The Organic Architecture Guild

A Sustainability Union

Cosanti - Paolo Soleri

Paolo Soleri was born in Turin, Italy.  He was awarded his "laurea" (PhD degree with highest honors) in architecture from the Politecnico di Torino in 1946. He visited the United States in 1947 and spent a year and a half in fellowship with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West in Arizona, and at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. During this time, he gained international recognition for a bridge design displayed at the Museum of Modern Art.

Soleri returned to Italy in 1950 where he was commissioned to build a large ceramics factory, "Ceramica Artistica Solimene" in Vietri on the Amalfi coast. The ceramics industry processes he became familiar with during its construction led to his award-winning designs and production of ceramic and bronze windbells and siltcast architectural structures. For over 30 years, proceeds from sales of the windbells have provided funds for construction to test his theoretical work.

In 1956 he settled in Scottsdale, Arizona, with his late wife, Colly, and their two daughters. Dr. and Mrs. Soleri made a life-long commitment to research and experimentation in urban planning, establishing the Cosanti Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation. Soleri's philosophy and works have been strongly influenced by the Jesuit paleontologist and philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.


The Cosanti Foundation's major project is Arcosanti, a community planned for 5,000 people, designed by Soleri; Arcosanti has been in construction since 1970. Located near Cordes Junction, about 70 miles north of Phoenix and visible from Interstate I-17 in central Arizona, the project intends to provide a model demonstrating Soleri's concept of "Arcology", architecture coherent with ecology. Arcology is envisioned by Soleri as a hyperdense city, designed to maximize human interaction; it should maximize access to shared, cost-effective infrastructural services, conserve water and reduce sewage; minimize the use of energy, raw materials and land; reduce waste and environmental pollution; and allow interaction with the surrounding natural environment. Arcosanti is a prototype of a desert arcology. Soleri's other arcology designs envisioned sites such as the ocean (Nova Noah), et al (see: Arcology: City in the Image of Man).

Since 1970, well over 6000 people have participated in Arcosanti's construction. Their international affiliation group is called the Arcosanti Alumni Network. As of 2010, construction is underway to complete Arcosanti's Greenhouse Apron.

One Response to “”

  1. Keben says:

    the thing ilove about humanity is that we more often than not do things that are not for the greater good and make do with muddling along. in this case the tragedy of the commons looks more likely than either arcosanti-ville or a new urbanist response. While I agree with (most of) new urbanism it is, let’s face it incredibly elitist and most of its supporters are not left homeless by the hurricane. While the NU’s plan people are already rebuilding things just as they were before…foolish? maybe. but human.

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