I'm called "Claire" or "Clara," "RC" or "Ruth-Claire," my given name. I was 18 years old in when I tumbled into the studios of Paolo Soleri in Paradise Valley, north of Scottsdale, AZ. My plan was simple:
Stop in. Briefly visit with my friend Cuyler (JC) Page, who had packed himself up and moved to Cosanti from Ithaca, NY, after Paolo visited Cornell's architecture school, talked about his projects, showed slides of his work.
The plan was, "Hello/Goodbye" to J-Cuyler. Then, move on.
Mann plannt und Gott lacht (Man plans and God laughs), my Vienna-born grandmother used to say.
It was early morning; the summer sun was already bright as we steered onto then-unpaved East Doubletree Ranch Road, stopped at 6433, a one-story wood-frame house, I spotted Cuyler among a small group of people performing modern dance exercises. He stopped when he saw us, greeted me, introduced me to Colly Soleri, who invited us travelers to join them. My shy cousin Clark, who’d been driving, hung back; but Debbie, my travel-partner from NY who'd come out to San Francisco to find me at the behest of our mutual friend YCharles Ludlam (the "Y" is silent, he'd clarified), stepped right in with me. Sally, the teacher, gave a few more combinations to the newly expanded group before she took her leave.
Then, more introductions: to Paolo, Colly, Kristine and Daniela Soleri; to Sally; to Alan Saret, an artist from NY. After which, Cuyler suggested - offered to lead me to - a glass of water.
Ha! I'd have followed a Yeti to Tibet for water but my friend simply walked ahead of me, led me down a slight slope beyond which I found myself in the most habitable space I'd ever, in my entire life, been in. I simply had not been able to imagine it kinaesthetically from the slides he'd shown me when, the previous winter, he'd stopped in to visit me at my apartment on West 83rd Street at Riverside Drive in NYC.
His photos, interesting as they'd been, had scarcely prepared me for the power of the real thing to induce kinaesthetic awareness and sensitization. Might as well have been a creature of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth who’d wandered away from the comforts and security of the hobbit-hole and could scarcely believe "home" was still there after the journey's travails. That's how perfect a fit it seemed. The gentle clinking of bells hanging everywhere in the all-but-invisible-from-the-road atelier whispered harmonious welcome.
I was marveled by the absolute creatureliness of the place. I sensed rather than discerned the architectural complexity of its deceptively simple design, the ingenuity of its execution. Its vocabulary of form was unusual for suburban Phoenix but it made complete sense environmentally and graphically, was just as right economically, made total ergonomic sense of a landscape containing intricate nuances, the subtle complexities of which did not immediately present themselves, at least not to me, seeing them for the first time.
I've been a long-term, many-times returnee ever since. I strive to observe respectfully without ever sacrificing genuine curiosity.
Now, I'm turning thought into deed with a cyber-space into which others interested in arcology and matters arcological may venture.
Welcome to my experiment!
ArcologyCentral (Peter van Erp came up with the name) is an expression of my interest in sustainable arcology design. Meaning matters to me: I'm especially curious to learn what resonates for those who've worked in any capacity at Cosanti or Arcosanti, including but not limited to those who participated in a construction workshop, seminar week, the Elderhostel and Haystack programs. I hope ArcologyCentral can serve as another form of entry into the global discussion that is needed, that we need to have, about the meaning of arcology and Arcosanti itself. In addition to Facebook groups for arconauts (Paolo didn't coin that word although it does seem to fit), ArcologyCentral is my own get-it--together way to reconnect with other people who "went there, did that" - and at the same time, reach out towards people who may want to "go there, do that."
The more arcology discussion there is, the broader those arcology discussions are, the more possibility there to come to consensus about how to fulfill a defined vision of arcology. Moreover, for Arcosanti to serve well as a laboratory, it is important, necessary and incumbent upon us to talk about the experience of all the experiments that could take place within it, that have taken place within it. In fact, it is crucial. To share our experience of it, recognize how it is part of who we have become, is vital because that will help to materialize as well as manifest its own particular identity.
That, at least, is my intuition. I hope ArcologyCentral can help foster and promote applied arcology research, whether primary, secondary or tertiary, to help implement as well as goad sustainable arcological design for new and old projects, for real world problems large or small, including problematically situational challenges and concerns.
ArcologyCentral.net is simply a personal welcome, a cyber-handshake from me to all those who may be willing (or wishing) to entertain the material culture experience of an "urban laboratory."
It's another ... experiment!