Arcosanti — Photo Essay   4 comments

Arcosanti-1777_contrast blogArcosanti Visitors Center — High Contrast image by kenne
(Click on any of the images below to see larger views in a slideshow format.)

In some ways, Paolo Soleri’s urban lab experiment, Arcosanti, is a storybook castle in the desert, reflecting both reality and fantasy. One might argue that is what all art is. For Soleri, “We must redefine the American Dream before we can rebuild the infrastructure on which it is based.” (Arcology)

— kenne


We are all miniature systems of infinite complexity, fantastically well organized.
We should see the city as an inner environment, rather than an outer one.
We are creating a new animal, with thousands of minds, serviced by thousands of brains.

— Paolo Soleri

4 responses to “Arcosanti — Photo Essay

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  1. I love this photo essay, Kenne. It brings back fond memories. I wrote a poem about Acrosanti:
    A Visit to Arcosanti

    In the elegant dining room,
    As shadow lengthens into evening and then darkness,
    Wind from desert and canyon
    Echoes and moans like humpback whales
    Gracefully immense in ocean darkness.
    The wind, towers, and arches of Arcosanti,
    Above canyon, pond, and ancient peach orchards,
    Make a song together as powerful as love.

    For a half day Ruth-Claire Polinsky, MScED, CSW,
    Jewish, French-speaking, Buddhist,
    White hair made unruly by wind trying to send her hat sailing,
    Has told Kevin, my son, and I tales
    Of Soleri, the great architect and metaphysicist,
    His buildings in Arizona and Italy,
    His cast bells that chime and sway
    To wild rhythms of the day’s wind,
    And his urban ecology that compresses human space,
    Exploding outward into a metaphysics
    Of natural systems and earth
    That webs expansively into canyons, deserts, rivers, mountains, forests, farms, lakes and distant oceans.

    Ruth has spoken in sunlight fiercely clear
    Below tall Italian cypress wind-tossed
    In their signature life in desert.
    Kevin wonders if the singularity of Soleri
    Allows for diversity, the cacophony of voices
    And seething creative force
    That makes up humanity, flight of a swallow,
    Receding horizons that last forever.


    I have listened to the wind,
    Felt the deepness of Arcosanti’s crevices, its canyon,
    Looked at the dark greenness of cypress
    Against the mottled browns of sandstone cliffs,
    Walked through working places sheltered
    By huge half shells designed to shade the summer sun
    And gather sun’s warmth in winter,
    And climbed stairs through a narrow hallway,
    A flower garden, around a gray square wall,
    And onto another set of stairs, and another.

    I have thought of Frank Lloyd Wright
    And how he could swirl his cape standing on a hill
    And dominate the world.
    And about this other architect, Soleri,
    Whose human fire builds arches and towers and half shells
    And urban spaces that climb and climb
    Into enormity of Arizona skies

    Now, unexpectedly, I am in the Sky Room at Arcosanti,
    In the wind’s aerie,
    As I was once in the Sun Room at Taliesin West,
    And I am amazed at the fires of human spirit,
    Frank Lloyd Wright and Paolo Soleri.

    And I wonder, is this the answer?
    Can humanity give us, once again,
    A living niche in a healthy ecosphere? In Gaia?
    Has Soleri built an answer in the Arizona desert?


    The sun rises over the midnight blue of eastern hills,
    Golden and pink as night retreats into shadows
    Elongated behind clumping of rocks, roundness of scattered brush.
    Cracks in the canyon’s rock face fall to the canyon floor;
    Greenness of ancient lichen is bright in the morning sun.

    The wind still sings; the bells ring assiduously
    As swallows dip and soar in light and sing
    Morning’s glory into horizons of ever-rising hills.
    This is the ancient morning of revelation.
    This is the awakening of life.


    At the end of yesterday I asked myself,
    What is the epistemology of space?
    Enclosed and freed outward into the swirling of galaxies
    Above trembling wings of a gliding hawk?
    What is the ontology of human-made structures?
    The metaphysics of walls?

    I feel the wonder of human reaching.
    Stairways, narrow and wide, lead me to the Sky Room.
    Built into walls are vistas of desert wilderness.
    A thousand years from now artisans and artists
    Move along staircases working, singing, laughing, talking,
    Making love in rooms linked and private in community.
    Outside horizons of walls
    The ecosphere pulses and ebbs with cycles
    Of life and death, predator and prey,
    The endless cooperation of species and land,
    Trees, grasses, insects, marmots, bear, eagles, ravens
    Thriving in diversity, in clean water, air, healthy community.

    In singular visions lies not truth, but hope.
    I listen to the wind’s singing through Arcosanti’s
    Towers, arches, stairs, and half shells.
    I listen to ringing bells in the morning sunlight.

    Your photos and this poem go together.
    Thanks so much for this, Tom

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Cosanti — Paolo Soleri Studios | Becoming is Superior to Being

  3. Reblogged this on Becoming is Superior to Being and commented:

    Looking back five years — kenne


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