"This is the famously never-finished experimental city in the Arizona desert. At first approach, the skyline — a pair of concrete apses, a network of modular concrete dwellings, a rusty old crane — fails to make much of an impact. But it swells with the dream behind it. The Italian architect Paolo Soleri, a former student of Frank Lloyd Wright, began construction of this ecologically harmonious community in 1970.:
NYT article here.
With its radical conservation techniques and a brilliantly scrunched-together layout, Arcosanti was intended to reinvent not just the city, but also man's relationship to the planet: picture a 60s vision of a Mars colony, but with a cutting-edge, eco-friendly design. Evaporative cooling pools release moisture into the air. In winter, heat from the foundry furnace is collected by a hood and sent through the apartments above.
"Inevitably, the real reason for Arcosanti's incomplete state is money. Visionary he might be, but Soleri never seems too bothered with finance. Did he really expect to be able to build a city by selling wind-bells? Soleri laughs. "I was driven by emotions. I never sat down and said, 'What am I going to do now?' I was too busy." But, I ask, is it possible to build a utopia without money?"
"Unfortunately, Arcosanti doesn't seem to have got much further since. Only 3% of the original design has been built; the rest doesn't look likely to spring out of the desert any time soon. Arcosanti never quite achieved the critical mass it needed. Its population reached a peak of about 200 in the mid-1970s, but today is lower than 60. That 1970s idealism gave way to 1980s "me generation" priorities and people moved on to "proper jobs", Tomalty says. A regular flow of students still passes through, but they treat it more as a five-week work experience than an open-ended lifestyle experiment."
read more here, article by Steve Rose