Metrics of Utopia: Optionality, Aesthetics and Patrick Geddes’ Ideal of Synoptic Utopia
My dissertation, ‘Periodicity and Rural Urban Dynamics’, hypothesizes that the simultaneous experience of strongly contrasting sensations is pleasurable, and that ‘abrupt urbanism’ can enhance both rural and urban experience. This article investigates the dual dimension of Geddes’ survey, physical and social, highlighting the importance of the principles of ‘synoptic vision’ and ‘vital budget’ introduced in his Cities in Evolution, and their relation to the concept of Utopia – to which Geddes gives an original and effective meaning as evolutionary and deeply contextual. Both the notions of synoptic vision and vital budget are based on an organic dimension, addressing body-related metrics in town and country as tools for design and, finally, for establishing democracy. In order to reanimate Geddes for Horizontal Metropolis, the article considers these two concepts and their metrics by inscribing Geddes’ theory and statements into a wider chronological trajectory, looking at his legacy as evidenced by his relations with contemporaries, and more recent affirmations of his proposed associations between the body, energy, mobility, metrics and democracy.