Vertical Garden City


Ebenezer Howard's two-dimensional diagrams represent a Garden City conceived and subsequently developed exclusively in the horizontal dimension, invariably at far lower densities than Howard himself intended. Rejecting the two-dimensional model, the Vertical Garden City envisioned here combines both horizontal and vertical elements into a complex 3D matrix of interlinked structures, elevated circulation routes and spaces. Just as the spaces and related activities at street level are more important to the life of a great city than any single building, so the linked spaces and activities within the upper levels of the matrix are at least as significant, if not more so than any single tall structure.

From: 'Vertical Garden City, Barangaroo', Architectural Review Australia, No. 111, July 2009, pp. 110-113.

...the most important and gratifying outcome of this year's VAST program for this teacher has been the clear development of a series of innovative high-rise typologies, suggesting a progressive evolution of the Vertical Garden City concept from previous studios. In particular, several teams advanced detailed proposals for integrating intensive methods of urban agriculture with other functions within the same mixed-use towers, thus reducing the costs associated with purpose built, separate structures for vertical farms. In one case, mechanised chains of crops are hung behind photovoltaic glass louvres at the ends of slim apartment towers. In another, flexible floor spaces are designed so they can be readily converted from offices to vertical farming or vice versa, as economics and market conditions require.

From: 'Vertical Garden City, Mark IV: Central Park, Sydney.' Architectural Review Australia, No. 116, August/September 2010, pp. 60-62.

However, the future development and success of the Vertical Garden City model may ultimately depend on a substantial expansion of the public realm above ground into hitherto wholly private territory. Already shrinking fast at ground level, the problem of extending the commons is compounded many times over above ground, where private ownership and control of both habitable spaces and movement systems is generally total.

What chance then, for viable public spaces and amenities within an urban typology extended in all directions, as proposed in the above projects? Unlikely as it might have seemed even just a year ago, the seismic effects of climate change and the global financial crisis have combined to create a potentially new situation. Not only is it now plausible to posit major extensions of public responsibility in all aspects of life, but also to view a major shift in priorities from private to public interests as an urgent necessity, if not a matter of actual survival. It is not unrealistic, therefore, to imagine a vertical garden city in which the responsibility for the construction and maintenance of the infrastructure and shared spaces above ground is retained by public authorities, just as the streets, pavements and buried services at ground level are presently financed and maintained by tax funded bodies and services and services or subcontracted out as appropriate. In this respect, the effect of food and water shortages on the future form and growth of cities as current sources are impacted by climate change may also turn the economic and political tide in favor of vertical farming. Like it or not, urban authorities could eventually be compelled to make space for and to control food production in cities to ensure adequate supplies.

From: ' The Vertical Garden City: Towards a New Urban Topology,' CTBUH Journal, Issue II, 2010, pp. 20-30.