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Arcosanti: The Original (and Unfinished) Smart House?
In 1970, an architect began building a self-sustaining town of the future. Now it stands as a lab for environmentally-conscious urban planners. (Photos by David Kidd)
The Arizona desert is an unlikely location for an ongoing experiment in urban planning. (Photos by David Kidd)
Begun in 1970, Arcosanti is a town of 70 to 100 inhabitants that was envisioned as a future home to thousands.
Arcosanti’s creator architect, Paolo Soleri, gained fame by perfecting a way to cast windbells in the silty sand nearby.
Donations and the sale of Soleri's windbells, which are still made on-site, help support the experimental town.
Arcosanti was envisioned as an alternative to urban sprawl using Soleri’s theory of compact city design.
A tour group visits one of the common areas, which are especially important in high-density living.
Apartments are tucked into every available space.
Buildings are designed and situated to provide shade in the summer and to allow light and warmth in the winter.
Over 10,000 windbells and pots are produced in the ceramics studio each year.
These tools belong to some of the volunteers and residents who spend a few weeks or a few years on the site.
Housing is incorporated into a public amphitheater.
The furniture is oddly retro for a city of the future.
Beautiful views can be had with meals at the café.
A dirt path leads to the perfect spot to view Arcosanti. There has been no major construction in 15 years. Modern building codes are in conflict with 1970’s era ideas.
Even an urban laboratory hasn’t figured out what to do with the junk that accumulates.
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