Gardens of Canal Houses

‘Behind the Facades: Gardens of Canal Houses’ by Renate Dorrestein, Koen Kleijn and Harold Strak D’Arts/Architectura & Natura; 2005. 226pp

Reviewed by Austin Williams | 9 March 2006

This book comprises a long essay on the history of gardens in Amsterdam and photographs of those individual gardens over the seasons. Excellent and revealing though most of the images are, it is the historic overview that makes this book. Kleijn situates the rise of garden architecture in a city that has known the very real pressure to build on every piece of land. It is an object lesson in how to plan urban space.

With successive populations growths, so gardens were given up to dwellings and it was only in the late 16th century that the authorities protected green space for enjoyment and Renaissance thought. Managed greenery thus helped to reinforce the urban quality that was reflected in the built form and ‘the Amsterdam garden thus mirror four hundred years in the cultural history of the city.’

Highly recommended.


Author: austinwilliams

Austin Williams is the director of the Future Cities Project and author of a number of books on the environment and on China. The latest are "China's Urban Revolution" (Bloomsbury) and "New Chinese Architecture: Twenty Women Building the Future" (Thames and Hudson).

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