Community Green: Rediscovering the Garden Suburb Tradition of Local Open Space

The planned provision of small enclosed open spaces in residential communities dates from the heyday of the global garden city and suburb movement at the turn of the last century. Progressive reformers at that time left a legacy of internal parks which have enjoyed mixed fortunes, but the idea continues to resurface in contemporary housing developments.

These spaces thus have a past, a present and a future presenting both challenges and opportunities for local communities and municipal authorities concerned with advancing goals of livability, sustainability and productivity in suburban areas.

This presentation aims to help resuscitate such secretive reserves from history as not only a distinctive small park morphology with as heritage in their own right but one whose problems and potentialities are relevant to many other green community spaces. In so doing new connections are opened up between the past and the future, localism and globalism, and connecting local collective action to broader global challenges of cohesion, health, food, and climate change.

Rob Freestone is currently a visiting professor in the Melbourne School of Design where he is working on various collaborative research projects, including with Dr David Nichols (MSD) on the history of the garden suburb.