UCL Urban Laboratory


Urban Lab Films: New Town Utopia

24 May 2018, 6:15 pm–8:30 pm

New Town Utopia

From Utopian dreams to concrete realities, New Town Utopia charts the challenging, funny, and sometimes tragic story of the British new town of Basildon, Essex

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Jordan Rowe


Curzon Bloomsbury
The Brunswick Centre
United Kingdom

After WWII, New Towns were designed as social utopias to create (in the words of the post-war government) "a new type of citizen, a healthy, self-respecting, dignified person with a sense of beauty, culture and civic pride." Basildon and its pioneer residents were invested with these post-war hopes and aspirations. Now, sixty years on, the town is often referred to as one of the worst in Britain. So what went wrong with the planned utopia?

The feature documentary is guided by the artists, musicians and poets of Basildon - on a journey through memory, place and performance. Facing austerity, adversity and personal battles they are individuals driven by creative spirit to help re-energise their community through art, poetry, music.

This screening, in partnership with Bertha DocHouse, will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker Christopher Ian Smith, Noël James (Director, Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre and AHRC New Towns Heritage research network), Michael Edwards (Bartlett School of Planning, UCL), and chaired by Clare Melhuish (Director, UCL Urban Laboratory).

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