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How Utopian Living Looked to Modernist Architects

Bold visions—from the past—of how we would live in the future.

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Les Choux de Créteil, designed by Gérard Grandval, France, 1974. (Photo: Dacian Groza/ Courtesy The Tale of Tomorrow © Gestalten 2016)

On the outskirts of Paris, there lies what was promise of a better future in an unlikely shape: ten cylindrical towers, each 15 stories tall, with curved concrete balconies, known as Les Choux de Créteil – the Cabbages. Designed by architect Gérard Grandval and completed in 1974, the Cabbages are housing blocks with a difference. Their unique shape, as seen in the above photo, also has a function: the apartments’ living spaces are closer to the windows and the balconies – each of which are 2 meters tall – provide both direct outdoor access and privacy.

The Cabbages are one of the designs featured in the new book The Tale of Tomorrow: Utopian Architecture in the Modernist RealmDrawing inspiration from the space age, and materials like concrete and glass, the designs suggested an idealistic future full of promise. Or as Sofia Borges writes in the introduction, “The future never looked better than in the past.”

From Eero Saarinen to Le Corbusier, Oscar Neimeyer to Lina Bo Bardi, along with other major 20th century architects, the book explores this futuristic, elegant architectural movement. Here is selection of images from the book: 

Ruth Ford House by Bruce Goff, Aurora, Illinois, 1948. (Photo: Eliot Elisofon/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images/Courtesy The Tale of Tomorrow © Gestalten 2016)

Glen Harder House by Bruce Goff, Mountain Lake, Minnesota, 1970. (Photo: J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)/Courtesy The Tale of Tomorrow © Gestalten 2016)

Trans World Flight Center by Eero Saarinen, New York, 1962. (Photo: Balthazar Korab, courtesy of The Library of Congress, www.korabimage.com/ Courtesy The Tale of Tomorrow © Gestalten 2016)

Walden 7 by Ricardo Bofill, Barcelona, Spain, 1975. (Photo: Courtesy of Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura/ Courtesy The Tale of Tomorrow © Gestalten 2016)

Steel House by Robert Bruno, Lubbock, Texas, 2008. (Photo: Denny Mingus/ Courtesy The Tale of Tomorrow © Gestalten 2016)

Les Arcades du Lac by Ricardo Bofill, Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines, France, 1982. (Photo: Laurent Kronental/ Courtesy The Tale of Tomorrow © Gestalten 2016)

National Assembly Building of Banglades by Louis Khan, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1974. (Photo: Raymond Meier/Courtesy The Tale of Tomorrow © Gestalten 2016)

Sheats / Goldstein Residence by John Lautner, Los Angeles, 1963. (Photo: Roger Straus III/Esto/ Courtesy The Tale of Tomorrow © Gestalten 2016)

The cover of The Tale of Tomorrow: Utopian Architecture in the Modernist Realm. (Photo: Courtesy The Tale of Tomorrow © Gestalten 2016)