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Classical Reception Seminar Series

When Feb 16, 2018
from 05:15 PM to 07:00 PM
Where G.21
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Prof. Gábor Betegh (Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy, Cambridge)

Magnesia and Brasília: planning cities and fostering values

Abstract:

In this paper I propose to compare two planned cities, Plato’s Magnesia, as set out in his late dialogue the Laws, and Lúcio Costa’s Brasília, a landmark of modernist city planning. It is rarely remarked that Plato in the Laws does not only outline the legal, institutional and educational framework of the city to be founded, as he does in the Republic, but also gives detailed indications about the new settlement's urban planning. I will suggest that Plato’s urbanistic ideas, stemming from his ethics and political philosophy, and Costa’s pilot plan, deeply inspired by Le Corbusier’s theoretical writings, are governed by the same fundamental principles. By their radical designs, they criticise and reject traditional cities and the values they represent. More importantly, their primary aim is not to cater for the existing life-styles and values of the new inhabitants. Rather, the spatial arrangement and architectural features of the city are meant to instil virtues and values, form and change the members of the urban community. 

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