The Making of a Utopian Design Idea

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The backyard metropolis motion was impressed by a utopian metropolis planning idea developed by Englishman Ebenezer Howard. Garden cities have been designed to supply entry to the very best points of each city and nation. Howard’s concepts grew out of the Industrial Revolution and have been, partly, a response to the situation of employees in London. The backyard metropolis motion has had a major affect on at this time’s city planning requirements.

History of the Garden City Movement

Howard first offered his backyard metropolis idea in 1898 in a e-book entitled To-morrow: a Peaceful Path to Real Reform, later republished in 1902 below the title Garden Cities of To-morrow.

Howard believed that superb residing circumstances for individuals of all financial ranges might be created by establishing “town/country” cities with very particular parameters. His concepts have been constructed on prior utopian works, which extolled the thought of a rigorously managed working class residing in idealized communities run by sturdy governmental establishments.

The Three Magnets

The JR James Archive / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0


Howard’s writing in the course of the Industrial Revolution was in response to city slums, air pollution, and lack of entry to the countryside. Much of his e-book was devoted to the concept that cities, as they existed in his time, weren’t sustainable and would probably, finally, must be destroyed. At the identical time, he was conscious of the financial issues of rural farmers who, depending on the climate and crop costs, usually lived in poverty.

In his e-book, Howard described “town” and “country” as magnets drawing individuals to them for various, typically opposing causes. He described the professionals and cons of every—as an illustration, the nation provides “beauty of nature” however a “lack of society”, whereas the city options “social opportunity” in change for a “closing out of nature.” Howard argued that neither the city nor nation was superb.

His answer to this dilemma of place was to create a “third magnet”—a town-country hybrid that might provide each the conveniences of the city and the peace and great thing about the nation.

Design of the Garden City

To present superb residing circumstances for a variety of individuals, Howard determined to create extremely structured, rigorously laid out communities. In Howard’s time, British landowners have been allowed to make any use they needed of their very own land, so Howard envisioned buying giant areas of land from aristocratic homeowners and establishing backyard cities that might home 32,000 in particular person properties on 6,000 acres.

Howard had an elaborate plan in thoughts: His backyard cities would come with, ranging from the middle of the circle:

  • an enormous public backyard with public buildings resembling city corridor, lecture halls, theaters, and a hospital;
  • an infinite arcade referred to as the “crystal palace,” the place residents would browse at a lined market and revel in a “winter garden;
  • approximately 5,500 building lots for individual family homes (some with “cooperative kitchens” and shared gardens);
  • faculties, playgrounds, and church buildings;
  • factories, warehouses, farms, workshops, and entry to a practice line.

In addition to designing the bodily construction of his backyard cities, Howard additionally created an elaborate plan for funding its development, managing its infrastructure, offering for the needy, and making certain the well being and welfare of its residents. In its superb kind, the Garden City would turn into a community of smaller cities constructed round a bigger central city.

Notable Garden Cities


Letchworth Garden City, UK – A girl cycles her bicycle previous Arts and Crafts interval homes.
Corbis by way of Getty Images / Getty Images

Howard was a profitable fundraiser, and, within the first years of the twentieth century, he constructed two garden cities: Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City, each in Hertfordshire, England. Letchworth was initially fairly profitable, however Welwyn, constructed simply 20 miles from London, rapidly grew to become an bizarre suburb.

Still, backyard cities took off elsewhere. The motion expanded to the United States the place backyard cities flourished in New York, Boston, and Virginia. More have been constructed all over the world in Peru, South Africa, Japan, and Australia, amongst different locations.

Much extra lately, Walt Disney’s unique idea of the Experimental Prototypical City of Tomorrow (EPCOT) drew an important deal from the backyard metropolis. Like the backyard metropolis, Disney’s EPCOT was designed in concentric circles with radiating boulevards. Unlike Howard, nonetheless, Disney envisioned having quite a lot of private management over the day-to-day administration of life in “his” metropolis.

Praise and Criticisms

Even at this time, Howard’s concepts are the topic of each reward and criticism. Critics both noticed it as a helpful mannequin for metropolis planning or as a method for increasing industrialism, damaging the setting, and controlling the working class.

Howard’s enthusiasm for progress, industrialization, and growth with out regard for restricted assets stands in battle with the views of at this time’s environmentalists. Similarly, his perception that city facilities are unsustainable clashes with extra trendy planning beliefs.

On the opposite hand, the thought of a backyard metropolis took root in city planning, resulting in the rise of inexperienced areas inside city landscapes.

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