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A Loving Glimpse of an Aging Concrete Utopia

A new documentary charts the recent history of Basildon, one of Britain’s first post-war new towns.
A statue in Basildon' City Center
A statue in Basildon' City CenterNew Town Utopia

What happens to a city when the ideals that built it start to fade? This question lies at the heart of New Town Utopia, an affecting new British documentary released this month that charts the recent history of the model modernist city of Basildon.

Founded in 1949 roughly 30 miles east of London, Basildon was one of Britain’s first post-war new towns, a network of planned settlements that developed on the earlier Garden City model. Created by state development corporations in a spirit of practical idealism, these new towns sought to provide better homes and lives for mainly working class residents of Britain’s crowded, bomb-damaged cities.