Garden Cities of ‘To-morrow’: A Manifesto for the UK’s Garden Cities of 2050 Joanne Preston The proposal for adopting garden city principles,i as a means of tackling the ongoing UK housing shortage, has gained significant momentum in recent years. In the current political debate resurgence in Howard’s ideals is been used to suggest social progress with the garden city model’s practice of the private financing and community stewardship of assets used to support the Coalition Government’s ‘localism’ rhetoric. A manifestation of this can be seen in the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework, which explicitly recommends that local planning authorities ‘consider the application of garden city principles’.ii A thesis has uncovered how the adoption of the garden cities low-‐density, suburban typology into historic national housing policy, has led to social inequalities by disproportionately advantaging those members society in a ‘nuclear’ family. Through history, this has resulted in a set of social ideals relating to domesticity and family life been embedded in the architecture of Howard’s model.iii Examples from the enforcement of the Estate Management Scheme in Welwyn Garden City, aimed at preserving key garden city ‘values’ by regulating appearance of individual properties, has shown how this typology encourages an emphasis on community vigilance, thus the vilification and exclusion of those who do not comply with the aesthetics of the garden city typology. These findings reinforce the contemporary critique that the garden city through denying the existence of anything other than the status quo, encourages the middle classes to live in ‘private residential clubs’.iv The current revival of Howard’s Garden City Model is a movement towards the privatisation of the public realm. Garden Cities of To-morrow 2050 imagines an alternative typology for the proposed future generation of UK Garden Cities. Based on a more transient idea of ‘home’, the project envisages a future where everyone can have a place to call home in the city, greenbelt and suburb. The new housing typology is formed from an infrastructure, which is linked with existing rail networks and made habitable by kinetic walls and furniture modules. Heavily influenced by Howard’s Cul-de-Sac formations the tessellation of the proposed typology forms a patchwork landscape of contained gardens and terraces. The dwellings are designed to accommodate a community rather than a ‘nuclear family’ with the paternation allowing for a continual densification and growth of the typology as required and also encouraging neighbourly interaction by ensuring that divisions between one dwelling and the next are unclear. The typology challenges the recent drive towards homeownership and its association with financial gain and social mobility and instead suggests a beneficial lifestyle, which results from a shared and more flexile approach to ‘home’.
Howard, E. ‘Garden Cities of To-Morrow’ (London: 1898). DCLG, National Planning Policy Framework (March 2012). P.19. iii Davidoff et al. (1976) iv Webster E. ‘Gated Cities of Tomorrow’ (London, Routledge: 2002). i