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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Utopian design and planning James, Antoni Michael


The purpose of this thesis is to provide a current overview of the subject of Utopian design in order to reaffirm its value as a component of planning methodology. From the relevant literature there is a wealth of comment on the need for such a paradigm expansion as well as a vast body of visions for alternate futures. Primarily a tool of physical planners, the Utopian process can be adapted to the broader context if appropriate methodology can be developed and integrated into the mainstream. The first chapter sets the context. It provides an overview of changing planning paradigms from the turn of the century and discusses areas of inadequacy in the current approach. The second chapter focuses on the subject of Utopian design, its approach, and fundamental elements as a preliminary foundation for methodological development. The third and fourth chapters examine a series of early and recent Utopian designs respectively. Early Utopian designs are described and analysed as to their impact on succeeding planning thought, thereby establishing credibility; recent Utopian designs are studied to speculate on the kinds of issues and options which planners may be involved in for the future. The fifth chapter is a speculative exercise which synthesizes ideas from the vast menu of the Utopian oeuvre into two diametrically opposed scenarios for Canada in the 21st Century. The intention is to illustrate the potential of Utopian designs in modeling alternatives for discussion and decision-making. In the final chapter, the thesis concludes by turning the discussion to other, non-physical aspects of planning where a Utopian element can be effective. It is hoped that further research into this subject can result in a broadening and balancing of the current planning paradigm and thus advance the role and responsibility of planners in better anticipating the future and in more creatively providing improved options for consideration.

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