Arcosanti is an Urban Laboratory in Arizona, a New Concept for Compact City Design

If you remember the Star Wars movies, there is a place called Tatooine, a metropolis built on a desert terrain with a futuristic-rustic appearance some might call, futurustic. Arcosanti is a real place in Yavapai, Arizona, between Phoenix and Sedona.

Arcosanti, Yavapai, Arizona

Tatooine, Star Wars

You can find it on a map but you have to follow a long and pretty rough dirt road to get there. The urban village is still in development but there is much to be desired already in place. The city with no separation sits on a cliff overlooking mountains and lakes. The landscape is gorgeous with views around every corner.

The architecture is designed to blend work, recreation and living spaces into one continuous platform, creating a seamless community of artisans, entrepreneurs and engineers. Development began in 1970 by Italian architect, Paolo Soleri. Paolo Soleri passed away in 2013 but his vision lives on.

He envisioned a new concept of compact city design called ARCOLOGY (ARChitecture and ecOLOGY). The idea was to “save resources and improve quality of life for all.” The project was possible through Paolo and his wife Colly’s foundation and non-profit educational institution, Cosanti, focusing on ideas about urban design and those who walk through the Arcosanti, Urban Laboratory.

“The problem I am confronting is the present design of cities only a few stories high, stretching outward in unwieldy sprawl for miles. As a result, they literally transform the earth, turn farms into parking lots, wasting enormous amounts of time and energy transporting people, goods, & services over their expanses. My solution is urban implosion rather than explosion,” Paolo Soleri, 1977.

The vibrant built environment is a collective effort of over 8,000 individual workshop participants and volunteers going back more than 5 decades.

You can apply to be a part of their 6 week program, living on site and helping to continue to build this innovative and dynamic arcological feat which in many ways has sparked a new revolution in the way we think of urban design and landscape.