Garden City Case Study

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1. Arise and Development of Garden City
This section investigates the garden city development in Singapore before 1935.

1.1 Reasons for Adopting Garden City Planning
Ebenezer Howard was the first to initiate garden city movement, which is a method of urban planning that plans cities to be self-contained communities surrounded by greenbelts (Hall, 2002). Under the British colonial influence, the garden city ideology was spread to Singapore in the 18th and 19th century (Edwards, 1990). There were a few factors contributing to the adoption of garden city planning in Singapore.

At that time, public and private buildings were designed by engineers, who lacked proper architectural training and therefore resulting in lacking of space in the urban
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The cleanliness and clarity of public spaces gave the city an impression of “engendered civic pride and municipal vigor” (Yeoh, 2003). For example, the use of verandah (Yeoh, 2003) impressed visitors in terms of the hygienic improvement in addition to the admiration to the width and design of public streets and roads.

1.2 Development of Garden City Movement
As mentioned, the concept of garden city originated from Britain and was diffused to Singapore because of colonization. The section focuses on the Singaporean suburbanization development.

1.2.1 Early Suburbanization
During the period of 1880-1900, Singapore experienced a substantial increase in trading activity (Edwards, 1990; Turnbull, 1989). Necessary infrastructure including port facilities and communication links were built to support the economy (Edwards, 1990). Without proper social, especially medical facilities, the influx of immigrant workforce who concentrated near the town centre had brought about endemic diseases as a result of overcrowding, malnutrition and poverty (Edwards, 1990), resulting in those who can afford had no choice but to move out of the concerned
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(Courtesy National Archives, Singapore. From Edwards, 1990)

Around the Tanglin area, richer European and Chinese accessed to their second house facing the sea (Edwards, 1990). Tanglin at that time were semi-rural, which was hilly and densely wooded (Edwards, 1990). It was occupied by residential properties at low densities, where compounds were of the order of 5-6 acres (Edwards, 1990).

Figure 4 Detail of Map of Singapore, 1901. (Courtesy National Museum, Republic of Singapore. From Edwards, 1990)

Edwards, N. (1990). The Singapore House and Residential Life: 1819-1939. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hall, P. (2002). The City in the Garden. In Cities of Tomorrow. 88-110.
Seng, E. (2012). Politics of Greening: Spatial Constructions of the Public in Singapore. In Non West Modernist Past: On Architecture and Modernities, 144-159.
Turnbull, C. M. (1989). A History of Singapore: 1819-1988. New York: Oxford University Press.
Yeoh, B. S. (2003). The Control of ‘Public’ Space: Conflicts over the Definition and Use of the Verandah. In Contesting Space in Colonial Singapore: Power Relations and the Urban Built Environment (pp. 243-280). Singapore: National University of Singapore
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