Have you ever had a dream? One you fully believed in? For 50 years exclusively? Meet Paolo Soleri. If Arcosanti and Cosanti mean anything to you, maybe you already know about him. I was in high school in the early 70s when I first heard about this man and his endeavors…back in the days when we read Buckminster Fuller and E. F. Schumacher. The world has changed so much, but I still have the idealism of a Baby Boomer and Soleri bells are a part of that dream. Soleri is now 91 years old and his work continues. His project is unfolding, slowing but surely, to his exact specifications.
Soleri, a gifted architect, came to the United States from Italy in 1947, where he lived at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West and East for a year and a half. Forever changed, he returned to Italy, where he received a commission to build a large ceramics factory, “Ceramica Artistica Solimene.” Much later, he would begin making ceramic bells to help support Arcosanti. A desert town/community north of Phoenix, Arizona, Arcosanti began being built by Soleri in the 1970s, after he developed his theories about “arcologies” in the 1950-60s. The town is built on a 4000-acre preserve, but it takes up little of that space, by design. Arcologies are a “concept of cities which embody the fusion of architecture with ecology,” according to the project website. If you’d like to read more, here are some articles and multi-media about Soleri and Arcosanti in the New York Times and the Washington Post, and PBS.
Soleri started a movement that continues today, partly funded by windbells. The bells, originally made of clay, are now ceramic and bronze. “Soleri first lived in Sante Fe, NM, making and selling ceramic pots,” according to Archidose‘s John Hill. “Some local merchants approached Soleri to carry on the production of wind bells for them after another maker passed away,” he continued. “Even without a background in making this type of pottery he agreed, not knowing it would become a permanent part of his life.” Cosanti is Soleri’s home, studio, and gallery, located north of Phoenix. If you ever have listened to a newscast, video or movie footage of Arcosanti, surely you have heard a Soleri bell. They are wonderful and one of them can become part of your life, too. For more information, click here. Ceramic windbells cost from $28-$121 US. For more information, their toll-free number is 1-800-752-3187 and they are open from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, Mountain Time. Local number: 480-948-6145. You can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take a moment to see some of Soleri’s windbells in the following video. Thank you, Paolo Soleri.