Garden Cities

Pinelands, Cape Town

Brasilía is the capital of Brazil, built with the intention of bringing further progress and urbanization into the interior and of separating itself from Rio de Janeiro, the old coastal capital. Brasilía left behind the slums, baroque and classical architecture, and colonial legacy of Rio de Janeiro and replaced it with urban planning, new roads, and futuristic architecture, which has been recognized as a fresh start by Brazilians. However, Brasilía was designed to hold 500,000 people, but now holds approximately 3 million. It also was not designed with pedestrians in mind, so it is congested and environmentally unfriendly. Brasilía is coherent, but lacks shops, street life, markets, and a sense of day-to-day life because it was built for civil service and the government.

Eco Village, New York

Founded in 1991, Eco Village outside Ithaca, New York now houses about 240 people in dense housing structures. The founders bought the land in the area, and they grow their own food, which they use to sustain themselves in an environmentally-friendly way. They have a partnership with Cornell University, and they give regular tours to university students and others to educate the public on living sustainably. Homes are duplexes, and cars are parked in a central parking lot, rather than close to homes, and laundry is located in one of the two large common buildings. Everyone who moves in takes part in a learning process so that they can decide whether they want to stay: because it’s community-centered, all decisions are made by the community together, and everyone is expected to clean around the area. Many residents have home-based businesses inside the Eco Village, like a massage therapist, a counselor, computer consultants, an attorney, and more.

Forest Hills, NY

Forest Hills, located in greater Queens NY, is one of America’s oldest planned communities modeled after England’s garden cities. It was intended to create an ideal environment that incorporated shared green space with urban conveniences for the working classes, such as affordable housing and easy transportation via subways and the Long Island Rail Road. Unlike the majority of New York, Forest Hills is spread out and filled with green space. It formed a covenant that is overseen by the Forest Hills Garden Corporation, which handles community maintenance. Because the community was perceived as a success, Forest Hills no longer provides affordable housing for blue-collar workers- instead it offers one of the most expensive residential properties in Queens County.

Canberra, Australia

Canberra, Australia

Designed by the Griffins in 1913, Canberra is the capital of Australia. Influenced by the Prairie School and garden city movement, Canberra’s design underwent several delays and modifications, though the main Parliament Triangle is true to plan. An emphasis on nature has given it curved boulevards, tree-lined paths, a manmade reservoir, and an abundance of park space. That said, it also has been criticized for its inorganic feel (relative to other Australian cities), over-reliance on cars, and general suburban layout. As an inland Australian city, Canberra is also prone to the increased effects of climate change.

Quezon City, Philippines

Quezon City, created in 1939, is a city in Metro Manila. Some of its features are heavily inspired by the garden city movement. For example, various institutions are located around a central garden and the city grows in a radial pattern around it, with wards divided by large boulevards. The idealized original plan has, as built reality, evolved into something that has, today, taken the urban character of the wider Metro Manila: highly stratified and extremely dense. It is a testament both to the internationality of the garden city movement and the ways in which planning theory can sometimes fail to follow through in practice, especially, perhaps, when it is imported to a vastly different urban context.

Lusaka, Zambia

Lusaka, Zambia was intended as a garden city in sub-Saharan Africa. The 1931 plan segregated European and African communities, while offering very little in the form of economic activities. The divide can be seen from above even today and is accentuated by the greater amount of green space in the formerly European area.

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