Ideal Cities: Utopianism and the (Un)built Environment

ISBN: 9780500341865
Artist(s): Various
Author(s): Ruth Eaton
Format: hardback
Year published: 2002
Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 256
Illustrations: Illustrated in colour throughout


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Ideal Cities presents a vast panorama spanning more than two millennia of Western attempts to invent the perfect city, cradle of the ideal society. Embracing not only architecture and town planning but also art, literature, philosophy and politics, this book takes us through the imaginary environments of a wide variety of fascinating and often controversial movements and figures, including Plato, Filtrete, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas More, Thomas Jefferson, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Charles Fourier, Etienne Cabet, Robert Owen, William Morris, Ebenezer Howard, Bruno Taut, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, the European Situationists, the Japanese Metabolists, Archigram, Superstudio and many more. In this richly illustrated book, the author explores the ability of ideal cities to stimulate reflection and change, and suggests under what conditions they might continue to exercise their vital function in relation to the urban environment of the future.

The ideal cities presented by Ruth Eaton exist for the most part in the virtual domain of ideas, treading the fine line between dream and nightmare. While it is true that notorious attempts to cross the border to reality have greatly discredited utopianism, it is good to recall – with the most famous historian of cities, Lewis Mumford – that ‘a map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at’.


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