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this publication was supported by a grant from the UNITEC Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand copyright Matthew Bradbury.


112. garden 132. house 148.vacation 172.suburb

howard letchworth le corbusier onkeltomshutte radburn harlow washington peter cook singapore


to Alison, Sam and James


Garden city describes both an historical movement, a type of urbanism advanced in the late nineteenth century in response to the Victorian city, and a landscape practice which shares conditions with an urban practice. Historically, the Garden city’s inception lies in a diagram drawn by Ebenezer Howard, the nineteenth century city reformer. Howard’s diagram is a set of concentric circles, alternating built zones and landscape zones. “It is illustrative only – to be modified when put into practice”1 and it is this reluctance to prescribe specific detail or to foresee every contingency that is the strength of the Garden City in the history of twentieth century urbanism. The lack of specific city and garden design at the heart of this Ur diagram, has or permitted a versatility and freedom of movement for the designers of the Garden City. Letchworth, Onkel Toms Hutte, Radburn, Corbusier’s city for three million, Harlow, McHarg’s plan for Washington, and Singapore are some important examples of twentieth century urbanisms which have been driven by the possibilities of the Howard diagram. Unfortunately, these liberating discoveries, new types of public space, new gardens, new types of infrastructure, and new relationships to the natural world, have largely been overlooked in the development of one aspect of the garden city – the suburb. Defined and directed by real estate planning and realization, the suburb is part of a complex and intermeshing nexus of property speculation, transport and infrastructure interests.

Profligate with resources such as land and building materials, the suburb attracts extreme-

surrounding country, the artist in this manner reducing to practice the axiom laid

ly high environmental costs and necessitates expensive and attenuated services and infra-

down by Quatremère de Quincy that to imitate in the fine arts is to produce the

structure such as roading, pedestrian networks and storm water handling systems.

resemblance of a thing, but in some other thing becomes a resemblance of it. It is

All these forces conspire to reorganize the landscape of the suburban site. Topographically, existing contours are modified and existing flow paths are converted to

this production of an image or an idea I copy which distinguishes the artist from the mechanic, who can only produce an exact or facsimile copy.2

drainage systems. Horti-culturally, planting of the suburb is reduced to entry statements, street tree planting and gardens. Public space is often leftover space: land which is

The conscious act of horticultural separation is labelled the gardenesque, and is

difficult to build on, wetland or flood plain, or marginal land. This ‘public space’ is often

given a location, “Generally, in laying out villas in the neighborhood of a manufac-

hidden from the non-resident public.

turing town, the gardenesque style is preferred”.3

Just as the urban possibilities of the Garden city have become subsumed by the development of the suburb so too have the possibilities of the landscape and garden.

With the invention of the term ‘gardenesque’ Loudon codifies a set of instructions

The contemporary suburban garden is concerned with the horticultural; both the specimen

to ensure difference between a garden and the surrounding landscape. The differ-

and the new species. Its purpose is the display of the horticultural, the raising of certain

ence is located on the boundary of the indigenous and agricultural landscape,

species or combinations of species, especially flowers, and the ability to grow species from

and the property line of the new garden. Difference is prescribed in horticulture,

a particular transported eco tones such as the subtropical.

topography and specific boundary making. Plants are to be displayed in groups and

These concerns are played out within a private and domestic bounded domain. Boundary making is both a virtue and technique of the contemporary garden, demonstrated by

in different species. ... all the trees, shrubs, and plants are planted and managed in such a way that



the fence, wall, and hedge. Boundary making and horticultural selection are techniques

each may arrive at its highest state of individual perfection, and display its beauties

that desire differentiation. These devices ensure security and privacy, a bounded and

to as great advantage as if it were cultivated for that purpose alone, while, at that

defined world in which garden practice continually recycles familiar tropes.

same time, the plants relative to one another and to the whole scene or place to

These strategies of differentiation were developed by J.C. Loudon, the Victorian garden

which they belong, are placed regularly and systematically.4

writer and designer. While the eighteenth century landscape was concerned with the opening up of the garden to a complicated negotiation with the natural world, Loudon sought

The shrubbery … It is a scene in which the object is to arrange a collection of

a technically defined separation. The famous eighteenth century description of Kent’s

foreign trees and shrubs in a dug border. 5

practice,“he leapt the fence and saw that all nature was a garden”, is a neat explanation of the elision of the boundary. These negotiations, the ways of ensuring the connection of

… but we would add to the variety, and of consequent interest of shrubbery and

garden to the surrounding landscape are not only technical, (the invention of the ha-ha

pleasure ground walks, by the introduction along them, at various distances, of

as a smoothed boundary), but also poetic and allusive, the garden was a subject that could

what might be called botanical episodes. For example, we would introduce near the

encompass political and classical allusions. Loudon’s writing and practice is intent on

walk, and connected with it by subordinate walks, such scenes as a rosery, a heath-

reversing or transforming this dense and allusive field into a technical discipline which

ery, a rock garden, an American garden, a garden of British plants, gardens of

sought specific prescriptive means to make gardens and he grounds his argument in the

particular genera of shrubs or flowers, such as of Ribes, berberis, Spiraea, Cytisus,

writing of Quatremère de Quincy.

Aster, Dahlia.6

When, therefore, nature is closely imitated in its general effects by the landscape

Loudon instructs that boundary making can be accomplished with plants as well as lawns,

gardener, exotic trees should be introduced instead of those common to the

fences, and terraces.

……even the turf should be composed of grasses different from those of the

re-present traditional strategies and relationships between buildings, public spaces, and

surrounding grass fields.

landscapes in our cities


This process is described by a GIS programme, Arcview. Arcview both establishes In very small villas the lawn may embrace the garden or principle front of the

a descriptive system that makes conditional equivalences between landscape and urban

house, without the intervention of terrace scenery, and it may be separated from

programmes and enables and describes the intentionalities of a prescriptive garden prac-

the park, or park like field by a light timber fence; but in more extensive scenes it

tice to both intersect and effect landscape and city.

should embrace a terrace, or some avowedly artificial architectural basis to the mansion…8

The aim of the is not to develop new techniques for urban design but rather to develop an open ended process which opens up possibilities for new ways of living in the contemporary city.

What makes Loudon’s work so critical and important for garden design and the development of the suburb in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is how remarkably

unchanged and unchallenged the fundamental precepts of Loudon’s original instructions is a project that attempts to find a process or a strategy which can open up the

are. The great garden designers of the twentieth century, Church, Burle Marx, Jellicoe,

structures of the contemporary city and landscape , break open their tightly constructed

while producing many important and beautiful gardens have not seriously challenged the

organizations and both contest and construct a new way of thinking about and building a

fundamental principles of Loudon’s original prescription of boundary and horticultural

new landscape and city.

difference. In the development of the suburb, the gardenesque has become a critical force

The first step in this project is to establish a kind of connective strategy between the

in both its development and limitation. The boundary making of the Gardenesque is a key

two practices by effecting equivalence between the landscape and an urban regime, to



part of the suburbs own concern for private space. The invention and development of the

make a possible segue. This equivalence can be effected by thinking of the landscape and

suburb has both absorbed and reinforced the conditions of the gardenesque.

the city as conditional states rather than types or styles. These states are limited. Their

This book describes a new Garden city, in which landscape techniques enter into an

boundaries give simultaneously an interior and exterior. The bounded state is given a

active relationship with the social and cultural practices that make up an urban system

name, a territorial assemblage9 something that is both traditional, a territory, based on

to generate new landscape and urban possibilities. describes a meeting, an

social and cultural mores and assembly of constituent parts. Concurrent with the drawing

adjacency but also implies something more, a mixture in which each practice retains

of the boundary is the possibility of opening. This openness is porous, flowing both inwards

constancy but at the same time exchanges something of itself with the other. This process

and outwards as conditional states advance and retreat change and adapt to form new

of exchange and connection is driven by an intentionality that makes connections between


city and landscape and gives direction to landscape, environment, infrastructure and

Landscape and urban practice have their own integrity yet each is open to the other

architectural programmes. The project finds this intentionality in a specific

through shared conditions. Some of the conditions of the landscape are, horticulture,

landscape practice, garden design.

topography, hydrology. Some of the conditions of urban practice, particularly the suburban

The project reconceives garden design, stripped of the cultural accoutrements that surround it, and rethinks the practice as a series of intentions or instructions. Garden

regime, are simple prescriptive guidelines; how many houses per hectare and the consequent requirements for the roading and drainage networks.

design then is regarded as a prescriptive instrumentality which links and directs the land-

The project uses a landscape practice, garden design to both connect

scape and city. The project sets up a process in which landscape and urban

and affect an opening between these two states. The project focuses on the materiality and

programmes are focused into particular intersections and juxtapositions through a set

operational condition of garden making practice. The garden shares certain material

of instructions derived from garden design practice. These instructions are used to direct

elements with other landscapes, the most obvious are; horticulture, topology, and

and develop landscape and urban conditions towards an intentional plan that is able to

water. However garden practice differentiates itself from other landscapes by a series of

operational conditions, gardens ‘do things’ to these materials in a different way to other

from functional criteria to more conceptual intentions. Another valuable function is

landscape practices.

buffering, where certain conditions are bought alongside each other. The potential for

As well as the opening and connection, uses a prescriptive version of

these conditions to act on each other can be described by a buffer or intermediate zone

garden design practice to force the other practices into a reconsideration, re-examination

which shares qualities of the adjoining conditions. The buffer is theoretically infinitely

and a recombination of previously unrealised adjacencies. In this way a more complicit and

subdividable into more and more crossovers and inter-penetrations.

open-ended processes is generated which opens up new possibilities for the landscape and city; garden, architecture and infrastructure.

Because ArcView works at a regional scale and naturally encompasses the bigger scaled site, its standard landscape diagnostic tools automatically generate a richer and

This prescriptive rendering is found in that historical example, the Gardenesque. While

denser field of information. In addition, Arcview’s data driven mapping and analysis

the Gardenesque is responsibly for the reactionary and stolid nature of contemporary

models help to delay traditional design concerns; such as meaning or typology or style,

garden design, an exploration of its technical nature, its material and instructional char-

which often surround the design of city and landscape.

acter, helps the project to develop conditional equivalence in both the landscape and the

The project finds new possibilities for the city and landscape by re-examin-

city. The project takes advantage of the Gardenesque literalness to develop a simple

ing the traditional suburban model. The suburb, the most successful form of urbanism in

instructional code for the intersection of landscape and garden and city.

the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, goes beyond urban and landscape concerns. Naturalised into western and now global life, such disparate topics as city infrastructure,


the nuclear family, social discipline, real estate, are all contained within its life. The

Traditional descriptive techniques used to represent the landscape and the city detach the

1980s New Urbanism movement has been the most important challenge to the traditional

subject from its field. The traditional garden plan strengthens the logic of the Loudonesque

suburban model. This urbanism is concerned with an exploration of greater infrastructure



prescription by eliding both house and surrounding landscape. Similarly, the subdivision

planning, especially in the work of Peter Cathorpe. New Urbanism also offers a renewed

plan includes only the minimum of site information and removes all contextual information

interest in the idea of community and this is developed through a particular urban type –

exterior to the site.

the traditional European town square/public space in centre. However while New

The project uses a GIS programme, ArcView, as a descriptive design technology that can describe how landscape and urban practices can connect. Traditionally used in landscape practice as a mapping and analytical tool, Arcview builds a series of maps showing site conditions such as; aspect, slope analysis, contour

Urbanism attempts to bring the public realm back into the suburb, it continues to accept the basic separation of house, garden and infrastructure of the traditional suburb. Using a similar mass production methodology as the traditional suburb, it gives inhabitants a regime of choices, the freedom of the buyer to do what they will within their lot.

and conjected condition, such as the position of overland flow paths. The maps generated

The project re-examines the suburb through the landscape and particular-

by the programme can be displayed as plans or as models. Arcview is also able to manip-

ly the garden. By looking at the garden afresh, we can ask, where does the garden start

ulate the resultant maps in certain ways to obtain analysis and insight into certain site

and stop? outside the house? the terrace? the whole suburb? The project advances the

condition. Maps can be combined into a variety of combinations; privileging certain data

physical make up of place to foster a new collectivist approach in the facilitation of new

over another or combining data in certain ways. Data can be bought into contact with each

things; a new assemblage set up to interact with neighbour and environment.

other and set up complex boundary and border relationships.

proffers a range of choice about different models of urbanism and choices, which become

One important technique is mapping and reclassification. While these tools are

more evident when freed of conventions. The project strongly connects up a new interest

traditionally used to record and describe site data, they can be used to recombine data to

in nature with a collective. Different forms of ‘neighbourliness’ are generated by the new

make compatibility maps; for example aspect, slope, and water flows can be used to locate

landscape, the project transfigures topography and planting. The new infrastructure

site zones in which certain plant growth conditions could be met. These conditions can be

changes social relationships.

graded from high probability of growth to low growth probability. This faculty can extend

The project demonstrates the generative possibilities that a designer can bring to the

subdivision model, giving a different emphasis to the garden and nature. There is an

The project reassess the history of landscape architecture and finds

interest and emphasis on how nature operates. Speculative possibilities are raised for

subjects that have been marginalised in either the practice, or theory of contemporary

garden, suburbia, and suburban life and the naturalised relationship of suburbia is ques-

landscape architectural discourse. This project uses history differently to find moment

tioned. Even concrete things like the traditional relationships between houses and street

and emphasis, as a design of history rather than the traditional art history model. The

can be reconfigured. The latent role of gardens is revealed.

Gardenesque is an important moment in the history of landscape architecture. There was

Traditional garden design is actively complicit in the design of the contemporary

a move to more practical, practice- based ideas away from the theoretical discourse

subdivision through the sharing of important practices, for instance, the important subdi-

of eighteenth century landscape. This was also a more egalitarian moment as garden

vision practice of marking private property is shared by a similar garden practice of

practice moved into the middle classes and the Gardenesque is central to the establish-

boundary making. Traditional garden design practice is often characterised as being hide-

ment of the suburb. The project used the technical nature of the Gardenesque to provide

bound, concerned with the domestic scale and horticultural character. The

instructional links between the landscape and city.

project is concerned with the liberation of the practice of garden design from these

In the design of a conventional subdivision, GIS is used at planning stage by site

constraints. Traditional ways of understanding gardens, such as a style, a type, or an

planners and engineers. The gardens are added last, usually by landscape contractors, or

historical category, limit the ways designers can approach understanding gardens. This

the house occupier. The project reworks techniques drawn from GIS, through

project suggests that these ways of understanding the garden, may be put aside for a

unexpected and unfamiliar combinations, using GIS as a defamilisation device. By taking

focus on the materiality and operational condition of garden making practice. By using

the information literally, by observing the particular GIS methodology, and by accepting

these operations, this project explores these different material connections and puts

the results as forming the strong and powerful strategy the conventions of subdivision

forward liberating discoveries.

design and the individualistic yet conformist attempts at garden design can be side stepped.



1 Howard, E. (1944) Garden Cities of To-Morrow, Fourth Edition. Faber and Faber, London. 2 Loudon, John, (ed. Jane Loudon) (1860) An Encyclopaedia of Gardening, Longman green, London, p458 3 Ibid., p487. 4 Ibid., p487. 5 Ibid., p481 6 Ibid., p481 7 Gardener Magazine (Dec 1832) quoted in Oxford Companion to Gardens, 1986 8 Ibid. 9 Deleuze, Gilles; Guattari, Felix. 1987. A thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.



garden cities of to-morrow

“Each standing in their own ample grounds”,5 with varied architecture and design, “some

Ebenezer Howard’s book, Garden Cities of To-Morrow1 advocated a new form of urbanism,

having common gardens and co-operative kitchens”.6 These were to be ringed by the

a middle way between the free market industrial city and socialist utopia. While the book

verdant backdrop of Grand Avenue, which divided the city into two belts. Within this avenue

advancing practical solutions that addressed a spectrum of city planning challenges such

Howard located the cities schools and churches. Grand Avenue was bounded by two further

as land use, design, transportation, housing and finance, Howard actually avoids specific

rings of residential housing which in turn were encircled by an industrial ring containing:

plans for the new city and hardly mentions gardens at all. In his 118 page treatise, only six

factories, warehouses, dairies, markets, coal yards, timber yards, etc which fronted the

pages were devoted to a description of a diagram of the new city.

circle railway. The sidings of which connected with a main railway line which passed through

Howard’s diagram of the Garden City was a set of concentric circles alternating built

the estate. Radial thoroughfares bisected the concentric rings. Finally a green belt of

zones and landscape zones. These circles radiated from a circular space “containing 5 and

agriculture and forestry surrounded the whole town interspersed with institutions which

a 1/2 acres of beautiful and well-watered garden surrounded by public buildings

included farms for epileptics, asylums for blind and deaf and convalescent homes”.

each standing in their own ample grounds”.2 “Encircling these public buildings was the

The lack of a clear plan for the new city was matched by the lack of any description

landscape ring of Central Park – an area of 145 acres, planned to accommodate ample

or design as to what the ‘garden’ of the Garden City might be. Houses in Howard’s ‘resi-

recreation grounds within very easy access of all the people”. This in turn was encircled

dential zones’ of the city are described as “standing in their own grounds”7 and the Grand

by a Crystal Palace, a wide glass arcade, with shops and permanent exhibition space. Its

Avenue, a dominant element in Howard’s plan is described by him as a “belt of green”.8 The

circular form, Howard wrote “brought it near to every dweller in the town, the furtherest

form, character and design of the domestic garden is left unexplained and unexplored.


removed inhabitant being within 600 yards”.4 Howard continued these concentric rings outward to accommodate residential housing.

The key diagrams which Howard used to illustrate his model were, as he pointed “illustrative only – to be modified when put into practice”,9 and this reluctance to prescribe



specific design detail or to foresee every contingency is perversely the very strength of the project. The generality, abstraction and emptiness of city design and garden design at the heart of this Ur text, has allowed a versatility and freedom of movement for the designers of the garden city in the twentieth and twenty-first century. In Howard’s book, Garden Cities of To-Morrow, the garden is simply a diagram with all of the openness and freedom that such a diagram affords. Howard, strips the notion of the garden of all of its associated meaning, leaving it open to what it could become. Elided of any prescription, any possibility, whether it be: park, internal landscape, belt, street landscape or cultivated domestic yard is conceivable. 1 Originally published in 1898 as To-morrow: a Peaceful Path to Real Reform and re-issued with slight revisions in 1902 re-titled Garden Cities of To-Morrow, Faber and Faber, London. 2 Howard, E. (1902) Garden Cities of To-Morrow, Faber and Faber, London. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid 5 Ibid 6 Ibid 7 Ibid 8 Ibid 9 Ibid






man’s cottages, and the north-west the town centre, station and housing. Industry, instead

Letchworth, the physical realisation of Howard’s garden city model was designed for

of forming a uniform periphery to Howard’s circle was grouped into an industrial park

30,000 inhabitants by the architectural partnership of Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin

adjacent to the power plant and railroad.

in 1903. Following Howard’s lead to the extent of clearly separating the town from the

In contrast to the diagrammatic nature of Howard’s design and the functionalist zoning

surrounding countryside Parker and Unwin set aside 1250 acres for the new city and 2,800

distribution of the towns urban structure, a deeply traditional view and use of the garden

acres for an Agricultural Belt that would act as a permanent girdle to the town.

was promulgated. The four landscapes present in Letchworth were linked; the individual

Parker and Unwin’ plan sought a more subtle organic sense of order as suggested by the terrain. They took advantage of the location of hills, streams, an old Roman road and

garden, the street landscape, the ‘nature’ of the common, and the agricultural landscape of the town belt.

even larger trees to define the plan and sited the town centre on the highest and flattest

This seems to be the result of two ideas. Firstly a very romantic, literary view of the

point of the land. Using a formal arrangement of the municipal and cultural buildings

landscape and garden, ”each street has a slightly different character, so that you may walk

which embodied a Beaux-arts style they located a large town square and hemicycle at one

around the town and think yourself to be in a garden all the whole”1, and secondly, partic-

end, surrounded by public building including a Town Hall, Museum and Art Gallery and

ular zoning regulations. “Most building in Garden City will be open to view on all sides, and

Public Library.

so, should be treated accordingly; the sides and back being built of materials as good as

However the structure of the built town became defined by its infrastructure. The rail-

the front”2. (Regulation 7(3)). “The garden attached to every house shall be dug over, laid

way and the road bifurcated the town into four areas with different zoning characteristics:

out, and planted sufficiently to contribute in a reasonable degree to the amenities of the

to the north-west an old enclosed common and housing, the north-east, workman

situation as soon as practicable, taking into account the season of the year when the build-

cottages, football grounds and allotments, the south-east factories, sidings and work-

ing is completed…”3 (Regulation 17-(a) Gardens).



In Garden Cities of To-Morrow, the garden is simply a diagram with all of the openness and freedom that such a diagram affords. Howard strips the notion of the garden of all of its associated meaning, leaving it open to possibilities. Elided of any prescription, any possibility, whether it is park, internal landscape, belt, street landscape or cultivated domestic yard is conceivable. Letchworth demonstrates the landscape possibility of this potent diagram, the private residential garden, the planted public street, and the nature/reserve’. A model, which has really become the dominant type for the design of the twentieth and twenty-first century suburb.

1 Unwin, R. in Purdon, C.(1913) The Garden City Letchworth, J.M.Dent & Sons, London. 2 Ibid 3 Ibid




city of to-morrow

While the city’s morphology is governed by the Beaux-arts grid, the view of the towers in the park from the surrounding terraces, would assume a life of its own, becoming the

Then suddenly we find ourselves at the feet of the first skyscrapers. But here

icon for the modern city, the tower in the landscape.

we have, not the meagre shaft of sunlight, which so faintly illuminates the

A good example is the Alton West Estate on Roehampton Hill overlooking Richmond

dismal street of New York, but an immensity of space. The whole city is a park. The

Park – the tower in the English countryside. Designed by the Architects Department of

terraces stretch out over lawns and into groves… Here is the CITY with its crowds

London County Council, this mixed housing estate was built between1952-58. Located on

living in peace and pure air, where noise is smothered under the foliage of green

a 130-acre site on the southern side of Roehampton, this housing estate is made up of

trees… Here bathed in light stands the modern city 1

point blocks, slab blocks, maisonette blocks, terraces and houses. Bounded by roads on three sides and a park on the other, the site was and still remains occupied by large

Le Corbusier’s plan for the Contemporary City was based on a super sized grid laid over

eighteenth and nineteenth century houses and gardens. As a consequence of this, the

a level site, surrounded by a protected zone of woodland and fields. The centre of this

housing estate not only overlooks a park but also exists within a series of historic gardens.

gridded city was a multilevel transport interchange, surrounded by a large park support-

Le Corbusier’s City is a conglomerate of basic garden typologies: the individual garden,

ing twenty-four, sixty-storied towers in grid point pattern. Surrounding this central area

the communal garden with allotments, the sport fields, the English picturesque garden and

was a perimeter of housing blocks of two types: a traditional perimeter block with a large

the park. All remain essentially unchanged (although they are placed within a radically re-

courtyard/garden/recreation area in the centre and a more open linear type block with

configured architecture). However the rereading of Corbusier’s sketch atRoehampton (and in

large return or redent along the perimeter. A green belt or fresh air reserve encircled

many other cities) lead to a fundamental reordering of the garden in the modernist period,

this configuration.

a disappearance of the private garden, to be replaced by the communal public garden.



Similarities with Howard’s diagram are obvious; the Central Park with the public building embedded within it, the perimeter of residential housing and the surrounding green belt. However other qualities clearly differentiate the two, in particular Le Corbusier’s carefully considered treatment of the landscape in relation to his various architectural forms. To accommodate the apartment dweller’s desire for a private garden in their three and four storied ‘redent’ housing blocks, the sides of the buildings are opened with green gardens, boring through the building like Swiss cheese. “The garden is paved with red tiles, its walls are hung with ivy and clematis; and laurels and other shrubs cluster thickly in large cement pots”.2 Collective garden areas wrap around the foot of the building and are laid out in a combination of sports field, and kitchen gardens. The Central Park landscape by comparison is composed as a traditional English picturesque scene complete with grass and large specimen trees. Located within a strong axial grid the office towers are nevertheless freed from this structure by the garden landscape. From a distance these immensely tall, glass sheathed office towers appear to float in a sea of greenery, effectively dislocated from their empirical grid. Similarly the landscape of the ‘redent’ housing blocks produces a similar effect, as the landscape seems to erode the perimeter of the blocks fusing garden and street landscape.

1 Le Corbusier, (1929) The City of To-morrow and its Planning, John Rodher, London. 2 Ibid.










inside out. The internal courtyard has become the road, the road has become the garden,

Radburn, a new town in New Jersey, planned by Clarence Stein in the 1920s, is an

monolithic housing form has been broken down into fragments and the garden has

American response to the challenge of Howard’s original diagram. Stein includes Radburn

eviscerated the insulae. Stein describes the scene, “but above all it is the natural green

in his book Towards New Towns for America1, where he explicitly invokes Howard’s

that dominates and controls the picture”.3 Stein concludes, “Your architecture cannot

polemic with the goal, it is “intended to create a garden city in America”.2 Stein begins, like

look bad when time makes it part of the bigger composition of the landscape”.4

Howard with a diagram for the American Garden City. The diagram is referred to as a

Radburn elides traditional landscape concerns of public and private. The public nature

‘superblock’, a rectangular block of land surrounded by a roading network. The superblock

of the park at the centre of each super block is made private by the surrounding houses

is divided into two zones, an outer zone of housing and an inner zone of parkland. Sharing

and small lanes. The privacy of the gardens is mediated by the boundary elements – the

some similarities with Howard’s original diagram, Stein configures a park in the centre

hedges, “are of varied height, some particularly hide, others disclose, the garden beyond”.5

surrounded by a ring of houses.

The service areas are planted, “trimmed hedges between the driveways and houses

Stein explores the technical qualities of the diagram. The outer zone of houses is

and trees and grass in the turning circles”.6 Traditional landscape categories and types

accessed by a series of cul-de-sacs, which are drilled at right angles to the surrounding

are mixed and changed. There is a seamless flow through the new landscapes with the

roads into the housing zone. Housing is arranged around these cul-de-sacs in a loose ‘u’

housing embedded in a garden matrix.

shaped arrangement. Gardens and the internal park are located on the other side of the

1 Stein, C. (1951) Towards New Towns for America, University Press of Liverpool, Chicago. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid.

houses and house plans are orientated to this parti. Garages and kitchens face the cul-desac and living and dining areas face the private gardens, which mediate between the living areas of the house and the park. The resulting housing configuration resembles the traditional apartment block, the perimeter of housing surrounding a central court, turned











onkel toms hutte Onkel Toms Hutte is a Siedlung, or public housing scheme in Zehlendorf, Berlin designed by Bruno Taut in the 1920s. Dominated by a landscape of birch and pine species which Taut retained, the site is bisected east to west by two infrastructure elements: the Argentinische Allee and the U Bahn. Two, three storied housing blocks line the Argentinische Allee. Housing to the south runs parallel to the road while the housing to the north of the street is broken into blocks and runs at right angles to the street, The rest of the housing in the Seidlung occupies a conventional street grid. These are mainly two-story row housing with individual gardens to the rear which then open to shared communal gardens. The entire Seidlung is dominated by the presence of the mature landscape of birch and pine. These serve to link the various landscape of the Seidlung, street, garden, and park through their scale and irregular placement. The housing layout and planning is also carefully modulated to both the traditional urban hierarchy of arterial, street and garden and to the overarching order of the remnant forest.



cutting the town into roughly four quarters. Connecting all parts of the town with the

The British New Town Movement of the 1950s and 60s embodies a revival of the Garden

surrounding countryside are long stream valleys, known as ‘green wedges’.

City Movement in England. In 1910, Howard had advocated the building of a ring of garden

Sylvia Crowe describes the development of Harlow in a symposium on landscape

cities around London to relieve the urban pressures of nineteenth century London.

architecture in the New Town.1 Bemoaning the typical individual garden and small public

Letchworth and Welwyn where the only two garden cities built in response to that call from

space of contemporary civic development; “it brings us back to the all over spot pattern of

1917 to 1939. However after the Second World War the idea of the garden city, now called

the garden cities”,2 Crowe advocates “…closer urban units set in a green matrix of open

the New Town, ascended.


Harlow is one of the new towns. Located west of London in Essex, it is situated be-

Crowe promoted a tight urban landscape around housing areas; small children’s

tween the Hertfordshire hills to the north and Rye hill to the south. Designed in 1947 by

playing grounds, trees in paving and flowers in window boxes. Outside the immediate

the architect Frederick Gibbard in collaboration with the landscape architect Sylvia Crowe,

vicinity of housing, she believed the landscape should be a multipurpose space, a cross

the town is placed between two major transport routes: a railroad along the northern

between the country park and sport ground.

boundary and the MII along the southeastern edge.

Crowe describes the planning of Harlow, where the housing and factories are planned

The topography of Harlow is rolling series of valleys with small streams; the geo-

in separate zones divided by the green wedges. Crowe augments the wedges by concen-

graphic centre of the city is the intersection of two valleys. The urban town centre, the High,

trating the school’s sport fields, play areas and pedestrian links in the wedges. The wedges

is located to one side of this landscape pivot, and connected to the major infrastructure

also act as a link between the town and country. Crowe advocates using these areas as

networks. The town is laid out in cluster neighbourhoods which are carefully positioned on

a productive landscape for grazing and timber production.

the higher parts of the site, leaving the stream valleys untouched. This has the effect of

In Harlow the traditional public landscape of the park is exchanged for the green



wedges, a conflation of the sites natural topography and the functional needs of a growing city. Gardens are small and compact and closely associated with the housing, which in turn is closer and denser. Harlow reconfigures the concentric, radiating model of Howard’s garden city diagram. The town is split and dissected by the landscape of green wedges, yet the linkage of the garden to the common and to the surrounding country side is worthy of the first built garden city, Letchworth.

1 Crowe, S (1958) Recreational Landscape in England, Landscape Architecture, Autumn,V.49, p. 32-35. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid







mcHarg’s plan for washington

value. He recommends the conservation and enhancement of the important geological

In 1967 Ian McHarg was asked to make recommendation for improvements to the urban

features of the site and the restoration of the indigenous vegetation in appropriate areas

landscape of Washington DC.1 He began this survey of the urban landscape by developing

“…it becomes possible to establish a palate of plant expression for every site and every

a study at the scale of the Washington region. The city is located at the intersection of the

project…”4 McHarg goes on to propose “swamp cypress, wild rice swamps, magnolia bogs,

Potamic and Anacostia rivers. The geology of the region starts at the confluence of the

the great beech forest. Each of these dramatic and rich expressions and many others could

river flats and rises to the uplands which in turn are dominated by the Piedmont. Having

be reintroduced, extended or heightened”.5

discovered and defined the indigenous vegetation patterns that match these geological

The project is an attempt to rethink the landscape of the great neoclassical city through

areas McHarg turned to the L’Enfant’s2 City Plan. He demonstrated the influence of the

the preservation and restoration of indigenous flora and fauna. The traditional landscape

landscape on the formation of the city and the gestures that L’Enfant made to heighten

of Washington; flower planting from annuals to Prunus species, is reconsidered in the light

those connections “nature has done much for it, and with the aid of art it will become the

of a new landscape concept or process – the ‘ecological method’, which advances a

wonder of the world.”3

methodology for developing a new American garden for the imperial centre.

McHarg demonstrates how the Capitol and White House are located on the edge of the escarpment, the transition area from the uplands to the river fans. These two centres of power connect to each other through a cross axis meeting on the Washington memorial then the axis past each other making even larger connections to the landscape. The Capitol across the Potamic to Virginia, the White House across the tidal basin to the Potamic. McHarg assembled and integrated the various maps to develop a value system across the catchment with the rivers, water sheds, the escarpment edge, and the flats of highest

1 Wallace et al, (1967) Towards a Comprehensive Plan for Washington DC, US Government Printing Offices, Washington DC. 2 Pierre Charles L’Enfant, (1754 – 1852). French architect and engineer responsible for the design of Washington, D.C. 3 Wallace et al, (1967) Towards a Comprehensive Plan for Washington DC, US Government Printing Offices, Washington DC. 4 Ibid 5 Ibid



peter cook projects

a blobby terrain with fragments of terraces, orchards, and pergolas. The topography is

During the 1970s Peter Cook developed a number of paper projects, which attempted to

ordered by an unsteady grid that becomes more twisted and bent as it engages with the

move the traditional techniques of occupation away from the architectural toward the

particular landscape.

landscape. The first project is the Secret Garden 1972. Cooks writes about this project

In other Arcadia projects, Cook’s beloved landscape of southern England with its

as metaphor for a break away from conventional architecture systems, through an escape

hedgerows and copices engage with the new topography. The result is a series of archi-

into the garden. “The secret garden; in which we dream dreams as we did as children;

tectural hedgerows running through grided walls set at right angles to the road

spontaneous and unprejudiced; where objects and experiences can be ambiguous; build-

and disappearing into the rising contours. The concealment of architecture behind the

ing is vegetation, atmosphere is presence and architecture”.2

hedges in the Hedgerow Village Project (1971) has transformed into the ‘city becoming


Cook’s images of the secret garden are like an entry to a cave under a mountain, with

the hedge’. The last of the Arcadia projects, the Arcadia Lofts Project (1978) sees Cook

multi-coloured and lurid strata and curious ganglion encrusted openings. His next projects

returning to an architectural typology, the terrace and tower, which he names ‘mesh

are Lump Projects (1973), where Cook developed the geological strata-like formations.

marsh and trickling tower’. The architectural forms simultaneously erode and encrust the

These are followed by the Sponge Projects (1975), which Cook variously titles; patch-

building with an organic plant/topographic layer

work/orifices/nests/gunge/permeable, sponge/sleek surfaces/crevice. The geological

Over this eight year period Cook attempts to rethink architecture as a landscape

forms of the Lump Projects become more mobile. The images show orifices, secretion and

drawing on the existing landscape of southern England and an imaginary landscape – part

insertions: architecture is a presence in the congealed body.

topography, part geology, part body.

The Arcadia Projects (1976-1978) are an effort to extend the lump/sponge projects to a bigger landscape/city. Cook discipline’s the new landscape with a spatial ordering device, usually a grid. In Arcadia, the sponge lump work is spread over a composite landscape,

11 22





singapore 1980 - 2000

and fertilisers, Yew directed that the grass “has got to be mown every other day, the trees have to be tended, the flowers in the gardens have to be looked after.”5

Almost ominously, it seems as if nature will be the next project of development,

Initiating a massive 30 year planting programme which involved a search for, and prop-

throwing the mechanics of the tabula rasa into a paradoxical reverse gear: after

agation of suitable tree species from through out the world, Yew realised his vision which

development Eden.

now unfolds before the visitor on their famous ride from Changi International Airport. Over


the entire island is an exotic verdant pastiche of South American and Madagascan landSingapore was driven to re-create itself as a Garden City at the hands of Lee Kuan

scapes which spreads like an emollient blanket over Singapore’s groundplane. A unifying

Yew. In a calculated strategy to attract overseas investors and ameliorate the visual and

horticulture of Musa, Strelitzia, Bougainvillea, Travellers Palms and rainforest trees, these

psychological effects of burgeoning industrial development, the Prime Minister sought to

species effectively link the various infrastructural and urban elements of the city.

transform Singapore into a Garden City. This he believed would not only improve resident’s

The trajectory of the city’s development from colonial entrepot to city as network,

mental and physical health but also convince potential investors that Singapore was an

was driven by the development of the city’s infrastructure particularly the Mass Rapid

efficient and effective place. ”In wooing investors, even trees matter”2, Yew told the

Transit system (MRT), a circuitry of high-density travel corridors with 48 terminals.

Singapore Economic Board. Well kept trees and gardens were a subtle way of reflecting

Historically, Singapore’s urban form reflected the traditional racially segregated urban

Singapore’s concern with and attention to detail. “A well kept garden” Yew believed, “would

layout of the colonial city. Its contemporary urban form has morphed into a new kind of

demonstrate to outsiders Singapore’s ability to organise and be systematic” and in addi-

urbanism, centring on the MRT terminals. Distinguished by a remarkably consistent and

tion, “the greenery of nature would soften the harshness of Singapore life“.4

undifferentiated architecture these urban clusters contain schools, housing, light industry,


Developing his own knowledge base about soils, vegetation, tress, drainage, climate 094

shops, and offices. In abandoning the traditional urban model there has been an associat095


ed internment of the traditional urban model of squares and streets and a public and private building hierarchy. In present day Singapore, buildings/landscape accommodate many functions in an above and below ground blend of office space, shops and food courts with high density housing, hotel accommodation and specific urban experiences embedded in this new matrix. Singapore, an undifferentiated network of infrastructural functions is given urban cohesion and meaning by the garden. The garden of Singapore is the urban ‘glue’ which holds the city’s infrastructure and satellite form together.

1 Koolhaas Rem, Mau, Bruce (1995) Singapore, Portrait of a Potemkin Metropolis, S,M,L,XL. Benedikt Taschen, Koln, Germany. 2 Kwang ,Han Fook. (Ed.)(1997) Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas, Ist Edition, Singapore. 3 Ibid 4 Ibid 5 Ibid






garden trinity apartment garden, parnell, auckland


The Trinity Apartment Garden project is an exploration to determine whether the landscape forces of larger scale sites can interact with garden conditions to produce a garden within an urban location. The project site is a large private garden for a new apartment development in Parnell, Auckland. The brief is for a large common garden to the west of the apartment and small private gardens to the east and north. The site is at the end of the Parnell ridge, which runs south to north before descending to the port of Auckland. The location is an historically important Auckland landmark made up of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, St Mary’s, and the Deans house placed within an English landscape of large European trees and grass. The project site is bounded by the Anglican Cathedral across Parnell Road, Birdwood Crescent which runs to the north, private suburban housing lying to the west, and a small cul-de-sac with new terrace housing to the south. The terrain of the site drops from the top of the ridge down towards a gully of regenerating indigenous vegetation. A series of site maps was plotted using GIS. These included: hill shade, site aspect, and vegetation maps showing the conjectured spread of existing vegetation, the exotic vegetation from the top of the ridge and the indigenous vegetation from the gully. Other maps included a ‘100-year flood’ overland flow path. Major overland flow paths were tracked from the top of the ridge across the site. The conjectured horticultural map pointed towards the

possibility of horticultural interaction between the indigenous and exotic.

mounds. This mound is recontoured as a more faceted form. Native species are distributed

Certain garden conditions or operations were introduced into the mapping process.

on the different faces of the mound in a botanical classificatory manner, with each facet

These were water control – through directing and containment of water from overland flow

being used to display a particular species. The mound’s topography is also folded in a

paths and horticultural exchange – between the indigenous and exotic plants. Two water

particular way to enable the residents to retreat from the main social space of the garden.

control operations were used. The first was water direction. From the eastern part of the

The second mound is treated in a similar way with the distribution of exotic/native

site water is channelled and directed down the neighbouring cul-de-sac by way of two large

planting in a specimen driven arrangement. Where the mounds meet the property bound-

earth mounds positioned on the southern boundary. The second garden operation that

ary they are abruptly truncated. Retaining walls on the cul-de-sac boundary to the south

was used was water collection. Rainwater, which would normally fall on the site now

are constructed from sheet steel, the top of the wall reflecting the profile of the mound

falls on the roof of the apartment and is collected and utilised in the construction of a


large water garden directly on the western side of the apartment.

On the north west boundary the native planting zone falls across the car park ramp.

Indigenous vegetation from the gully to the west and exotic vegetation from the

This is covered with a light steel pergola. The pergola is folded to form its own irregular

Cathedral landscape in the east are mapped across the site as zones. Exotic species are

topography and planted with the native clematis, pauwhananga. The exotic/native planting

planted in the band adjacent to Parnell Road and native species are planted at the western

zone falls across the water collection pond. This area is treated as a water garden with

side of the site. A buffer zone is created at the intersection of these two zones and a mix-

a variety of wetland species planted in rows. Timber boardwalks cross the pond enabling

ture of exotic and native species planted.

residents to enjoy the pond and gain access to the garden.

The Parnell Road gardens are planned to make a connection to the English landscape

The garden attempts to make connections outside the property boundaries of the

situated around the Cathedral. Oak trees are planted randomly in both the footpath and

site. The visual links are clear and the Parnell Road pedestrian or driver can recognise the



front gardens. A heavy poured concrete wall is located on the boundary for acoustic

horticultural links across the road with similar Quercus species growing on either side

separation. The map of exotic vegetation crossing Parnell Road has led to a subtle

of the road. Similarly the occupant and user of the apartments will see the native garden

topographic transformation of this wall and the apartment gardens. As the band of con-

to the west of the site raised and visually connected to the native species in the large park

jected vegetation crosses the site, over both land and building, there is a sense of smooth-

(Auckland Domain) beyond the site. Actual boundary elements such as walls are similarly

ing and blanketing which covers the site. Exploration of this emollient quality in more detail

blurred. The Parnell Road boundary wall is deformed to make visual and physical connec-

has suggested a topographical deformation of the boundary wall. This in turn has led to

tions to the garden behind the wall and the Cathedral landscape across the road.

a visible smoothing operation, which effectively melds wall and garden. Deformed into

The result is a garden which is not limited by the physical boundaries of the site but

a sloping form with the garden rising up, the wall is fused to the garden with Virginia

moves from the horticultural particularities of the specimen to the regional condition of

creeper – a deciduous climber and ground cover which clothes both surfaces.

water flow and topography.

The apartment’s communal garden has three major components. The first is an horticultural display garden running down the southern boundary which is dominated by two large earth mounds. The second element is the water garden. This area is made up of the roof water collection area and a raised lap pool. The third element is a steel pergola which covers the car park ramp on the western boundary and offers privacy for the lap pool and water garden. The water directing mounds are overlapped by the horticultural plan. The lower mound falls within the indigenous zone while the upper mound falls within the cross over zone. In the indigenous zone, native species have been mapped over the top of one of the earth

flow direction + vegetation

hill shade + vegetation

flow accumulation with construction

flow accumulation weighting

flow accumulation + aspect

flow accumulation + vegetation


flow accumulation without construction



exotic + water gardens

exotic gardens


exotic + watergardens

lower entrance

lower entrance

native gardens

water + native gardens

water gardens

water gardens

native gardens

exotic + water gardens

water gardens

water gardens

street trees + courtyard walls

trinity apartments. parnell auckland

above native garden. below native, exotic + water garden

above ramped entrance. below eastern boundary + native garden

pergola over ramped entrance to carpark

gardens at rear

contour, slope, and conjectured conditions such as overland flow paths. Drawing on the expertise of Dr Bill Bussel, an authority on Pacific horticulture in Auckland, a set of site diagrams was developed that used the site conditions to find the best areas on the site for the production of particular species. Developing a site condition matrix we combined and reclassified the site to develop a zoning diagram to indicate a scale of site attractiveness. This revealed the sites which offered the best growing conditions for the most plants to the sites least attractive for crop cultivation. The scale was graduated into five zones and the best three were selected for intensive crop cultivation. The specific site conditions determined what exact crops to grow. The least horticulturally attractive zones were then identified as building sites. The map was reclassified into two zones a cultivation zone and a building zone. The building footprint is split by two major overland flow paths. The result is two maps; the first a horticultural diagram full of intensities, a swirling map of potential with specific horticultural zones responding to particular site conditions. The other map is an undifferentiated and silent outline with the potential to become activated through adjacencies to both local horticultural conditions and more general site conditions. The shape of the footprint is a loosely connected series of shapes running roughly north south. This figure

house Innovative Housing Competition, Ellerslie Auckland The Innovative Housing Competition project is an exploration of how garden and architecture


is roughly paralleled by similar, though smaller forms to the west. The architectural possibili-

can be generated out of a landscape process in which site conditions and the horticultural

ties contained within this diagram were further explored in a series of studies and the building

particularities of subtropical crop production intersect to produce a site planning strategy.

footprint was simply extruded into a two storied structure to give the required building volume.

The project site is a competition for an innovative state housing development in Ellerslie

The smaller buildings to the east were identified as being suitable for pensioner housing

Auckland, sponsored by Housing New Zealand. The brief called for forty-eight units of mixed

while the bigger blocks to the east of the site were identified as being more useful for family

pensioner and family accommodation and specific reference was made to the recently pub-

housing. The layout indicated that the development could be accessed from both the west

lished innovative guidelines for Pacific Island housing. Situated in a shallow valley, surrounded

and east leaving a large, undisturbed communal space between the blocks. Buildings are

by two ridges which run down to the main street of Ellerslie, the site lies near the end of one

connected by a major roof structure, which mimics the existing ground contours and runoff

of the ridges, facing south. Roads bound the site to the west and south and a car park on the

from this roof structure was allowed to fall into the existing flow paths.

southwest corner. Suburban housing surrounds the rest of the site.

The result is an unmodified topography, heavily occupied by an intensely busy ground

This project is generated out of a consideration of existing landscape forces, site conditions

plan of intensely grown crops and two urban streams. The housing is constructed as a single

and garden practices of Pacific Island peoples living in Auckland. The project concentrates

structure made up of simple modular units which open directly to the gardens and streams.

on the particular and unique horticultural practices that Pacific Islanders have developed in

The integration of natural site conditions and garden conditions, produces a garden of useful,

Auckland including the introduction of indigenous and exotic crops from tropical habitats. The

edible horticulture. The architecture that emerges from the process is connected to a wide

choice and cultivation of these crops has been modified by Auckland’s subtropical climate,

range of landscapes from a vigorous and intensive garden culture to the larger landscape

high rainfalls and humidity in spring and autumn and some frosts in winter. The main crops

concerns of rainwater collection and overland flow paths.

cultivated in Auckland are banana, taro, citrus, and pele. Using GIS maps were generated which included: existing site conditions such aspect,

The result indicates the rich potentialities of garden and living, bought into unexpected yet fruitful coexistence.


above hillshade. below slope

above aspect. below water

above water + slope. below water + aspect

above banana. below citrus

above taro. below vegetation zones


above overland flow paths + building foot print. below extruded foot print with water

above buffered water + building. below building + extruded water

above split building + buffered water. below split building

above building + garden. below building + garden and site


vacation beijing housing development, guangzhou, china


The Beijing Housing Development project was an opportunity to explore how an interaction between site conditions and garden practices could be used to develop specific techniques. These techniques were: the location of houses on a site, an assurance that they were coupled to the landscape, and the determination of a way to develop an architecture compelled by both the site and garden. Project parameters included the decision to alter the existing site topography as little as possibly, repair and restoration of indigenous horticulture, and minimum disruption of water flows on site. The project is part of a Master Plan1 for a vacation house development near the southern Chinese City of Guangzhou. A design for five speculative houses gardens and landscapes near Beixing, the development is located in the hills in close proximity to two lakes. The upper lake is surrounded by precipitous granite hills with a vegetative cover of wilding Conifers and Acacia. Separated from the upper lake by a dam, the lower lake has more subtropical vegetation, lychee orchards and bamboo and a calmer topography. The climate is subtropical but is subject to monsoon like rains which can deliver a deluge of up to 2 meters. The house sites are located around a small inlet on the upper lake. At the head of this inlet is a disused quarry. An access road is planned to run around the inlet The house sites are placed between the road and lake. The brief for the houses called for

three pavilions on the northern side of the inlet, with a family house to the west and a large

from the road to the lake. The zone nearest the road is utilized for service functions,

mansion on the southern side of the inlet.

garages and storage. The middle zone is utilized for bedrooms and bathrooms. The zone

GIS maps were generated which detailed overland water flow paths, aspect, and slope

nearest the lake is utilized for the living and eating areas. These zones occupy shallow

analysis. The overland flow path maps identified sites which would not interfere with water

terraces linked by internal gardens – part of the house yet linking to the outside garden

flow across the site. These maps were combined with slope analysis and aspect maps

via bridges across the dry river streams. The roof of the houses is a folded reinforced

to give sites with slopes of 0-4 degrees (less site disturbance) and sites which optimize

slab, its shape imitating the existing slope. This ensures minimal disturbance of the

the sun by facing south.

groundwater flow patterns.

These maps were used to build a diagram to locate garden streams and determine

Construction materials of the houses and the terraces are in-situ concrete with large

building sites to ensure minimal site disturbance. Overland flow paths were excavated then

honed granite slab finish. Internal walls are concrete with plaster finish and the roofs

back filled with crushed granite. The new streambeds both direct torrential rainfall

are reinforced concrete slab with large granite slab finish on insulated slab. All exterior

and retard and dissipate monsoon flow. The garden and house sites are located between

walls are glazed with large sheets of glass in commercial glazing sections.

the streams. Gardens are planted with indigenous Chinese trees and shrubs, bamboo, rhododendron, magnolia, and Michelia species, their location determined by the site

The project is an attempt to build an architecture from a study of the site’s natural

aspect maps. Paths run down the site through the gardens, as well as across the site, link-

conditions. These conditions are privileged over traditional architectural concerns

ing house sites with garden and reserves. The result is a ‘striped’ territory with streams,

and in turn reduced to a particular conflation of functional zoning based on a

gardens, and house sites alternating across the development.

simple occupational study and a spatial equivalence in a topographic element – the

The architecture of the houses is developed as a series of functional zones descending

terrace. This collection of zones is then simply roofed and glazed yet remains open



and connected to the important landscape forces and flows of the site the physical proximity, the dry/monsoon r streams or physical connection of the cross contours paths that connect garden to house thru internal gardens, and onto top public reserves.1 The result for the user is a dense yet connected map of particular landscapes which slide effortless between the different site conditions: public to private, house to garden, indigenous to cultivated garden, conservatory stream to house.

1 The Master Plan is for a one hundred house development planned by Rod Barnett, Duschko Bogonovitch and JJ Chen


above site. below overland flow path

above revegetation. below slope 0-4 deg

above north facing. below building platforms


growth of gardens

view from lake

view from quarry



family houses



dining room



sitting room

suburb paremuka


The Paremuka project is a design case study developed to explore the idea of generating an urbanism from the exploration and engagement with the landscape – specifically garden design practice and landscape ecology. To realize a way of liberating garden practice from its conventions, the project examined customary practices of garden design and their roots in historic garden theory and practice. It also explored the practice of environmental design – from the regional constraint diagramming of Ian McHarg, to closer scale ecological restoration programming and specific revegetation techniques. Through these investigations a moment of connection with forces outside the conventions of contemporary garden design was developed and a segue, or seamless flowing of conditions was found. To ensure this seamless connection a new technique was developed to establish a relationship between garden design practice and environmentalist landscape practice. This technique utilises a GIS programme to both map the site and generate speculative possibilities. The programme then sets up a process in which the interaction between ecological processes and garden operations are generated and mapped to suggest new urban possibilities. The project’s definition of technique was developed by considering certain aspects of

garden practice. To test the possibilities of the connection between garden design practice

located in Waitakere City, in the western suburbs of Auckland. The site had two

and environmental design practice the project developed a design study that used the

attributes which made it a suitable site for this investigation. Firstly, the possibility

suburb or more specifically the subdivision as a testing ground for this exploration. From

of easy vegetative growth. Auckland has a sub tropical climate with high rainfall and

the inception of the suburb, the relationship between the house and garden, subdivision

a temperate climate which encourage the growth of a wide range of exotic and

and landscape has been an integral part of the development of the suburb. The success of

indigenous plants. Secondly, the site also has a varied topography, which could gen-

this particular urbanism, from the English Garden City movement to the post war American

erate possibilities of terracing and contouring. The south side of the valley is char-

subdivision can, in large part be attributed to the garden as part of its ideological make

acterised by farmland; some regenerating bush and rolling grass land. The north

up. Yet the actual condition of the garden in the suburb, (defined as a bounded domestic,

side of the valley is categorized as having a steeper topography with a mix of regen-

horticultural and living space) has remained remarkably unchanged from the turn of the

erating bush and exotic trees, mainly pines. A vineyard also occupies part of this site.

century English model. Its role is ideological. A range of larger social and cultural reasons

This area is becoming rapidly developed – housing subdivisions have started at the

has contributed to this situation, and these include: individualism, the nuclear family,

eastern end of the valley and are moving up the southern side of the valley. The proj-

desire for privacy, real estate demands and private property. All have contributed to the

ect occupies one block of approximately 700 metres by 300metres. Sturges road runs

sanctity of a suburban model, which has changed little from the first suburb of Letchworth

along the upper part of the site and the Paremuka stream runs along the bottom. The


built over one hundred years ago.

site faces north and is characterised by a sloping topography, mostly 0-8 degrees.

The Paremuka project was interested in how the intersection of garden and landscape could be represented. Part of the problem that has limited the exploration of other

the process

modes of garden design investigation is the way contemporary gardens are represented.

a process of site mapping was developed which identified:



The self-referentiality of the garden seems to create a similar self-referentiality in

1 Slope as represented by contour and digital elevation model.

representation. No geography, no city, no place, enters the garden representation. Instead,

2 Overland water flow as represented by prevalent water flow direction and flow

there is a scenic compositional arrangement which fits within the prepared boundaries of

accumulation, specifically the effect of a 100 year flood on the site.

the garden. This issue was explored through the use of a GIS programme, ArcView. ArcView is not a design tool in the conventional sense. It is a mapping and analysis tool which offers

from this data a more specific plan was generated which identified:

a way to move beyond the sceneographic, towards something more concrete. In broad

1 Areas of the site above 8-degrees in slope.

terms, the capacity of ArcView offered a way of decontextulising garden practice from the

2 Areas of the site which would be specifically effected by a one hundred-year flood.

particular design conventions that surround it, namely: typology, styles, and particular rep-

3 The river.

resentational techniques. ArcView offers a way to shift beyond the convention of garden

4 Buffer zone to the existing ridge road.

representation, in particular the ‘garden in the subdivision’. It offers a way to avoid the parceling of the site using the convention of autonomous subdivision planning by referring

The next move was to intersect specific site conditions with the conventions of contempo-

to the conditions of the existing site. The value of ArcView then was the crudeness and

rary and conventional garden design. These where found in a close reading of Loudon2, the

literalness of its method of inquiry. In some ways the literalness and one dimensionality of

nineteenth century English garden writer. A series of qualifying criteria are drawn from the

ArcView’s methodology, its unblinking crudeness, is itself a value as it unthinkingly effaces

Loudonesque prescription. These became translated into functional instructions able to be

the shibboleths of subdivision design, garden convention, and ecological purity.

activated by ArcView. Thus Loudon’s directives to establish a garden by constructing difference between the garden and surrounding landscape, become instructions to establish

the project site

zones for optimum garden cultivation by selecting areas of the site with slope less than 8

Geographically situated in the foothills of the Waitakere Ranges Paremuka Valley is

degrees and away from floodpath areas. The horticultural implications of these instruc-

tions were explored and the resultant site map is divided into three horticultural zones

The garden and the not-garden zones connect through the process of plant migration.

based on the site’s topography: a river zone, a slope zone, and a ridge zone. These zones

The non-garden areas interact between themselves, e.g. the river zone with the slope zone.

are planted with an array of exotic garden plants which suit the zones conditions.

Species in each zone that have a specific tolerance for the neighbouring zone can cross

The river zone is planted in particular wet/bogy species such as Alnus, Betula, Cordaderia, Dianella, Fraxinus and Gunnera. The ridge area is planted in dry loving plants like Acacia, Agapanthus, Banksia, Casuarina, Cistus, Echium, Lagerstroemia, and Pinus and the slope zone is planted in a mixt of these two types. The areas of the site, which are unsuitable for garden cultivation, are classified as notgarden. The not-garden areas are outside Loudon’s prescriptive boundaries, and are treated as sites for the revegetation of indigenous vegetation.3 Three broad vegetation zones are

over. Plants in the garden zones interact with themselves, the river zone with the slope zone, the slope zone with the ridge zone. Species in each zone that have a specific tolerance for the neighbouring zone can cross over. There is also interaction between the not-garden and the garden areas. Aggressive native species spread into the garden areas, and certain virulent weedy exotic species become established in the not-garden zones. The garden areas and the not-garden areas and their associated buffers combine to form a horticultural map of the site.

located according to topography. The area by the river is planted in typical riverine indige-

Distribution of species is calculated on a typical mean of one plant per square metre.

nous vegetation such as; Kowhai, Kawakawa, Kahikatea, Karaka, Titoki, and Mahoe. The

This figure is transposed to a hypothetical 100m2 block. The actual size of each zone is then

slope area is planted in Karaka, Rata, Kohekohe, Puriri, and Rimu. The ridge area is plant-

determined and this figure is multiplied by the plant distribution figure to give the number

ed in Kauri, Miro, Tanekaha, Totara,and Mapou.

of plants for each zone. Species distribution in the buffer zones are based on how aggres-

The result is a horticultural plan, which is made up of three garden areas planted in exotic plants, and three not-garden areas planted with indigenous species. 176

sive the invading species, exotic or indigenous, are. This invasive quality is given a rating of either 75%, 50% or 25%, and is reflected in the number of species in the 100m2 block. The 177

percentage is multiplied by the actual size of the area to give the number of invaders per

housing. Along the river are smaller, broken terraces and individual houses are located on


these ’islands’. On the higher slopes bigger terraces accommodate larger housing blocks.

The cheapest and most effective method of planting is hydroseeding. This technique

The housing stock is two storied, semi-detached housing and approximately 275 housing

involves mixing plant seed with mulch and an adhesive agent which is then sprayed onto

units are accommodated. Stormwater collection ponds are located in the indigenous areas

either a flat or sloping ground plane. The result is an intensively planted ground plane with

(the not-gardens). These ponds retain stormwater from house roofs and roads for cleaning

a profusion of species; both exotic and indigenous, occupying all of the ground not other-

(through vegetation filtration and sedimentation) before being release into the river. The

wise occupied by infrastructural elements.

roading infrastructure of the project links a road running parallel to the steam with the existing ridge road. The link road runs at right angles to these roads following the direction

The speculative timeline for the development of is:

of a smaller overland flow path. Smaller traverse roads run at right angles along the ter-

Year 1 The seed mixture is sprayed in the spring. Germination occurs over a one

races to connect to the housing blocks.

month to one-year period (native species being generally slower to germinate). A

A blanket of exotic vegetation crossing boundaries and hierarchies dissolves the tradi-

mat growth of uneven height (1m. maximum) covers the majority of the soil, while

tional garden with its semi public front garden and private rear garden. Streets and foot-

functional movement paths are created around the site.

paths cut through the new garden, old hierarchies of street planting, appropriate trees,

Year 2 Plants have reached up to 1m in height and paths start to be formalised.

entrance statements and the public landscape, of the subdivision is elided for an highly

Aggressive species start to dominate.

ordered yet dynamic horticulture, through which services cut a functional path. Public

Year 3 Plants have reached up to 2m. in height. Extra tube stocks (smallest grown

landscape in the subdivision, normally the marginal, vestigial land, is revegetated

species) of broad leaf native species are planted amongst the indigenous areas.

with indigenous planting in the same manner as the garden vegetation. The result is a thick



Vision is starting to be compromised, movement is becoming difficult off pathways,

mat of vegetal growth in which the inhabitants burrow, kids make paths, shortcuts, and

sound is becoming muffed and weeds are suppressed. Paths are becoming more

tracks – the boundary between what is private and public uncertain. This leads to an

formalized and steps, are constructed.

inescapable landscape where both occupants and visitors alike are confronted by the lack

Year 4 Rich botanical selection and interaction is evident. Planting becomes more

of traditional garden conventions as they move about their landscape – between the


exotic garden, indigenous landscape and the multiplicity of possible combinations. This

Year 10 and over The landscape becomes historical and autonomous. Seeding itself

busy and vibrant interchange between the two states is not static, but is a continually

it is taking on its own life with unexpected results, moving beyond the intention of

changing and evolving landscape. The whole subdivision becomes its own entity through

the original planting plan and maps.

the cohesive and overwhelming logic of the planting. The formal and physical structure of the project now raises the question, how should

The implication of the Loudonesque prescription was explored in the site’s topography. The

people occupy this landscape? On what terms can people build here? Some preliminary

not-garden zones are left as original contours. In contrast, the garden areas are terraced

observations might be that people occupy zones rather than private property. What might

to distinguish them as different. Instruction for this terracing operation is driven by the

be the implication of this type of occupation? The zones of occupation seem to form

functional concerns of the typical subdivision. The dimensions of each terrace are between

mainly on the terraces. The terraces form their own neighbourhood through a variety

two and three-metres high and roughly 30m deep.

of factors, including the relationship of the housing to the landscape and the view and

The horticultural map is laid over the amended topography making a complex inter-

each other rather than towards the roads and services. The terraces could engender com-

section of horticultural and topographical difference. The typical infrastructural concerns

munities rather than the property parceling. Roading assumes a lesser importance in

of the suburb now intersect with this intricate condition. Housing is placed in a contingent

this project. One speculative possibility is that the inhabitants of the terrace could choose

manner on the garden/terraces. The size of the terraces determines the different types of

the type of infrastructure they required, – for instance: where does the road go?, is it

tarsealed?, paved? Speculative possibilities raised by terrace configurations are: how are

design were inextricably linked with an exploration of the GIS software, ArcView and its

the terrace walls constructed?, battered?, or walled? How are these junctions created?

abilities and limitations. The implications which came with the use of Arc View are that

What materials are used? All these possibilities show how it is possible to make up a

garden conventions have to undergo some kind of transformation to enter this system. This

bigger world by smaller interactions. Other possibilities that are opened up are the creation

is an escape route, a way of freeing garden design practice from its conventions. GIS tends

of informal contingent path systems: how do paths transverse the terraces? i.e. ramps.

to make zones, to set up rules, and take the process literally. This makes it stronger and

This opens up the possibility of a completely separate pedestrian communication structure

able to cut across garden and subdivision conventions and open up new ways of represent-

with no reason to access the roads. Some speculative possibilities that arise from the

ing the changing possibilities for the new garden.

planting ideas are the roles inhabitants could play in how plants are appropriated

Using the intentionalities of garden design practice to determine the form of the

and which area they occupy. This could lead to rules about the removal of plants by trans-

new suburb, the Paremuka project has demonstrated that new forms of urbanism could

planting them and moving them elsewhere. This could lead to group decisions being made

be generated, even within the hidebound ethos of the developer subdivision. This privileg-

about the provision of open space. All these suggestions point to an empowering of the

ing of the garden over other more conventional concerns of the suburb has led to a

traditionally docile suburban dweller. The relative topography determines a community.

revaluation of some of the most revered and central tenants of suburb design; the individ-

People on each terrace form friendships, group/body corporates, and the landscape helps

ual detached house and its associated private bounded garden. These shibboleths are

to naturalise human relationships.

almost miraculously dissolved in the face of a seemingly overwhelming logic of garden

The Paremuka project demonstrates that garden design is capable of moving beyond its

driven development. Private boundaries are elided for a delicious horticultural confusion of

contemporary conventional structures and sites to generate new possibilities for its own

the indigenous and exotic, giving rise to a new way of living in the suburb. The Paremuka

practice. Garden design need no longer be limited to the domestic sphere, tied to an indi-

project promotes a physical integration/differentiation of the garden which changes the



vidual owner, and limited by property boundary conditions. In the Paremuka project some

social/cultural conventions predicated on customary subdivision hierarchies. The promise

of the conventions of the traditional garden, exotic horticulture and artificial topography

of the Paremuka project is not limited to its site but has the potential to inform the region

assume new freedoms and possibilities of scale and experience. The Paremuka project

and the city.

revealed the ease of scale in which these refigured conventions, horticulture and topography could operate, and the feeling of potential and possibility that could be generated at a greater scale. The Paremuka project also explored the possibilities of contemporary environmental design. In many ways the condition of environmental design is similar to garden design, an immensely rich corpus of work but with a limited almost one-dimensional focus within the practice of landscape architecture. In the case of garden design the focus is on the individual and domestic, in the case of environmental practice, the focus is on ‘saving the world’. This project demonstrated that environmental landscape practice could develop a richer range of possibilities through a particular engagement with the intentionalities of garden practice. Certain moments in the site demonstrated powerful potential, such as the overland flow paths. The material of such conditions led to a series of connections and the development of richer intentions, mediation’s, and modifications, beyond the conventional environmental reconstruction and restoration. The development of ways of escaping from the contemporary conventions of garden

1 Letchworth, the physical realisation of Ebenezer Howard’s garden city model, designed in 1903. 2 Loudon. C. (1871) An Encyclopaedia of Gardening Comprising the Theory and Practice of Horticulture, Floriculture, Arboriculture, and Landscape Gardening, Longmans, Green and Co. London. 3 Lucas. Di (1998) The guide for planting and restoring the nature of Waitakere City, Waitakere City, Auckland, NZ.



above contour. below DTM

above aspect. below hillshade


100 year flood

indigenous vegetation patterns

above hill slope above 8 degrees. below buffered hill slope

above overland flow paths. below buffered flow paths


road and river buffers

slope and water combined = not garden


slope under 8 degrees and no flood zone combined = garden

indigenous vegetation on not garden

indigenous veg on not garden buffered


exotic vegetation on garden buffered


garden + not garden


planting + contours

refigured topography


new topography + new vegetation


contours vegetation + stormwater


contours vegetation , stormwater + housing


contours + planting

contours, planting + infrastructure


master plan key A individual houses. B terrace houses. C link road. D transverse roads. E stormwater runoff collection ponds


intersection of river and slope zones

river/slope study area with planting plan

river/slope zone planting plan. A exotics in slope area. B exotics in river area. C natives in slope area. D natives in river area. E slope exotics in river garden. F river exotics in slope garden. G natives in slope garden. H native succession in river garden. I exotics in slope not garden. J exotic succession in river not garden. K river natives in slope not garden L slope natives in river not garden opposite. river/slope zone study area with contours, planting plan, houses and roads

river/slope zone study area with planting, houses and roads. key: A housing. B river road. C reservoir

above river/slope zone: view of housing. below view of study area with houses

river/slope zone view of study area with housing in the background


opposite section key. above river/slope zone: housing with indigenous planting. below housing with indigenous panting in foreground


river/slope zone native planting in foreground with garden planting in background

reservoir with indigenous planting in foreground and garden planting in background 001


intersection of slope and river zones

slope/ridge study area with planting plan


slope/ridge zone planting plan. A exotics in garden zone. B exotics in slope garden zone. C natives in ridge zone. D ridge exotics in garden. E slope exotics in ridge gardens. F natives in slope gardens. G natives in ridge garden. H exotics in slope not garden. I slope natives in ridge not gardens. J ridge natives in slope not gardens opposite. above slope/ridge zone: planting plan with refigured contours. below planting plans, contours, houses and roads. key: A link road. B transverse roads. C housing

opposite. slope/ridge zone planting plan with infrastructure key A housing. B link road. C transverse roads. above slope/ridge zone: study area from indigenous zone. below indigenous zone from road


slope/ridge zone view up link road with houses and transverse roads opposite section key



above slope/ridge zone view of housing with garden planting in foreground. below housing in slope zone with garden planting

slope/ridge zone with indigenous native planting in background 001

slope/ridge zone garden planting in foreground with indigenous planting in background

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