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Arcosanti is an experimental urban development in the high desert of central Arizona. Designed by Paolo Soleri according to his concept of arcology, Arcosanti will house 5,000 people when complete, demonstrating ways to improve urban conditions and lessen our destructive impact on the earth. Its large, compact structures and large-scale solar greenhouses will occupy only 25 acres of a 4,060-acre land preserve, keeping the natural countryside in close proximity to urban dwellers.
At the present stage of construction, Arcosanti consists of a dozen mixed-use buildings constructed by the 6,000 past workshop participants. These buildings house 60 to 80 residents, who are continually working on the construction and maintenance of the built environment. These long-term residents are workshop alumni, and work in planning, construction, teaching, computer-aided drafting, maintenance, cooking, carpentry, metal work, ceramics, gardening, communications, and administration. They produce the world-famous Soleri Bells, and host 50,000 tourists every year.
Arcosanti is an educational center. The four-week workshop program teaches building techniques and arcological philosophy while continuing the city's construction. Volunteers and students come from around the world. Many are design students, and some receive university credit for the workshop. However, a design or architecture background is not necessary to enroll. People of many varied interests and backgrounds are all contributing their valuable time and skills to the project.
According to Soleri's theory of arcology, at Arcosanti many systems work together, with efficient circulation of people and resources, multi-use buildings, and solar orientation for lighting, heating and cooling. In this complex, creative environment, apartments, businesses, production, technology, open space, studios, educational and cultural events are all accessible, even while privacy is paramount in the overall design.
Urban sprawl, spreading across the landscape, causes enormous waste, frustration and long-term costs by depleting land and resources. Dependency on the automobile intensifies these problems, while increasing pollution, congestion, and social isolation. Arcosanti attempts to address these issues by building a three-dimensional, pedestrian-oriented city. Because this plan eliminates sprawl, both the urban and natural environments keep their integrity and thrive. Arcosanti is a prototype: if successful, it will become a model for how the world builds its cities.