Ten Utopian 'Future Cities' That Were Actually Terrible

Illustration for article titled Ten Utopian Future Cities That Were Actually Terrible

Walking, floating, flying cities always seem like a good idea, until someone has to live there. Jalopnik readers know ten amazingly cool-looking future cities that are actually pretty awful.

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Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!

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There are so many failed visions of cities, from crazed architects, crazed hippies, crazed urban planners, and crazed megalomaniac dictators that we couldn't nearly fit them all into one list.

We tried to focus at least on ideas that thankfully never made it past the prototype stage, but there are tons of miserable failed cities and suburban developments, as well as utopian societies, that we didn't have room to include.

Let us know in Kinja below what completely unhinged urban developments got built and are now causing their inhabitants the suffering of architectural visions run amok.

Photo Credit: Archigram


Illustration for article titled Ten Utopian Future Cities That Were Actually Terrible
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10.) Metropolis

Pros: glowing skyways, streamlined cars, and gardens of sheer opulence. Cons: all of the skyways, streamliners, and gardens of sheer opulence are run by poor workers living in the dark ground floors, getting fed alive to monstrous factory machines.

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Suggested By: Otto_theCroatiankid, Photo Credit: Metropolis

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Illustration for article titled Ten Utopian Future Cities That Were Actually Terrible
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9.) Buckminster Fuller's Cloud Nine

Self-contained cities always seem to work out so well (psst —no they don't), so let's have them floating in the sky where long-distance vacations/travel of any kind/escape from the hell of a floating prison city is impossible. Thanks, Bucky Fuller.

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Suggested By: manifold engines, Photo Credit: Buckminster Fuller/Architzer

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Illustration for article titled Ten Utopian Future Cities That Were Actually Terrible
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8.) Future New York, Circa 1929, Part 1

If you give an architect the freedom to draw whatever the hell he wants in 1929, you end up with something like Hugh Ferriss' 1929 proposal The Metropolis of Tomorrow. All buildings are gigantic skyscrapers, while humans scurry about like ants on wide, car-centric boulevards. But who cares? Apartments on bridges look cool.

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Suggested By: Bonhomme7h, Photo Credit: the Nonist

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Illustration for article titled Ten Utopian Future Cities That Were Actually Terrible
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7.) Future New York, Circa 1929, Part 2

The 1929 issue of Science Wonder featured this design called "The Cubic City." It proposed replacing all of New York City with a single cubic skyscraper two miles wide and two miles tall. Sure it had spiffy zeppelin moorings and a carrying capacity of eighty million, but the views on the inside apartments were terrible.

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Suggested By: Wolc, Photo Credit: Science Wonder

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6.) Biosphere 2

It was supposed to be a microcosm of all Earth, perfect for conduction groundbreaking scientific research. In the end, it's a big greenhouse.

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Suggested By: smalleyxb122, Photo Credit: Johndedios/Wikipedia

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5.) Minority Report

It looks awesome to have cars driving up the sides of buildings, until you realize what it would be like to live in one of those apartments. Imagine living underneath I-80.

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Suggested By: RandomArt, Photo Credit: Minority Report/Twentieth Century Fox

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Illustration for article titled Ten Utopian Future Cities That Were Actually Terrible
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4.) Arcosanti

Since nobody learned from the failure of Utopian societies in the mid to late 1800s like Octagon City, a few crazy post-hippies set up their own utopian eco-society called Arcosanti in the Arizona desert. They're not all dead, which is a good thing, but they haven't really made any impact on the world at large.

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Suggested By: ninjagin, Photo Credit: Steve Minor

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3.) Germania

Hitler and his architect Albert Speer's vision of future Berlin stalled when the engineers figured out that their proposed concrete mega-buildings would be so heavy that they would actually sink into the ground.

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Suggested By: G8powered, Photo Credit: German Federal Archives

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2.) Brasília

If someone proposes to you a utopian city built out of lots and lots of concrete, point them to Brasília, the severe, jet-age, relocated capital of Brazil. It looks more like the future in Terry Gilliam's Brazil than in the real-world Brazil.

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Suggested By: Matt Hardigree, Photo Credit: Steve Evans

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1.) Le Corbusier's Paris

Le Corbusier's Plan Voisin seemed fresh and modern, with people living gigantic, uniform, clean skyscrapers. In actuality, it meant basically bulldozing just about every cultural landmark in Paris and replacing them with public housing.

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Suggested By: pjc.mashtun and wisc47, Photo Credit: Le Corbusier

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DISCUSSION

ash78
Ash78, voting early and often

The suburban parts of America, for all its wastefulness and poor planning, is really a pretty nice way to redistribute wealth. (Wait, did I just say redistribute wealth? Like a socialist?) It gives average working people a way to gain some hard equity — price fluctuations included — instead of simply giving their money away in rent to a plutocrat landlord to increase HIS wealth at the expense of yours.

Homeownership isn't perfect (it's a damn headache; and commuting sucks). But it's a part of America that I wouldn't trade for anything. It's like a miniature feudal system where we all get to take part, rather than allowing all land ownership to be relegated to the wealthiest people. Our suburban model could probably never be repeated because it's a product of a unique set of historical circumstances. And it's nice to see that many cities are improving their zoning and incentives so more people can work AND live outside the city, and not mass commute to a central location. And similarly, downtown revitalization projects allow the same, but within the city. Modern construction and infrastructure means we don't have to live like according to the city model of the ancient Romans (or Maya, Aztecs, Babylonians, Greeks...). We just need to figure out how to better use technology to stop wasting resources — namely, oil — if we want this utopia to continue.

I'm all for VOLUNTARY wealth distribution. It's both free market and egalitarian at the same time. Homes and land are still the best method.