Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Ville de Chaux (project), c. 1774-1790
A utopian city that was an ‘amphitheatre of production’. The architecture consists of simple forms articulated by the basic Doric order, which emphasizes the function and audience of the project. The combination of basic forms, grand scale and axial procession creates an atmosphere which celebrates labour and industry. The concept of functionalism is inherent in the plan for the city- Ledoux highlights the importance of the saltworks in the life of Chaux by articulating it architecturally and sculpturally through apsidial voids and urns.
Inspired by the writing of Rousseau, Ledoux’s vision for the society of Chaux was one based on a traditional, communal and progressive, if odd style of living. There would be a family court, a house of sexual education which would operate as a controlled brothel to ‘channel the carnal passion of young men’ (the floor phallic floor plan highlights this). The design of the houses was highly individualized and was determined by the resident’s profession.
This utopian world had no prison or police force because Ledoux was confident that a well organized and well thought out city would satisfy its residents and there would therefore, not be any kind of precedence for the vices of man to perpetuate in the society of Chaux.
Years after its conception, Ledoux’s concept for Chaux continued to inspire diverse audiences like the French and British planners of 19th century industrial cities along with Soviet welfare housing planners in Soviet Russia and their satellite states.