The Ideal City

The phenomenon of the ‘ideal city’ has haunted many civilizations in particular those that reached a certain stage of maturity. It can be said, as a statement, that cities represent in every civilization the hallmark of their success and are proof of its achievements. Once this assertion is realized on a collective scale – which is on a time-scale after cities have made their mark – thoughts can linger on the actual character of the city. The reality of the city-as-phenomenon can be subject to contemplation and questions can be asked regarding its being. The idea of an Ideal City is part of the total interactions of human togetherness.

Plato’s ideal city, as sketched in his ‘Republic’, is probably not the best example to introduce the ideal city in relation to its counterpart of bricks and mortar. The ideal city is used in his book as a metaphor of the polis, an abstract notion of the community. The philosophers’ recommendations were never written down with the intention of actually building a physical city.  Plato (c. 427 – 347 BC) wrote the ‘Republic’ (in Greek: ‘Politea’) when he was about forty years old and had reached maturity (in the Third Quadrant of his life). A further development of ideas was – at the Pivotal Point in 387 BC – still ahead of him.

The main themes (in Plato’s ideal city) are concerned with justice, rules and the division of power. He examined the state by analogy to the soul. The city-state was in his view macrocosmos  on the same level as the soul was microcosmos.  The latter had – as Plato already proposed in his ‘Phaedrus’ – three parts, which corresponded to three different kinds of interests, three kinds of personalities and three kinds of virtues (fig. 624).


Fig.  624 – An interpretation of various three-divisions, as given by Plato in his book ‘The Republic’ (ROSS, 1996/2002), but now placed in a quadralectic context. The invisible invisibility of the human soul (I, First Quadrant) takes shape in a particular human interest (II). The division of interest gives rise to different types of human characters in a class (III). The latter can be typified by various virtues, depending on their position in the class (IV).

Justice, as the fourth member in the Fourth Quadrant, applies to all previous subdivisions, and offers the ‘solution’ to the problems created by opposition in lower division thinking (rulers – citizens; corrupt power/tyranny – rule of the Guardians, etc.). The root of all evil is, according to Plato, an unlimited desire, which can only be held in control by justice.

The position of ‘justice’ indicates that Plato’s three-division, born in the   spirit of the Third Quadrant, reaches short of its aim. The limit of a division based on opposites has to include the virtue of temperance, or moderation, but who will define and execute a limitation to the desires?  Only a sense of justice can transcend the arbitrary nature of a boundary. Plato felt intuitively that such an entity should be ‘above’ the visibilities of the other virtues. A transgression into the world of four-fold thinking would solve the problem of limitation once and for all.

The archetypal ideal city should be based on the four principles of wisdom, courage, discipline and justice. The ideas about an ideal city point towards an escape, away from reality and starting afresh in the imagination (or make it happen). The Greek spirit of colonization made such an option quite plausible, like it did for all colonialists after them, who invaded foreign lands and started building their dream (city).

The second reason for starting an ideal city could be philosophical, i.e. a test case of the process of finding the essence in the phenomenal reality and transpose the principal ideas to a new level. This option is also a form of ‘escapism’ but more inner-directed, searching for the quintessence of the already existing.

La ville idéale of Francesco Eiximenic, a Catalan friar living from ca. 1340 – 1409, is an early example of a European effort to create an ‘ideal’ urban environment (fig. 625). His ideas were already employed for over a century in the bastides of southern Europe and could not be called very originally. The ideal city of Eiximenic is a synthesis of elements from the city of Carcassonne (the position of the chateau), the bastides of the Aquitaine (the position of the church) and those of the Gascone (quadrillage).


Fig. 625 – La ville idéale of Francesco Eiximenic is a synthesis and apotheosis of different urban designs, which were used in the grand expansion movement of the twelfth and thirteenth century in (southern) Europe.

The attraction to the gridiron plan and a 8 x 8 checkerboard division of his city layout suggests a possible sympathy of Eiximenic for the four-fold, but the rest of his intellectual message – as expressed in numerous works of which the five-parted El Crestiá (About Christ) was the most ambitious – has a strong oppositional flavor, pointing to lower division thinking. The thirteenth century in Europe was, above all, an age of reform. Eiximenic brought the ideas of the founder of the Franciscan order, Franciscus of Assisi (1182 – 1226) to its finest fruitation. Francis’ ideas about poverty, peace and tolerance were admirable, but their direct inspiration sprung from their opposite sources, like wealth, war and intolerance.

Most of Eiximenic moral recommendations are based on the implicit assumption and firm acceptation of bipolar thinking. His eschatological ideas and millenarian spirit are a direct result of such simplifications (he foretold the coming of a thousand year Sabbath). Furthermore, his approach to the reign of the Islam was seen in an oppositional setting. He regarded the Islam as a Saracen sect, with an enticing materialistic religion, prone to hedonistic excess. He foretold a rather short lifespan for this religion.

The main shift in the thirteenth century in the European cultural history was a downgrading of division thinking from the multiplicity (and higher division thinking) of the Second Quadrant (600 – 1200) to the limitations (and lower division thinking) of the Third Quadrant (1200 – 1800) (see also fig. 267). This enormous collective move was the base (and ‘explanation’) of many of the theological and social reforms of that era, on the one hand, but also of the frantic building of new town and cities all over Europe, on the other hand.

A large bibliography of the ideal city is available, since the topic has many references with social and political points of view. A recent book by Günther FEUERSTEIN (2008) is highly recommended as an introduction of the various aspects of the ideal city. He deals with the subject in an exhaustive way, starting with the myths and legends in Antiquity, to the expression in the Middle Ages and Renaissance and continuing into modern times with the visualization of ideal cities by philanthropists, dreamers, travelers, artists, innovators and visionaries. The book provides a wealth of data related to the ideal city, but does not position the phenomenon in a particular environment of division-thinking. In addition, the books by Hanno-Walter KRUFT (1989) and Ruth EATON (2001) provide well-documented overviews of the Ideal or Utopian city.

C.A.O. van NIEUWENHUIJZE (1966; Chapter III; pp 74 – 148) started in his reflections on ‘The Ideal City or the Varieties of Metasocial Experience’ with a distinction between cities in terms of an idealistic and/or empirical entity. He noted that the city agglomeration is not only a demarcation from the countryside, but also from barbarism. The root of the word ‘city’ is found in the Latin ‘civitas’ and its association to civilization points to a deeper level of ‘the crude facts of human conglomeration’. A city can be seen in an empirical sense as an urban concentration of people (1), but also as ‘an organized society in which one socio-cultural entity achieves its own self-realization’ (2). The latter intention is maintained in the French word ‘cité’, with its connotation to ‘society’.

The dual aspect of a city (ideal – empirical) as given by van Nieuwenhuijze, is, from a quadralectic point of view, a distinction between the position of an observer in the Second and/or Third Quadrant. It would, in modern quadralectic setting, be necessary to extend the view on the city to include the First and Fourth Quadrant. Van Nieuwenhuijze noted (on a Third Quadrant level) an interaction between the empirical city and the ideal city, which can be presented as a range of degrees of ‘congruence’.

This computational setting has a familiar ring to it, since the meaning of the CF-graph (a representation of a communication cycle between two four divisions) is also expressed in terms of approach (intensio) and alienation (remissio). Van Nieuwenhuijze called the ‘extremes’ positions now ‘mutual confirmation’ (congruence) and ‘mutual rejection’ (contrast). His description of the process has a reference to the intermediate character of higher division thinking. ‘The confrontation between ideal and phenomenal city may either entail the conformation of the latter or its rejection; but usually the judgment will end up somewhere in the balance between the two extremes’.

The main trends in relation to an existing social order are given in fig. 626 (van Nieuwenhuijze (1966; fig. 6). The fourfold representation has certain similarities with the (quadralectic) quadrants, but its way of generation is different. The diagram gives in fact a double pair of opposing entities, which are ‘crossed’ and result in a four-division. The first pair consists of contrast versus congruence and  the second of (constructive) consolidation versus (destructive) disintegration. These pairs ‘provide a continuum fit for location of positions and thus capable of serving as a frame of reference for a typology of ideal city phenomena’ (p. 79).


Fig. 626 – The main trends according to which the various types of ideal city conceptions can be distinguished. Two ranges of positions (contrast – congruence and consolidating – disintegrative) are combined in a (four-fold) cross setting to offer a psychological measure of concern for any existing social order (van Nieuwenhuijze (1966; fig. 6).

The combinations provide, indeed, a field of interaction. However, their generation is a combination of two-divisions, while the quadrants in the quadralectic field of interaction are born in a dynamic interplay (shift) of two four-divisions. This fundamental difference in terms of division thinking should be noted.

The outcome of van Nieuwenhuijze’s double-oppositional combination is a typological chart where the subdivisions of his four types of ideal city conceptions can be positioned. These four types (views) are:

——————————  1.  Pragmatist ————————— speculative

——————————  2. Normative —————————  speculative

——————————  3. Mythical-idealist —————— speculative

——————————  4. Practical —————————— practical

The various types will be discussed briefly, following the line set out by van Nieuwenhuijze (1966). His kaleidoscopic examples, although given in a pseudo-quadralectic environment, are noteworthy and relevant for the present discussion of a special kind of architecture.


Fig. 627 – This diagram of predominantly pragmatist approaches points to trends of socio-economic action. The scheme was given by van Nieuwenhuijze (1966; fig. 7). The different axes (NS and EW) have the same meaning as in fig. 626.

1. The first setting of van Nieuwenhuijze’s concept (fig. 627) exhibits a concentration of pragmatists’ approaches in the center of the field, which is fairly uncommitted to the various determinants. Liberalism (of the laissez-faire type, I A in fig. 627) places the phenomenal reality in an optimistic light and does not want a movement of the (static and conservative) facts to an uncertain, dynamic-idealistic order. The present order should be kept in a state of freedom, allowing enterprising individuals to reach their personal goals. This type of liberalism led the United States and subsequent the rest of the world into a crisis at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The unchecked and blind greed of financial institutions in a fast moving international market came to a (temporary) halt in 2008 when the world-wide pyramid game collapsed.

Social thinkers, like Adam Smith (1723 – 1790), pointed – in his influential book ‘The Wealth of Nations’ (1776) – to the division of labour as a means to improve production. That was not an ideal, but a given fact in every day’s reality. His historical position in the European context was situated at the end of the Third Quadrant (1200 – 1800). The French Rationalists (Physiocrats) searched in their Encyclopaedie for (past) facts and figures. Rationalism and moralism came to the forefront, with little reference to revolutionary achievements.

This attitude changed dramatically in 1789, when the French Revolution opened the gates to a much wider and creative way of thinking. The following period is now defined as the Fourth Quadrant (1800 – 2400) of the European cultural history. An Age of Idealism (1775 – 1850) started, with Germany leading the way in the person of Goethe (1749 – 1832) and others.

Four subvariants of the pragmatic approach were distinguished by van Nieuwenhuijze, depending on the influence of the existing order. The ‘pre-established harmony’ of the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz (1646 – 1716) reflected a move in a direction with increasing congruence and consolidation (I B in fig. 627). He defined a doctrine saying that the present state is ‘the best of all possible worlds’. His definition of the monad as a non-interacting, ‘window-less’ and immaterial substance is similar to the notion of the First Quadrant.

A revisionist-social trend is found in the area of increasing consolidation and growing contrast (I C in fig. 627). There is a maximum of real concern about the existing order, which might take shape in welfare state planning and large building projects.

Finally, there is also a disturbing version of socio-economic movement, with increasing contrast and disintegration. The categorical minimization of the existing order (I D in fig. 627) is defined in the lower left-hand corner of the diagram of the main trend (fig. 626). The French philosopher and author Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778) is a representative of this frame of mind. His reaction against corruption of social customs and institutions was a preliminary expression of the things to come. He noted, in contrast to Leibniz, an established disorder, and he suggested a social contract as a solution.

2. The normative element means that the ideal city features as a norm in regard to the phenomenal city. The positions (of the concept) are situated on the vertical line that goes through the center of the scheme (fig. 628).


Fig. 628 – The outlines of a number of socio-historical philosophies as given by  van Nieuwenhuijze (1966; fig. 8) with the same axes as fig. 626. They are linked up with normative ways of life and are less influenced by the consolidating or disintegrative forces of interpretation.

The upper positions (II A of fig. 628) – towards congruence – can be related to the Chinese concept of tao. The Tao (or Way) divides the universe in four spheres of living: unselfconscious, utilitarian, moral and transcendent. It is centered on the notion of karma, or the law of moral causation. It has to do with one’s intention or motivation while doing an action.

The sharia in the Islamic culture (i.e. living in compliance to a divine law) is added as an example of a normative element with regards to the evaluation of an ideal city. The fourfold complex (of sharia) complies with the scripture proper (codified Quran), the prophetic tradition, an analytical expansion of these data and a consensus of the Islamic community (umma) ‘The Islam has, at its own level, a precise answer concerning the political organization of the Community of the faithful.’ (GARDET, 1954).

Plato and his ideal city, as described in the ‘Republic’, is mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. It does not differ greatly from the existing society – except for its emphasis on justice. His ‘city’ (polis) is based on more contrasting notions in questions of social structure and division of labour. Van Nieuwenhuijze (1966; p. 103) noted ‘the amazing disregard for man as a constituent of society with an identity, a continuity of his own.’

He placed Plato’s ideal city in the lower positions (II B) of fig. 628. Plato’s creation of the guardians – an upper class responsible for the management of the society – has shown it’s real face in recent times. The managers often follow a personal goal rather than caring for the group they manage.

The ‘City of God’ of Saint Augustine (of Hippo; 354 – 430) is a voluminous book, written in a distinct dualistic style. Augustine was the prototype of a convert. He abandoned his sympathy for Manicheans – adherents of the religion founded by Mani (c. 216 – c. 276) and based on dual thinking – and put all his energy in defending and explaining the young Christian faith. This mission was carried out in the same (dual) frame of mind. The position of Augustine and his socio-Christian philosophy has to be placed in an area with more contrast (II B in fig. 628) with regards to a normative way of life.

The first part of the City of God is mainly a historical report of recent Roman mishaps and evils (since Rome had just been sacked by the Goths in 410 AD) leading to the doctrine of fate (Book V). In the second part (Book XI) a heavenly city is contrasted with an earthly city. The two cities were formed originally by the separation of the good and bad angels – pointing to the dualistic nature of Augustine’s thinking. The Roman Catholic Church has used this type of oppositional thinking to its advantage in its religious struggle with non-Christian believers.

It takes four books (XI – XIV) to discuss the good and the bad and the origin of sin, which causes death (XIII). Book XV has a pivotal character by looking backwards to the origin and forwards to the projection of faith. The growth and progress are discussed in the next four books (XVI – XIX). Book XX and XXI deal with the Last Judgment and the punishment of the damned. The final book (XXII) treats the end of the City of God and the eternal happiness of the saints. The message of the ‘City of God’ supplied a moral shelter for the young and dispersed Christian church. The tone of contrariety and the preference of dualism were a guide for those who did not have the self-confidence to experience their belief in a wider spiritual setting.

Finally, van Nieuwenhuijze mentioned utopianism as the ‘lowest’ (most contrasted) social philosophy on the central axis of congruence and contrast of the type of ideal city conceptions (II B in fig. 628). Utopianism was fashionable in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, i.e. the second half of the Third Quadrant of the European cultural history. The search for contrast and polarity is typical in this specific part of the communication cycle and ‘Utopia’ offered a different manifestation of the phenomenal order of things.

Roger MUCHIELLI (1960) noticed that ‘one could say that the revolt that remains inconsequential, the mere rejection, in terms of ideas, of the existing phenomenal order, stands at the root of utopianism’. Machiavelli’s book ‘The Prince’ (1513) and Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ (1516) were written shortly after the European Pivotal Point (1500). They were driven by an individual revolt against human conditions and born in a state of pessimism and alienation. The former book (The Prince) offered a Realpolitik (political realism) as a solution, while More pointed to an authentic utopia, given as a myth of the ideal city. Both ‘solutions’ are rationalizations a contrario or lines of thought followed within the narrow boundaries of dualistic thinking. Their outcome reflected that course: both utopias are articulated and elaborate, but little effective for progress.

3. The third type of the mythical-idealist view (towards the relation between real and ideal cities) occurs in four variants as given by van Nieuwenhuijze (1966; fig. 9) and here reproduced as fig. 629. Four ‘extremes’ can be recognized. These positions (in fig. 629) include: 1. A maximinization of existing order (III A, myth, ritual); 2. A minimization of existing order (III B; millennium expectations, revolutions); 3. A minimum real concern about existing order (III C; apologetics, cultural pessimism) and 4. A maximum real concern about existing order (III D; post colonial, nationalism).


Fig. 629 – The ideal approaches in the relation between the phenomenal and ideal city are here represented by four extreme positions in the typological chart (van Nieuwenhuijze, 1966; fig. 9).

In the upper right hand corner (of fig. 629) is the relation between the existing habitat and an ideal city transparent: the community is the center of the universe. Congruence and consolidation are both well-developed leading to a state of natural confidence. Or, like the French anthropologist Claude LEVI-STRAUSS (1955) put it: ‘One’s own world is the center of all worlds, center of total divine-cosmic order and harmony’. Lévi-Strauss (1908 – 2009) studied in the years before the Second World War a village (Kejara) of the Bororo tribe on the Rio Vermelho (Brazil). He found a circular placement of huts around the men’s house as the kernel of their social and religious system (fig. 630 left).


Fig. 630 – Left: A map of the Bororo village called Kejara on the Rio Vermelho (Brasil), showing a circular placement of huts. Right: The village of Tumbang Lahang of the Ngaju Dayak of Central Kalimantan (Borneo, Indonesia) is reduced to the basic directions in this ‘holy’ drawing with supernatural importance (after Schärer, 1946).

When the Salesian missionaries converted the Bororo people and ordered them to leave their village and live in huts in parallel rows, they lost their cosmic bearings. It can also be argued that the conversion had something to do with it. The geographic setting had a universal value placed within a natural tradition. Social structure and religious belief coincide in the expression of the buildings and is celebrated in myth and ritual.

Another example of a close relation in the existing order between the phenomenal and the ideal (city/village) was given by a missionary, who studied the understanding of divinity by the Ngaju Dayak people of Central Kalimantan (Borneo) (SCHÄRER, 1946). The original/phenomenological village (Tumbang Lahang) became structured in a four-fold way in the superior/ideal world (fig. 630, right). Everything surrounding the village was foreign and horrible (OTTO, 1917/1936; p. 70).

Completely different is the notion of those people, who see the ideal city as a necessary alternative for the visible abode. They are prepared to give up the present order and/or accept a miracle (from above) to reach for the new type of spiritual existence. Religious groups with visibility expectations are the more prominent specimens in this part of the specter (fig. 629; III B).

The prophet Mohammed, as the founder of Islam, is an example of a person, who believed that he could transfer the existing Arabian society by  a revolution – and was successful as well. His initially powerful movement resulted in a spiritual heritage, which found its way in a ‘cité islamique’, the Islamic way of life (as indicated in subdivision fig. 628; II A). However, the use of force, which was so popular in the early days (seventh century), is still part of the cognitive luggage of the movement/belief.

Developments in the early twenty-first century – like the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York (11th September 2001) – prove that the ideals of an Islamic Society could have a grim, revolutionary face. However, very few people understand that this act of terrorism had nothing to do with the message of the Islam. It is, in bare essence, an attack on higher division thinking, which is now  prevalent in the Western society.

The French Revolution (1789), at the end of the European Third Quadrant, was also born out of a demand for reform and the acceptance to overthrow the existing order by force, but here the direction was just opposite and the aim was a widening of division thinking. The outcome can be seen – in hindsight and despite losses in terms of human lives – as successful. Europe, as a cultural entity, was about to enter its Fourth Quadrant and needed the perceptual freedom and width of thinking to progress.

Less revolutionary, but still concerned with a radical change in society, are those people who keep an ideal and real city far apart and are interested in neither. They have a minimum real concern about the existing order (fig. 629; III C). This state of mind often leads to cultural pessimism, brought out by people, who despair about their own culture. The defeatists can be found in any cultural setting, but a certain width of thinking is necessary to escape and exceed the bonds of the ideal and the real. The pessimists with a synoptic view feel, for this very reason, at home in a Third and/or Fourth Quadrant setting.

The Islamic civilization has a long tradition in fighting against its ‘decadence’. The Western tradition did not stay behind with an upsurge of apologetic books in the early twentieth century. Prolific writers like Oswald Spengler (1880 – 1936), Arnold Toynbee (1889 – 1975), Jose Ortega Y Gasset (1883 – 1955), James Burnham (1905 – 1987) and Hannah Arendt (1906 – 1975) made their name in the field of a pessimistic cultural history. All of these writers were effectively Fourth Quadrant thinkers rebutting the constraints of lower division thinking, but were severely damaged by the Third Quadrant events (World Wars) in their phenomenal world.

The very opposite to this detached attitude is found in the lower right-hand side of the diagram depicting the idealist approaches (fig. 629; III D). The interaction between the ideal city and the reality is intense up to a degree of worrying (is this the Promised Land?). The spirit of achievement is found in many declarations of independence (of former colonial countries): the revolution is over and the ideal city is about to begin in reality. New development plans can now be made, in earnest. The problem of the once-fresh leaders – like Nasser (in Egypt), Kemal Atatürk (in Turkey), Nkrumah (in Ghana) in the past century and Mugabe (Zimbabwe) in the present one, is the inspiration to keep the candle burning. Often their idealistic spirits are traded in for the principles of power once they have reached their direct political goals.


Fig. 631 – The position of the new city from a builder’s point of view. The area to the left in an attempt by van Nieuwenhuijze (1966; p. 138, fig. 10) to fit anarchism in the scheme. The hatched area to the right includes the practical efforts to materialize the ideal city.

4. The fourth type of ideal city conceptions is the practical approach. The people, who are ready to build them, maintain the most realistic attitude towards the ideal city. Their place in the typological chart is astride the horizontal line (see fig. 631; IV). Nieuwenhuyze followed, in his builder’s approach of the ideal city, an oppositional course: the left side forms the destructive, dysfunctional and disintegrational part of the scale (anarchism) and the right side stands for consolidation and construction in a functional setting. The situation is rather black and white here, while history gives sufficient examples of realistic designers with a wider point of view.

The Scottish biologist and innovative thinker Patrick Geddes (1854 – 1932) is mentioned by van Nieuwenhuijze (1966; p. 128) as the father of modern town and country planning. His ‘Charting of Life’ (published in 1927) consisted of four steps: Acts – Facts – Thoughts (Dreams) and Deeds. These entities were placed in a swastika-type of cross with a 9 x 9 division, not unlike the Chinese division of the ideal city (see fig. 562). Some (undated) sketchy material of his thinking process is given in an informative book about Geddes by Volker WELTER (2002).

An anti-clockwise movement through the quadrants is envisaged to get the linear sequence as given above. It seems that this direction was a one-way affair and any clockwise movement (like it occurs in higher division thinking) was missing. Geddes’ ideas about the social side of living and the clearing of slums brought him to the very beginning of the meaning of city life: civics. The civil society needs a fuller co-ordination and harmony, in Geddes’ view, like the instruments of the orchestra. He regarded the city as a living entity aiming for its highest sensory perceptions (fig. 632).


Fig. 632 – The fourfold analysis of the City completed, as given by Volker WELTER (2002). The scheme consists of a four-division (cross), which is filled with three-divisions. Geddes envisaged an anti-clockwise movement from town folk (work) – school knowledge – cloister ideas to city polity as a human ‘Werdegang’. The highest aim was polity (politeía), a Greek term referring to the city states with an assembly of citizens involved in a political process, but is now also a general term for any political organization of a group.

An analysis of Geddes’ ideas points to dualism rather than higher division thinking, as the (swastika) cross and four-fold division suggest. At best, it is a double two-fold affair – which is still ‘higher’ than a pure oppositional way of thinking. Geddes puts – in particular in his later ‘Notation of Life’ (published in 1949) – the vita activa against the vita contemplativa. The lower half is the in-world of both an individual and a town, while the upper half represents their outer-world. This change of mind represented a move from the individual to the collective (fig. 633). His (linear) approach started with a simple practical life (1), moved to a simple mental life (2), then further into a full inner life (3) and ended into a complete effective life (4). Geddes brought some interesting vistas of the human position in life, but he was unable to get rid of an oppositional approach.

        LEVEL   TOWN-CITY         ACT-DEED          ACT-DEED

   (1905)       (Notation of life)

  1.  Out-world       Town                 Facts                        Acts

  2.  In-world         School               Memories               Facts

  3.  In-world         Cloister             Plans                        Dreams

  4.  Out-world       City                   Acts                          Deeds

Fig. 633 – This comparison of the ‘Town-City’ and ‘Act-Deed’ formulas by Patrick Geddes during the course of his life indicates a shift from an individual to a communal psychology.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867/1869 – 1959; research by his biographer Henry-Russell HITCHCOCK revealed that his birthday was two years earlier than Lloyd Wright self indicated; see also an article by HINES, 1967) was the American equivalent of an architect, who searched for the ideas behind the ideal city. He found solutions in the selective use of technical achievement (of the ‘old’ order) and used them in the new order. Increased mobility (the motor car) brought a new element in city planning, for good and worse. Rent had to be abolished, because it made man to a slave. Pleasure in work and leisure became the dictum for the free citizen.

Brasilia (Brasil), Islamabad (Pakistan), Chandigarh (India) and Canberra (Australia) are examples of ideal cities, which were realized in the second half of the twentieth century. The cities had certain socio-political features in common, of which a cry for identity was probably the most obvious. An extensive literature on these cities exists, mainly written in the aftermath of their foundation. They are still a reference point in more recent publications on urbanism. The quadralectic approach will try to point out the types of division thinking, as caught in the visible reality of these urbanizations.

James HOLSTON (1989) gave an anthropological critique of Brasilia as a ‘modernist city’, which was inspired by (hidden) political ideas. His ‘human’ (political) approach offers a good insight into the mental position of the decision makers – although no reference to division thinking was made. The conception of Brasilia in the 1950’s as a utopian urban planning project provided – for those able to distinguish the importance of division thinking in decision making – a spectacular display of communication at work. All the elements of interaction, from the initial barren land (I), the ideas about a beginning (II), its subsequent execution under the architect Oscar Niemeyer (III) and its ongoing evaluation (IV), are present.


Fig. 634 – The competition sketches of Lúcio Costa of the Master Plan of Brasilia, 1957 show three essential elements: (1) The crossing of two highways axes with a superimposed equilateral triangle, (2) two terraced embankments and (3) a platform.

The ‘Master Plan of Brasilia’ – as brought forward in a State-sponsored design competition in 1957 – was sketched by Lucio Costa (fig. 634). The presentation by Costa was seen as a masterful brincadeira or ‘jest’ or almost a joke. Five of the six voting members of the jury praised ‘the unity of artistic conception’ and the ‘Idea for a National Capital’.  The plan consisted of three structural elements: the crossing of two axes, two terraced embankments and a platform. The equilateral triangle is the area called Plano Piloto and forms the core of the capital.  It is in strong contrast to the originally unplanned satellite cities around it.

The form of the plan was also identified as a bird, butterfly or airplane, but that did not seem to be Costa’s initial intention. The cross (four-fold) was brought back to the three-fold (triangle), then to the embankment (two-fold) and finally to the platform-idea (unity?). These four elements might have a hind of a (reversed) quadralectic sequence, but this suggestion might be too far fetched. Costa submitted his proposal on five medium-sized cards with fifteen freehand sketches and a brief statement of twenty-three pages.

The city’s orientation is roughly aligned with the cardinal directions (fig. 635). Costa pointed to the ‘sign of the Cross’ as the primal and archetypal inspiration. Holston refers to the earliest pictorial representation of the (Egyptian) idea as a city in the form of a cross in a circle (see fig. 508) and to RYKWERT (1976) and the auguration over the templum (see fig. 550). The public buildings in Brasilia were set along one axis (Monumental Axis, running more or less east-west) and the residential buildings along the other (Residential Axis, curved from north to south). Two terraced embankments mark the Monumental Axis. The lower consists of the Plaza of the Three Powers (Presidential Palace, Supreme Court and Congress) and the second embankment contains the ministries of state.


Fig. 635 – The plan of Brasilia in a more structural form as given by Lúcio Costa after his sketches of the Plano Piloto had been accepted. The shape of the plan can be interpreted as a bird, butterfly or airplane, but was not deliberately chosen by Costa.

Later adaptations of the city followed, which included artificial lakes and bridges. The characteristic Juscelino Kubitschek (JK) Bridge was opened in 2002, crossing the Lake Paranoá with three arches. The bridge was designed by the Brasilian architect Alexandre Chan and structural engineer Mário Vila Verde.

Costa was not too explicit about the actual objectives of the plan, which aimed at a national renovation. The idea of revolutionary intentions became a hidden agenda ‘smuggled into the plan in a cloak of mythology about ancient cities and sacred planning techniques’ (HOLSTON, 1989; p. 75). The Modernists of the (early) twentieth century believed that people living in certain types of architecture would adopt habits associated with the type of building. Architecture could, in their realistic view, be an instrument of social change.

The superquadra (superblocks) fitted in the collective housing ideas – in particular by Le Corbusier and the Russian Constructivists – which aimed at a reduction of the role of private property in favor of collective facilities. Therefore, the design of such buildings in Brasilia pointed, according to Holston, to a program of social change in favor of collectivism and was critical to capitalism. Costa himself referred to the design of the superquadra’s as a means against an ‘undue stratification’ of society.

Holston noticed that dehistorication (a neglect of historical sense) and the suggestion of a foundation myth were used by Costa ‘to sell’ his program. Furthermore, the self-effacement at the beginning of his Master Plan and a mythic message that a civilizing event was about to happen added to the impact. The Central Plateau of Brazil was ‘tamed by a race of heroes reliving their past’ and the new city was an ordering event for the area as well for the nation.

The virtual absence of street corners is a noticeable feature of Brasilia: utopia lacks intersections. The pedestrian became a non-entity in the new order. It gave the city an inhuman feel and ‘lacks human warmth’. Political inclined observers can interpret the elimination of the street and its social domain as an effort by planners and governments to ‘control’ the communal traffic more effectively. This approach assumes a strong oppositional mind as a point of departure.

The non-presence of social life – which was still an austere characteristic of Brasilia when I visited the place in 2004 – avoids extravaganzas, either in the positive form of fiestas and carnivals or in the negative sense of unrest and rioting. Any authoritarian government welcomes this situation. Or, like Holston (p. 133) put it fairly strong, ‘the street is the bastion of a corrupt civic order of stagnant public and private values, imposed on the city through an architecture of antiquarian monuments, chaotic streets, decadent ornament, and unsanitary dwellings’.

Creating space is the main weapon to counteract this historical situation. The distinction between public and private should disappear in the new (Modernists) order. No more corners… The ideal city does not highlight private buildings or outstanding public institutions. Instead, it brings them together into a general ‘sculptural anonymity’. The whole city is public, ruled by egalitarianism. The city belongs to the people, without socio-economic differences. Every building is a monument in its own right.

These ideas transcend a sympathy for the masses (multiplicity) – which fits into a Fourth Quadrant outlook – but the history of Brasilia indicates that the result was just the opposite. A strong stratification between the motorized elite, living indoors in the city and the (poor) outdoor pedestrians of the lower class, coming to town from the satellite cities, is the unwanted result of this idealism. Any interclass dialogue is virtually absent. The outcome is a ‘Third Quadrant’ type of community, ruled by egocentrism. A deep human concern, like it was present in Costa’s ideas, works out wrong when it becomes patronizing.

The presence of the city of Brasilia, as a modern concretisation of an Ideal City, holds a lesson, which is still valuable today: don’t put your sight only on the presumed advantages of idealism, but include realism and a spirit of growth into a design. An Ideal City will only flourish if all the natural tendencies of human togetherness are catered for. Certain preconceived ideas about social interaction are often determined in time and place. It would be wise for future developers to realize this fact and leave room for dynamic circumstances.

There is, no doubt, a relation between people and their environment, but this interaction has to go both ways and cannot be created by force. People make their environment and the environment influences the people. None of these entities have certain ‘rights’, although it is realistic to estimate the stamina of Nature higher than the stamina of Men. The recent concern with the environment and climate change is an issue, which is born in a feeling of discontent with the present situation of densely populated areas and clogged-up transport systems. An ‘ideal city’ can do away with these inconveniences, but then a change in conceptual setting is necessary.

The relation between people and their environment was lifted to a scientific level by the Greek architect Constantinos A. Doxiadis (1913 – 1975), who coined the term ekistics in 1942. ‘Ekistics’ implies the interaction within human groups in conjunction with their environment and their individual and collective well-being. The systematic investigation in urban settlements was pioneered in his book ‘Ekistics’ (DOXIADIS, 1968) with special interest in networks. He noted that the form of a settlement is the result of a tendency towards an orderly pattern (Law 47). Centripetal and circular forces dominate in small settlements, while the grid-iron system allows expansion without difficulty: ‘Only those forms of settlements make sense which can on every specific occasion merge reasonable the basic principles of settlements for cohesion and an orderly pattern.’

Doxiadis got the assignment to build the Pakistan capital of Islamabad in 1959. The decision was politically motivated to start on a clean sheet after the country’s change from a dominion of the British Commonwealth into an independent republic with Karachi as its capital. The name ‘Islamabad’ (City of Islam), chosen in 1960, underlined the religious-political intentions. The choice for a Greek architect was an answer to the competition with Le Corbusier’s assignment in India (Chandigarh). However, the intention was also ‘to use an iconic but quarantined representation of modernism in order to justify the continuation of anti-developmental political strategies’ as Markus DAECHSEL (2008) pointed out.

Daechsel makes an interesting point here by positioning the concretisation of an Ideal City (Islamabad) into a ‘conservative’ political environment, which was afraid for modernization. As a consequence the political sensitive sections of the population – whites, government employees and military staff – were settled in suburbs, which were removed from ‘native’ areas. The latter were often fenced in by physical obstructions like canals and railway tracts. Doxiadis’ ideas of ekistics were caught up in an ideological straight jacket of total state control by a military-bureaucratic elite, which wanted to keep modernity for their own benefit.

Doxiadis’ plan for Islamabad took the grid pattern as its point of departure – after a thorough study of the environment, including transportation and communication. Factors of national, economic and civic interest were taken into account. The nearby existing city of Rawalpindi would support the building of the new city, avoiding large investment during the first phase. Two (existing) highways were dictated by the natural landscape. They acted as a guideline for two more projected highways, marking the grid of the metropolitan area. Doxiadis’ Master Plan of the Metropolitan Area was triangular in shape – including Islamabad, Rawalpindi and the National Park – with the apex pointing towards the Margalla Hills, foothills of the Himalayas. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) was the government body to manage the project and is still active in the revision and execution of the plans.

The new city of Islamabad was divided in self-contained sectors (Class V; 40.000 people) and subdivided in smaller communities (Class IV; 12.000 people) according to income groups of occupants. The hierarchical planning of space went further to Class III (3.000 people) and Class II communities, each with their own schools, health centers, recreation and sport facilities. Now Islamabad is divided into eight zones, each with its own shopping area and park. Each sector is identified by a letter of the Roman alphabet and a number, and covers an area of approximately two by two kilometers. Each sector is further divided into four sub-sectors. The London-based firm of Derek Lovejoy (1925 – 2000) carried out the landscaping of Islamabad in collaboration with other designers.

Another Ideal City, which found a form of realization is Chandigarh in India. India had, just like Pakistan, reached for independence after the Second World War (1948) and the need for a fresh start was felt in the country. Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 – 1964) was the first Prime Minister of India. He suggested ‘a new City, unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of the nation’s faith in the future…’ The American architect and then Army engineer Albert Mayer (1897 – 1981) met with Nehru in 1945, after the latter was released from British political imprisonment. Economic and social progress had to take shape in ‘model’ villages and started in Nehru’s native Uttar Pradesh state before he became the first president of an independent India (1947).

There was also a need for a new political center to replace the former capital Lahore, which had gone to Pakistan in the partition. Albert Mayer produced – in the years between 1947 – 1951 – a Master Plan for the new city of Chandigarh (fig. 636). His associate Matthew Nowicki (1910 – 1950) worked out the architectural details. Much of the material of Mayer’s work is now stored at the University of Chicago Library and can be found in their ‘Guide to the Albert Mayer Papers 1934-1975’ (2006). The actual execution of Mayer’s (Master) plan was given to a team of architects headed by Le Corbusier, after Nowicki’s sudden death in a plane crash near Cairo in August 1950.


Fig. 636 – The Masterplan of Chandigarh as developed by the American architect Albert Mayer in the years 1947 – 1951. La Corbusier further developed the basic outlines of this plan when he took over the assignment as official advisor and planner in 1951.

The French architect Le Corbusier (pseudonym for Charles-Édouard Jeanneret; 1887 – 1965; see also fig. 315) took over in 1951 as the principal ‘architectural and planning advisor’. He used the fundamental elements of Mayer’s original plan, but made major changes as well. The city had a checkerboard pattern (fig. 637) and sectors (neigh-bourhood units), which were divided by function. There were four zones besides the residential sector: a political, an industrial sector, a commercial zone and an educational sector. This hierarchy was probably chosen for the same socio-political reasons as given earlier for Doxiadis’ development of Islamabad.


Fig. 637 – The city of Chandigarh has a grid-like structure, but irregular shaped areas soften the intermediate space of the separate blocks. The actual work started in early 1951 and most of Phase One was completed by 1965.

The capitol sector (Sector 1), flanked by the Rajendra Park and the Sukhna Lake, comprises four major buildings by Le Corbusier: the Punjab and Haryana Secretariat, the State Assembly Halls (fig. 638), the High Court and the Museum of Knowledge, and is situated closest to the Himalayas foothills, but distant from the town center proper (higher numbered sections).


Fig. 638 – The rear side of the Legislative Assembly of Hariana and Punjab in Chandigarh. The monumental concrete portico faces the central esplanade of the government complex. This picture does not show the combination of a pyramid, a hyperboloid – resembling the ’cooling tower’ of an electricity station – and a lift tower, which sits on the roof of the Hall. They are supposed to evoke the idea of ‘astronomical instruments’, but are a rather messy lot. Le Corbusier did not design any heating or cooling in the buildings, since the architecture should give a natural ventilation. However, the concrete absorbs and retains heat and cold, leaving the rooms hot in summer and cold in winter.

The Sections 22 and 23 were two of Chandigarh’s earliest neighborhoods. The houses are distinguished by latticed brick or tile sunscreens covering the exterior walls. This type of sun protection was at the time also pioneered in Venezuela and known as the ‘Breathing Wall’ (ARONIN, 1953) (fig. 639). Le Corbusier’s concept has since been found not very practical and replaced in modern Chandigarh by deep verandas, which keep out rain and sun and allow life to move in and out (as propagated by Aditya Prakash, head of Chandigarh’s College of Architecture).


Fig. 639 – The concept of the ‘Breathing Wall’ was pioneered in Caracas (Venezuela) in the middle of the twentieth century. It was used by Le Corbusier in the older sections of Chandigarh.

A curiosity in the city of Chandigarh is Sector 45, which is saved from ‘Chandigarhisation’ and is still a real village. However, the Chandigarh Tribune (of June 29, 2001) described the living conditions in Burail Village as ‘Corbusier’s nightmare’ with unhygienic conditions, filth and crime. The authorities blocked off and searched the area for the Jaipur bombers in May, 2008 – without any result other than intimidation.

One may ask on this occasion if there is, indeed, some truth in the relation between architecture and the ways of living. A place like Burail Village may act as a last resort for the criminal side of society, where authorities do not have sufficient access and control. This dark, but real side of inter human communication will always be present. The participants, either deliberately or in a desperate attempt to survive, will search for – or is condemned to – the architecture, which suits them – in the same way as the middle class looks for decent houses in save neighborhoods and the upper class prefers exclusive villas with large gardens on secluded sites.

The ‘ideal cities’ of India and Pakistan, which were realized some half a century ago, can be placed in the psychological-religious setting of the population of these countries. The cyclic nature of the Hindu world view means that any ‘progress’ causes problems (COLENBRANDER, 2003). The European culture searches for new forms, whereas the creative people of the Asian subcontinent use old forms repeatedly.  Hinduism is – from a Western point of view – a religion of defeat and stagnation. However, this time-bound impression might change when quadralectic thinking, including a cyclic awareness, becomes more widespread in the last stages of the European cultural visibility (1950 – 2250).

The Islam (of Pakistan) is a linear affair with a strong sense of unity. This dedication can be traced back to a lower form of division thinking. The Islam was, in essence, a revolt against the higher type of division thinking of Christianity in its years of formation. Early Christianity looked for a compromise between the Judaic and Hellenic point of view (DELISLE BURNS, 1947), which resulted in the acceptation of the doctrine of the Trinity – or three-division. It should  also be noted that the initial message of Christ – based on giving love and living in peace – was born under the historical influence and within the context of the Roman cultural period in the fourth part of its Third Quadrant (1 – 125 AD; see fig. 88).

Mohammed and his followers in the seventh century AD believed in one undivided God and saw in the Christian ‘solution’ of the Trinity a form of polytheism. The message of Islam aims at a form of ‘oneness’, which can be reached by reducing the number of divisions in the initial way of thinking.  The ‘heresies’ of the eastern Churches, like the Arians and Monophysites – of which hardly anybody understands now the crux of their learning – were attempts to compromise with the Semitic conception of the unity of God. In the end, all their efforts had to do with a ‘struggle’ for a particular form of division thinking – of which the importance for the communication of God and men was well understood at the time. Every type of division thinking tends to have its own god(s) and beliefs.

The ‘oldest’ of the four twentieth century realizations of an ‘ideal city’ is the capital of Canberra in Australia. Again, a politically motivated need of urgency to establish a national identity was the main reason for the project. Competition between the existing colonial capitals of Sydney (New South Wales) and Melbourne (Victoria) could not allow the other to become the capital of the Commonwealth, so the idea of the founding an entirely new capital  was born. A site was chosen at the end of the year 1909 after ten years of struggles and an international competition for its design was initiated in May 1911. A year later Walter Burley Griffin (1876 – 1937) won the competition (fig. 640).


Fig. 640 – The central part of Canberra around Capital Hill as in Griffin’s design of 1911. The Parliamentary Triangle, connecting the hexagonal Civic Center with the octagonal Capital Hill and the semi-hexagonal ‘Market Center’ (near Russell Hill, now  the location of the Australian-American Memorial), is one of the main features of the design. The residential suburbs to the west – in an octagonal, ‘crystalline’ pattern – are another focus of attention. Yet another octagonal plan for housing development was projected in North Canberra along Northbourne Avenue.

Griffin and his wife Marion Mahony (1871 – 1961) were accomplished American landscape architects. Marion had worked with Frank Lloyd Wright in his studio in Chicago from 1895 and Walter joined in 1901. The Griffin’s married in 1911 and they were still on their honeymoon when the word of the Canberra competition reached them. Marion produced the final drawing in the last weeks of 1911 and the papers were rushed to the last train that could meet the last boat for Australia (VERNON, 2002).

The Capitol, atop the inner city’s highest hill (Kurrajong Hill), became the hallmark of the new city. Griffin’s initial plan had a circular road surrounding the hill with eight radiating streets. The proposed names were given after the Australian capitals of the six states, the capital of the Northern Territory and the capital of New Zealand, but this idea had to be amended. New Zealand did not join the Federation of Australia and the projected Wellington Avenue was renamed into the Canberra Avenue. The avenue to the north is now called Commonwealth Avenue and the one to the north east Kings Avenue. Other parts of Griffin’s design got lost in the process as well, in particular the size of a great lake between Capitol Hill and the City Center. It was only in 1964 that this part of the plan materialized, and was named after Griffin, Lake Burley Griffin.


Canberra in 1980. In: FISCHER, K.F. (1984). Canberra: Myths and Models. Forces at work in the formation of the Australian capital. Institute of Asian Affairs, Hamburg 1984. ISBN 3-88910-009-0

The initial ‘Beaux-Arts’ design of Canberra was full of symbolic details.  Peter MULLER (1976), in his ‘W.B. Griffin Memorial Lecture’ on the centenary of Griffin’s birth, pointed to the esoteric nature of Griffin’s design. Other commentators, like Graham PONT (2003), elaborated on the ‘Pythagorean’ aspects of Griffin’s work (at the Capitol Theatre, Melbourne) with the tetraktys as a leading principle. The ‘proof’ that their design was directly related to the fundamental proportions or harmonies of the musical scale (1:2, 2:3, 3:4) is rather thin, but a feel and sympathy for regular patterns (crystal types) cannot be denied. Later in his life, Griffin got attracted to the anthroposophic movement (initiated by Rudolf Steiner) and moved to India, where he got a number of architectural assignments. He died in Lucknow (India) in 1937 and Marion Mahony Griffin returned to Chicago, where she died in 1961.

Some words should be said here over the relation between esoteric ideas and its possible resonance in the world of quadralectic architecture.  There is in the European cultural history, away from the mainstream, a permanent current of non-scientific and semi-religious knowledge, which keeps the minds of its adherers occupied. The roots are generally found in the Greek philosophical thoughts of Pythagoras with his references to number. The Spanish philosopher Raymond Lull (1232 – 1316) and his followers created an extensive body of works based on esoteric ideas. The knowledge of the Cabbala added to the mystical character of their teachings. The German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz (1646 – 1716) was still able to understand Lull’s ‘Ars combinatori’’, since his dissertation of 1666 was on this subject.

An influx of ‘secret traditions’ took place after the unity of the Roman Catholic Church collapsed in the early sixteenth century and people were searching for new spiritual anchors. The Book of Hermes (Pimander), Hermes Trismegistus (the thrice-great Hermes, combined with the Egyptian god Toth) and other ancient mysteries pointed for the ‘lost’ souls of the Renaissance to beliefs that could hold a promise for salvation, just like Christianity. The Rosicrucians (with their Manifestos dating from the early seventeenth century) and the Freemasons (from the early eighteenth century) carried the complex of ‘hermetic’ ideas forwards into the nineteenth century. When the real treasures of the Egyptian cultural presence came within reach of European explorers at that time, it resulted in a largely uncomprehended spiritual knowledge of Egypt, which acted as a goldmine of occult symbolism.

The anthroposophical movement of the Austrian Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) and the theosophical society of the American occultist Madame Helena Blavatsky (1831 – 1891) were digging in the same quarry of human ‘consciousness’. Blavatsky’s search for ‘the anciently universal Wisdom-Religion’ has since found appeal by many people. Steiner’s solutions for ‘Die Rätsel der Philosophie (1914/1968) still find followers. The motivation of the supporters of the mysterious and super-natural might be found in the fear of ‘the invasive reach of technology and rationalization into everyday life with a subsequent diminution of custom, religion and experience as valid sources of knowledge’ (HENDERSON, 1998).

The merits of these movements can be placed in a quadralectic context, i.e. as expressions of forms of division thinking. Pythagoras was right in the end: it is all about numbers. Not in the numerological sense as many people believe, but as the importance of the primary choice of division thinking. The essence of any communication is contained in the width of the initial division and its visibility expressed in a shift-number. This (quadralectic) statement is the real meaning of Pythagoras’ numbers. The various type of divisions – up to five are operational within the reach of a human application – are different systems of communication. They possess a particular type of visibility, which is derived from an internal shift of its members.

Another important person in the post-war history of Canberra should be mentioned. William Graham Holford (1907 – 1975) was a South African born, British architect and town planner, who played a major role in the planning and development of Canberra (Australia). He was also involved in selecting Lúcio Costa’s plan for Brasilia. His ‘Observations on the Future Development of Canberra’  (1958) aimed at a union of the northern and southern parts of the city into ‘a cultural and administrative center and a national capital.’ The visual aspects of the central area had to be, in Holford’s view, the cornerstone of the planning of Canberra. As a consequence of his suggestions the National Capital Development Commission (N.C.D.C.) was created to follow up his plan and administer further development (with Performance Indicators).

The ‘ideal city’, as seen so far in an executed appearance, is a political affair. This observation is even more so in the lesser-known, communistic town planning projects, which were built in the last century. The urban process in Russia and the countries under their influence was fundamentally part of a political-economic system. (Ideal) city building and planning became an expression of social and bureaucratic relations, wherein the state was the main land developer and provided the housing. J.C. FISHER (1962) noticed four basic operational principles in the materialization of this condition in his article on the planning of a socialist city:

—————————-  1. Standardization

—————————-  2. Restrictions in size of town

—————————-  3. City center is civic not retail centre

—————————-  4. Divisions into neighborhood units

The planned development of an urban society was part of the political decision making in the USSR (BATER, 1980). The Russian revolution of 1917 changed the ideological blue print for society and egalitarian Marxist-Leninist thinking put its marks on society. One of its aims was a removal of the differences between town and countryside. The nationalization of the land implied that the land use allocation was in the hand of planners and was not dictated by economics. Any form of privatism was socially undesirable. Self-interest was subordinate to the interest of the society as a whole and conformity was rewarded with the benefits of socialism. The abolition of the private sector also mends an absence of competition in marketing and a preference for public rather than private transport.

Tsar Peter I (1672 – 1725) introduced European rationalistic town planning into Russia, when he founded Saint Petersburg in 1703 at the mouth of the Neva River. The city became the administrative capital in 1712. The French architect and garden designer Jean Le Blond (1679 – 1719), a student of Le Notre, was appointed as the ‘Architect-General’ of the new city in 1716. His plan of St. Petersburg  (fig. 641) was never approved, just like the projects for the parterres of the Summer Garden and a residence for the tsar at Strelna. Only a cornerstone was laid in 1720, a year after Le Blond died of smallpox and the project was abandoned. Le Blond’s design for a formal garden at Strelna was implemented nearly three centuries later (2003) as part of the reconstruction of the Constantine Palace.


Fig. 641 – The master plan of the French architect and garden designer Le Blond for St Petersburg in 1716 was never realized. It showed the influences of European cities, with an emphasis on defense orientated, geometrical  patterns. Le Blond wanted to ‘enclose the entire city within a perfectly elliptical wall of fortifications’

The idea of a city as representation of the power of the state was revived under Catherine II (1762 – 1796). She installed a ‘Commission for the Masonry Construction of St Petersburg and Moscow’, which became responsible for all town planning throughout the Empire. Most town plans were geometrically with a particular emphasis on the city centre. There were major regional differences and few cities were developed according to precise town-planning principles. The lay-outs followed the aims and aspirations of the local autocracy at the time (fig. 642).


Fig. 642 – Two different examples of early Russian town planning before the structured political projects of the early twentieth century put their mark on Communistic city-building. To the left: a partly octagonal plan for Lyubim dated 1788. This town is situated in Yaroslavl Oblast, along the Obnora River, some 400 kilometers east of St. Petersburg. The remote area was once a favorite hunting ground of the Tsar and reached some temporary fame on the Russian television (in 2004) with a report on an ‘aggressive’ religious sect (Oprichnina Brother-hood). This unidentified group of Orthodox Wahhabis wanted to see a tsar from the Romanov-Ryurikovich dynasty return to the throne as an Antichrist to establish order. To the right: A plan of 1811 for the development of Rostov-on-Don, the ‘Gates to the Caucasus’. The Cossack city at the coast of the Azov Sea was first developed by Peter the Great (1695), but the port (Taganrog) was taken by the Turks in 1711. Customhouses were established in 1749, marking the proper foundation of the city on the right bank of the Don River. The city was totally destroyed in the Second World War, but since rebuild to a prosperous city with over one million inhabitants.

The Russian urban population tripled in the period from 1850 – 1914 with no controlled growth. It resulted – among other unstructured developments in the country – in the deterioration of St Petersburg, once the archetype of eighteenth-century city planning. The housing situation changed around the turn of the century (1900) when a revivalist movement aimed to design entire cities with geometrical street plans. However, by that time the important book by Ebenezer Howard (1850 – 1928) on garden cities (‘Garden Cities of To-Morrow’) was translated in Russian and offered a ‘modern’ alternative to the old-fashioned regularity. When Lenin and the Bolsheviks changed the political climate dramatically in 1917 a search for the definition of a socialist city was on.

The Revolution stimulated in 1920 a town-planning debate to find forms of communal living, which fitted the ideals of the new rulers. The premise that architecture can influence social behavior was at the bottom of the Constructivist movement. The city had to act as a ‘social condensor’ in breaking down social hierarchies. The idea was eventually materialized in the Narkomfin Building in Moscow, begun in 1928 and finished in 1932. This communal house on Novinsky Boulevard 25, Moscow was commissioned by the People’s Commissar for Finance, N.A. Milyutin and was built for the employee’s of the Ministry of Finance. Milyutin himself also lived in the building, just like its architect Moisei Ginzburg.

One of the major problems of the Bolshevists was the abolishment of the differences between town and country. Two opposite schools developed, the urbanist versus de-urbanist, both acting against the OSA (Society of Contemporary Architects). The proletarian architects of the urbanist movement aimed at a communal lifestyle with huge house commune cities and residential structures resembling airplanes and ocean liners. The economist and statistician Leonard Sabsovich (his life time is still not found, despite an intense search), Alexander Zelenko (1871 – 1953) and the economist Stanislav Strumilin (1877 – 1974) came to be the leading exponents of this school.

The new ‘revolutionary’ family was a communal affair. Women were put on equal footing in the workforce and child rearing was in the hands of the government. The emancipation of women was a side effect of the political program, but it is questionable if this compulsory progress was a blessing for the women involved. Blocks for two to three thousand people consisted of cells of five square meter to be used for private use and the rest of the time was spent in communal rooms. Architects became the leaders to design houses and cities, which ‘radical altered the structure of human life, in a productive, social and personal way’. Writers like Evgenij Zamjatin (1884 – 1937) – in his dystopic book ‘We’ (1921) – explored the field of the ‘ideal lack of privacy’ when everything becomes collective.

It is not surprising, that some years after the Revolution the favor turned to the de-urbanists. They wanted to replace large cities with smaller ones, aiming at a town-less socialist society. Architects like Moisei Ginzberg (1892 – 1946), Mikhail Okhitovitch (1896 – 1937), Ivan Leonidov (1902 – 1955) and Mikhail Osipovich Barshch (1904 – 1976) were the main representatives of the de-urbanistist school. Ginzburg put the ideas of the Constructivist movement down in a book called ‘Stil’ i epoha’  (Style and Epoch, 1924), which was a Constructivists answer to Le Corbusier’s book ‘Vers Une Architecture’ (Toward an Architecture, 1923). The de-urbanists argued that industry and agriculture should be dispersed throughout the country, resulting in a gradual obliteration of the old boundaries of urban agglomerations and the countryside.


Fig. 643 – A Spanish linear city as illustrated in El Lissitzky’s ‘Russland’ (1930). Miliutin published this drawing that same year in his book ‘Sotsgorod’ (1930/1974), as an option for the building of socialist cities in Russia.

One of the compromises in this oppositional setting was a linear, communal city with a ribbon development, which depended heavily on new technology like the automobile (fig. 643). The Ciudad Lineal in Madrid, designed by the Spanish architect Don Arturo Soria y Mata (1844 – 1920) at the end of the nineteenth century (1882) was a great inspiration, with detached dwellings along a modern transportation corridor (COLLINS, 1959). Part of Soria’s design and his train system came from the practical need to outsmart the project developers, who had bought the lands at the fringes of Madrid and waited for ground prices to rise. Another part is genuine idealism in the sense that city life should go to the country and the country should go to town (“ruralizar la vida urbana y de urbanizar el campo”). A section of about five kilometers of this Ideal City was actually realized by the Compañía Madrileña de Urbanización (CMU) in the years 1894 – 1896 between the Aragon highway and the first forest at Chamartin (fig. 644). Now it is part of greater Madrid with an important railway station, but is still visible on the map and Google Earth.


Fig. 644 – A plan of the Ciudad Lineal, near Chamartin, in Madrid as proposed by the Spanish architect Spanish architect Don Arturo Soria y Mata at the end of the nineteenth century.


Villa Rubin – Arturo Soria 124, Madrid – was once (c. 1909) the residence of the architect Don Arturo Soria y Mata (1844 – 1920) and his family (Photo: Marten Kuilman, Febr. 2014).

Few of these linear plans were realized  in Russia. The Ribbon City Proposal for Magnitogorsk – as given in Sovremennaia Arkhitektura in 1930 – is a variation of the linear plan. The city did not materialize in this form. Magnitogorsk, situated in the southern Oeral Mountains, started as an industrial settlement in 1929 for the mining of iron ore and grew rapidly to a city in the spirit of Stalin’s first Five Year Plan (1928 – 1932). The layout  was geometric with rows of identical blocks parallel to the industrial facilities (IKONNIKOV, 1988).

Foreign architects, like the German Ernst May (1886 – 1970) and the Dutch Mart Stam (1899 – 1986) and Johan Niegeman (1902 – 1977), were engaged to speed up the process. Ernst May and his ‘brigade’ established some twenty cities in three years in Russia, among them Orsk (Orenburg), Novokuznetsk and Kemerovo. The latter two cities are situated in one of the biggest coal mining areas in the world, the Kuznetsk Basin in southern Siberia.

Another linear development with a separate zoning of housing and factories was tried in Stalingrad (Volvograd). The plan by Miliutin was influenced by the Frenchman Tony Garnier (1887 –1965). The latter had developed a cité industrielle, characterized by linear industrial and residential areas along transportation corridors such as rivers and railways.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 – if seen nearly hundred years later – is a curious event in the European cultural history. The idealistic approach to see mankind as a collective entity (workforce) without internal forces failed very soon after its political realization. The demasqué took place in the rebellion at Kronstadt in 1922 and Russia became instead a society of managers and bureaucrats (BURNHAM, 1941). It might be a lesson that a sole devotion to the multiplicity of the Fourth Quadrant – which was the aim of the ‘original’ Communists – does not hold the key to a successful society. The influence and power of other quadrants cannot be ignored.

The search for cerebral escape routes in the form of an’ ideal city’ was one of the main characteristics of the period in the European cultural history from 1400 – 1650. One of their binding elements was a geometrical approach to the ground plan. The four-fold (square or rectangular) and the cyclic setting do occur, but more as a matter of chance than by a deliberate persistence of a philosophy. Nigel PENNICK (1979) remarked rightly that ‘the image of quaternity was not used in Italian ideal cities, which tended to be based upon the octagon of Vitruvius’.

The roots of the Ideal City are firmly embedded in the Renaissance history of Italy. Leon Battista Alberti’s ‘De re aedificatoria’ (On the Art of Building) can be seen as the founding statement, written between 1443 and 1452. The book reviews the whole of architecture from the locality, the building of houses to an organized total. The circle was seen as the ideal form, but other geometrical shapes like the hexagon, octagon and polygons were recommended as desirable for plans of sacred buildings (‘temples’).


Fig. 645 – Filarete’s ground plan for the city of Sforzinda is inspired by the octagon with eight towers and eight gates at the end of a radiating street pattern of sixteen streets.

Antonio Averlino (c. 1400 – 1469) or Filarete wrote his architectural treatise ‘Trattato d’Architettura’ between 1451 and 1465 for Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan. Filarete’s ideal city was called Sforzinda (1461 – 1464) and is generally recognized as being the first in his sort. The ideal city of Sforzinda has an octagonal ground plan generated by two squares turned over forty-five degrees (fig. 645). It comprised eight towers at the tips of the circumference and eight gates (porta) in between. The gates have four turrets just like the cathedral (duomo). There are sixteen main streets radiating from a central piazza. Midway each street is an open square, eight of which have a church in the center. The civic places are divided in governmental, administrative, religious and economic quarters.

The well-known plan of the city in figure 645 is just one possibility, because Filarete also considered another design, where the city is represented as a 3 x 3 grid on – what seems to be – a rough map of the earth (fig. 646). The central part is surrounded by a labyrinth-like pattern, with no entrances or exits. The earth, firmly enclosed in the four pillars at the end of the earth, is surrounded by ‘the great unknown’. The city of Sforzinda is in this picture situated in the greater part of Africa and the Middle East. Filarete, being a Christian, might have envisaged the position of Jerusalem in the middle of a 3 x 3 grid. The variation in designs reveals, if nothing else, a searching soul lost in a numerological labyrinth, fascinated by geometrical patterns as messengers of order.


Fig. 646 – This ideal city by Filarete had a 3 x 3 grid, and was situated on a map of the world and placed in a labyrinth. This setting offered, just like his more familiar setting of an octagonal in a landscape, sufficient food for thoughts about living in a new order.

The idea of the octagonal shape of Sforzinda as a geometrical element was used as an inspiration of ‘Kontext Kunst’. The artist Sabine Siegfried (born 1955) applied the sign in her project ‘Längsache,’ as part of the ‘Hamburg Projekt 1989’. She expanded the motive of an octagon, which was originally part of the early nineteenth century Bleichenbrücke (Bleichen Bridge) over the Alsterfleet in the centre of Hamburg. A recovered octagonal element was then placed between two adjoining figures, which were probably part of the building when it was used as the head quarters of the Gestapo in World War II. Without the element in place, people often called the police, thinking of an attempted suicide (fig. 647).


Fig. 647 – A ‘Sforzinda’ type of building element from the Bleichen Bridge (Bleichenbrücke) in Hamburg. The bridge was built in the first half of the nineteenth century.

The artist Sabine Siegfried used the element (of the octagon) in that same year (1989) in Edinburgh and later (1993) in Hamburg. Filarete’s octagon was placed over the city map of Edinburgh and Hamburg and used as the guideline for a ‘dérive’ (urban drift). This artistic device, described as an analysis of the totality of everyday life by  a passive movement through space, was pioneered by the French Situationist Guy Debord (1931 – 1994). It marks a state of mind in which ordinary life (reality) is given up, for the time being, and one becomes part of a flow of acts and encounters. Debord placed this term within the context of psycho-geography, defined as ‘the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals’. The (European) ideal city, from its beginnings in the fifteenth century to the present day, can be seen as a dérive through the historic visibility of urbanization and as an expression of the (Fourth Quadrant) emotions, which are freed in the process.

The plans for an ideal city, which started with Filarete’s efforts, reached momentum at the end of the fifteenth century, when the use of perspective became a new technological tool for visualization. Several artists used this technique to shape their Ideal City with classical architectonic elements (round, square, octagonal) (fig. 648). It can be suggested that these cities were born as the result of the excitements of this particular way of drawing and painting rather than the use of these means to shape certain ideas.


Fig. 648 – Two examples of the ideal city as an agglomerate of architectural forms visualized with the new technique of perspective. Top: Perspectice of a square. Francesco di Giorgio (?) c. 1470. The lower painting – in the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino – is attributed to Piero della Francesca.

The idea of the ideal city claimed its explicit visibility in the beginning of the sixteenth century with the publication of a famous book by Thomas More called ‘Utopia’. The book about an island-city was dedicated to Erasmus (1466? – 1536) and was first referred to as ‘Nusquama’, from a Latin adverb meaning ‘nowhere’. Later this name was changed in a combination of the Greek ou (with a negative connotation, not or no) and topos (place) to build Utopia. Its title became in due course ‘De optimo reipublicae statu, deque nova insula Utopia’ (Concerning the highest state of the republic and the new island Utopia). An English translation was published in 1551.

Thomas More (1478 – 1535) described an ideal city consisting of a grid of fifty-four cities with an identical outlay (if you have seen one, you have seen them all). The city of Amaurotum, right in the middle of the island, was a quadratic model-town. The woodcuts in neither the first edition (Louvain, by Theodore Martens, 1516) nor those of the third edition (Basle, by John Froben with drawings by Hans Holbein, 1518) exhibited such a large number of cities. The name Utopia became very soon an equivalent for an ideal society or a model for a visionary common-wealth (MANUEL & MANUEL, 1979). The common ownership of property in More’s Utopia and the social order found an echo in totalitarian systems like Karl Marx’s communism and Hitler’s fascism (ROUVILLOIS, 2000).


Fig. 649A – The circular version of Albrecht Dürer’s ideal city as given in his book ‘Etliche underricht, zu befestigung der Stett, Schlosz, und Flecken’ (Nuremberg, 1527).


Fig. 649B – The square version of Albrecht Dürer’s ideal city, in the same book as given in fig. 649A.

Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528) gave in his book ‘Etliche Underricht, zu Befestigung der Stett, Schlosz, und Flecken’ (1527) a description of a city, which had a reminiscence to Morus’ Amaurotum, the central city in Utopia (fig. 649B). He called his quadratic outlay a ‘Festschloss’, pointing to the kingly castle, which was surrounded by a hierarchical set of buildings. Morus’ description, on the other hand, aimed at decentralization. People were forced to move house at regular intervals for the sake of equality. Dürer did not stick to a square version, but also suggested a round city (fig. 649A).

The toying with geometric forms seemed the main motivation in those early days of the Ideal City. However, soon the intentions shifted – under the pressure of increased city development – to more practical applications. The element of defense, executed in elaborate patterns of city walls, grew in importance during the sixteenth century. Even so, even here, the idea of defense was often more pressing than practical intention. The outlines of city walls acted in that respect in the same way as the perspective: they provided an occasion to develop pleasing geometry. Some models of ideal cities by various authors are given in fig. 650.


Fig. 650 – Ideal cities from the Renaissance with the emphasis on defense (city walls). 1. La Sforzinda by Filarete (1460 – 1465); 2. Fra Giocondo (Giovanni of Verona), c. 1433 – 1515;  3. Girolamo Magi (or Maggi) (c. 1523 – c. 1572) (1564); 4. Giorgio Vasari (1598); 5. Antonio Lupicini (c. 1530 – c. 1598); 6. Daniele Barbaro (1513 – 1570); 7. Pietro Cattaneo (1537 – 1587); 8/9; Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439 – 1502).

Dürers’ ideal city  was taken to the test some fifty years later when Chancellor Jan Zamoyski (1542 – 1605) founded the city of Zamosc in southeastern Poland in 1579. The Venetian architect Bernardo Morando, a native of Padua, modeled the place on Italian theories of the ‘ideal city’. Zamosc is now a perfect example of a late sixteenth century ‘Renaissance’ town. Its prosperous past is reflected in the Armenian merchant’s mansions, which line the town square (measuring 100 by 100 meters) The Polish city had a hard time during World War II when Himmler decided in 1942 to make the place the First Resettlement Area (Himmlerstadt). Subsequent ‘ethnic cleansing’, to make room for German nationals, resulted in the death of some thousand residents.

Zhovkva, a city in the Lviv Oblast (province) of western Ukraine, is another example of a Renaissance ‘ideal city’. It was founded in 1594 by the Polish military commander Stanislaw Zolkiewski as one of the fortified towns to protect the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The city has the outlay of a human body with the castle as the head and the church as the heart. The four entrance gates in the town walls were the arms and the legs. The church of St. Lawrence was turned into a warehouse under Soviet rule, but restored after Ukraine became independent in 1991. Zhovkva is since 1994 a heritage site and restoration work is now a first priority.

Pietro Cataneo (1510 – 1569) – in his book ‘I quattro primi libri di architettura’ (1554) – noted that ‘a city is ideal if it is capable of defending itself, if it can’t be occupied, plundered, and burned down. However, that means the city has to be a regular polygon, a quadrangle, pentagon, hexagon, or decagon, and the bastions and outworks are their quoins’. He gives forty-three woodcut plans of ideal fortified towns in his book with no particular preference for a geometrical form. Most of them were loosely based on the Roman ‘castrum’ idea and Cataneo referred specific to the ‘Castrametatio’ from Polybius.

A collection of examples of ideal city plans appeared some fifty years later by the French Huguenot Jacques Perret (de Chambery), consisting of twenty-two plates engraved by Thomas Le Leu and called ‘Des Fortifications et Artifices Architecture et Perspective’ (1601). Polygonal defense features with quadratic and radial layouts were descendants of similar examples of the Italian Renaissance. These designs were also a further development of a geometrical theme, which was present in the mediaeval bastides of France. It was the Bolognese engineer-architect Girolamo Marini, who combined (in 1545) Renaissance and French ideas into the city of Vitry-le-Francois (Marne) at the orders of king Francois I. The city had a gridiron plan (612 x 612 m) around a central square (117 x 117 m). The Calvinistic Duke of Sully (Maximilien de Béthune) used a similar city plan in 1608 in the foundation of Henrichemont (Cher).


Vitry-le-Francois was designed in 1545 by the Italian engineer Hieronimo Marino. Fig. 1 in: REPS, John W. (1965/1969). Town planning in Frontier America. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. LCCN 68-20877

Vincenzo Scamozzi (1552 – 1616), a follower of Andrea Palladio and one of the most successful and prolific architects of Venice, further enhanced the building of fortifications and fortified cities along geometrical lines. The design for the garrison city of Palma Nuova (1593), near Udine (Italy) was of a masterpiece. The treatise ‘L’Idea della Architettura Universale’ (The Universal Idea of Architecture) was his opus magnum and was published in 1615 in Venice. It can be seen as the last of the Renaissance works on the theory of architecture and its influence was widespread over Europe (OTTENHEYM, 2006/07).

The construction of Freudenstadt, in southwestern Germany, started in 1599 as a ‘Vierzeilenplan’ by Heinrich Schickhardt  (fig. 651). The ideas of this basic design should be placed in the geographical and political situation of the time at that part of Germany. The Germanic area was in the seventeenth century a patchwork of some three hundred loosely organized sovereign territories. One of these areas, in which Freudenstadt is situated, is called the Palatinate (Pfalz) and includes territories on both sides of the Rhine River between the Main and Neckar tributaries.


Fig. 651 – The outlay of the ideal city of Freudenstadt, SW of Stuttgart (Germany) was designed by architect Heinrich Schickhardt (1558 – 1635), following a commission of Herzog Friedrich I of Wurttemberg. The central square is divided by a cardo and decumanus in the tradition of the Roman geometers. This lay out resembles the board game of Merels, also known as Nine Men’s Morris or Mills.


The central square of Freudenstadt, SW of Stuttgart (Germany) (Photo: Marten Kuilman, 2003).

The southern Pfalz and the Black Forest is in the ‘heart of Europe’ and this geographical pivot was scarred by several wars. Maybe there is no other area in Europe, which was so affected by the rigors of oppositional thinking as this particular area. It was here, on the crossroads of the continent, that the European cultural history showed its grim face of death and destruction in the hope to find its common future identity.

The first disturbance was the Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648), which started when Ferdinand II, as King of Bohemia, attempted to impose Roman Catholic absolutism on the Protestants and the nobles from Bohemia and Austria reacted with a rebellion. This type of encounters between two similar minded oppositional thinkers is of all times and is the most basic cause of all conflicts. The ‘eternal’ struggle between the state of Israel and the Palestine people proves this point in modern times.

The second encounter of power, known as the War of the Grand Alliance (1689 – 1697) started when the French king, Louis XIV, revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685 and protestant Huguenots began to leave France for England, Holland and the Palatinate. The armies of Louis XIV marched into the Palatinate in 1688 and the country was plundered and devastated. The walls of Heidelberg were blown up in February 1689. Again, this religious inspired conflict found its roots in the lower division thinking of the participants.

A third destruction caught the area in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701 – 1714) when a French army under Marshall Claude-Louis-Hector Villars marched through the Palatinate in 1707. This war found its cause in a power play on the political front and a fear of a possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under a single Bourbon monarch. The conflict also reached colonial North America, where it was known as Queen Anne’s War. Some four hundred thousand people were killed during  the fighting.

The extreme winter of 1708-09 caused many of the remaining people to leave the heart of Europe altogether. A mass migration in the spring of 1709 brought many Protestant refugees to Holland, England and America. Frances YATES (1972/1975) gave in her comprehensive book on ‘The Rosicrucian Enlightenment’ an overview of the political position of the Palatinate. It would be interesting, but not an easy task, to describe this hectic part of the European cultural history from the prospective of colliding types of division thinking.

The actual completion of Freudenstadt is a further history of tragedies (KRUFT, 1989). A fire ruined the first efforts of the development of the town in 1618 and 1632. Then again, the city was thoroughly destroyed in 1945 by British bombers. It was rebuilt after the war along the lines of a familiar board game known as the ‘mill game’ (Nine Men’s Morris). The symbolic meaning to get three pawns on a row by shifting moves might be representative of the remarkable resilience of this city in the heart of Europe.

The ideal cities as Utopian communities or imaginative objects in the ‘Arte militare’ were from the very beginning joined by several spiritual varieties. The Istrian scholar Francesco Patrizi of Cherso (1529 – 1597) proposed in his essay ‘La Città felice’ (The Happy City, 1553) a rather dull ideal city with a strong Italian flavor of law and order. He distinguished in his introduction two parts of being (soul and body) and observed that every human loves the company of other humans. He was convinced that slaves were necessary.

The site of the happy city should be positioned on a healthy place, preferably on a hill, with a pleasant view and the settlement should be easy to defend. Citizens must know each other and the size of a city should be limited. Law and magistrates are discussed and Patrizi is carried away by the defenses of the city and the militas (chapter 9). Six types of men are required in the happy city: rural workers, artisans, merchants, warriors, magistrates and priests. Patrizi’s dual mind is clear when he stated ‘that our city has two parts, the one servile and miserable, the other seigniorial and blessed’. Apparently not everybody drinks the waters of the celestial river, and Leonardo da Vinci’s ideas about segregation were only half a century old.

Patrizi’s book ‘Nova de Universis Philosophia’ (New Philosophy of the Universe; 1591) was his mature opus magnum and is divided in four parts: Panaugia (Of Light; the All-Light), Panarchia (Of the Beginning of Matter; the All-Principles), Pampsychia (Of the Soul; the All-Souls), and Pancosmia (Of the World; the All-Cosmos). Its message was to affirm Platonism and combat Aristotelians and scholasticism. The mind of Patrizi da Cherso struggled with the eternal themes of philosophy, while chained in the lower division thinking of his time, but he could  overcome some of its restrictions by  his brilliance.

RYKWERT (1980; p. 139) noted that the first quarter of the seventeenth century was ‘a great time for ideal cities like Campanella’s ‘City of the Sun’ appeared in 1623, and Andreae’s ‘Christianopolis’ in 1619’ (fig. 652). These cities were not described with architectonic ideas in mind, but followed the intentions of More’s Utopia: to give a description of a new social order within the boundaries of a city.


Fig. 652 – The city of Christianopolis, as proposed by Valentin Andreae in 1619, was an ideal city situated on the island Caphar Salaman. A harmonic life along the lines of the Rosicrucian, aiming at universal knowledge, was imagined.

Johann Valentin Andreae (1586 – 1654) visualized in his ‘Christianopolis’ (1619) a Calvinistic society like Geneva, with obedience to civic authority. His Societas Christiana was a response to the Rosicrucian society, which had an influence early in his life. Later he dissociated himself from the movement. Christian Rosencreutz had published two pamphlets in 1614 and 1615, the Fama Fraternitatis and the Confessio Roseae Crucis. They sparked a sense of enthusiasm throughout Europe as a secret society with an alternative for the Christian belief. Christianopolis had a laboratory as its central building rather than a temple. Andreae-as-a-person had a bifurcated life, changing from a young esoteric thinker into an orthodox Lutheran preacher around the year 1634.

Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) contributed to the idea of a utopian city by the creation of his ‘New Atlantis’. The book was written in a first draft about 1614 and posthumously published in 1626. Since that year, the forty-page book was reprinted thirteen times between 1627 and 1685. Bacon lived in a world of opposites and was convinced that most men are torn by contraries and antagonisms, but he regarded himself as an intermediary. His ‘New Atlantis’ was just an effort to achieve that goal, ‘an image of himself made perfect’. The result  is a formal and detached society, with little or no emotion. All people are happy in Bensalem, the city of peace, and ‘there is not under the heavens so chaste a nation as this of Bensalem, nor so free from all pollution or foulness’. Bacon offers a four-fold scheme to the visitors:

 ‘God bless thee, my son; I will give thee the greatest jewel I have. For I will impart unto thee, for the love of God and men, a relation of the true state of Salomon’s House. Son, to make you know the true state of Salomon’s House, I will keep this order. First, I will set forth unto you the end of our foundation. Secondly, the preparations and instruments we have for our works. Thirdly, the several employments and functions whereto our fellows are assigned. And fourthly, the ordinances and rites which we observe’. 

Salomon’s House was ‘ the noblest foundation, as we think, that ever was upon the earth, and the lantern of this kingdom. It is dedicated to the study of the works and creatures of God’. A centralized scientific organization constitutes the core of Bacon’s fantasies. The thirty-six Elders of Salomon’s House were an independent collegiate body dealing with the discoveries and put them to good and holy use. His secretary William Rawley recalled, after Bacon’s death in 1626, that his master deserved to be an architect, but was forced to be a workman and a laborer ‘to dig the clay and burn the brick’.

Tommasso Campanella (1568 – 1639) was a Dominican monk from Calabria in Southern Italy. He studied the Aristotelian arguments on the immortality of the soul and regarded Aristotelian doctrine as false, because it clashed with the temporality of the Christian soul. His dialectical dispute is a typical exercise in the third part of the Third Quadrant (1500 – 1650) of the European cultural history. He felt attracted to the empiricism of master Bernardino Telesio of Cosenza (1509 – 1588), who taught that knowledge is a sensation and that all things in nature possess sensations. Campanella published his first work ‘Philosophia sensibus demonstrata’ (Philosophy demonstrated by the senses) in 1592, in defense of Telesio.

His belief in the coming of the Spirit (in the year 1600) had a strong millenarian character. This eschatological view resulted in twenty-seven years of imprisonment, during which he wrote a number of books. The most famous is the ‘Civitas Solis’ (The City of the Sun, 1602/1623). This book is a poetical dialogue between a Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitallers and a Genoese sea-captain as his guest. The latter tells of a place called Taprobane (possibly Ceylon or Sumatra) immediately under the equator. The inhabitants led him to the City of the Sun, divided into seven rings named from the seven planets. The City had four streets and four gates, pointing to the main directions of the compass. Palaces filled the levels. Steps led up a hill with a spacious field with a circular temple in the middle.

Campanella continued to describe the system of government under the great ruler Hoh or Sole (Metaphysic) with three princes of equal power: Pon (Power), Sin (Wisdom), and Mor (Love). ‘All business was discharged by the four together, but in whatever Metaphysic inclines to the rest are sure to agree’ (THOMAS, 1998). Campanella apparently had some sort of tetrachy in mind here. Science had a crucial position in the ‘Città del Sole’ and occupied the majority of the managers of the state.

The sense of commune was important. The race in the City of the Sun was managed for the good of the commonwealth, and not for the benefit of private individuals. Domestic affairs and partnerships were of little account. Campanella was, despite his sympathy for the multiplicity, a firm believer in the art of war. It can also be argued, if a society in which women, who dye their hair or use high-heeled boots, are condemned to capital punishment, is a pleasant place to live. On the other hand, the idea that everybody has only four hours of duty everyday, while the rest is spent in learning, debating, walking and play, sounds admirable.

Campanella was released from prison in 1626 and lived in Rome until 1634, after another imprisonment of three years in the Italian capital. Then he fled to France and was received at the court of Louis XIII. He got protection of Cardinal Richelieu, which enabled him to die in peace in a monastery on the rue Saint-Honoré in Paris in 1639. His illusion to establish a universal organization of society under a new papacy, as set forth in his treatise ‘Monarchia Christianorum’ (1593), remained a dream and the return of mankind to a state of innocence turn out to be a chimera. His life was that of an idealist with sympathy for the expression of the senses, but chained by the limitations of his (lower) division thinking.

The city of Richelieu in Central France (Indre-et-Loire) was a town planning effort by the eponymous church leader Cardinal Richelieu (1585 – 1642) (fig. 653). The city might qualify as an ‘ideal city’ of the later, ‘sentimental’ type – in this case an expression of political power transformed into stone. Cardinal Richelieu was since 1624 the First Minister of the king Louis XIII. The reign of this duo straightened the way to absolutism in the name of raison. Richelieu adhered to the maxim that ‘the ends justify the means’ to reach his political goals. His three division of the specific roles in society consisted of 1. Nobility, which could use arms under the control of the king; 2. The clergy, which kept to religious matters and 3. The common people living in obedience, following the laws. The authority of the crown was secured by force. Political repression was the result in a zero tolerance policy of which the Huguenots were again victims when their resistance was crushed in 1631.


Fig. 653 – The city of Richelieu in central France is an example of an ‘ideal city’ in its mature form. Cardinal Richelieu developed it during his influential period at the French court of Louis XIII.

The zenith of oppositional thinking in Europe (around the Second Visibility Crisis (SVC) in the year 1650) found in Richelieu a worthy trailblazer. It is the fate of history that this very psychological setting put France on the (world) map as a leading power. Richelieu’s patronage of the arts was another positive spin-off of his dual mind. The city of Richelieu was built in a straightforward fashion and is still a pleasant example of an ideal city, which reached reality. The architect was Jacques Lemercier (c. 1585 – 1654). He lived seven years in Italy and was influenced by classical ideas. He designed several churches for the Jesuits. His masterpiece is the church of the Sorbonne (1635), with a hemispherical dome set on an octagonal drum with four small cupolas in the angles of a Greek cross.


The market hall of Richelieu (France) (Photo: Marten Kuilman, 2007).

A different type of ‘ideal city’ was described by the Swedish geologist and philosopher Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1772) in his ‘Spiritual Diary’ (1757). His life moved from a mining consultant to a Christian mystic. He spent the last thirty years of his life dealing with spiritual matters. His aim was a theory, which would explain how matters relate to the spirit. He published in 1735 his ‘Opera philosophica et mineralis’, putting the first steps to conjoin philosophy and metallurgy. A small work called ‘de Infinito’ was published in the same year, touching the problems of the finite and infinite and the body and the soul. A definite disruption in his life took place around 1744 when dreams and visions haunted him during his travels through the Netherlands and England. He resigned as assessor of the board of mines in 1747 and started a spiritual interpretation of the Bible, resulting in his major work, the eight-volume ‘Arcana Coelestia’ (Heavenly Secrets, 1749 – 1756).

Swedenborg’s presence is a specimen of a ‘split’ life, characterized by a  dividing line with extreme dedications on both sides of the (time) line. His life epitomized, in a sense, the opposition of the Third Quadrant. Other historical examples can be pinpointed, like the life of the Latin Church father Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430), who underwent a profound personal crisis in 386 (see also p. 764 – 765). The French mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662) had a vision during the night of the 23rd of November 1654 to devote his life to God in asceticism. The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855) experienced his ‘Grosse Erdbeben’ (large earth-quake) in the year 1835. All these people had similar turning points in their lives. Many more examples can be given and this psychological phenomenon is still common in modern society – often associated with a crisis reaching into the realm of psychiatry (borderline personalities).

The phenomenon of an ‘ideal city’ as a visible entity within the context of a cultural development is a curious momentum. The historic consciousness of a culture must have reached a certain stage of self-knowledge and identity to be aware of ‘another side to the coin’. Social boundaries have to be recognized and respected and the power (either physical or psychological) must be exerted to uphold these boundaries. The omnipresent sense of control and its inherent problems creates the need to search for a redefinition of the city as a gathering place of people.

The Werdegang of the ideal city in the European cultural history will now be given in a quadralectic perspective (fig. 654). The scheme is an attempt to position the complex of thoughts associated with the idea of the ideal city in a communication-as-a-whole. This interaction is recorded by an observer (the writer) in the Observational Present (OP).


Fig. 654 – A view of the position of some Ideal Cities on the CF-graph of the European cultural history between 1200 – 2100 related to the mechanisms of imagination and the characteristics of the subdivision of the Third Quadrant. OP = Observational Present, or the position of the writer of this book at the time of presentation.

The four stages of the development of the Ideal City in the Third Quadrant (III) of the European cultural history (1200 – 1800) are determined as follows:


1. The Ideal City as a psychological entity becomes only feasible after the city-as-phenomenon had reached a widespread appearance in Europe. Francesco Eiximenic (c. 1340 – 1409) proclaimed the ‘bastide’ type of city as ‘la ville idéale’.

Alberti’s De pictura (1435) was first written in Latin and then translated into Italian under the title Della pittura (1436). It opened the mental road to perspective as a tool to visualize the city and  toy with architectural forms. His other book De re aedificatoria was a large and expensive book, which was not fully published until 1485, after which it became a major guide to architects. In Alberti’s view ‘the architect-planner was the high priest of the ideal’ (MANUEL & MANUEL, 1979).

Piero della Francesca (c. 1412 – 1492) gradually gave up painting some twenty years before his death and started to study the theories behind the laws of perspective and proportions. His book De prospectiva pingendi (On Perspective in Painting) was published between 1474 and 1482 and was dedicated to his patron, the Duke of Urbino. His treatise ‘De Corporibus regularibus’ is a further analysis of the foundations of his pictures.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) never drew an ideal city – except some elements on Ms B fol. 16r and 37v in 1488 – but his descriptions are vivid enough to enable modern scholars to make a reconstruction. His city was characterized by rigorously geometric urban planning, with a network of canals, which were used both for commercial purposes as well as a sewage system. Furthermore, his division in an upper and lower section of the city is noteworthy.

1500 ————————————————————————————————–

2. The Ideal City as a utopian city was first proposed by Thomas More in 1517. It was a critical review of the city with an optimistic outlook about reforms. The city – as a representation of society – became an instrument to generate ideas. There was no direct need to shape the city in mortar and brick or aim otherwise on visibility. In stead the architect-visionary searched for a new expression of aesthetic values. Some of these ideas had a political and/or psychological nature, while others were directed towards technical improvements, which could be used one day in the real world. Symbolic forms, both in a geometrical as well as a biometrical way, were used to experience the classic beauty, like it was given by Filarete in his description of Sforzinda and also surfaced in the work of Francesco di Giorgio and others.

1550  ————————————————————————————————

3. The Ideal City as a construction of defense was already recognized by Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) when he was in the service of the Duke of Milan between 1482 and 1499. He advised the Duke on architecture, fortifications and military matters and used his skills as a hydraulic and mechanical engineer. Leonardo’s imagination wandered over the ideal city and preferred  decentralization of crowded cities (like Milan)  into separate communes. His sketch of a two-level city with a lower level for the commoners and an upper level for the aristocracy is obviously inspired by some form of oppositional thinking.

The aspect of defense and fortification became increasingly important after Cataneo’s ‘Four Books on Architecture’ (1554) and reached a zenith in the ‘art of war’ as visualized by Simon Stevin in his books on ‘De  Stercten-bouwing’ (Leiden, 1594) and ‘Castrametatio,  dat is Legermeting’ in 1617. The design of the ideal city was left in the hands of the architect-engineers. A combination of geometrical Spielerei with lines and angles and its practical application in fortifications brought the essentials of an ideal city further into the background. Cities like Scamozzi’s Palmanova and later Menno van Coehoorn’s Coevorden, Groningen, Zwolle, Nijmegen, Breda and Bergen op Zoom in the Low Countries were pragmatic cities. Their ‘geometry in the service of war’ was devoted to the needs of the day.

The hexagonal city of Grammichele (1693), near Catania on the island of Sicily, was built after the destruction by an earthquake of the old town of Occhialà. It is a remarkable example of a city in which the spirit of the ideal city was not corrupted.


The hexagonal plan of Grammichele (Magnus Michael), Sicily (Italy). In: BURKE, Gerald (1971). Towns in the Making. Edward Arnold. ISBN 0 7131 5816 6


Central hexagonal square of Grammichele (Sicily, Italy)   (Photo: Marten Kuilman, 2012).

The modern circular town of Nahalal in Israel – designed by Richard Kauffmann and founded in 1926 – also had some of the idealistic spirit of geometry left, not aiming at defense.

Many fortifications in France, on the other hand, which were supervised by the French military engineer Vauban (1633 – 1707), hardly qualified to be included in the concept of the ideal city. However, it cannot be denied that the roots of  these elaborate city plans, like the city of Lille (1709), are firmly embedded in its psychological background.

1600 ————————————————————————————————

4. The Ideal City as a spiritual escape was noticeable in the diffusion of More’s ideas in the second half of the sixteenth century. La repubblica immaginaria of the Italian poet Ludovica Agostini (1536 – 1612) dated from 1585 and was caught in the new ascetic-egalitarian spirit of the Counter-Reformation. Agostini’s manuscript of his Christian ideal republic was kept in Pesaro for nearly four centuries and only printed in 1957. The Croatian polymath and philosopher Patrizi of Cherso was mentioned as a fore bearer of an ideal city as the carrier of social and political ambitions, but was far away from its actual architectural realization.

The Christian utopia of Andrae’s Christianopolis, Bacon’s New Atlantis and Campanella’s City of the Sun surfaced around the annus mirabilis of the genre in 1620. The rather vague sketches of Swedenborg in the second half of the eighteenth century were probably the last of the sentimental uttering on ideal cities in the Third Quadrant. Maybe idealism was not dead at that time, but it changed its expressions. The city as a representative of the society (polis) had lost its appeal and Romanticism took its place. The mood shifted towards the manipulation of Nature and a search for its esthetic possibilities. The utopian spirit of the ideal city was often replaced by its opposite: the dystopian city, which was characterized by chaos and disorder. T.S. ELIOT’s poem Wasteland (1922; 1936/1963) pointed to such a metropolis, positioned in the ruins of Western civilization:

———————-  Who are those hooded hordes swarming

———————-  Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth

———————-  Ringed by the flat horizon only

———————-  What is the city over the mountains

———————-  Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air

———————-  Falling towers

———————-  Jerusalem Athens Alexandria

———————-  Vienna London

———————-  Unreal

The intentions of the ‘ideal city’ were fully blurred by the time that the French artist Jean Jacques Moll put his design of ‘Napoleonville’ on the drawing board in 1809. Emperor Napoleon, at the height of his power, asked Moll to draw a town for hundred thousand citizens in the heart of Brittany (fig. 655). He produced not one, but six blueprints of what is now the city of Pontivy. An elliptical square with a large community building was surrounded by a park and sixteen symmetrical blocks were divided in two or four groups of houses connected with small gardens. ‘The city combines all the comforts and progress that anyone could wish for’ was Moll’s motto, but no specific details were given how such a state could be reached. The project remained unfinished in 1815 at the fall of the Empire, but continued at a slow speed in the nineteenth century. The Napoleon Square was used as a parade ground for ten thousand soldiers until 1927. A comparison of this lay-out with the garrison town of Sante Fe near Granada (Spain) (see fig. 600) indicates the closure of a circle. The creative concept of an ideal city came to an end. The time had come to look outside the constraints of the city – and it was found in nature. The cultural change became known as Romanticism.


Fig. 655 – A design for Napoleonville (Pontivy) by Jean-Jacques Moll in 1809 is probably the very last of the ‘ideal cities’, which was conceived in a dream of power.

Many nineteenth century efforts were often labeled as ‘ideal cities’, but they were, in fact, ‘future cities’, positioned in a glorified Nature or Cosmos. The visionary cities by the French, German and Russian architects of the 1920-1930, like those given by Le Corbusier (City Radiant), Taut and El Lizzisky, might qualify for a ‘second wave’ of ideal cities, but these metropolises were closer to science-fiction. The boundary between these two types (ideal – future) will always remain vague, mainly for reasons of a proper definition of the individual members and an understanding of the ‘city’ in one of its four (quadralectic) meanings.


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