Introduction and Invitation


This design ideas competition aims to discover new designs for a modern garden city to meet the needs of the 21st century, whilst recapturing the pioneering spirit that led to the development of the world’s first garden city at Letchworth.

The competition is seeking master planning concepts for the proposed residential development of a 45 Hectare site to the north of Letchworth, which will be the first expansion of the Garden City in a generation.

The design competition is being managed by RIBA Competitions on behalf of the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation (the Foundation) in partnership with the Town and Country Planning Association, Homes England, Anglian/Affinity Water, Building Research Establishment and the University of Hertfordshire.

Letchworth Garden City was the brainchild of Ebenezer Howard, a social reformer who sought to address issues of deprivation, squalid living conditions and the inequity of high rents, by reforming land ownership and combining the best of living and working in the town and country, through a series of planned settlements, known as Garden Cities. Howard’s principles, set out in his 1898 publication, ‘To–Morrow a Peaceful Path to Real Reform’ , sought a social, community and economic model, where value is captured from land and reinvested back into the local community. This included detailed funding and expenditure projections, community governance and stewardship.


Sir Ebenezer Howard OBE Social Reformer 1850 — 1928

The Foundation is successor to First Garden City Limited. It is a community benefit society, owning the freehold of the Letchworth Estate. The Heritage Foundation reinvests surplus from the estate back into the local community through a series of charitable services and grant giving. It also applies a management scheme which seeks to preserve the character and quality of the world’s first garden city.


Competition Format


The competition is open internationally to architect-led design teams, with inter-disciplinary collaboration encouraged, as is collaboration between practices of different size, expertise and experience.

The competition will be run in two phases:


Submission of initial design proposals which will be assessed anonymously with up to four schemes selected to proceed to the second phase of the competition.


Anonymity will be lifted at the second phase, with short-listed teams invited to develop their ideas in response to general and scheme-specific feedback on the phase one design submissions.

An open briefing session will be held to give short-listed teams an opportunity to visit the site and meet key representatives from the Foundation and its partners, to learn more about their aspirations for the project, and the hope is that ideas generated might stimulate global discussion about the development of exemplar garden cities in the 21st Century.

The developed design concepts of the short-listed teams will be subject to anonymous public display in Letchworth and an online community engagement exercise, with comments made available to the Judging Panel. The selection process will conclude with a debate about modern Garden City design and the short-listed design teams will be invited to present their proposals to the Judging Panel. The presentations are scheduled to take place in Letchworth in early-April 2019.



Aerial photograph looking approximately SSE across Broadway Gardens to the tree-lined corridors and double verges of the Broadway

For further details please refer to the relevant section of the Competition Conditions


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