Arizona is a patchwork of surreal spaces, extra-terrestrial in their strangeness and resplendent with fiery hues. Red rocks rise from purple valleys and, as the sun hits, the light shines as if in a perpetual sunset. We leave Sedona early, missing the dust and skin-prickling heat as we drive down Interstate 17. Jutting out of the rocks like a martian Acropolis, the 1970s micro-city of Arcosanti is a prototype for arcology - a fusion of architecture and ecology. Dreamed up by the late Italian architect Paolo Soleri, it is based on an experimental model that reimagines urban sprawl, excessive consumption and ecological disconnect. Instead, Arcosanti offers "walkability, access to nature, localised food and energy, and a focus on frugality", resident Timothy Bell explains to me. It is an implosion, not an explosion.
The architecture is a jigsaw of geometrical shapes. Squares and domes blend together, painted to match the surrounding sandy shades. In one building a large, circular window faces the desert, casting shadows into the corners, the cold stone protecting against the beating heat.
Creative spaces are dotted around the site - there's an Amphitheatre and a Bronze Foundry, where men work bare- chested, skin shining, moulding molten metal into the famous Soleri bells. These hang like sculptures in cubed towers, splashed in greens and pinks, chiming in the heat-shimmering wind. Nearby, artists craft ceramics beneath a temple-like dome. As we walk, a whisper of serenity sways the cypress trees. Landscape and man have come together in peace.