Barrel vaults used as an office and workshop at Cosanti. Photo: Gwendolyn Horton
If there were an official sound to Arizona, it would be the chime of Paolo Soleri’s wind-bells. Although this fascinating man left our world in April 2013, his voice has not been silenced. His bells – like doorbells that announce your arrival to another way of living – serve as reminders of what is possible when we approach our world with kindness and a sense of community.
Wind-bells in front of earth-cast Cosanti structure. Photo: Gwendolyn Horton
Born in Turin, Italy, in 1919, Paolo Soleri was an architect, writer, thinker, philosopher, artist and visionary. When he was in his twenties, he spent a year as an apprentice for Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West, returned to Italy for several years, then made his way back to the U.S. and settled in Arizona. In 1955, Soleri purchased a five-acre property in Paradise Valley, which he named Cosanti, a combination of the Italian words cose and anti. Together the words mean “before things,” expressing one of his hopes for humankind’s role in this world.
Ceramics Studio (1958) at Cosanti. Photo: Gwendolyn Horton
Cosanti and the experimental town Arcosanti, which he founded in 1970, are human habitats that Soleri created to explore alternative methods of architecture and ways of group living. While Arcosanti is the stronger expression of his concept of arcology, which asserts that architecture and ecology are one integral process, many believe that Cosanti is his greatest work.