International GARDEN CITY


With planners, architects, developers, academics and politicians from around the world.

An entirely new community in the green fields of Hertfordshire, Welwyn Garden City realised the vision of Ebenezer Howard to create a town which offered‘a good life in an honest place’. A landmark in the art and science of town and country planning, the town’s successful development demonstrates the practicality and great benefits of building new settlements.

This International Symposium invites planners, architects, developers, academics and politicians from around the world to celebrate the centenary of Welwyn Garden City. What went right? What could have been done better? And above all, how can we apply this practical experience both home and abroad against a context of population growth, climate change and the need for sustainable living.

WGC International Garden City Symposium celebrating a century of planning a marriage of town and country WGC.

10-11th September 2020

So taken was Ebenezer Howard with the land on which he wanted to build Welwyn Garden City that he bought it at auction without the money to pay for it! A century on, and now a garden city of 45.000 people, we can celebrate the success of a town which Howard and his supporters could only have envisaged. 

This 2 day symposium held in central Welwyn Garden City will bring together expert speakers and commentators from both the UK and abroad to generate lively discussion and timely answers to some of the most pressing problems concerning all involved in the built environment.

Welwyn Garden City:

  • Built in a sustainable location astride a main line railway and alongside a primary road. Freestanding yet well connected.
  • Masterplanned as a whole from the outset, with beauty in design as important as the allocation of land uses.
  • Designed for healthy living, with original trees and woodlands retained and easy access to green space and the surrounding countryside for all.
  • Pioneered the creation of mixed communities, with housing for sale alongside houses for rent, large homes next to small cottages and all within walking distance of shops, schools, the station and the countryside.

If all this sounds like a socialist dream, it should be remembered that this was a garden city funded and built by private enterprise. Investors would be rewarded for their risk. In addition, the people and businesses that bought into the project to create the community would themselves be rewarded with enhanced local facilities.

A century on we should be able to answer:

  • What went well and what went wrong?
  • Does the garden city model still have relevance as we grapple with a national housing crisis, dying town centres and soaring demand for travel?

The international perspective

Ebenezer Howard hoped, but could never have foreseen how successful his garden city movement would be internationally. Over 150 garden cities have already been developed around the world, seeking to emulate the Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City models. The ideas and designs have travelled successfully! 

Looking to the future:

  • Is the garden city model useful in meeting the challenge of climate change?
  • Can garden cities assist in accommodating population growth and reducing mass migration?
  • Will garden cities be successful in supporting indigenous, sustainable economic growth?

The Symposium will also include the presentation of the Cheap/High Quality Housing Demonstration Project led by the University of Grenoble, Department of Architecture.  

There is an abundance of evidence and experience available to assist practitioners who face these issues and more in their day jobs. This Symposium will draw on this evidence base for a once in a century, once in a lifetime event. Be there! 

Who should attend?

  • Planners, architects, engineers, social scientists, universities.
  • Investors, institutions, developers, house builders, retailers.
  • NGO’s, campaigning and community organisations.

Welwyn Garden City is 30 minutes by rail from Kings Cross and central London. Overnight hotel accommodation at special rates has been secured. For overseas delegates, free homestays in original garden city homes is a possibility.

For initial enquires please email

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The Foundation can accept no responsibility for the organisation or regulation of any satellite events arranged to mark the centenary of Welwyn Garden City. This includes but is not limited to public liability insurance, health and safety issues (including risk assessments, Performance Licenses and safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults), transport, hiring of facilities, and any costs associated. The use of the Foundation name and logo does not infer any specific oversight or involvement of the Foundation unless stated.”