World Garden Cities

Amsterdam School Museum The Ship (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) is organizing an extensive international program on garden cities in the following years. This will result in a variety of projects, research, publications and excursions, leading up to an international congress and large exhibition in 2024.

Garden cities were built since the end of the nineteenth century in response to the detrimental living conditions in larger cities, although, principles of garden cities can also be traced earlier in history. Social reformer Ebenezer Howard articulated the garden city for the first time in his book Garden Cities of To-morrow (1902) as a marriage between city and countryside, the garden city being best of both worlds. Howard also founded the Town and Country Planning Association, a large association with many influential members, and together with other initiatives (for example the Deutsche Gartenstadt-Gesellschaft) they promoted these ideas on town and country planning, allowing the garden city to blossom. Although garden cities took many forms and its ideals were interpreted in many ways, leading ambitions were good design, healthy housing based in a green environment, cooperative modes of management and strong community engagement. Based on these ideals thousands of neighbourhoods, villages and cities were built worldwide.

Many ideals of garden cities were shared by the Amsterdam School architects and other public housing professionals in the beginning of the twentieth century. Therefore, these ideals are still found abundantly in the city of Amsterdam. Many good workers’ houses were built in the Spaarndammerbuurt and in the boroughs of Amsterdam South and West. Amsterdam also consists of actual garden villages like Betondorp in Watergraafsmeer and multiple villages in the North side of Amsterdam. Tuindorp Oostzaan has beautiful workers’ houses built in the Amsterdam School style. The general expansion plan (Algemeen Uitbreidingsplan) of 1935 made by architect and urban planner Cornelis Van Eesteren presented a high-density residential area, the Westelijke Tuinsteden, which is also based on garden city principles.

Nowadays the garden city ideals are more relevant than ever because they are key in debates on the present and future of ecological and social-sustainable cities. Together with national and international partners we will research the origin and development of garden cities and its actual values in the following years.