DECONSTRUCTING ARCOSANTI

By

Johann Haslauer, Landshut, Germany
Arcosanti Alum

What is Paolo Soleri’s philosophy?
What is the philosophy of Arcosanti?

For his investigation Johann Haslauer from Landshut, Germany, tries a kind of “deconstructive” approach: Not through academic analysis of Paolo’s writing but through his very personal encounters with Arcosanti. That means to also interpret the built work as text, and not to see only Paolo Soleri as the author, but also all participants of the Arcosanti project. And it is a “second order observation”, aware of being an observer of itself and the own operations…

Click here for the Rest of the Story.

In July the Cosanti Foundation was contacted by Gian Paolo Chiari from the Museo del Camminare in Venice, Italy. The Museo del Camminare (Museum of Walking), was recently created to study and document daily life in the world’s largest and oldest pedestrian city. 

In addition to dealing with Venice and the broader cultural, political and environmental meanings of walking, the Museum has just inaugurated a specific section (Car-free Life) on urban pedestrianization that includes the cases of London and Brussels and will soon involve Granada (Spain), Fes (Morocco), Oslo (Norway), Paris and others. 

Their invitation read: “On behalf of the free and open association which runs the Museo del Camminare, it will be a great honor and pleasure to host a page dedicated to Arcosanti in the Carfree Life section.”

The archives department at Arcosanti responded and sent images and text. Click on the link below to explore the online exhibition for yourself.

http://www.museodelcamminare.org/progetti/carless_life/arcosanti/arcosanti_en.html 

THE TREACHERY OF IMAGERY
by
Jeff Stein

 

 

“This is not a pipe”
Rene Magritte

 

 

 

The artist Rene Magritte (1898-1967) worried about his fellow humans misunderstanding the world by experiencing it only through images. “The treachery of imagery” he called it, and made this painting that describes his concern. Of course the issue for Magritte was: it’s a PICTURE of a pipe. An image. Two dimensional. Only experienced by sense of sight. Overly simple. Whereas, an actual pipe is a 3D object, you can hold it in your hand, feel the smoothness of the briar it is made of, feel it warm to the touch as the tobacco in it burns, smell the aroma of that tobacco, taste it as you bring it into your mouth. A real pipe and its relationship to the human body is complex. Plus, of course, there was the physical exertion to make the pipe, to purchase it, to select the tobacco, and even after it is smoked, the pipe is still lying around the house. As for the image of the pipe, you may have just happened upon it accidently; and if you click a mouse / turn the page, it will disappear. All of which brings us to Arcosanti.

 

 

 

“This is not an Arcology”
Paolo Soleri

 

 

 

 

True, this is a powerful image, yet here online it is just a picture. Striking, but again, 2-dimensional. Colorful, yes, but onscreen, unlike the real place, you are not surrounded by that color. Visually stimulating, perhaps, but the real place stimulates many senses: you can feel the materials, the temperature changes from sun to shade, from day to night; smell the desert after a rain, delight in the aroma of dinner cooking in the café, feel the humidity of a greenhouse, hear the windbells(!), hear the neighbors, and on really good days, hear the sound of performing artists in your midst. And all the while there is the haptic, real physical experience of three-dimensional space itself.

In addition, of course, Soleri had no illusions that what we have built so far is actually an arcology. A kind of laboratory, yes. A series of prototype buildings that, while sustaining a learning community now, point to an arcology in the future, certainly! On its mesa in central Arizona, Arcosanti is an architectural document about the relationship of humans and nature, architecture and ecology, a foundation the next generation can build on, shoulders we can all stand on. But photographs alone do not really convey its complexity, the sensuality of what is there now, and of what is to come.

The difficulty of representing architecture in two-dimensions, through photography, is not limited to Arcosanti. It is endemic, throughout our culture. As a result of learning about architecture through photography, a core understanding is lost. That understanding, strongly evident at Arcosanti, is that architecture is three dimensional, spatial; architecture is about space not surface. The complex, connected, prototype buildings at Arcosanti constructed over time on a really tight budget, embody that three-dimensionality as well as any architecture on earth.

Reading this you should make a note: come to Arcosanti for a visit, experience this architecture, this place with all your senses. Go past the flat screen image to the actual; remind yourself what body-knowing – as opposed to just thinking – is all about, and experience the sort of architecture that we imagine could help all of us realize the fullness of our humanity.

NEW HORIZON

By

Jeff Stein

Doug Aitken and Zach Tetrault; these two are old hands at Arcosanti. Over the years, both at Arcosanti and beyond, they have proclaimed in print and through their work how the power of Paolo Soleri’s ideas has made a big impression on them. You may have seen the YouTube / Sundance interview that Aitken did with Paolo Soleri a few years ago – click the link here:

https://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/doug-aitken-source-paolo-soleri

Or perhaps you have seen his feature-length films, one of which was created partly at Arcosanti; maybe you were at FORM | Arcosanti 2 years ago (you really should experience a FORM | Arcosanti) for a detailed public conversation about art and architecture and meaning with Doug and Zach and Jeff Stein.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vvy84a/arts-arcology-arcosanti-desert-experiment-conversation

Now here’s what those two, Aitken and Tetrault, just did in Massachusetts this past month:

http://www.thetrustees.org/newhorizon/

Like the work at Arcosanti itself, their Massachusetts project explores new ways of seeing the world and of being in the world. Aitken’s hundred-foot-tall silver mylar balloon cruises above the New England landscape, between earth and sky, giving those of us on the ground a startling and unexpected new look at both. When the balloon lands, Tetrault has assembled some of Arcosanti’s favorite performers — in addition to a stellar group of thinkers — to create a powerful series of exchanges of ideas and music. It is a way to enliven the whole state.

I’m listening to one of the NEW HORIZON performers right now. It’s Arcosanti favorite (and recent MacDowell fellowship recipient!) Moses Sumney. You can too:

Now that it has been tried in the East, NEW HORIZON would be great at Arcosanti, don’t you think? Except of course, for the wind; hmmmm…yes, that wind. In fact years ago we had our little experience with hot-air balloons at Arcosanti and we are not about to repeat it.

So there you go. What a couple of guys are doing in the world when they’re not at Arcosanti. You’re doing something too. Let us know how it’s going! It need not involve balloons. Important work is happening everywhere, and as an Arcosanti alum each of you is in a particular position to affect it. Wendell Berry put it bluntly: “Every generation is a bridge between something that’s past and something that’s coming.” That’s us; it’s you: you were at Arcosanti, and now you’re on to the next thing. As you cross that bridge stay in touch, will you?

On Friday, July 19, 2019, Cosanti Foundation Board Member Steve Ostwinkle,
Cosanti Foundation Director of Development and Planning Scott Riley, Roger
Tomalty and Mary Hoadley toured the 202/South Mountain Freeway due to open
December 20, 2019. Thanks to the efforts of Joe Salazar of the ADOT Aesthetics
Office, the 22 miles from the I-10 at Ahwatukee to the I 10 at 59 th Avenue are
embellished with designs inspired by Wright and Soleri.

Joe Salazar, ADOT

Roger developed the yellow Riverbank designs from an early Soleri ceramics carving and the green Leaf/Portal designs from the Arcosanti Vaults in 2014, which appear on barriers, sound walls, bridge abutments, columns and land form graphics. Victor Sidy, former Dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, (who chose to become an architect after a trip to Arcosanti) and Monique de Los Rios, Arcosanti Alumna, representing Maricopa Association of Governments, were also on the design team. The trip was a treat and chance to see the significant progress since our last visit in December 2017.

The Ocatillo Settlement pattern starting at I-10 south features horizontals that carry through the whole 22 miles unifying the experience of travel while the 5 character areas emphasize historical and geographical differences, culminating in the dramatic urban/mountain link at 59 th Avenue. Two epic road cuts through South Mountain, accomplished with great respect for the natural and cultural heritage, and the half mile long Salt River Bridge add to the stunning and spectacular roadway that was bonded first in 1985 and includes 13 interchanges, 11 miles of sound walls, 360,000 cubic yards of concrete, 40 million pounds of rebar, and 990,000 tons of asphalt! This new segment is expected to divert 30% of traffic from central Phoenix, easing congestion and saving travel time while affording beautiful views of the Sonoran desert.

Cosanti Foundation Board Member Steve Oswinkle

Seeing the implementation of design concept work done 5 years ago is incredible. The Public/Private partnership, Connect 202, that is accomplishing the completion of this $1.7 billion project, is remarkable for the cost savings developed by subtle changes to the designs to promote buildability. The 30 year maintenance requirement for the build out has incentivized great craftsmanship and durability.

 

Many thanks to Carmello Aceveda, Joe Salazar, Leroy Brady, Yuri Robles, Travis Legare and Robby Richards of ADOT, Anne DeBoard of Kimley Horne and Victor Sidy from Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the thousands working on the ground for making this trip and the whole project such a success!

Text and Photos by Mary Hoadley