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14 Mar 2018
International competition launched for UK’s first Garden City of the 21st Century
By Kim Megson
International competition launched for UK’s first Garden City of the 21st Century
Located 17 minutes from Central London by high-speed rail and two hours from Paris and Brussels by Eurostar, Ebbsfleet is already a major railway hub between London and Europe
Photo: Landscape Institute
Architects, urban planners and landscape designers have been invited to submit proposals for the UK’s first Garden City of the 21st Century: a “truly modern and healthy” community of 15,000 new homes, seven parks, numerous leisure amenities and 30,000 new jobs.

Ebbsfleet in Kent will be the site of the Garden City, which is the largest project of the 10 Healthy New Town initiative launched by the National Health Service (NHS) to promote well-designed, sustainable cities that feature extensive green spaces to boost the health of their local populations.

Located 17 minutes from Central London by high-speed rail and two hours from Paris and Brussels by Eurostar, the town is already a major railway hub between London and Europe.

The Ebbsfleet Development Corporation and the Landscape Institute are overseeing an two-stage international design competition for the project to “ensure the best minds in the landscape profession take on the challenge of how best to create a truly modern healthy city,” taking advantage of its numerous lakes, frontages along the River Thames and chalk hills and valleys.

Michael Cassidy, chair of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, said: “Ebbsfleet Garden City’s landscape with its white chalk cliffs, open, green spaces and lakes provides us with a unique opportunity to provide a landscape that challenges the norm.

“Healthy living is also a great motivation for people and people taking part will be challenged to be as creative as they can to use the Garden City’s existing landscape to its full potential.”

Ideas are sought from individual landscape professionals, or teams which include landscape professionals, with multidisciplinary teams incorporating artists and engineers particularly encouraged. There are two categories – one for students, and one for established practitioners.

According to the competition rules, “Entries should address the shape of the whole city, rather than just one site, with the NHS hoping to look beyond Ebbsfleet at the wider health of the nation with the ideas that are submitted.”

Conceptual ideas need to be submitted online by Wednesday 18 April 2018.

Judges will then select up to five teams to proceed to stage two. They will receive a second stage brief and will have the task of developing designs for a specific site within Ebbsfleet. The ultimate winners will be announced in early September as part of the Landscape Institute National Conference.

“The decision to hold a landscape-led design competition should be an inspiration to other cities as it is a real opportunity to make a step-change in how we think about ‘place creation’,” said Dan Cook, chief executive of the Landscape Institute. “We have the opportunity to take a truly modern and multi-disciplinary approach at Ebbsfleet which could end up becoming a model for the creation of healthy new cities across the world.

“The competition will also challenge landscape professionals to demonstrate the leadership potential of their industry in showing the way towards creating healthy living environments and how good design can powerfully incorporate green infrastructure into a project.”

All shortlisted professional teams will receive an honorarium of £3,000. The final winner will receive a further cash prize of £5,000.

The garden city model – proposing utopian communities in which residents are surrounded by greenery – was first developed by British social reformer Ebeneezer Howard in the late 19th century. Letchworth Garden City became the first such settlement in 1903, and has since inspired urban planners from around the world, including Chengdu in China.

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