Cosanti is the gallery and studio of Italian-American architect Paolo Soleri; it was his residence until his death in 2013. Located in Paradise Valley, Arizona, USA, it is open to the public. Cosanti is marked by terraced landscaping, experimental earth-formed concrete structures, and its sculptural wind-bells.
Soleri is best known for Arcosanti, the prototype for an arcological "urban laboratory" begun in 1970 in the high desert about seventy miles north of Phoenix, Arizona; its community is comparatively young. Cosanti is where Soleri and his wife, Colly (née Corolyn Woods) Soleri, established their residence in 1956, with metropolitan Phoenix their city, on a site just a few miles from Taliesin West, where Soleri had studied. It is an area that has since been surrounded by expensive suburban residences. Cosanti has been designated an Arizona Historic Site.
Paolo Soleri invented the words Cosanti, Arcosanti and arcology. He coined arcology by combining the words architecture and ecology. Cosanti fuses two Italian words, cosa (meaning "things", "property", "matter", "business") and anti ("against"). Arcosanti combines arcology with Cosanti.
The structures at Cosanti include the original "Earth House" which is partially underground, a student dormitory, outdoor studios, performance space, a swimming pool, gift shop, and Soleri's residence. All are set amidst courtyards, terraces and garden paths.
Location and orientation of the buildings is significant. Many structures are placed beneath ground level and are surrounded by mounds of earth so they are naturally insulated year round, moderating their interior temperatures. Soleri designed and built south-facing apses (partial domes) as passive energy collectors that collect light and heat in the lower winter sun, deflecting it and creating shade in the higher summer sun. The swimming pool and several other structures have southern exposures to maximize the warmth of the winter sun.
The buildings at Cosanti were not intended to serve as examples of the concept of arcology, but many of the principles of arcology were first put to work there. Most of the structures were built using the earthcasting method or one of Soleri’s variations on that technique. Concrete was poured over mounds of densely packed earth; the earth was excavated after the concrete solidified. A modified earthcasting technique was also used to craft the bronze and ceramic wind-bells produced at Cosanti and at Arcosanti. The dramatic bronze-casting process is conducted weekday mornings at the foundry at Cosanti as well as at Arcosanti.
Located in Paradise Valley, Arizona, 1 mile west of Scottsdale Road and 1 mile south of Shea Boulevard.
Open 7 days a week: Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 11am-5pm.
Closed major holidays. Group tours by reservation.
- The Arcosanti Web Site
- The Buildings at Cosanti
- Cosanti Architecture preserved at the Internet Archive
- The Cosanti Windbell Web Site
- Illustrated building review of Cosanti preserved at the Internet Archive