Town Planning Review

Re-enclosure of the urban picturesque: Green-space transformations in postmodern urbanism

Town Planning Review (2008), 79, (1), 31–59.

Abstract

The paper seeks to compare and contrast the roles of green space within modern and postmodern urbanism. Modernism rejected enclosure in favour of an open space vision inspired by eighteenth-century picturesque landscape design. Its paradigm of an unbounded public realm was diffused and regularised during the second half of the twentieth century through housing and highways development, open space policies and regulatory practices. As the stock of green space increased, so did concerns about its environmental and social utility. Towards the end of the century there appeared an alternative vision of urban open space. Instead of openness it sought enclosure, and instead of a passive pictorial quality it aimed at the active provision of ecosystem services to the built environment. This article describes this rethinking of town greenery, looks for its underlying social and environmental rationale, and assesses its place within a wider planning theory of postmodern urbanism.

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Hebbert, Michael