I was recently told about Utopia London, a documentary directed by Tom Cordell, and can’t wait to see it.
The film observes the method and practice of the Modernist architects who rebuilt London after World War Two. It shows how they revolutionised life in the city in the wake of destruction from war and the poor living conditions inherited from the Industrial Revolution.
Utopia London travels through the recent history of the city where the film maker grew up. He finds the architects who designed it and reunites them with the buildings they created. These young idealists were once united around a vision of using science and art to create a city of equal citizens. Their architecture fused William Morris with urban high-rise; ancient parkland with concrete.
Utopia London examines the, social and political agendas of the time in which the city was rebuilt. The story goes on to explore how the meaning of these transformative buildings has been radically manipulated over subsequent decades. Inspired by the optimism of the past it poses the question; where do we go from here and now?
The documentary goes through the history of a dozen modernist buildings. The objective is not to brush a history of architecture in London but to remind us of a British society that had faith in social utopian ideology. The first comments and images of the film look at a panorama of London at a time when the city was built for God. Nowadays, the London skyline evokes finance. The Modernist movement broke the timeline that went from churches to banks with a series of architectural landmarks designed to achieve social good, not through charity, but by the hands of both socially-conscious architects and an accountable municipal authority.