5 things to know about Arcosanti, Arizona

It challenges the idea of urban sprawl.

“The ‘sprawl’ design which is so common in our modern day urban environment can often lead to a feeling of disconnect and distance from those around us,” explains Timothy Bell, director of community engagement at the Cosanti Foundation. Arcosanti has developed as an “architectural site and urban laboratory” with a number of physical structures, including rounded amphitheater-style spaces and porthole-adorned living quarters. “The architecture is designed for walkability and interactivity,” says Bell. “The idea is to create ‘collisions,’ meaning serendipitous face-to-face interactions between people exploring the area to create intimacy,” he explains.

It hosts a variety of events.

In addition to daily tours (around 42,000 people visit annually), Arcosanti also hosts festivals, weddings, concerts, and workshops. Workshop participants spend six weeks on-site and can explore activities like bell-making, pottery, and crafting with wood and metal.

It has full-time residents.

There are about 80 full-time residents, half of whom Bell would describe as “transient,” meaning they spend between six months and five years living at Arcosanti. The rest of the inhabitants are long-time collaborators, some of whom have spent 30+ years on-site living and working on the project.

It encourages sustainability.

Though they own 860 acres, the organization is deeply committed to sustainability, and has reduced their living space to just 25 acres. The surrounding area, they say, is a “non-renewable resource for cultivation.” They boast test gardens for indigenous plants and an experimental greenhouse for developing seeds as part of the Arcosanti Landscaping Program.

It features hiking trails.

Visitors can hike the Agua Fria river, a 120-mile long stream that flows through central Arizona. Along the moderate trail around the Agua Fria National Monument, you can encounter prehistoric Native American rock carvings.
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There are over 100 miles of cycling paths inside the city.