Walking Into the Past… present and future.
An urban laboratory. The uncompleted life’s work of Paolo Soleri. The meaning of the name is derived “from a combination of “Arcology” + “Cosanti,” which are in turn derived from “Architecture” + “Ecology” and “Cosa” + “Anti.” The latter combination is a statement against materialism.
Day 1 with an RV requires a short break.
Half way between Phoenix, where I picked up an RV from Cruise America (my thanks to them for supplying the RV), and Sedona, my first destination on this ten-day road trip, is an unusual and interesting stopping point called Arcosanti.
If you time it right, you can take in the tour and lose only 90 minutes out of your driving day.
Arcosanti was the dream of Paolo Soleri who passed away April 9, 2013. Begun in 1970, the town attempts to balance architecture and ecology to minimize the impact of people on the environment. The plan was to house 5,000 people on 25 acres in a self-contained urban environment. Today it has capacity for 125 inhabitants. While falling short of its goal, the project still holds to its original vision and principles and still moves them forward, though at a much slower pace than planned.
Arcosanti is not off the electrical grid but, facing south, the complex takes full advantage of passive solar energy. It also has a few solar panels. In summer, the buildings are whitewashed to reflect the heat away. By fall, the whitewash has eroded so that the buildings can capture as much heat as possible. The complex is compact and integrated so that no more space is used than is needed.
You’re welcome at Arcosanti.
Ed was the tour guide for both me and a couple from France. He first went to Arcosanti in 1988, taking a workshop there. That is one of the best ways to experience this unusual place. As their website says, “During the five-week workshop, you will engage in a hands-on intensive program to help build Arcosanti, a sustainable city and an alternative to urban sprawl.” Once you have taken a workshop you are able to stay on longer and work on the project.
For a less intensive experience, you can attend one of the many concerts and performances held in their amphitheater in the summer months. There are even a few motel rooms for guests to stay a night or two.
Let the dream continue.
To visit Arcosanti is to get get a brief glimpse into man’s historic and neverending search for utopia. The communal atmosphere re-enacts one of our greatest hopes, to live in harmony with each other and with nature. The fact that it has not yet reached 10% of its original plan only somewhat dims the dream.
However, given the damage that sprawling urban environments cause, Arcosant may also be a glimpse into the future. This urban laboratory may provide the strategies and tactics we need for managing our world going forward. As such one cannot help but admire the brave vision that set this place in motion.
To help you consider the impact of our sprawling cities, here’s a 52 minute documentary. Regardless of what you think about peak oil, there is plenty to make you think in “End of Suburbia”.
There are more photos, a short video about Arcosanti, and the cost of the RV below the “End of Suburbia” video.
The price of RV accommodation, transportation and freedom:
$1248.00 – 12 nights
$544.00 – 1600 mileage charge (presumably it would be less if you don’t drive as much as I did)
$350.00 – drop off fee (I picked the RV up in Phoenix but dropped it off in Denver. An unnecessary charge)
$432.47 – State, vehicle and TSA taxes.
$2864.47 – Total
$35 – $45 per night. – Campground fees with full hood-ups
Gas consumption. I still have to add this up but gas for the RV comes in around $500.
I am aware of the irony of visiting Arcosanti, a community that strives for sustainability, in an RV — and in a year when I have cut back my number of flights to reduce my environmental footprint. I believe that we should be mindful of our impact as travelers.