Eutopia unbound. Imagining good places in narratives from 1945 to the present

Start - End 
2010 - 2015 (completed)
Department of Literary Studies
Other institution(s) 
Department of Architecture and Urbanism
Research group(s) 
Research Focus 
Research Period 



Conducted within the interdisciplinary Ghent Urban Studies Team [GUST], this research stands midway between literary and urban studies. 'Eutopia Unbound' lays the foundation for a method of analyzing the narrative aspects of urban design projects. It does this starting from fictional cases of architectural and urban design as they are staged in novels of the late-modern era. Crucial is the narrative construction of ‘eutopias’ (places that seem to be inherently good), which commonly shapes the spatial imagination of architects and urban planners and becomes a powerful rhetorical tool for presenting and promoting their projects.

The research uncovers four types of eutopias that continue to recur in our late-modern culture, in general, and in the projections of architects and urban planners, in particular: the oasis, the capsule, the hub and the bazaar. A definition of 'eutopia' is developed starting from Foucault's notion of 'heterotopia' and Cassirer's theory of 'mythical thinking.' Mikhail Bakhtin's 'chronotope' is developed as a tool of analysis for 'cultural narratology' (Nünning).



Phd Student(s)


Pieter Uyttenhove