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Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti was our first side trip of the day; it was only three miles off the freeway; hah! Famous last words ... The three miles were on a washboard, rutted gravel road. We ate a skimpy lunch, then saw a film about the architect's work and philosophy. The people we met were his acolytes, and they could tell we were infidels. His plan for a harmonious urban environment was, basically, to maximize population density and incorporate all aspects of life in the smallest space possible, allowing nature to have the surrounding areas to itself.
Frank Lloyd Wright, with whom Soleri studied for a year, could not have a more different philosophy with respect to space usage. He advocated decentralization; amenities and work would have many loci.
Both architects pondered the same basic issues, but came to opposing solutions.
We visited Taliesin West a few hours after visiting Arcosanti. There were more than philosophical differences in the visits. At Arcosanti, people were relatively uninterested in welcoming visitors. At Taliesin West, we were welcomed and the road was paved besides! Both men have (or had) strong visions of how space can be used to enhance human life. Both have student labor and utilize inexpensive materials.
An interesting contrast, and ideas to ponder. Nature incorporated into individual dwellings and work spaces, or given room to flourish by centralized and compacted cities? At least someone has considered the questions.

1 comment:

Osprey said...

Good side trips. I like Paolo Soleri.