Arcosanti, Arizona, US


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.

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.