Paolo Soleri is a visionary architect, urban designer, artist, and a philosopher who was mentored by Frank Lloyd Wright. Soleri, who was born and studied in Italy moved to the States after World War II to start his career. He got under the spotlight through his “beast bridge” design in 1948- which was published in the “Architecture of Bridges” book. The book was written by Elizabeth Mock and published by the Museum of Modern Art.

Paolo Soleri with his “Beast Bridge” design, Image via Cosanti Foundation

The impact of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ecological affiliations was great on Paolo Soleri. This is how he endorsed arcology as an architectural philosophy, which involved establishing highly populated environmentally-friendly cities. In the 1960s, Soleri didn’t settle for theories and charged in on realizing his dream. He bought 860 acres in the desert, 70 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona, to implement his ideology.

Arcosanti, Photography: Tomiaki Tamura

The renowned architect designed and constructed Arcosanti, a utopian secluded city in the desert. He had been working on his ecological city for nearly 40 years, from 1970 till his death in 2013. Arcosanti was his lifetime project where he believed that an urban community doesn’t have to be harmful to the environment. He hoped that the new city would promote human communication and reduce energy consumption.

Arcosanti, via The New York Times, Photography: John Burcham

A total of 6000 volunteers aided Soleri to build his environmental city in bunches over the years. Arcosanti’s construction mainly depended on a process he created, called “earth casting” which involved casting concrete items using the ground as the framework. Many of the residents of the city earned their living by casting bronze bells and selling them- a technique they learned from Soleri.

The bronze bells, Photography by Flickr user: Trevor Huxham

The ornate hippie-era city was originally designed to house 5000 people. However, as the city never grew big enough, it currently comprises 13 buildings which can take up to a hundred inhabitants.

Arcosanti is famous for its domes and big archways. It contains a ceramic workshop, a bakery, a swimming pool, and an amphitheater to host concerts.

Image via

Soleri established the Cosanti foundation in 1965 to fund the city. The foundation financially aids the city by selling ceramics and wind chimes to the tourists.



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