What is the shape of utopia? To imagine and write about a future ideal society requires a thorough reconsideration of the ways in which life will be organized in space. More often than not, utopian thinkers utilized drawings, maps, and plans to give shape to their vision and present to the public possible new social and political reconfigurations. From Sir Thomas More’s Amaurote (1535) to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland (1915) and Hakim Bey’s The Temporary Autonomous Zone (1991), utopian thought has provided a productive platform for architectural experimentation. Departing from those literary works, architects have produced visionary projects for ideal governments, societies, and their productive powers. This course will examine the evolution of utopian thought, particularly as it manifests in architectural history, starting with the discovery of the New World and the visionary projects it triggered, and continuing with the study of industrial colonies, socialist utopias such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonia, Christian communities such as the Shaker’s Village, anarchist utopias, settlement housing, and alternative communities such as the Drop City and Arcosanti. The course requires a final paper and short assignments of imaginative speculation.
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