The Shapes of Utopia

Utopia\’s fall from grace in the modern period is tied to architecture\’s failure in giving shape to dreams of a new society wrought from social and political transformation. Its memorable articulations appear in a venerable philosophical and literary tradition, including Plato\’s Republic, Augustine\’s City of God, More\’s utopian city of Amaurote. Its significant disarticulations materialize in Foucault, Tafuri and the dismal outcome of modernist projects like Pruitt-Igoe. Utopia divulges the oscillation of a concept associated with arcadian pasts or ordered futures, naive idealism or repressive totalitarianism, phalansteries or simple living, mental escapism or technological promise. The course takes a synoptic approach by considering key writings and architectural experiments. We begin with a selection of foundational texts, which posit an architectural matrix for the construction of a more perfect world. We then turn to those architectural proposals, from Ledoux to Le Corbusier, which attempted to reify the guiding principles of an improved social order. We conclude with theoretical and architectural critiques emerging in modernism\’s wake.