The Ideal City: The Examples of Washington, Canberra and Brasilia


Sarah Gatzlik

Economic and Social History and History of Technology, School of Business and Economics | RWTH Aachen University, Kackertstraße 7, 52072 Aachen

November 2016



The creation of something new often goes together with the aspiration for perfection. Therefore, it is not surprising that newly founded cities are often established as ideal cities. Planned capitals are special in the bulk of planned cities: „Their planning is unique“. As „geographic reference points and symbolic markers“ they establish identities and are reflectors of the social and economic situation of a country. Referring to this, the government transfers its aspiration for the best possible for the population to the most important city of a state and let it buildafter ideal criteria. In this context the following paper examines the historical development of the concept of the ideal city. Representative, the three original city plans of the capitals Washington, Canberra and Brasília are examined in the four categories politics, economics, infrastructure and society to see how and through which influencing factors the conceptions of ideal cities changed within the cities.