The ideal city

The Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans was already more than a factory with its production units, its accommodations and its gardens.  Yet Ledoux did not want to stop there.  He imagined that he would found a complete city surrounding the factory.  Following the semicircle traced by the saltworks, the ideal city was to be enriched by all the public and private buildings necessary for everyday living.  All had to be planned so that men could pursue their work, their family and social life harmoniously and in good health. A market, businesses, a hospital, a court house, a cemetery, a church, bath houses and even a house of pleasure were thus to be found surrounded by tree-lined spaces and wide avenues.

This project pursued Ledoux until the end of his life.  He described it and devoted a central place to it in his treatise L'Architecture considérée sous le rapport de l'art, des mœurs et de la législation. The project would, however, never see the light of day.

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Two buildings were to know a better fate. The barrel-making workshop and the cannon forge were to be built in 1998. Built at the Jura rest stop on the A89 Motorway, they serve today as an exhibition hall and a boiler room, in homage to the utopian architect...