4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Paolo's Phoenix: Cosanti, Arizona

A lesson in sustainability.

Cosanti's Pumpkin Apse and Barrel Vaults, constructed using concrete-lined mounds of earth. (photo courtesy of Cosanti Foundation)
Cosanti's Pumpkin Apse and Barrel Vaults, constructed using concrete-lined mounds of earth. (photo courtesy of Cosanti Foundation)

In Paradise Valley, overlooking the 70,900-acre Agua Fria National Monument, is the Cosanti gallery, studio and home to 93-year-old anti-materialist architect and urban planner Paolo Soleri.

It isn’t surprising that this author of six books, key participant in the 1976 U.N. forum on human settlements, and recipient of three honorary doctorates and numerous architectural awards was invited to appear in DiCaprio’s 2007 eco-documentary The 11th Hour. Similar to San Diego artist/architect James Hubbel (see this October 4 Reader Travel story), Soleri aims to blend archeology with nature – or more aptly, with the principles of ecology. He formed Cosanti in 1955 as a five-acre urban laboratory to demonstrate what he calls “arcology.”

North Apse, Cosanti (photo by Graziella Pazzanese, courtesy of Cosanti Foundation)

Fifty-seven years later, Cosanti is a designated state historic site consisting of 12 earth-bermed vaulted concrete buildings and a pool. Onsite studios produce the world-famous bronze and ceramic Soleri windbells and sculptures, the sale of which finances theoretical construction workshops at sister site Arcosanti 50 miles up the road.

Arcosanti is an 860-acre planned community that, once complete, is meant to house up to 7,000 inhabitants. Designed by the Italian-born Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin fellow, Arcosanti is a hyperdense city that’s been under development since 1970.

Soleri’s philosophical approach to community planning – and thus to architecture itself – diverged from Wright’s prior to the completion of his fellowship. Wright designed single-use sprawling horizontal structures that reflected the pastoral expanses and freedom of America. Soleri, born in Europe where living spaces and communities are more compact, designs multi- (mixed) use three-dimensional structures. Created to maximize resource conservation while minimizing environmental footprint, Arcosanti is a prototype of desert arcology.

Ongoing seminars provide students hands-on participation in building the city from the ground up – literally. Just shy of 10,000 students from around the world have participated in Soleri’s workshops, and more than a dozen structures have been built, including a bakery, gallery, housing, artisan studios, the Cafe at Arcosanti offering $9 buffet meals that includes gourmet vegetarian and vegan options, and the popular Colly Soleri Music Center, an outdoor amphitheater where concerts and dance performances are held. (Check out arcosanti.org for a schedule of events including October's Different Skies Space Music Festival.)

Music reverberates throughout Soleri's communities. The acoustical qualities of the vaults and amphitheaters, the wind blowing across the mesa, the bells that hang from trees as well as the birds nesting in the branches beside them.

windbell art at Cosanti

Annual bell sale fundraisers make this one-of-a-kind art work more affordable. Cosanti’s autumn sale was recently held in October. Dates are not yet set for Arcosanti’s sales, which usually occur nearer to Christmas, then again in the spring.

Self and guided tours of both sites are offered daily except for major holidays. Cosanti is located 13 miles northeast of Phoenix in Scottsdale. Arcosanti, another 52 miles north, conducts tours and offers modest accommodations (no air conditioning) decorated with Soleri’s siltcast ceiling designs for $30-$65/night. The Sky Suite goes for $100/night. Breakfast is included.

Coincidentally, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, set into the sandstone foothills of northeast Scottsdale, offers tours ranging from $18 to $35.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Cooler weather just an opening for Pelly's clam chowder

Northwest oysters, local fish, and a sourdough bread bowl in Carlsbad
Next Article

Escondido police cut off scanners

Too many criminals listening in?
Cosanti's Pumpkin Apse and Barrel Vaults, constructed using concrete-lined mounds of earth. (photo courtesy of Cosanti Foundation)
Cosanti's Pumpkin Apse and Barrel Vaults, constructed using concrete-lined mounds of earth. (photo courtesy of Cosanti Foundation)

In Paradise Valley, overlooking the 70,900-acre Agua Fria National Monument, is the Cosanti gallery, studio and home to 93-year-old anti-materialist architect and urban planner Paolo Soleri.

It isn’t surprising that this author of six books, key participant in the 1976 U.N. forum on human settlements, and recipient of three honorary doctorates and numerous architectural awards was invited to appear in DiCaprio’s 2007 eco-documentary The 11th Hour. Similar to San Diego artist/architect James Hubbel (see this October 4 Reader Travel story), Soleri aims to blend archeology with nature – or more aptly, with the principles of ecology. He formed Cosanti in 1955 as a five-acre urban laboratory to demonstrate what he calls “arcology.”

North Apse, Cosanti (photo by Graziella Pazzanese, courtesy of Cosanti Foundation)

Fifty-seven years later, Cosanti is a designated state historic site consisting of 12 earth-bermed vaulted concrete buildings and a pool. Onsite studios produce the world-famous bronze and ceramic Soleri windbells and sculptures, the sale of which finances theoretical construction workshops at sister site Arcosanti 50 miles up the road.

Arcosanti is an 860-acre planned community that, once complete, is meant to house up to 7,000 inhabitants. Designed by the Italian-born Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin fellow, Arcosanti is a hyperdense city that’s been under development since 1970.

Soleri’s philosophical approach to community planning – and thus to architecture itself – diverged from Wright’s prior to the completion of his fellowship. Wright designed single-use sprawling horizontal structures that reflected the pastoral expanses and freedom of America. Soleri, born in Europe where living spaces and communities are more compact, designs multi- (mixed) use three-dimensional structures. Created to maximize resource conservation while minimizing environmental footprint, Arcosanti is a prototype of desert arcology.

Ongoing seminars provide students hands-on participation in building the city from the ground up – literally. Just shy of 10,000 students from around the world have participated in Soleri’s workshops, and more than a dozen structures have been built, including a bakery, gallery, housing, artisan studios, the Cafe at Arcosanti offering $9 buffet meals that includes gourmet vegetarian and vegan options, and the popular Colly Soleri Music Center, an outdoor amphitheater where concerts and dance performances are held. (Check out arcosanti.org for a schedule of events including October's Different Skies Space Music Festival.)

Music reverberates throughout Soleri's communities. The acoustical qualities of the vaults and amphitheaters, the wind blowing across the mesa, the bells that hang from trees as well as the birds nesting in the branches beside them.

windbell art at Cosanti

Annual bell sale fundraisers make this one-of-a-kind art work more affordable. Cosanti’s autumn sale was recently held in October. Dates are not yet set for Arcosanti’s sales, which usually occur nearer to Christmas, then again in the spring.

Self and guided tours of both sites are offered daily except for major holidays. Cosanti is located 13 miles northeast of Phoenix in Scottsdale. Arcosanti, another 52 miles north, conducts tours and offers modest accommodations (no air conditioning) decorated with Soleri’s siltcast ceiling designs for $30-$65/night. The Sky Suite goes for $100/night. Breakfast is included.

Coincidentally, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, set into the sandstone foothills of northeast Scottsdale, offers tours ranging from $18 to $35.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Quartyard’s glowing

It’s so good to see a chef taking the trouble to create tastebud-caressing flavors
Next Article

Wanted Noise: a punk rock plate lunch

“We want to rock out and mosh.”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close