Garden Cities of the 21st Century: A Sustainable Path to Suburban Reform

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Garden Cities of the 21st Century: A Sustainable Path to Suburban Reform


  • Nicolas Vernet École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Grenoble (ENSAG), Université Grenoble Alpes, France; French Environment and Energy Management Agency, France
  • Anne Coste École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Grenoble (ENSAG), Université Grenoble Alpes, France


Abstract  The garden city is often presented as a low-density, unsustainable and space-consuming archetype of suburbanization (Duany, Roberts, & Tallen, 2014; Hall, 2014; Safdie & Kohn, 1997). It has been deliberately also misused by property developers for gated communities (Le Goix, 2003; Webster, 2001). But these projects have little in common with the original concept of garden cities. We argue that the original garden city, as a theory (Howard, 1898) and as experiments (Letchworth and Welwyn Garden Cities), is a precedent that can be used in a sustainable approach that addresses a range of issues and concerns, such as housing, governance, the economy, mobility, the community, agriculture, energy and health. The recent Wolfson Economics Prize (2014) and the many new garden cities and suburbs projects currently planned in the UK have demonstrated the resurgence of this model in the planning world, both in terms of theory and practice. In this paper, we explore its potential in the light of environmental challenges. We therefore suggest that as a model, it can in particular underpin the evolution of suburbs in an era of energy transition, since these areas require an ecosystemic rather than sectoral approach to design.


Keywords  density; eco-systemic approach; energy transition; garden cities; model; suburbs; Wolfson Economics Prize


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/up.v2i4.1104


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