Home > architecture, school > simply put, Rousseau believed:

simply put, Rousseau believed:

simply put, Rousseau believed that man was a purely good beast; when left to his own primal devices, man would seek the outcome that was both most beneficial to his position, and least disruptive overall. he treated pre-societal man as the ideal creature – good-natured and calm, unlikely to do harm to other creatures except in self-defense. he posited that as society slowly developed – almost inevitably – man was required by circumstances to develop characteristics that, although they ensured his survival in this new society, ultimately led to a depraved, capricious, selfish, and wanton man.

it follows that the outcome and the cause of human debasement – cities – should be abandoned in order to lead humankind back to a state of perfection in harmony with nature. cities cause human suffering, nature was indirectly responsible for happiness. humans should leave cities and commune with nature.

however, i question the reasoning that Rousseau was a father of garden cities. my reading indicated that man abdicate all association with civilization and again become a ‘forest-dweller’. was he merely suggesting that a greater contact w/ nature was the only requirement for a healthier, happier life? that appears to be how his writing was understood by some.
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le Doux (1736-1806), as a Utopian architect, designed a number of projects resembling country communes. though his plans were specific in their design, they were not designed around factories as were many later designs. he proposed garden communities purely for the sake of providing better housing to the classes and professions typically denied such benefits. there was no paternalistic tendency, no design was ever constructed; this was design for the sake of human betterment.

the projects that actually were built, tended to be built around factories. they were plans for the betterment of factory workers, who lived in unhealthy inner-city conditions. by moving the factory and homes outside of the polluted city, their designers hoped to socialize the lower classes and also to reap the benefits of increased productivity. while there is no denying the altruistic overtones of social reform that these projects possessed, it seems that the ultimate success of such projects did lie with their abilities to produce profit.

james silk buckingham designed another hypothetical community named Victoria. housing and manufacturing were placed in layers of concentric squares about a central clock tower, with the more polluting industries placed in the peripheral squares. a green belt was to surround the town, and the houses were to contain flush toilets and be of generous size. better living conditions equates with better social interaction and ultimately higher profits. the only sofical reformation he appears to have proposed include naming streets such as Justice, Unity, Peace, Concord, Fortitude, Charity, Hope, and Faith. osmosis…merely surrounding workers in an atmosphere of good will and moral virtue were supposed to raise their standing.

a series of towns were actually built along these lines, although the built communities tended to include education facilities for both children and adults. social engineering could not be accomplished merely by altering physical conditions:- education, required for children but optional for adults, was instituted.

Robert Owen renovated New Lanark, a community developed by his father-in-law to house his cotton spinning mill’s workers. when Owen took over in 1799, the community was in a sad state, characterized by drunkeness, low productivity, idleness, theft. through a program lasting roughly 20 years, Owen nurtured the towns inhabitants through a process of kind treatment and education, reforming the workers and increasing productivity. he jumpstarted the concept of socialism, inspired Eigels (who co-authored A Communist Manifesto w/ Marx some 20-odd years later), instituted a number of cooperatives in England, and led a failed attempt to build a new Utopian community in New Harmony, Indiana, USA.

Sir Titus Salt created Saltaire (play on both his name and the emotions it evokes of healthy sea air) between 1848-1863. High quality housing separated from the manufacturing mill. Saltaire offered living spaces of various sizes, rented by the workers according to their needs. A variety of architectural styles were incorporated to break the monotony and instill a sense of age. Communal baths, churches, schools, an infirmary, and several other buildings were designed for the betterment of the public good.

Bournville, built by the Cadbury Brothers (i do believe we are speaking of cadbury chocolate), created a self-supporting industrial town. decent living quarters were provided for all factory workers, not just those employed in the Cadbury factory. indeed, only 40% of the accomodations were rented by Cadbury workers. Open space was a major concern, w/ all houses spaced at least 20 ft apart on road frontages – the Public Health Act of 1875 required an space on two sides of a house. Houses and roads were built along existing features, giving the village a natural, rolling look to it. The suburban cul-de-sac and crescent appear to have been developed here.

Port Sunlight, built by the Lever brothers of heavenly soap fame, had a more socialist bent to it than did Bournville. profits were put back into improved housing conditions; unlike Bournville, Port Sunlight designed its own landscapes. Homes were extremely English looking – , and all homes were given small gardens.

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