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Behind the Music: Arcosanti

Abby Penning

In the December 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine, the article “The Sounds of Spa” by Abby Penning addressed how the use of music and sound in the spa can heighten clients’ experiences. The article discussed how one spa in Arizona uses Soleri bells from the experimental community of Arcosanti, and the creation of those bells is just the beginning for this ecologically minded town.

Arcosanti is an experimental town near Scottsdale, Arizona, developed by Italian architect and ecologist Paolo Soleri as an attempt to reduce the environmental impact of living in an area. Deemed “arcology,” this way of life sees the town’s buildings and its inhabitants work efficiently together to maintain resources and improve the environment, while also enjoying artistic, technological and other pursuits

The project, which began in 1970, includes compact housing areas, businesses, open spaces, studios, and educational and cultural events. Attracting many curious students, tourists and even professionals, Arcosanti offers four-week workshops in which visitors can learn about arcology and participate in the construction and maintenance of the town. Residents and visitors tend to food and vegetation grown in the town’s greenhouses, which are also used as solar collectors for winter heat, and can take part in silt sculpture workshops, among other activities.

The project is supported by Cosanti Foundation, a nonprofit organization created by Soleri and his wife to develop architectural, urban planning and ecological research, and one of the revenue-generators for the foundation are Soleri bells, which are featured in the Skin Inc. magazine article. Soleri developed the bronze and ceramic wind bells while building a large ceramic installation in Italy and began selling them to support arcology when they proved to be popular. The proceeds from the bells go to helping run Arcosanti and maintaining the project’s facilities. For more information on Arcosanti, Paolo Soleri, arcology and the Soleri bells, visit to

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