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Utopian ideas and the planning of London

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Utopianism provides a radical perspective of the future, designed to show how much better it can be than the present. The problem is that what is a dream of perfection for some may well be a nightmare for others. Thus, in the case of London, views of the city's future can be represented in one of three contrasting models. There is first, the Utopia of metropolis, an idealization of the large modern city - a source of enthusiasm for some but anathema for others. A second model is the Utopia of anti-urbanism, envisaging the disintegration of the metropolis in favour of small settlements in the countryside. Finally, there is a model of suburban idyll, enjoying the benefits of the city centre yet, importantly, cherishing the bucolic delights of leafy avenues. This paper presents the main features of each of these models, from the end of the nineteenth century until the present, showing how each, in turn, evokes its own opposition as well as advocacy. It sees merit in Utopian perspectives but also pitfalls.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0266543042000300528

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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