Ideal Cities: Utopianism and the (Un)Built Environment Hardcover – 18 Mar 2002
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About the Author
Ruth Eaton, a noted historian, is currently involved in a major project dealing with sustainable development applied to housing, architecture and urban design. Over the last two decades she has acted as a freelance curator for numerous large international exhibitions, among them Living Bridges, Inhabited Bridges: Past, present and future at the Royal Academy in 1996, and Utopia: The Search for the Ideal Society in the Western World at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris in 2001.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Ruth Eaton's book is a wonderful (to call it "richly illustrated" is an understatement) presentation of this dream. Although there were some depictions of the earthly "ideal" in, say, the Middle Ages (usually contrasted with the glories of Heaven), it was with the Renaissance that such dreams really began to multiply, even as the concept of "utopia" in literature (e.g., Thomas More's Utopia," Francis Bacon Essays and New Atlantis) began to develop. Everything had its place, from the vast quarters for the king, to the church.
The book then traces the ideal being exported to the New World (often with new cities being planned along a rigid 'grid' design), and finding a fertile ground with the rise in the 19th century of genuine utopian thinkers such as Charles Fourier and Robert Owen, who actually built utopian communities. The desire to reject the growth of "urban squalor" in the designs of men like John Rushkin and William Howard, as well as the advent of progressive architectural designs by men such as Frederick Law Olmstead (Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing the American Landscape (Universe Architecture Series)) and Ebenezer Howard (Garden Cities of To-morrow) are covered. The work of later architects such as le Corbusier, and of course Frank Lloyd Wright, are also surveyed. Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti is also briefly mentioned.
While the coverage of these topics is not "deep," and persons desiring detailed coverage of specific areas will have to look elsewhere, this book is a sumptuous introduction to this topic, and is even suitable as a "coffee table book" for the casual reader.
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