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This Awesome and Eco-Friendly Town in Arizona Looks Just Like a Sci-Fi Movie Set

Suny Errot



As if Arizona isn’t already brimming with places of wonder, there’s another one you should check out! It’s time to delay your trip to a unique wildlife park or awesome places that transport you to another world. There is an awesome (and eco-friendly) city among the Sonoran scrubs and needled trees, and it looks like a sci-fi movie set! Take a look and discover what Arcosanti is all about: 

A Historical Curiosity as Much as It Is an Urban Model

Arcosanti is an experimental project centered on sustainability that aims to maintain a city without roads, cars, or air conditioning. It was built in 1970, and rests among the Sonoran scrubs and needled trees. Its architect Paolo Soleri, saw it as the city of the future, and he chose the Arizona desert as the perfect place to bring his idea to fruition.

The Italian architect thought of it as an advanced urban laboratory where everyday activities could be powered by Earth’s natural resources. The vision, aptly called “urban implosion,” pertains to a design that could promote density by eliminating cars and roads. Although, ironically, the Sonoran Desert is accessed mostly by cars.

Prototype Arcology Arcosanti

Source: Arcosanti

To further preserve the idea, the rooms in Arcosanti would just receive light from the sun’s natural rays instead of having light bulbs. On the other hand, vegetation is used to provide natural shade instead of having air conditioning. It’s completely eco-friendly!

It is a good urban model, but it’s also a historical curiosity. Why is that?

To This Day, It Only Has a Few Dozen Residents…

Desert Utopian City Arizona

Source: Instagram

Arcosanti’s original design can house around 5,000 inhabitants. But today, only a few people actually live here. Perhaps, living in the middle of nowhere only appealed to certain people. Or maybe, not enough individuals are concerned with problems the Arcosanti project hopes to solve. These includes pollution, energy depletion, biological conservation, poverty, segregation among many others.

For many years now, the Cosanti Foundation has been working to build a city that would inspire a new future of urban design. Unfortunately, the project is only 5% complete. It seems as though the enthusiasm that helped built most of the project during the 1970s and early 1980s had disappeared.

Unfinished Arcosanti Architecture

Source: Facebook

We’ve got to give credit to Arcosanti. It looks like a perfect sci-fi movie set from afar. It looks huge and it still stands out in a rather dry environment. But would you even be surprised if this unfinished project can make you think otherwise when you come inside?

Arcology Architecture Arizona

Source: Google Maps

Paolo Soleri had crafted such intricately detailed and organic drawings for Arcosanti.

Yet, in reality, it still falls short.

AZ Architecture Beautiful Paolo

Source: Instagram

You will see the slightly crumbling concrete with embedded granules of stone. It won’t feel futuristic, because you’ll get the feeling that you’re walking through an ancient ruin.

A Beautiful Desert Utopian City

Dennis Frenchman, a professor of urban design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that Soleri’s invention was indeed a bold and amazing move. Unfortunately, it’s not taken seriously as an urban model. According to him, Arcosanti is more of a curiosity filled with beautiful handicrafts and embraced by a Utopian spirit.

Arcosanti Arizona Sonoran Desert

Source: Google Maps

Many people are drawn here mostly because of the power of Paolo Soleri’s idea as well as the sheer beauty of the place.

Arcosanti is now headed by Jeff Stein. He is a former dean of the Boston Architectural College, and was also a resident of Arcosanti back in its “heyday.” He notes that they only have an an operating budget of less than $1 million. It’s only about a 10th of what the community needs considering that they still have food, utilities, building materials, payroll, and insurance in their expenses.

Paolo Soleri Design Arcosanti

Source: Instagram

Now, if you were Stein, how would you convince the world that Arcosanti exists and it is a good place to live in? It is an ongoing problem that to this day, still hasn’t been solved, and that makes this seemingly sci-fi movie set a city of the past instead of one from the future.

But who knows, maybe there is hope?

A Visit to Arcosanti

Arcosanti is open to public, and there are actually a lot of things you can do here.

Resident Arcosanti Projects AZ

Source: Facebook

Join a tour. Get an intimate look at this architectural site and urban laboratory by joining a tour. You will be exploring the grounds while listening to the detailed history of the project. This is the only way for you to see the whole site, so if I were you, I’d book a tour asap.

Arcosanti Tours:

  • Daily Tour
  • Architecture Tour
  • Specialty Tour

Relax at the cafe. Yes, this place also has their own coffee shop! The Cafe is their community kitchen, and it is also shared with the public. It’s located just two stories below the Arcosanti Visitor’s Center/Gallery. You can also get the chance to converse and learn from the residents!

Overnight Room Arcosanti Nature

Source: Instagram

Take an overnight stay. You can choose from a one-of-a-kind guest room or a fully-furnished 2-bedroom apartment. Extending your visit by staying the night is a good idea if you prefer having an unchaperoned exploration of much of the site, and even access to their in-ground pool.

Book a retreat or conference. Most people who have been to Arcosanti say that the place is perfect to focus on work, while also being connected and motivated by the environment.

A lot of events also take place at the Arcosanti such as theater, music, dance, and more shows. You can just check their year-round calendar of events for upcoming happenings.

How to Get Here

Urban Laboratory AZ

Source: Instagram

Arcosanti is located one and a half miles Northeast of Arcosanti Road on I-17, near Cordes Junction, 65 miles (100 km) North of Phoenix.

Location: 13555 S. Cross L Rd. Mayer, Arizona

From Phoenix (South)

  1. Get on I-10 W.
  2. Then, follow the I-17 N to Arcosanti Rd in Cordes Junction, and exit from I-17 N.
  3. Finally, take S Cross L Rd as well as Scenic Loop Rd to your destination.

From Sedona (North West)

  1. From AZ-179 S, get on I-17 S in Yavapai County.
  2. Next, follow I-17 S to Arcosanti Rd in Cordes Junction. After that, just take the Exit 263 N/Arcosanti Rd exit from the I-17 S.
  3. Finally, take S Cross L Rd as well as Scenic Loop Rd to your destination.

From Flagstaff (North East)

  1. Continue your drive to I-17 S.
  2. Follow I-17 S to Arcosanti Rd in Cordes Junction. Then, take the Exit 263 N/Arcosanti Rd exit from I-17 S.
  3. Finally, take S Cross L Rd as well as Scenic Loop Rd to your destination.

Website: https://arcosanti.org/

How do you feel about this eco-city in the middle of nowhere?