Arcosanti, Arizona Combines Ecology and Architecture

Did you know that the city of the future was built way back in 1970?

Arcosanti is an ‘urban laboratory’ that experiments in building an ideal town. The ultimate goal is to build a place that reunites man with nature. It is a place where the sprawling urban population can breathe in the fresh air and breathe out the negative influences of the industrial revolution.

What influences are we talking about?

The same ones that have been keeping us online but disconnected from the world around us! They make us indifferent to the dying animals, the shrinking rivers, and the melting glaciers. The ones that make us treat the world as our wasteland.

The architecture at Arcosanti attempts to blend the outdoors with the indoors.


In the 1960s, the Italian architect, Paolo Soleri, coined the term ‘arcology’. It is a blend of the two words architecture and ecology. According to him a man needs to live an ecologically accountable life. Otherwise we will lose our resources that will bring about our extinction.

This philosophy formed the foundation of his utopian structure of the town he called Arcosanti. However, it took almost a decade for the artist to raise funds and break ground on his dream project.

What’s with the name?

The name Arcosanti is derived from three different sources:

  • The ‘ar’ is taken from the term arcology
  • ‘cosa’ means things
  • ‘anti’ can either be taken as before or opposed to

Hence, when the three words combine they make Arcosanti. This literally means an arcological town that is against the idea of things. We are guessing materialist things?

The Town

As soon as you step on the grounds of Arcosanti, you will be awestruck. This is because the place looks like a futuristic town out of a science fiction movie. Located in the midst of the Arizona desert, the town is enveloped by nature.

The architectural design is a fusion of old heritage domes and arches with the modern ledges and cuts. They seek out inspiration from designs that could make the infrastructure cost-effective and eco-friendly.

Everything at Arcosanti is designed to allow maximum sunlight and to limit energy consumption.

For example:

  • The rooms are well-lit. They face the south, inviting the sunlight in
  • The walls are heat-resistant
  • The ‘no roads’ policy makes the town, a car-free zone
  • Solar panels are used to supply electricity
  • Open ceilings to let light and air in

Apart from this, the inhabitants are keen to recycle the resources they have. This is why the water is filtered and reused to irrigate the land. Moreover, the buildings here use 1/5 of the electricity used by an average home in a developed metropolis.

The Future

Currently, the town is inhabited with only eighty permanent residents but is visited by thousands.

Although the town is still unfinished, it has fulfilled Paolo’s dream of pushing the field of arcology forward. Hence, its existence has become a source of inspiration for people from all walks of life who want to build a better world.

What do you think?

Is Arcosanti an ideological dream or our imminent future?