U for Utopic Space

Utopia Dystopia

Utopia Dystopia: Le Corbusier’s Utopic Model

Utopia deriving from Greek meaning – no place land – was originally introduced as a concept by Thomas More in 1516, as a depiction of an island society in its best religious, social and political order. Utopic space on the other hand is described by Paul Loffely as a “felt and lived sensibility” with a “generic religious base” (Laffoley, 2001). It presents society, in a perfect form and state of being. ‘For humanity, whether at the collective or the individual realm, Utopic Space expresses itself on the day to day basis as a total and compassionate love for all living and existing including oneself’ (Laffoley, 2001). Utopic spaces are sites with no real place but they have a general relation of direct or inverted analogy with the real space (Foucault, 1996). Utopic spaces are possible in every culture and civilisation, places that do exist and that are formed in the very founding of society (Foucault, 1996). However they are overlapped by diverse human activities that are projected in a variety of perceptions.

Utopia on the other hand, as an expressive desire for perfection, can be considered experimentally, by studying its implications and its consequences on the ground. ‘This approach can bring surprising results, and can for example, offer an appraisal on what are the most successful places, how can they be discovered and, what are the everyday rhythms of these places’ (Lefebvre, 2000: 151).

The risk of utopic experiments can bring reverse results or dystopias. This applies especially when the social dynamic is neglected. For example, ideas aiming to provide an ideal modern city of 20th century brought in table different models starting from Ebenezer Howard, with the garden city, Frank Lloyd Wright, with living city and ville contemopraine of Le Corbusier The time have proven that none of this ideas was able to build the ideal city, and they remained on the level of urban utopias. The spatial order that modernity produced, failed the social integration. Social product of these ideas projected in the space, create among others, anomic spaces. These are the spaces where marginalised deprived and socially ‘disoriented’ groups create the vibe that Lefebvre would name heterotopia.

Garden City Model

Garden City Model

la ville contemporatine

Living City

la ville contemporaine link

Lefebvre, H., (2000) Writing on cities. Blackwell Publishers
Foucault, M., (1984) Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias, Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité
Laffoley, P., (2001) Utopic space. The Boston Visionary Cell


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