Crafting the Imaginary: The Deteriorating Idea and Sentimental Plan of the Ideal City

Erin Hinton, Jonathan Bremner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Downloads (Pure)


The characteristics of the relationship between a city and its plan are not generally depicted as products of craft, nor are they discussed in terms of sentimentality. Despite the heroic modelling of the city based on illustrations of utopia, when looking at Walter Burley Griffin’s claim for the Ideal city that became Canberra, there is evidence, however, that both craft and sentimentality might be important vectors shaping both the perception and projection of cities. This paper presents the case that the contradictory temporal vectors of the city and its plan (preservation versus projection) are paralleled in the notion of the sentimental (attachment to a past that will be misrepresented in the future). A similar temporal shift occurs in craft where mastery does not begin with ideas, rather it produces ideas. These shifts in time produce conditional cognitive and imaginary experiences of cities that differ from their planned conditions. The deteriorating image of the plan and its ideals produced by the dissonance between the actual and imaginary city, presents the possibility to apply the lens of sentimentality to its practices of representation. So, while the future city will no longer be depicted in reproductions of utopia, it will always be reproduced in plan as image and the city as imaginary, both in varying states of repair and (mis)representation. The signs of human activity (the crafting of micro-utopias), connections (cognitive maps), and experiences (the public imaginary), are experiences that craft the imaginary city in which, we speculate, it is possible to imagine people will want to live.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-86
Number of pages14
Journalcraft + design enquiry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'Crafting the Imaginary: The Deteriorating Idea and Sentimental Plan of the Ideal City'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this