To say I was really excited would be an understatement. I have been obsessed with this place for years and finally I get to see it in person!
This was my view for the week from a camp site behind the arcology, looking out over the edge of the mesa. This was just $20/night with bathrooms included.
I was very excited to learn that they were taking covid precautions very seriously here. Only the outdoor things are open, and masks are mandatory at all times.
I did the tour of the grounds plus picked up a couple shirts, a hoodie, and a wind bell from the gallery.
During the tour, the guide mentioned that they have witnessed a trend here over the last fifty years of about a 10 degree increase in temperature during the summer and a ten degree decrease during the winter.
So I was here at a very strange time when we had 58 mph wind gusts and snow in the high desert. This made for some great photos. As you can see, I was the only person camped on top of the mesa! The whole Mind Garden was my front yard, and I was the only one taking advantage of it during my stay. Click here to check out the photosphere I created at the same place as the above photo.
One of the residents told me that the exact spot where I’m camping is where Puscifer recently filmed Bedlamite from their new studio album. They are one of my favorite bands and I knew they had recently filmed here but I had no idea it was right here!
At some point in the last year, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture moved to Arcosanti. I was fortunate enough to meet several of the architects.
They gave us an extremely thorough tour of the backstage of Arcosanti including utility tunnels connecting many of the structures, and many of the less successful experiments on site such as the attempts to shore up the collapsing pool structure, and the decaying agriculture program.
Arcosanti is easy to fall in love with. I can easily see myself spending a lifetime here working on fixing things and making the site more sustainable.
There is so much good, a lot of bad, and the work is so compelling. I’m very tempted to pursue a long-term project here. Soleri left huge gaps in his plans. There was basically no attention paid to producing their own food and power at scale or reclaiming water in any serious way.
Because Soleri was a prodigy of the Frank Lloyd Wright school, he uses many self-similar motifs across his architecture. Notice the shape in the guardrail in front of me. These are designed to mimic the way his apses work.
All of Soleri’s structures include half domes facing south (apses). These block out the sun during the summer but let the sun in during the winter. And then inside the apse is apartments and shops and stuff. The circle in the middle is a shared workspace inside the apse. So one of the apses here has a ceramic shop inside. Another one has a bronze forge. And then behind all that is the shops and apartments that go with whatever they do in each apse. So the people who do the bronze work get to live just upstairs inside the same apse where they work. And then people can come in and buy their products.
This is a picture of the bronze working apse with the shops and apartments visible inside.
One of the most amazing things I saw at Arcosanti is an example of the procession of the sun.
This was the first structure built at Arcosanti. It’s now called the vaults. It’s basically just a set of two enormous south-facing arches that creates a shaded space where large projects can happen. This means it blocks out the light during the summer and lets it in during the winter. So it’s a very functional space that makes good use of the seasons to let more and less light in when it’s appropriate.
Notice there is a tiny notch at the top where the two sides of each pair of arches meets…
Okay now the next photo is on the ground just about at the same place where the last photo was taken. It’s a little hard to see, but this is a line which shows where the shadow of the arch lies at noon on the winter solstice…
Now here is the really amazing part. This line was repainted a few inches to the west. I asked the staff who work in this area and their best guess was that this was last repainted 6-10 years ago. So this few inches difference represents maybe about a decade of axial procession of the sun.
The sun wobbles on its axis and we wobble with it. It takes about 26,000 years per cycle, which is why the constellations are not in the same place they were during ancient babylon when the “modern” astrological system was created. It’s rare to see such a clear example like this. Very cool.