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News From Now Where?

Part 2 Dissertation 2012
Sam Rose
University of East London, UK
Utopia is a product of the zeitgeist. It is rooted in the political and social context, as a means to project a vision of a better society. In essence, utopia is reactionary to the failings of the present; however, in contemporary architectural theory this approach has all but vanished. The essay situates the decline in utopian thought and argues that in the current political and social climate, it is time for a revival in the art of progressive social thinking.

The essay utilises the redefinition of utopia, proposed by Riceour and recently highlighted by Coleman, as having both a pathological and constitutive dimension. The essay subsequently tracks utopias’ decline, linking it not only to post-modern theory, but also the creation of the free market. Theory and politics contributed to the commodification of the industry, creating an insular architectural community that doesn’t project beyond its moment. Within a global consumer society, what is the value of utopia?

The conclusion of this study is the proposal for the resurrection of a constitutive utopia as a tool for social imagination and progressing architectural discourse. This is illustrated through the work of the Smithsons’ who were strategically placed between modernisms’ theatre of prophecy and post-modernisms’ theatre of memory.

(The images curate a history of utopian proposals overlaid onto the Lea Valley in East London, an area of dramatic social and economic change. The images allow the comparison and critique of the proposal that every project has the potential to be constitutively utopian, based on the Smithsons’ insertions across the University of Bath campus).

Sam Rose

Dr Renee Tobe
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