Gizmodo: What Utopias Have to Do With the 19th Century Craze for Octagon Houses

But its ambitious geometric plan reflected a larger movement afoot in the mid-19th century, when many idealistic reformers looked to architectural plans—octagon houses, hexagon cities, oval communal mansions—as the geometric scaffolding for a better society. They believed that the morals and values of a society could be reflected in a city's layout, and physical surroundings could bring about change. These architectural plans were also a transparent, unmediated form of expression compared to political rhetoric. "There was a 1:1 relationship between what the plans represented or showed in an image and the effects it would produce in society," said Irene Cheng, an architecture professor at California College of the Arts.

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