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Visions of the City

Utopianism, Power and Politics in Twentieth-Century Urbanism

David Pinder

Paperback (Print on demand)
£32.00
Hardback (In stock)
£85.00

Visions of the City is a dramatic account of utopian urbanism in the twentieth century. It explores radical demands for new spaces and ways of living, and considers their effects on planning, architecture and struggles to shape urban landscapes. Such visions, it shows, have played a crucial role in informing understandings and imaginings of the modern city. The author critically examines influential traditions in western Europe associated with such figures as Ebenezer Howard and Le Corbusier, uncovering the political interests, desires and anxieties that lay behind their ideal cities, and drawing out their 'noir side'. He also investigates oppositional perspectives from the time that challenged these rationalist conceptions of cities and urban life, and that disturbed their dreams of order, especially from within surrealism.

At the heart of this richly illustrated book is an encounter with the explosive ideas of the situationists. Tracing the subversive practices of this avant-garde group and its associates from their explorations of Paris during the 1950s to their projects for an alternative 'unitary urbanism', David Pinder convincingly explains the significance of their revolutionary attempts to transform urban space and everyday life. He addresses in particular Constant's vision of New Babylon, finding within his proposals for future spaces produced through nomadic life, creativity and play a still powerful challenge to imagine cities otherwise. The book not only recovers vital moments from past hopes and dreams of modern urbanism. It also contests current claims about the 'end of utopia', arguing that reconsidering earlier projects can play a critical role in developing utopian perspectives today. Through the study of utopian visions, it aims to rekindle elements of utopianism itself.

Contents

Preface
1. INTRODUCTION
An urban adventure
Underground visions
Utopian spaces past and present
In the wake of utopia?
Utopia, desire and the city
Outline of the chapters
2. RESTORATIVE UTOPIAS
Utopian awakenings
The vision of Ebenezer Howard
Smokeless, slumless cities
The 'master key' to socio-spatial reform
Biologically sound cities and bodies
Securing space
3. MODERNIST CALLS TO ORDER
Time and space died yesterday
Le Corbusier and the spirit of construction
Spatial purification
Water-tight formulae
Urban surgery
Political authority and the plan
4. DREAMS OF CITIES AND MONSTERS
Between two journeys
White cathedrals: confronting New York
Of monsters and organic life
Utopian regulation and authoritarianism
Counter-spaces of the surrealists
Destabilising dreams of order
5. SITUATIONIST ADVENTURES
To build the haçienda
The critique of human geography
Environments of abstraction
Bringing fuel to the fire
Never work
Unchaining the city
In quest of new spaces
6.THE GREAT GAME TO COME
A science fiction of architecture
Unitary urbanism and the construction of situations
Passionate environments
Living art of the Imaginist Bauhaus
Games with machines
A camp for nomads
7. LIFE WILL RESIDE IN POETRY
Welcome to New Babylon
Play structures
Paradise on earth
Not yet: utopianism and games to come
For another city and another life
A lived utopianism
Reappropriating cities: urban critique
8. PARTISANS OF POSSIBILITIES
Dark skies
For utopianism
Re-dreaming modernist urbanism
Spaces and times of the avant-garde
Challenges of utopia
Future paths
Notes
Selected bibliography
Illustration credits
Index.

Reviews

Visions of the City makes several new claims on the reader's attention: a critical consideration of the situationists in the context of twentieth-century urbanism, expecially Ebenezer Howard and Le Corbusier; a depth of research and a careful historicization of the different situationists at different moments in the movement's history; and an analysis of the situationaists' urbanism specifically in the context of utopia.
- Modernism Modernity
A superb critical exploration of the underside of utopian thought over the last hundred years and its continuing relevance in the here and now for thinking about possible urban worlds. The treatment of the Situationists and their milieu is a revelation.
- David Harvey
[Pinder] is both a wise and imaginative guide through the tradition and counter-tradition of utopian plans and visions.
- Urban Studies
Visions of the City is a wonderfully readable and lively contribution to the literature on urban utopianism. It can be recommended to student and researcher alike, as well as to a much wider audience.
- Alastair Bonnett, University of Newcastle, Cultural Geographies
Visions of the City takes its readers on a fascinating and richly inllustrated tour through some of the most powerful and inlfluential visions at the heart of estern European urban theory, policy and practice.
- Gesa Helms, University of Glasgow, Area