Arcosanti – Mayer, Arizona - Atlas Obscura


Mayer, Arizona

An urban laboratory. 


Using a concept he calls arcology, architect Paolo Soleri began construction on Arcosanti in 1970. This experimental city was constructed in order to demonstrate how urban conditions could be improved while minimizing the destructive impact on the earth. A lack of funding has somewhat crippled the town-site, originally intended to house over 5000 people. The current population varies between 50-150 persons, based on the number of students and volunteers on the site.

The layout of the buildings is intricate and organic, rather than a typical city grid. The current structures include a five-story visitors’ center/cafe/gift shop, a bronze-casting apse, a ceramics apse, an outdoor amphitheater, a community swimming pool, an office complex, as well as a ring of apartment residences and storefronts. Arcosanti also maintains greenhouses, gardens, and agricultural fields.

Construction continues as students from around the world visit in order to attend workshops and classes. Funding is aided by the sale of artistic bells, crafted onsite, and the 50,000 tourists that visit each year.

Soleri, who was from Italy, enrolled in Frank Lloyd Wright’s school of architecture, one of which was located just outside of Scottsdale, Arizona. The two architects had a falling out due to inflated egos and Soleri went off to build Arcosanti, a notable example of Brutalism architecture.

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For further direction, contact Arcosanti tel: (928) 632-7135email:

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