Sir Ebenezer Howard
First Garden City built 1903
the civil engineer
Ebenezer Howard wrote the highly influential "Garden Cities for Tomorrow
". In it he describes his idea for an urban utopia. The book has since become the most translated
planning text in the world, and has been directly responsible for the design of more than 100 new urban centres worldwide.
Ebenezer Howard developed most of his ideas living in Victorian England, where overcrowding was commonplace. During the previous 100 years, industrialisation
had brought more and more people from the country into the cities in search of work. The English countryside
was languishing in poverty and unemployment while the cities were polluted and overcrowded.
Meanwhile, the Arts and Crafts movement
was showing a new focus on community culture, and the breakthroughs in engineering resulted grand structures like the Crystal Palace
, the Eiffel Tower
and The Great Western Railway
Theory of Garden Cities
On the first page of his book, Ebenezer introduces his idea of the "Three Magnets
"; the attraction of living in the country
, the attraction of living in the city
, and the attraction of living in a new garden city
. To Ebenezer, the principle attractions of living in a city were employment and social life. The attractions of country life were the clean air
, and open spaces
The purpose of the garden city
was to bring together the economic advantages of city living with the clean lifestyle
of country living. The city itself was to be built on principles community
"... by so laying. out a garden city that, as it grows, the free gifts of Nature- fresh air, sunlight, breathing room and playing room - shall be still retained in all needed abundance"
"Garden Cities for Tomorrow"
Characteristics of Garden Cities
As Ebenezer Howard envisioned it, a garden city
would be a "clustered
city" with multiple town centres, each with a population under 5,000 people. Each of these satellite towns
would be economically inter-reliant but individuals would eat food produced in their own centre, and work in their own centre.
The food would be produced in agricultural land witin the city, "greenbelts
" as Ebenezer called them. The city would be marked out by these broad rings of vegetation, only broken by radial highways or canals connecting the city to it's neighbouring towns. The circular design
would continue inside the city, with circular roads, waterways and parks rippling out from the town centre.
The wedges created by this design would be seperated for distinct purposes; government
etc. The buildings themselves contained open space and gardens, very unlike the traditional Victorian terraces
Results of the Garden Cities Movement
In 1903 the Garden City Company
acquired land for the founding of the first city built on Howard's principles (http://www.letchworthgardencity.net/
). More than 40 English cities were settled by this company over then next 60 years. After World War two
, Howard's ideas were still highly influential in the rebuilding of many European cities
, including London
In the second half of the 20th century the influence of the garden city
ideas waned for a number of reasons. The low population density
of these towns meant that public transport
. This in turn resulted in increasing use of cars and then traffic jams
and highway construction
. The small size of the satellite towns meant that people sometimes had to go to the next centre for work, or even that one company came to dominate the town. The population density
also continued to decrease, resulting in sprawling suburbs
on the fringes of the towns.
Some examples of cities influenced by the garden cities movement