Unfinished business at the urban laboratory: Paolo Soleri, Arcology, and Arcosanti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


This paper reviews the prospect of a radical redefinition of the relationship between society, technology, and Nature as posited within Paolo Soleri’s Arcology theory, and anticipates a transformative social order and environmental setting in support of sustainability as demonstrated within the urban laboratory Arcosanti. It locates the roots of Soleri's ecological architecture within a rejection of urban sprawl emerging from his early apprenticship with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West in Arizona, and argues that his own theoretical model, in presenting a fusion of architecture and ecology, prefigures a utopia of transcendence and offers a more rational planned response to the challenges of our age, while offering environmental movements a vision of what a sustainable urban future might look like. The paper argues that the positive utopian tendencies in Soleri’s work should be reaffirmed and, at the same time, it underlines an urgent need for multi-aspect and multi-disciplinary research, and postgraduate education, to be undertaken at Arcosanti, to test the parameters of micro- and macro-structures within alternative models of ecological design. In concluding the paper gives acknowledgement to the ongoing work of the Cosanti Foundation’s Board of Directors and its new Strategic Plan Steering Committee, and their commitment to attract renewed levels of financial and human resource in support of the urban laboratory’s unfinished business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-72
Number of pages10
JournalOpen House International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • arcology
  • Arcosanti
  • ecological design
  • urban sustainability
  • utopia
  • Paolo Soleri
  • aestheticism

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    Research Output

    • 2 Citations
    • 2 Chapter (peer-reviewed)
    • 2 Article
    • 1 Chapter
    • 1 Special issue

    Journal special issue: Forging advances in sustainable architecture and urbanism

    Grierson, D. (ed.) & Salama, A. M. (ed.), 1 Dec 2016, In : Open House International. 41, 4, p. 1-110 112 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

    Open Access
  • Linking space and nature syntaxes: the influence of a natural view through observed behaviour at Arcosanti, Arizona, USA

    Munro, K. & Grierson, D., 11 Nov 2016, Handbook of Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development in Higher Education. Leal Filho, W., Brandli, L., Castro, P. & Newman, J. (eds.). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG, Vol. 1. p. 137-158 22 p. (World Sustainability Series).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

    Open Access
  • 9 Downloads (Pure)

    Towards the development of a space/nature syntax at Arcosanti

    Munro, K. & Grierson, D., 1 Dec 2016, In : Open House International. 41, 4, p. 48-55 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • Prizes

    Visiting Professor at Arcosanti, Arizona, USA

    David Grierson (Recipient), 30 Sep 2013

    Prize: Appointment

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