The Garden City Model

The garden city model was first invented by a British urban planner Sir Ebenezer Howard in 1989. The model was inspired by the vision of Utopian writer Edward Bellamy that he expressed in his book “Looking Backwards”. It implicated the new concepts of city-building and organization. Sir Ebenezer Howard considered his garden city model a model of the cities of the future. Howard’s concept became popular in Australia and several other countries around the world. The garden city model has been transformed from the creation of places with radical social objectives into places that conform to a set of design principles. In the following paper, the fairness of the above-mentioned concept will be evaluated. Overall, the evaluation of historical developments in the city garden model, beginning from the original city garden model by Howard, suggests that the statement under discussion in the following paper is valid and fair.

The representatives of many schools of urban planning consider the garden city model the most enduring and wise planning model that has emerged due to the efforts of the Western urban planning school (Ward 1992). The history of this model creation begins in 1898 when Sir Ebenezer Howard inspired by the Utopian ideas developed his famous concept of “the greenbelts”. Howard saw a recipe for rural and urban problems and contradictions in his city model. Howard’s model implicated building garden cities in the city suburbs. His cities were planned for approximately 32,000 (but no more than this) people on an area of 2,400 hectares. Such cities were to be characterized by the following designer solutions: being projected on a concentric territory with open spaces, having 6 radial boulevards that extend from the city center, and being self-sufficient. In addition, Howard planned that his city gardens would have a strong system of communications with the nearby garden cities including high ways and rail roads (Miller 2002). Howard’s model became very popular among the representatives of the Western urban planning school who spread it all over the world in the 20th century. Such quick spread of Howard’s garden city model was achieved by means of close cooperation strategies between the countries of the world based on trading links and colonialism (Ashton 2010).

The evaluation of Howard’s garden city concept helps resolving the paper’s question of whether the statement “the garden city model has been transformed from the creation of places with radical social objectives into places which conform to a set of design principles” can be considered valid. Howard’s garden city models is first of all based on designer concepts, and only the second place in it is for its practical value as a settlement purposed for social objectives. Thus, it becomes clear that the statement under discussion is fair and right. To see the way this statement is supported by the further developments in the garden city theory, the further history of this theory will be addressed below.

Howard’s model soon became popular all over the world. In Australia, it was actively studied and implemented during the period of 1913 to 1917 (Freestone 2009; Garnaut 2000). In the final part of this period, an Australian Town Planning Association was formed (Gatley 2005). As a result of this association’s activity, a number of garden cities in Australia were organized. Among them are the suburb of Colonel Light Gardens in South Australia (Adelaide), the town of Sunshine in Victoria, and the suburbs of Canberra (Bailey, Grayson, Waterson & Lineham 2001).During the second period of development of the garden city model concept, that took place from 1948 till 1963, more garden cities appeared in Australia; however, they became more functional than the first ones as they aimed to meet not only garden cities designer concepts, but also the social needs of people inhabiting them (Evans & Freestone 2010; Freestone 1989).

The most remarkable of all Australian garden cities is the suburb of Colonel Light Gardens in Adelaide, South Australia. Nowadays, Colonel Light Gardens, located in the City of Mitcham, is a city garden suburb that features lots of open space, three-lined streets of remarkable wideness, and rounded street corners. The area of the whole garden city is 1.58 square kilometres. Within this territory not only designer elements can be noticed; this garden city also features socially important objects such as the Colonel Light Gardens RSL, Colonel Light Gardens Primary School, numerous historical parks and gardens, paved and unpaved lanes and laneways, biking tracks, alleys, glades, and even a Reade Park network of sports clubs. This territory has a good system of communications with the other territories around it including tram lines, rail roads, bus roads, and high ways (Aldridge 1996).

The history of the Colonel Light Gardens formation is quite interesting. Initially, this garden city model was developed on the basis of Howard’s concepts as a part of the western urban movement activities in Australia. In 1915, the area of 1.2 square kilometres was included into the government’s plan of creation a ‘model of garden suburb’ based on the concept developed by Charles Reade who was Howard’s follower (‘Book Notes’ 2000; Miller 2004). The newly emerged garden city was named after Colonel William Light, the first Surveyor-General of Adelaide (Garnaut 1998). This garden city was a typically developed garden city where the main point was in its designer characteristics including wide three-lined streets, rounded street corners, and a large amount of open space (Hutchings 2007). However, later this territory was also used for strategic purposes as socially important facilities appeared there (Garnaut & Hutchings 2003). Evaluating the model implicated in the suburb of Colonel Light Gardens in Adelaide, it should be stated that it also supports the statements under investigation in this paper as it was built on the basis of designer concepts primarily. Despite modern-day practice of urban planning theories implementation, this garden city is still a kind of Howard’s designer concept.

Howard’s garden city model was actively implemented in many other countries of the world. Beginning from 1901, gardens cities appeared in the United Sates, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Bhutan, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Morocco, Israel, and South Africa (Hall 1988; Siksna 2009). In all of these countries, garden cities have common designer characteristics of small area occupied (not more than 2 square kilometres), wide radial streets, rounded street corners, and a large amount of open space which proves the fact that the statement under consideration is true and valid. However, with the duration of time, Howard’s model based on designer aspects becomes less influential, and garden cities become more urbanized as a number of socially important objects appear in them including schools, hospitals, governmental establishments, etc. (Johnson 2002).

Finally, regarding the relationship between planning theories and planning practice, it should be stated that there exists a number of significant differences between them. Practice always requires operability and functionality. On this reason, theoretical designer concepts do not find their full reflection in the garden city model, especially the one existing nowadays. Such tendency is explained by the fact that people’s life is more than just work and sleep; people need socializing. Socializing that is so important for people should take its place in convenient conditions near people’s houses. Thus, parks and gardens are often replaced by socially important facilities in modern garden cities. On this reason, garden city designer concepts are not fully implemented in practice nowadays.

In conclusion, Howard’s garden city model, developed in the end of the 19th century in Great Britain, became very popular around the world. Its designer solutions of being of small area not more than 2 square kilometres, having wide radial streets, rounded street corners, and a large amount of open space are actively implemented in a number of suburb territories around the world. Since 1901, garden cities appeared in the United Sates, Mexico, Argentina, India, Philippines, Morocco, Israel, South Africa, and many other countries. In Australia, Howard’s garden city model is implemented in the suburb of Colonel Light Gardens in South Australia (Adelaide), the town of Sunshine in Victoria, the suburbs of Canberra, and many other territories. Basically, Howard’s designer concepts are evident in those territories; however, the development of practical thought has changed these garden cities in some ways. In particular, they became more functional as socially important objects such as schools, hospitals, police stations, governmental establishments, etc. appeared in them. Still, it can be said that Howard’s designer concepts are central in their planning. Thus, the statement under discussion in this paper appears to be fair.


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