The University of Hertfordshire has recently entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Letchworth heritage Foundation centred on the new International Garden Cities institute at Letchworth. The Institute is facilitating discussion and debate, with seminars and publications, and developing as a centre for research and learning.
Particular emphasis is being placed on the cultural, social and community component of the Garden City model, as well as on master planning and urban design. The aim is to develop greater understanding of how to create great places to live, which is at the heart of the Garden City model.
The Centre for Sustainable Community’s Dr Susan Parham, has been appointed to be the Institute’s inaugural Academic Director, and is working on academic projects and engagement opportunities for the Institute, relating to the development of the Garden City model. As Head of Urbanism at the University's Centre for Sustainable Communities Dr Parham has particular research interests in the urbanism of Garden Cities and New Towns, so is ideally placed to support the work of the Institute and the aspirations of the Founding Partners.
Dr Parham said: 'The founding of the new International Garden Cities Institute offers an incredibly exciting opportunity to explore the complex heritage, contemporary practice and possible futures for Garden Cities (and New Towns) in the UK and elsewhere. My colleagues and I at the University of Hertfordshire are very much looking forward to working with partners here and internationally to research some of the fascinating themes that are emerging in this very topical place-making area - and to apply our knowledge in as useful ways as possible.'
As one of the great success stories in making places that work economically and which are also loved by their residents, Garden Cities seem prime candidates for reappraisal. In a context of the urgent need for substantial new housing provision and increased economic activity to contribute to prosperity. It is evident that we need a very high quality of thinking and debate about why we should deliver new Garden Cities today and how to do so.
Delivering a new Garden City is as much about civic design, place-making and community development as economic viability, and we bring a range of perspectives to the question, from urban design, planning, architecture, development, community engagement and place-making, as well as economics, because this is a holistic question, not a narrow, reductive or purely academic one.
Read the full article submitted to the Wolfson Foundation in 2014.