The Landscape Institute’s autumn lecture series ‘Urban Landscapes in the Twentieth Century’ starts on Wednesday 12 October

Charles Wade's drawing of the Great Wall in the Hampstead Garden Suburb
Charles Wade's drawing of the Great Wall in the Hampstead Garden Suburb

Kicking off the series, David Davidson, architectural advisor for the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust, introduces the founding principles of the Garden City movement. These were to have a profound influence upon urban development throughout the 20th century.

Reacting to the squalor of Victorian inner cities, the garden suburb had an ideology that pushed both a social and picturesque purpose – providing homes for all classes, while doing away the uniformity and close proximity that typified city dwelling at that time.

Davidson, whose background is in architecture and conservation, said the garden suburb was about weaving housing and landscape together so that the new developments would respect the existing landscape elements. As such, new roads took advantage of the natural contours, while ancient woodland and field-boundary oaks were retained wherever possible.

“The garden suburb is still relevant today,” Davidson added. “Not only is it a good model for modern buildings but the original emphasis on community, horticulture and growing your own food is one that we’re seeing resurgent interest in.”

The lecture series is run in collaboration with the Twentieth Century Society and will be held at the Garden Museum to complement its current exhibition: From the Garden City to the Green City.

The Twentieth Century Society exists to safeguard the heritage of architecture and design in Britain from 1914 onwards. Catherine Croft, director of the society, will chair the lectures.

“As much of our casework focuses on listed buildings, it’s all too easy for us to lose sight of the bigger picture and overlook the landscapes of which they are part,” Croft said.

“The protection of landscapes has become more prevalent in our campaigns – for instance the landscape elements of both Robin Hood Gardens and the Commonwealth Institute are particularly good and due to be destroyed completely by proposed development.”

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