Re-Imagining the Garden City

Client: Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation
Location: Letchworth, UK
Co-ordinates: 51°59’56.5”S 0°13’41.0”E
Status: Competition Entry
Year: 2018
Project Team: BoardGrove Architects, TCL, SBLA, H.V.H Sustainability
Images: BoardGrove Architects, SBLA
Words: BoardGrove Architects, TCL

In 2018 we collaborated on a competition to re-imagine the Garden City typology on the edge of Letchworth, the world’s first Garden City designed by Ebenezer Howard.

Our collaborative proposal re-imagined the garden city as a village with a garden as its High Street. Six zones make up the sites organisation – 1. Young/Old, 2. Making/Consuming, 3. Wetlands/Wind, 4. Town Square 5. Waste/Production 6. Plants/Animals.

The central garden space – messy, active, social, experiential – is a jumble of activities and programs that opens up new relationships within the landscape and across the community. By forming new ecologies and entanglements, the garden/High Street builds a connected, sustainable community and landscape – it links the activities of everyday suburban life with a thriving, sustainable landscape, cultivated by the community.

In this scheme the programs, built form and activities along the High Street, are clustered in ways that form productive juxtapositions and entanglements. The High Street balances density with a mix of uses to provide the privacy, convenience and opportunities for neighbourly interactions. Each cluster of activities is supported by the landscape adjacent to it. From this messy garden, new connections and sustainable ways of living arise.

The housing typologies that populate the High Street are based on garden structures, landscape forms and historic English dwellings – glasshouses, Tudor houses with hanging gardens, courtyards, hedgerows, mews houses. The typologies integrate sustainable infrastructure such as PV panels and water collection alongside opportunities for greater social interactions, flexibility and shared economies. Each dwelling has a unique relationship to the cultivated landscape surrounding it, embedding a holistic sense of sustainable community across the messy garden neighbourhood.