Quand les habitants s’emparent de leur rue, comme ici, rue de l’Arc / © Christophe Billet

Utopian city

  • From dream to reality?


Who hasn’t dreamed of a perfect town? A city proud of its melting-pot character, enriched and appreciated by all?

People have always dreamed of ideal cities, towns whose location, topology, planning and architecture are conducive to a more harmonious, democratic, equitable and emancipated society. But we have yet to reach our goal, despite six centuries of utopian city-building projects born of enthusiastic and inventive minds according to the criteria of their day. What might be the foundations of the ideal 21st-century city? Technology obviously enters into the game, but its impact could take different forms: the digital city (services), the electronic city (networks) and the virtual city (the immaterial framework).And before addressing such concepts, we need an overarching vision of urban development. We must create a living space for the many, regarding no section of society as illegitimate. And we must know the population well before we start talking architecture. This is the view of André Jollivet, former chair of the PACA region’s Architects’ Association: "In Marseille it’s impossible to make the city without its inhabitants. The city centre needs a complete renovation, with genuine consultations. We have to remake it while keeping the people there, keeping the social mix. Noailles, for example, is a dynamic district, it’s a wonderful asset. Let’s not forget that Noailles is where Marseille’s grassroots movement to bring greenery into the streets began." That’s a view that encourages optimism.