A skyline of arcs and angles rises from the high desert of Arizona. Arcosanti is the living, breathing architectural ecosystem conceived by Italian architect Paolo Soleri. A student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Soleri moved to Arizona in 1970 and began experimenting with his “lean urban laboratory.” Intention pervades the place: abiding by the conceptual constitution of Arcology, the portmanteau of architecture and ecology, every built element exercises resourcefulness and restraint. Apses abound, quarter spheres structures Soleri recognized as passive solar machines that form cool micro-climates in sites like the ceramics workshop (where the settlement’s signature bronze and ceramic windbells are made). Ever unfinished (and underfunded), the capstone of Soleri’s plan is a kilometer-high tower with housing for 100,000 residents plus cultural and professional spaces (the population currently hovers between 50 and 150 people).
And the experiment continues in Soleri’s absence: he died exactly a year ago, leaving his legacy to the community of craftsman who inhabit Arcosanti, as well as the thousands of visitors who come to see the harmonious habitat for themselves (some spend the night at the Sky Suite pictured).
While pairing this place with a consumer product seems contrary to Arcosanti’s antimaterialism ethos, this pair of shorts by Atelier Delphine traces my connection to Arcosanti via the online filament linking imagery and inspiration: designer Yuka Izutsu described her trip to Arcosanti as part of her Of a Kind edition. I hope Soleri would approve of the paradox, of a thoughtful designer making beautiful things, finding beauty in the world he made, and the two together inspiring a far-flung writer.