Anthological Collection on the Relationship between Utopia and Dystopia, based on a Personal Analysis of Constant’s New Babylon






Marco Tortoioli Ricci

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Constant Nieuwenhuys

The OU—TOPIA project originated from a personal analysis of Constant Nieuwenhuys’ New Babylon, where in 1960 he presented his theory of Unitary Urbanism, denouncing the inadequacy of the urban environment of his time. The analysis revealed an almost dystopian utopian concept, which led to the question around which the entire project revolves: to what extent can a utopia be distinguished from a dystopia? Is there really a boundary? This is why the book is designed as an anthology to reflect on these concepts. Texts, articles, films, artworks, and graphics were selected to shed new light on these themes.

The comparison

The book is divided into two main sections, with the first one mainly focused on literature. On the other hand, the second section, which is the core of the book, examines some of the major figures and schools of thought in the history of design and architecture in the 20th century. Selected works from prominent individuals such as Sant’Elia, the Team Ten, Yona Friedman, the Metabolists, Superstudio, Gordon Matta-Clark, among others, are compared and contrasted through infographics in the final section of the book. The first infographic presents the basic values adopted by Constant and serves as the framework for generating the infographics for the other schools of thought mentioned.

Personal visual interpretations

The book OU—TOPIA is structured with an editorial grid in golden proportions, in reference to the concept of utopia. In contrast with the rigor of this structure, some pages feature personal visual interpretations as a re-elaboration of the concepts addressed in the texts. However, this intervention has been limited in number so as not to be excessive and to avoid excessively distracting attention from the proposed contents. The visual interpretations are placed in overlapping layers with the text, reflecting the concept of layerism, or as an actual extension of the textual area.

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