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Arcosanti (a project of Cosanti Foundation)

Cause Area

  • Arts & Culture
  • Community
  • Education & Literacy
  • Environment


HC74 Box 4136Mayer, AZ 86333 United States

Organization Information

Mission Statement

Paolo Soleri and his late wife, Colly, founded the Cosanti Foundation in 1965. The Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 educational organization. It is dedicated to exploring the lean
alternative to the consumerist-materialist drift of today's society, by supporting Soleri's noted architectural and urban planning research. The Foundation operates to:

• Educate design professionals, urban planners, students from various disciplines, and the public about Dr. Soleri's urban concepts and philosophies.

• Continue construction of Arcosanti, a dense urban environment for 5,000 people designed according to the Arcology concept.

• Host educational and cultural events at Arcosanti, in conjunction with the Colly Soleri Music Trust.

• Publish and publicize Dr. Soleri's writings, with a current focus on Quaderni, a series of volumes elucidating Dr. Soleri's philosophies.

• Archive the accumulated works Dr. Soleri produced over his lifetime.


In 1970, Paolo Soleri and the Cosanti Foundation began construction on Arcosanti, an urban laboratory in the high desert of central Arizona. Designed according to the concept of arcology,
Arcosanti will house 5,000 people when complete, demonstrating ways to improve urban conditions and lessen our negative impact on the earth. Its large, compact structures and large scale solar greenhouses will occupy only 25 acres of a 4,060-acre land preserve, keeping the natural countryside in close proximity to urban dwellers.

Urban sprawl, spreading across the landscape, causes enormous waste, frustration and long-term costs by depleting land and resources. Dependency on the automobile intensifies these
problems, while increasing pollution, congestion, and social isolation. Arcosanti attempts to address these issues by building a three-dimensional, pedestrian-oriented city. Because this plan
eliminates sprawl, both the urban and natural environments keep their integrity and thrive.

Arcosanti is a prototype: if successful, it will become a model for how the world builds its cities. According to Soleri's theory of arcology, at Arcosanti many systems work together, with
efficient circulation of people and resources, multi-use buildings, and solar orientation for lighting, heating and cooling. In this complex environment, apartments, businesses, production,
technology, open space, studios, educational and cultural events are all accessible, even while privacy is paramount in the overall design.

Arcosanti is an educational center. The five-week workshop program teaches building techniques and arcological philosophy while continuing construction. Volunteers and students come from
around the world, experiencing Arcosanti through hands-on participation in its growth and development. Many are design students, and some receive university credit for the workshop.
However, a design or architecture background is not necessary to enroll. People of many varied interests and backgrounds are contributing their time and skills to the project. All are welcome
to participate in the workshop program; if you are interested please contact our workshop coordinator at, or by calling (928) 632-6223.

At the present stage of construction, Arcosanti consists of a dozen mixed-use buildings constructed by 6,000 past workshop participants. These buildings house 115 residents, who
are continually working on the construction and maintenance of the built environment. These long-term residents are workshop alumni, and work in planning, construction, landscaping,
maintenance, cooking, carpentry, metal work, ceramics, gardening, communications, and administration. They produce the world-famous Soleri Bells, and are visited by 50,000 tourists
every year.

Visitors may come to Arcosanti between the hours of 9am and 5pm, and accommodations are available for those who wish to stay overnight. Guided tours, beginning at 10am, introduce
visitors to the philosophy, history, planning, and activities at this urban laboratory in the making. The Gallery, Bakery, and Café are open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New
Year's Day. Concerts and cultural events are held regularly at the Colly Soleri Music Center, inviting visitors to actively participate in life at Arcosanti.


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