Arcosanti is one of those strange little places you maybe heard about in high school science class, thought it was kinda weird, or kinda cool, but then forgot about it. Fast-forward 10 years and you’ve become an avid roadtripper, exploring America’s highways and byways, and lo-and-behold, as you’re traveling along I-17 in Arizona, you see an exit sign to “Arcosanti”, and you go “Hey! Wait a hot minute! I remember learning about that place! It was around the time we learned about Earth 2 and that Biosphere place!” So, you take the exit and enter a utopian idealization of urban living.

Developed in the 1970s by Paolo Soleri, an Italian-American architect, as an experimental town, 70 miles north of Phoenix. The concept most at play here is called “arcology” (which no matter how many times I type it, keeps auto-correcting to “archaeology”). The purpose of Arcosanti is to showcase an ideal urban community, which has minimal impact on the planet. Think, sustainable, functional, utilitarian, and socially egalitarian. Stuff like that. Sure, it may sound like some hippie manifesto, but the fact is Arcosanti is a response to the increasing burden and stress humans have put on the earth, particularly with the start of the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of concentrated urban environments.

Today, mostly agriculturalists live at Arcosanti, working on greenhouses, and gardens, etc. The town serves as an education center, and over the years architects and designers all studied there. The green housing movement, and increased demand for environmentally-sustainable living is one of the byproducts of places like Arcosanti, whose mission is to save the planet through the promotion of less destructive living.

Every year nearly 40,000 tourists visit to take guided tours, or even spend the night in one of the on-site accommodations. The town sells metal and ceramic bells to contribute to its funding, which is augmented by donations and workshop fees. In addition, many of the people who work at Arcosanti are volunteers.

Photos via Wikipedia CC

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