Arcosanti: High Concept Architecture in the Low Desert

4

Arcosanti is a colony in Central Arizona devoted to building and testing the concept of "arcology". The worthiness and success of arcology is a matter for debate. What is beyond debate however, is that it is an awesome opportunity to shoot a few rolls when you're in the southwest. Take a look at this futuristic throwback and tell me what you think.

You know what a “portmanteau” is? It’s when you combine parts of two words to express a single-fused concept, like Lomography (LOMO and photography). It expresses the “Don’t think, Just shoot” philosophy that we’ve come to embrace. Well, if you’re in Arizona and you’re between the long, lean stretches of I-10 and the historic path of Route 66 then let me suggest another portmanteau, Arcosanti. An intriguing little town which makes use of retro futurism and gives us lomographers an amazing opportunity to shoot endless rolls with our favorite Lomo cameras.

Arcosanti is an expression of “arcology”. Now what is arcology? It’s a portmanteau of the words architecture and ecology according to architect and designer Paolo Soleri. He’s a former student of Frank Lloyd Wright, who settled in Scottsdale, Arizona where he went about trying to create a methodology for dense amounts of people to live in a small functional space. He called these spaces ‘arcologies’ and began building his first arcology in the desert back in 1970. Slowly but surely, it has expanded since then. It’s visual sensibilities seem to be a mix between an Aztec temple and The Jetsons. It’s sandstone futurism.

All the sweeping curves, unique shapes and retro looks serve as endless fodder for your toy cameras. I took my Diana F+ and three rolls of film although I think I should have taken more. This place is just incredible. Giant domes that were cast in hot sand and erected using low energy techniques, terraced staircases designed to aid stargazing, and the letter ‘A’ folded into the design frequently to remind you of the intent and goal of the locale.

I suggest that if you really want to get the most out of the place then take the tour. It’s only $10 bucks and you get greater access to the place. Sights will include their furnaces where bells are made that fund the colony, grandiose amphitheaters and a wide variety of buildings that spill weirdly across the desert.

I am sure that you can get a lot of good stuff in color but Arcosanti cried out for black and white to me. Particularly the square format. The shapes, textures, and fusion of southwestern and Italian sensibilities with a futuristic look seemed to request that a photographer shoot what they see in the starkest terms so that a viewer can judge arcology on it’s artistic and ethical merits.

As much I hope that these pictures give you an idea of the place, I do hope you’ll visit it as well. Your Diana and Sprocket Rocket will thank you.

written by bcartwright on 2010-11-27 in #world #locations #paolo-soleri #travel-destination #retro #graceful #arizona #ecology #frank-lloyd-wright #futuristic #desert #black-and-white #architecture

4 Comments

  1. -alia-
    -alia- ·

    it looks a very special place. Old school archs ^.^

  2. whiteranger
    whiteranger ·

    That place looks AMAZING! I would love to visit there sometime.

  3. tmia
    tmia ·

    I was searching locations specifically to see if someone had done arcosanti! I'm glad you have because if any place is worthy of lomographic attention, it's arcosanti! I've been there and could only really explain it as a post-apocalyptic type building that makes you feel like you're in another world! I love it! Great article!

  4. 110isnotdead
    110isnotdead ·

    Wow, that place looks amazing. I think I might take a drive out there when I'm in AZ next month. :)) Great article and great shots.

More Interesting Articles

  • Traveling Through Different Continents with Pei Ketron and her Lomo LC-A 120

    written by givesmehell on 2015-07-17 in #people #lifestyle #lomoamigos
    Traveling Through Different Continents with Pei Ketron and her Lomo LC-A 120

    Pei Ketron is an incredibly talented photographer based in San Francisco. She was born in Taiwan and raised on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. Pei spent her childhood in the deserts in the southwest and spent summers embracing the monsoons of the tropics. She teaches photography on several platforms like Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and The Compelling Image, and has an impressive list of clients including Apple, Adobe and Bloomingdale's. Read on to find out what she has to say about her adventures around the world with the Lomo LC-A 120.

    3
  • Lantern Slides From the 'Psychic Photography From a New Angle' Series

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-07-01 in #world #lifestyle
    Lantern Slides From the 'Psychic Photography From a New Angle' Series

    Mysterious apparitions and other inexplicable phenomena on film, or generally speaking, for that matter, are as highly debated topics today as they were many decades ago. In 1934, a certain Mr. C.P. MacCarthy of 15 Wilkinson Street, Sheffield held a lecture at 76 Clarkehouse Road located in the same city to "demonstrate under test conditions Fake Psychic Photography" before an invited committee. MacCarthy's demonstration was accompanied by a series of photographs titled "Psychic Photography From a New Angle."

  • Vicuna's Travel Stories | Sunrise in the Desert

    written by vicuna on 2015-09-16 in #world #locations
    Vicuna's Travel Stories | Sunrise in the Desert

    Burkina Faso is a country that has three different climatic areas. It's mostly a land of the Sahel, very dry but with some vegetation and a short rainy season. The very south of the country is already in the tropical zone but the north still belongs to the Sahara desert. I had the opportunity to visit this area and witness a magical moment: a sunrise in the desert.

    14
  • Shop News

    Fuji Instax Wide 300

    Fuji Instax Wide 300

    Shoot wider and bigger with this new instax camera that has film format twice the size of the instax mini films!

  • 5 Noteworthy Architectural Details

    written by lomographymagazine on 2015-07-16 in #world #lifestyle
    5 Noteworthy Architectural Details

    A building is a story of collective effort. The people who dreamed it up and polished every surface are anonymous to many, but their work announces a unique identity. For tourists, architecture is a marker of place, like souvenirs with flags and national costumes. For the camera-lugging traveler, a strong visual statement is what matters most.

  • Photography From Afar

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-01-25 in #world #lifestyle
    Photography From Afar

    Sometimes what we don't see is as compelling as what we can assess in close detail. From a distance we can create illusions, feign cinematic long shots and introduce the scope of unknown places. Come see what's beyond.

  • Genre-Crossing Projects We Loved in 2015

    written by lomographymagazine on 2015-12-22 in #world #lifestyle
    Genre-Crossing Projects We Loved in 2015

    An experimental streak is the fuel of borderless, intriguing and rebellious art. It's what Lomography toasts to in photography and beyond. In 2015, we had a grand time talking to artists who expand our notions of creativity.

  • Shop News

    the perfect surprise for every analogue loving enthusiast

     the perfect surprise for every analogue loving enthusiast

    Let your loved one pick the gift of their dreams. Lomography Online Shop Gift Certificates are the perfect present for every analogue devotee on your gift list

  • Lomo’Instant Wide Tip No. 11 - Multiple Exposures

    written by Lomography on 2015-10-23 in #gear #tipster
    Lomo’Instant Wide Tip No. 11 - Multiple Exposures

    We love multiple exposures because no matter what scenes you choose to combine, the end result is always spectacular! Double (or triple) yourself up in a self portrait, or experiment with different patterns and objects when you shoot with your Lomo'Instant Wide and watch your amazing creations develop before your eyes!

    2
  • The Beauty of Black and White

    written by lomographymagazine on 2015-11-18 in #world #lifestyle
    The Beauty of Black and White

    A popular quote by photojournalist Ted Grant goes, "When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!" Indeed, the lack of vibrant color forces the viewer to see beyond what is on plain view and recognize the atmosphere surrounding a photograph. In this post, we've handpicked black and white shots taken in various situations and exhibit different moods.

    5
  • Gommorah Girl: An Interview with Valerio Spada

    written by anamartaml on 2015-08-08 in #people
    Gommorah Girl: An Interview with Valerio Spada

    Valerio Spada went beyond his comfort zone and stepped right into the battlefield with his camera. He went to Naples, Italy, an area populated by the Camorra Mafia but also home to Annalisa Durante who, at the age of 14, was killed by a bullet aimed at a Camorra boss. What happened to her could've happened to any of the girls portrayed in the book Gommorah Girl. This work is about Annalisa. It's about all of the girls that, just like her, seem doomed to an unfair destiny - which, hopefully, may still change.

    2
  • Shop News

    Check the New Super Sampler Black Panther!

    Check the New Super Sampler Black Panther!

    The ultra-lightweight, low-maintenance 35mm camera that fits perfectly in your hand for some wild and spontaneous shooting!

  • Film Format Fun: Rapid Film

    written by Maaike van Stratum (@stratski) on 2016-02-08 in #gear #tipster
    Film Format Fun: Rapid Film

    We all know about 35mm and 120 film, right? And since Lomography re-introduced 110 film, we have another film format to play with. But in the years past, many more film formats were in use. Let me introduce you to a few golden oldies and tell you about my experiences with them. I'll start with Rapid film.

    2
  • Chloé Vollmer-Lo: First Impressions of the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens

    written by mpflawer on 2016-02-08 in #people #lomoamigos
    Chloé Vollmer-Lo: First Impressions of the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens

    After a fully booked 2015, photographer Chloé Vollmer-Lo found time to test the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens. She brought it to the Natural History Museum and the Paris business district, an endeavor that resulted in quite a few stunning, bokeh-rich images.

    2
  • Photo of the Day by coloryan

    written by lomography on 2016-02-08 in #world #news
    Photo of the Day by coloryan

    An observant lomographer can find beauty even in the tiniest and simplest subject.

    2