The beginning of the convergence between town and countryside is due to the socialist thinkers of the 19th century, with their belief that ones environment affects ones character. The concept of architecture changing a person was explored dramatically by the socialist and radical thinker, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). The totalitarian design of his Panoptikon was to grind rogues honest. It was built as a cylindrical prison and could be applied to schools and hospitals. The principle behind this machine-like institute was that the incarcerated would believe they are under constant surveillance, thus minimising chances of misbehaviour. This perceived scrutiny would allow the inhabitants to become better citizens.
Due to rapid industrialisation in the 19th century, larger city populations exploded, and squalor was rampant. Many of the old cities had seen their populations double. Around 1800 about one fifth of Britains population lived in the countryside, but by 1851 half the population of the country was housed in London. This lead to uncontrolled housing developments, where the private sector responded to the population boom by building poor quality, high density housing for workers. The thinkers of the 19th century, like the modernists of the 1930s believed a planned urban form could solve these social problems. In its earliest form, the marriage between town and country is subtle; placing of private gardens or greenbelts, yet this soon grows into an entire Garden City movement.
Like Bentham, industrialist Robert Owen (1771-1858) believed that a persons morale was affected by their surroundings. However, he believed less in the social engineering of Bentham and more on socialism, striving for better conditions for the working class. His mill at New Lanark, Scotland, was to become the most important experiment for the happiness of the human race that has yet been instituted in any part of the world. Owens humane regime was a stark contrast to the slums present in cities. At his mill, he built communal buildings and gardens for leisure and exercise, a complete ideological systems for small communities, where the workers children were also educated.
This new high standard of living encouraged workers productivity. His New Lanark model encouraged him to build this environment of mutual co-operation at a larger scale. Owen devised a Plan for an Ideal Village, an area with specific size and population, of between 500 to 1500. This plan was similar to structures of towns found in ancient Greece; there was a geometric layout and a focus on agriculture to become self-sufficient. This theory became a development called New Harmony, which was to be situated in the US, with an estimate population for five thousand designed as a quadrangle with sides of thousand feet. The design was never realised.
Owen was called a Utopian socialist by the revolutionary communist Karl Marx, and Owen shared this title with Charles Fourier (1772-1837). Fourier believed that co-operation was key to have a successful community, and to achieve this phalanxes should be established. This phalanstery would 1) Discover and organize a system of industry; (2) Guarantee to every individual the equivalent of their natural rights; and (3) Associate the interests of rich and poor. These natural rights included the gathering of natural products and fishing, and these communal hotel-like settlements facilitated this with laid-out gardens and grounds for exercise.
Jean-Baptiste Godin (1817-1888) modelled his iron foundry at Guise on the Oise on one of Fouriers phalanxes, with prevalent communal values. The residential buildings at the foundry were familistiere. The merge of buildings and landscape was similar to the ideal Palladian relationship between the inside space and the exterior. Living standards of workers vastly improved, and by combining industry and nature the familistiere provided its inhabitants with les quivalents de la richesse (the equivalent of wealth).
Figure 2-E.Howards Three Magnets
Though Owen, Fourier and Godin believed in the ideal settlement, all projects were too small a scale to eliminate urban hardship. The Public Health Act of 1875 was the first legal action to resolve the appalling living conditions and preventing the spread of cholera in cities. The expanding sprawl of the city had pushed the countryside further away from workers in city centres. In 1898, Ebenezer Howard (1850-1928) wrote the Garden Cities of Tomorrow, which was the first realistic sign of a marriage between town and country to form an urban utopia. His Three Magnets diagram, showed the pull of the idyllic fresh air and low rent of the countryside, merged with the opportunities and convenience of the city into one Garden City.
This utopian settlement noted the economic independence of the factory towns of Owen; each city would have its own industries and farms as to be self-sufficient. The settlements would have an optimum 32,000 inhabitants on 2,000 hectacres. It had a circular periphery enclosing a population of 30,000, the remaining would live on the agriculture belt which was ran only electrified industry. Six principal streets ran to the centre, where the main public offices were surrounded by four one-acre parks. In all, this Garden City seemed to blend, by rational means, the various demands of an expanding capitalist society and the nostalgia for communities on a human scale. Howard believed these garden cities could be built on the peripheries of a central city and be connected by rail; he was opposed to the idea of these being identified as garden suburbs.
After the success of the Garden Cities of Tomorrow, Howard founded the Garden City Association in 1899. His first project was for a town 80 miles from London called Letchworth, with architects Barry Parker (1867 1947) and Raymond Unwin (1863 1940). In 1904, the town was realised. Unwin and Parker were associated with the Arts and Craft movement of J.Ruskin and W.Morris, which opposed machine-like design and opted for picturesque ornament rooted in tradition. Letchworth was a family orientated settlement, where the monotony of street fronts was broken by the turning of houses on their lots so each could command the sunniest and pleasantest view. With an amicable architecture, a high-quality street system, it had ample space with twelve houses to the acre. The basic model by Howard had a centre of parkland and a lacked a commercial centre of a city. This design was developed by Unwin, who saw the Garden City as a proposal for satellite towns of major cities. He based his first design on the city of London, and with Parker developed Hampstead Garden Suburb (1905), later to be followed by Welwyn (1920).
Howards model inspired builders in Sweden, the US and Australia, where the layout of the capital Canberra was influenced by this Garden City movement. It is in post-World War I that we see the 19th century ideas of Howard influence on European city planners.
In mainland Europe socialist reform through housing was taking place. With a shortage of living space in the liberal city of Amsterdam, and the election of the SDAP (Socialist Democratic Workers Party), the State took control of all municipal building. The Woningwet Housing Act (1902) had been a result of investigations into the living conditions of workers, the first hygienic regulations, and the interventions of scientific and philanthropic associations.
The most notable developments in Amsterdam are apartments built for two socialist housing societies, Eigen Haard and De Daagard. They were both designed by Michel de Klerk (1884-1923), who had studied under H.P. Berlage (1856 1934), and who was influenced by Bruno Taut (1880-1936). De Klerk is seen as a link between the Traditionalists and the Modernists and had been interested by Unwins model. He was a member of the Amsterdam school, a team who built a garden suburb project in Rotterdam. He became one of the leading Dutch architects in the Expressionism movement which reached for a romantic, soulful symbolization of reality.