Ecosystem and Climate

The Cosanti Foundation owns 860 extraordinarily beautiful acres in central Arizona. At an elevation of 3750 ft., highlands with basalt mesas, juniper, and prickly pear cactus are the backdrop to everyday life. Running through the property is the Agua Fria River, a rich riparian zone, with cottonwood trees and water for a good percentage of the year. To the East of our property is the 71,000-acre Agua Fria National Monument surrounded by the Prescott National Forest.

We have a lower average temperature than urban Phoenix and wider temperature swings, which is typical in semi-arid climates. Temperatures in the Summer can reach over 100 degree F and in the Winter may drop to 30 degree F at nights.

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Land Use

The two largest human-built systems on this planet address how we house ourselves (our built habitat, culminating in the great cities of the world), and how we feed ourselves (our agricultural system). A third enormous system, the energy system, imbues the other two in the form of the energy necessary to build and maintain them. These systems are currently consuming resources, generating pollutants and creating inequities that dramatically exceed the ability of the environment and society to endure.

Arcosanti is an innovative experiment in a more sustainable alternative. The purpose of Arcosanti is to construct a living, walk-through demonstration model of a compact town, concentrated on 25 acres of an 860 acre preserve in the semi arid, central Arizona Upper Sonoran grasslands. A guiding principle of the project, and arcology design in general, is to concentrate the built habitat in a limited area, thus preserving the surrounding natural environment, and not building on agricultural land, leaving this non renewable resource for cultivation.

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Arcosanti Landscaping Program

The Landscaping Department maintains the 15.5 acre Arcosanti site. We have test gardens for indigenous plants and manage an experimental greenhouse to start seeds, grow frost tender plants and propagate trees. As our buildings are multifunctional, so is our landscaping. Fruiting trees provide shade, medicinal and culinary herbs attract beneficial birds and insects. Micro climates created by the building themselves broaden the variety of plants that can be grown.