Letchworth Garden City inspires China

Chengdu, China

Chengdu, China - Credit: Archant

A city on the other side of the world has turned to a Comet country town for inspiration.

Chengdu in China is creating a new garden city suburb of 1-2 million people and has turned to the original garden city of Letchworth to help provide the blueprint.

David Ames, head of strategic planning and heritage at Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, has visited China to advise government officials, academics and developers from the city of 14 million people on how to achieve a low carbon development based on garden city principles.

He said: “Their cities are growing so quickly it’s astounding. Part of the project is to help address problems of sprawling cities and many of the issues Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City model considered over 110 years ago. We are now finding some examples of a new generation of garden cities in China, although the scale of the development takes your breath away.”

David explained the garden city principle, which combines town life with the countryside, and referred back to the plans of Letchworth GC.


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Working with Dr Boa Feng Di, a professor at Sichuan University, David helped provide low carbon models adapted to the province’s specific needs. He showed how this could be adapted and work in China by developing a series of satellite towns based on the original satellite towns that Ebenezer Howard visualised.

The designers now are utilising these principles in one of the main development areas, Chengdu Dongcun. While Letchworth GC has an Edwardian design with low rise buildings and leafy avenues, Chengdu will have skyscrapers emerging from their leafy avenues and monorails sweeping over treetops, but with the same positive attributes such as shared open space, mixed use development and links with public transport.

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David said: “You can see the similarities with Letchworth Garden City in the tree-lined corridors, zoned areas for different uses and public open spaces, which are very close to where people live and work, just like Howard Park and Broadway Gardens in Letchworth.”

In November, a delegation from Chengdu will come to visit Letchworth GC to see how the garden city living works in practice.

David’s visit to China was funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office as part of its work promoting low carbon development internationally.

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