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Postcards from desert utopia Arcosanti – home to FORM festival

In the heat of the Arizona desert is a little-known utopia called Arcosanti. Once a year this concrete community – dreamt up by Italian architect Paolo Soleri – opens its doors to emerging art and music festival, FORM.

This immersive extravaganza recently had its fourth outing at the eco-development, headlined by Solange, Father John Misty, James Blake and Skrillex, and staged across Arcosanti’s futuristic architecture and stunning desert surrounds.

Arcosanti photo essay FORM festival by Alex Kacha
Photography: Alex Kacha

Photographer Alex Kacha made the personal pilgrimage at the behest of their uncle, architect Antonio Fragiacomo (1950-2017), a resident of Arcosanti in the 2000s. ‘He actually helped build the courtyard about 17 years ago,’ they explain.

Kacha adds: ‘FORM is unlike any festival I’ve been to before, and it reminded me of Day in the Desert in the Joshua Tree – it’s pretty small. Everyone who went there seemed to really appreciate the architecture, and just being there.’

Arcosanti photo essay FORM festival by Alex Kacha
Photography: Alex Kacha

Paolo Soleri founded Arcosanti in the 1970s. After breaking away from his mentor, Frank Lloyd Wright, the  Italian architect bought a parcel of land 65 miles north of Phoenix, in Arizona’s high desert, on which to start building and teaching a group of students his experimental views on urban and eco development.

Soleri was opposed to the happenstance sprawl of many north American cities, and envisaged Arcosanti as a self-sustaining, compact city where ecology and architecture combined. Over 7,000 volunteers have passed through the desert town over the last 50 years – including Fragiacomo – helping to construct its mixed-use buildings and public spaces where people live, work, visit and learn.

Arcosanti photo essay FORM festival by Alex Kacha
Photography: Alex Kacha

According to the city’s official website, some 50,000 tourists also journey to the desert Utopia every year – around 1,500 of them for FORM.

‘FORM now shares a small part of responsibility in the future of Arcosanti,’ festival co-founder Trayer Tryon told NPR. ‘FORM is a direct extension of how incredible Arcosanti is, and Arcosanti is a direct extension of how incredible its people are. So we want to help to see this place thrive and grow.’

Arcosanti photo essay FORM festival by Alex Kacha
Photography: Alex Kacha

Applications to attend Form 2020 are opening soon.

Read next: Music festivals in extraordinary places

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