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Modernism and Gardens

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Post-war modernism sought to rethink and redesign almost every aspect of domestic life, from furniture and fabrics to houses and gardens.

From Christopher Tunnard in England and Thomas Church and Lawrence Halprin in America, to the Bauhaus and its closure in 1933 and the influence cast as its followers spread across England and America.

We focus primarily on house and garden and the overwhelming influence the movement had then, and now, on garden making.

Unashamedly focused on the contemporary garden in all its variety and forms, we will focus on the many themes and forms of the modern garden as it is now, and how it may evolve.

Further, we discuss not only the current contemporary gardens landscape, but the historic timeline that created and would ultimately influence the modern garden as we see it.

Influence from around the world, from Bauhaus to the development of Modernism through to plant development, technological developments and particular gardens that were ‘breakthrough’ moments.

Whilst many gardens throughout the world are studied, we focus largely on European garden makers, and recent landscapes throughout America and Australia.

Both public and private gardens are studied and emphasis is placed on difficult to see private gardens and spaces, enabling a privileged insight into the state of current garden making.

Learning and teaching

There will be lectures, case studies and group discussions.

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved.

Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning.

Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Reading suggestions

  • Jane Brown, The English Garden Through the Twentieth Century (Garden Art Press, 1999)
  • Jane Brown, The Modern Garden (Thames and Hudson, 2000)
  • Katie Campbell, Icons of 20th Century Landscape Design (Frances Lincoln, 2006)
  • Guy Cooper; Paradise Transformed: The Private Garden for the Twenty-first Century ( Monacelli Press; First Edition edition (1 Nov. 1996)
  • Piet Oudolf, Noel Kingsbury, Planting: A New Perspective (Timber Press 2013)
  • Thomas Rainer and Claudia West, Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes (Timber Press 2016)
  • Rory Stuart, What are Gardens for?, Frances Lincoln (5 September 2012)
  • Penelope Hill, Contemporary History of Garden Design: European Gardens between Art and Architecture (Basel: Birkhauser, 2004)
  • Penelope Hobhouse, In Search of Paradise: Great Gardens of the World (Frances Lincoln: 2006)
  • Piet Oudolf, Noel Kingsbury, Planting: A New Perspective (Timber Press 2013).
  • Tim Richardson, Futurescapes, Thames and Hudson (2011)
  • Andrew Wilson, Influential Gardens: the designers who shaped 20th-century garden style (London: Mitchell Beazley 2002)
  • The Gardens of Bunny Mellon; Linda Jane Holden, Sir Peter Crane, Roger Foley (Vendome Press)

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.