Utopias that work: How to create tomorrow’s garden city

An aerial vision of how Oxford might grow according to Urbed’s Garden City vision Winner of the Wolfson Economics Prize for their vision of a 21st century garden city, Urbed’s Nicholas Falk talks through his winning entry and urges new garden cities to capture the ‘common wealth’ for local good A conference in Letchworth Garden City, like the event on Common Good Placemaking held in early September,  inevitably creates a positive feeling that through common or shared efforts anything is possible. Yet the reality of Letchworth, and subsequent failed attempts, is that good intentions are not enough to create a utopia in a market driven world. Ebenezer Howard’s great inventions were not leafy lanes; indeed the very name garden city was derived from his experience in Chicago, and not used for the first edition of his thought-changing book Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Urban Reform. Howard … (To read more, subscribe below)

Nicholas Falk

Dr Nicholas Falk is founder director of Urbed, and co-author of Sustainable Urban Neighbourhood: building the 21st century home


  • philip ross

    I disagree with Simon’s take, however I think we need to be on our guard to ensure that garden cities don’t go down that path. Which is why I feel strongly that garden cities need a strong definition – a social definition – to ensure that they don’t become utopian gated communities. Instead they need to be open and part of the wider community. These principles need to be in place at the start and I liked Urbed’s idea of a social contract. But that social contract needs to extend beyond the settlement itself.

    This is the lesson that they learnt in Vermont in the USA where they have established CLT.

  • mike reardon

    I have been trying to get interest away from the south east and greenfield per se. The garden city movement seems to accept the neo-liberal market driven economy that has created an economically distorted low wage economy driven by financial services based in and around London. The effect of current thinking would be to signal that this draining and sucking in of talent to the greater south east is set to continue. Except with a more humane residential response.

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