5 common misconceptions about Garden Cities

Yesterday UK’s housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell announced that £7.4 million will be invested to support the delivery of new homes and settlements including 14 ‘garden villages’ and 3 ‘garden towns’. This, of course, prompted the Garden City debate once again.

I researched this subject extensively 2 years ago when the 100-year-old idea re-surfaced due to the Wolfson Economics Prize competition. Yesterday’s news got me obsessing about Garden Cities again so I decided to outline the common misconceptions about Ebenezer Howard’s model that I observe every single time the topic re-emerges.

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Are architects spoilt for choice?

In a recent RIBA publication named 21 things you won’t learn in architecture school Adrian Dobson claims that architects have so many ‘options for personal growth and career development’ that they are ‘spoilt for choice’[1]. An article published last week on ArchDaily supports that idea by listing a number of careers (21 to be exact) architectural graduates can pursue once they graduate [2].

The topic of the expanded role of the architect is close to my heart as I based my final year Master’s dissertation on it. Therefore, I was interested to read ArchDaily’s article and compare its conclusions to the ones I outlined in my work 6 months ago.

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Are Garden Cities the solution to UK’s housing crisis?

Ever since Ebenezer Howard first published his book ‘Tomorrow: a peaceful path to real reform’ in 1898, Garden Cities have been a highly influential but also extremely controversial concept. During the 20th century, the idea had a profound effect on urban planning not only because it was used as a framework for the building of many new settlements and suburbs, but also because it was recognised as a milestone in planning theory and inspired a number of urban design movements. Nevertheless, the Garden City also suffered heavy criticism for being a destructive, impractical and utopian planning model. Continue reading “Are Garden Cities the solution to UK’s housing crisis?”