In 1970, The Cosanti Foundation began building Arcosanti, an experimental town in the high desert of Arizona, 70 miles north of metropolitan Phoenix. An ambitious project envisioned as an experiment in living frugally and with a limited environmental footprint, Arcosanti is an attempt at a prototype arcology, integrating the design of architecture with respect to ecology. Based on a set of four core values that include Frugality and Resourcefulness, Ecological Accountability, Experiential Learning, and Leaving a Limited Footprint. The Cosanti Foundation operates Arcosanti as a counterpoint to mass consumerism, urban sprawl, unchecked consumption of natural resources, and social isolation.
The iconic structures at Arcosanti are designed to be multi-use to extend their utility and usefulness in facilitating the many performances, workshops, and cultural programming that happen year in and year out. Throughout its 50-year history, thousands of volunteers have participated in constructing Arcosanti through intensive six-week-long workshops where they learned by doing and developed a uniquely specialized set of skills. Close to 8,000 people have given their time and talents by taking part in building Arcosanti.