Imagination as a Method for Generating Knowledge about Possible Urban Futures

Authored by: Diane Davis , Tali Hatuka

The Routledge Handbook of Planning Research Methods

Print publication date:  November  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415727952
eBook ISBN: 9781315851884
Adobe ISBN: 9781317917038


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Utopian ideals have not always been relegated to the sidelines in planning and architectural practice. In fact, imagining dramatically different alternative futures for cities was once a standard element of planning theory and practice. From Plato and Aristotle’s ideal republics to the more recent utopian visions associated with leading voices in western architecture and planning (e.g., Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Ebenezer Howard, Frank Lloyd Wright, Lewis Mumford, Le Corbusier and Paul Goodman), the imaginative search for novel physical or discursive renderings of a desired state of affairs has persisted throughout the ages. The creative visions emerging from these practices have influenced the form and character of contemporary cities, mainly because of their potential for improving the welfare of individuals and communities. The garden city by Ebenezer Howard and Ville radieuse by Le Corbusier are key theoretical examples of the apparently utopian projects1 that influenced twentieth-century architecture and urbanism before falling into disrepute from the late 1950s onward.2

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