Utopia has been imagined in a thousand different ways. Yet when people try to build utopia, they struggle and very often fail. Art historian professor Richard Clay asks whether utopian visions for living can ever reconcile the tension between the group and the individual, the rules and the desire to break free.
Travelling to America, he encounters experimental communities, searching for greater meaning in life. Richard visits a former Shaker village in New Hampshire and immerses himself for a day at the Twin Oaks eco-commune in Virginia, where residents share everything, even clothes. He looks back at the grand urban plans for the masses of the 20th-century utopian ideologies, from the New Deal housing projects of downtown Chicago to the concrete sprawl of a Soviet-era housing estate in Vilnius, Lithuania. He also meets utopian architects with a continuing faith that humanity’s lot can be improved by better design. Interviewees include architect Norman Foster and designer Shoji Sadao.