Sunday, September 18, 2016

Roadboy Visits Arcosanti

Bells in Utopia

In 1949 Italian architect Paolo Soleri journeyed to Arizona to study under Frank Lloyd Wright at Wright's Taliesin Fellowship program.  He spent time in Spring Green Wisconsin at Taliesin East and at Taliesin West in Scottsdale.

The Taliesin program espoused Wright's philosophy of design in harmony with nature using indigenous materials. The Fellowship experience was presented in a commune type environment where students lived and worked. 

Soleri returned to Italy in 1950 to plan a ceramics factory. The synthesis of his experiences culminated in his eventual purchase of property in nearby Paradise Valley Arizona where, in 1959, he began Cosanti Studios where began one of his lifetime activities casting elaborate wind bells.

Examples of Cosanti Bells

Soleri, went on to create and refine his own philosophy of habitat based architecture which he titled "Arcology". His ideas found worldwide acceptance and led to his creation of Arcosanti; a living habitat laboratory near Cordes Junction Arizona where he could test his ideas.

 A Soleri Model Illustrating an Arcology Type Comunity
Arcosanti grew mainly through the use of student volunteers becoming a place where architects and allied artists could gather to explore Soleri's principals.
Although Soleri passed away in 2013 his legacy lives on. At any given time between 60-100 residents still live and work at Arcosanti. I won't try to present detailed information about Paolo Soleri as it is readily available on Wikipedia.

 Arcosanti's Amphitheater

I will note that it is clear that no major expansion of Arcosanti has taken place in the past since 1989, Arcosanti still hosts a variety of education and cultural activities along with the on-going casting of Soleri's unique and beautiful Cosanti bells.

An Arcosanti Residence

Large Wind Cooled Outdoor Activity Spaces

 Our Tour Guide From Brazil Demonstrates Casting Beds for the Bells

 Arcosanti's Foundry

 Some Cosanti Bell Molds
One of the Cosanti Metal Tiles

A Large Cosanti Bell

Arcosanti is an easy drive from Phoenix and tours are offered nearly every day of the year.  The bells, tiles and handicrafts offered make wonderful gifts.

Arcosanti is a fascinating place to visit, but to me it felt like it is still frozen in a strangely Utopian Idyll circa 1980.  Be aware that the last couple of miles of the approach road is washboard gravel (not suitable for a precision automobile), so take the SUV.

For more information on Arcosanti click here.

Roadboy's Travels © 2016 

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