Whatever happened to utopian architecture?

The Tale of Tomorrow: Utopian Architecture in the Modernist Realm collects photos and commentary about the mid-century heyday of utopian architecture, from Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti to Bangladesh's National Assembly Building.

An interview in Wired with editor Sofia Borges asks where the utopian architecture went, what it's like to live in it now, and why we stopped building it:

Plenty of the structures built during the heyday of the utopian architectural movement are still standing, but many have been repurposed, and others have been abandoned. Look at Arcosanti: The 1970s-era desert community in Arizona is perhaps one of the most famous examples of design that makes a utopian statement. Its designer, Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Paolo Soleri, built it to be a self-sustaining city—a dome in the desert where thousands of people could live together, in harmony. It never really worked: after attracting a few thousand members in its early days, interest waned and people left. Today, it’s a tourist attraction.

“It doesn’t feel like that many things did stick,” Borges says of the ideas of that time. There are some notable exceptions: Apple and Google’s ambitious plans for tech campuses hark back to the era, both in terms of their spaceship-like structures and focus on sustainability. But in general, as Borges sees it, much of the high-profile experimentation in architecture today is lacking a social agenda.

“It’s forms for the sake of forms, not forms for the sake of humanity,” she says. “That’s why we’re putting this out,” she says of book, which she also refers to as “a call to arms.” “Why doesn’t our future look anything like this anymore? What could we take from these lessons, and apply going forward?”

The Tale of Tomorrow: Utopian Architecture in the Modernist Realm [Sofia Borges, Sven Ehmann, Robert Klanten/Gestalten]

Journey Back to the Dreamy, Gorgeous Architecture of Utopia [Margaret Rhodes/Wired]

(Images: Bruce Goff, John Lautner, Louis Kahn, Ricardo Bofill)