Skip to main content

What Can we Learn from Utopian London?

Share this

Be realistic: demand the impossible. A utopian dream for many centuries. Thinking about utopian cities and trying to deliver utopian ideas about cities has been a key part of Festival of the Future City.

Niall Kishtainy, author of The Infinite City: Utopian Dreams on the Streets of London, discusses the history of utopia and London with Bristol Ideas’ director, Andrew Kelly. Ranging widely over centuries, they start with Thomas More and his utopia; look at those who tried to build utopian communities, like Gerard Winstanley and the Diggers; rediscover forgotten utopians like Thomas Spence and Robert Wedderburn as well as Henrietta Barnett and Ada Salter. They discuss in detail housing, from the garden cities of the late nineteenth century and the municipal utopianism of the 1930s leading to Beveridge and the post-war Atlee government. Finally, they look at utopian working and thinking today in environmental protests, rewilding of cities, four-day weeks and universal basic income. There’s lots for all cities to learn: the ideas of the past that remain relevant today; the perfect being the enemy of the good; and utopia as journey and process.


Read a transcript of this conversation

Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.

Find out how to update