The area where we were in Arizona lent it self to architecture. Some people over the centuries have seen the desert as inviting. They look past the heat and the dryness and see an alive system where they can thrive. I see beauty, I a place where a small community calls home, but I do not see the richness needed to sustain a culture as it births new generations. Balancing the resources of the area is such a delicate matter, to take from the river or even dig a well effects every other living thing near by. Perhaps the people living centuries ago by their river might have found balance in their small community but Soleri’s dreams of 5,000 people living a self sustaining life seems unrealistic. During the tour of Arcosanti one moment I wanted to join them while the next I could find so many problems with their ideas. There was a large gray water pool but they did not reuse it. Currently they are only 100 people but if hey were to finish the full project of 5,000 people the strain on the aquafer would be great. I do not know a lot about the early planning process but it seems that water was not concidered at any legnth. There have been battles for centuries for the water in the west to attempt to contruct a large community out in the derest with out accounting for water seems careless. From what they discribed in the introductory film during the tour there was a lot of thought put into supplying their own power, how did water get forgotten?
One cannot live in the West for any length of time without having their lives touched by water rights. Cities along the Front Range of Colorado still continue to suggest flooding valleys, where many people live, just to support their unchecked growth. When we think about the Colorado River most people think of the great river that flows through the Grand Canyon or the twisting water that cuts across Colorado. Except that great river isn’t so great by the time it reaches the Gulf of California, in fact it isn’t anything but a dry river bed.
While there are many things I like about Arcosanti the water issue is too big to see past. As a community of 100 or even 300 I see it as selfsustaining (even then they need to start using their grey water) but new communities of 5,000 do not need to be built in the desert no matter what they are like.