library : Within the walking distance of downtown Tucson.

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2018.01 Photos and text in English version and Japanese version


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Arcosanti (1970 - ) 

Photo by Daigo Ishii