A craftsman, activist, architect and forward thinker, Paolo Soleri is among the revolutionary minds of the late 1960s and early 1970s that were prescient enough to begin to fret about environmental issues and to yearn for a utopian future. With this philosophy as foundation, the Italian-born architect purchased land in Paradise Valley, Arizona and began to build a community based on his theory of ‘arcology’ – a combination of architecture and ecology that would provide enriching human habitation without negatively impacting the land.
The result was Arco Santi – a fantastic vision set amid the sprawl of Southwestern desert - a workshop, school and creative commune which still serves as an example of how to live in union with the planet - in high, artistic style. Casting in bronze and concrete and allowing for whimsical detailing, Arco Santi has remained a continual experiment, with buildings rising up among the sand for the last four decades and generations of designers and architects contributing to the it’s evolution.
Encouraging artistry and self-expression, Soleri’s vision has fueled one of the most unique communities on earth, a true collaborative exploration of sustainability and art. Students and visitors arrive from all over the world to listen, look and learn – taking in the spectacular structure, which include an amphitheater, pool and greenhouses and to purchase the organization’s now iconic bells – cast in clay and bronze, perfect signifiers, ringing in Soleri’s bright and beautiful future.
photo by Laura Joliet