Read the article and write 750 words reflecting on why it has been thought necessary to design model
settlements (by model settlements we mean Garden Cities and their predecessors explored in the
session on Friday 29th January) and whether such settlements still have a role to play today.
One of the important periods of urban development that we explored in semester one was The Industrial
Revolution. It was a period of rapid economic growth but one in which major divisions between conditions for
rich and poor emerged. The session started with a reminder of these divisions in housing quality, health,
access to services etc…and the way in which they impacted on the urban growth of that time.
We then continued by looking at responses to these poor conditions and in particular the building of model
(exemplar) workers’ housing (first) in the form of model dwellings such as those built by The Peabody Fund
and the Guinness Trust. They were robust, rather heavy handed interventions in the urban street but they
served their purpose of highlighting that good accommodation could be built. However, they were often
expensive to rent, they were not numerous enough and their strict rules meant that their impact was limited.
They did, though, pave the way for future local authority (council) housing.
The second range of such ‘models’ we explored were the workers’ villages of New Lanark and Saltaire. Built by
factory owners to ensure a good, healthy supply of workers to their business they demonstrated that, if the
will was there, there was no need to house workers in slum conditions.
They were though practical rather than beautiful.
The third typology we looked at emphasised the aesthetic quality that could be achieved by good design. Port
Sunlight, near Liverpool, in particular is an excellent example for the garden model settlements, in which, not
only are facilities such as theatres, museums, post offices, schools etc…provided but they are laid out in a
landscaped garden setting with vistas, boulevards and parks. Bourneville near Birmingham (by Cadbury) is
another example.
These all paved the way for another type of model settlement – the garden city. We looked at the ideas of
Ebenezer Howard and his vision for ‘The City of Tomorrow’ and how he thought this would help solve urban
problems. We focussed on Letchworth but also looked at Welwyn Garden City as well. Whilst they might have
had some successes these two were pretty much the only two garden cities built in England to anything like
Howard’s vision. Instead the idea of detached and semi-detached houses set in a spacious plot, to avoid
overcrowding, was taken up by property developers who bought up land outside towns and, as the car allowed
access, developed in a ribbon manner alongside main roads between our major cities.
The Garden City (or Garden Suburb) idea was taken up enthusiastically elsewhere in the world and this week’s
reading explores the international journey of the garden city and ow it adjusted to different cultures.


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