During a career that spanned six decades, the architect, planner and historian Erwin Anton Gutkind consistently argued for the abandonment of the concept of the city and for the emergence of a new form of environmental organisation where communities lived in settlements that did not stand in a hierarchical relationship to one another. Such an ‘expanding environment’, to be achieved through the decentralisation and dispersal of settlements and people, would allow for a rejuvenation of the relationship between individuals, communities and their environment and herald the beginning of a new post-urban era in human history. To Gutkind, this new era was not only desirable but inevitable, as it aligned with contemporary understandings of the nature of an expanding universe. This article aims to provide an overview of Gutkind’s little-known work in planning on decentralisation, dispersal and the end of cities. It will argue that, even though many of Gutkind’s utopian ideas concurred with those of his contemporaries, the way in which he combined them into a complex argument, drawing on his practical experiences and a range of disciplinary perspectives, was truly his own and remains worthy of consideration in a time of continued interest in the growth, ‘liveability’ and sustainability of cities.
Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment\School of Architecture
Year of publication: 2018Date of RADAR deposit: 2018-01-04