The Landscapes of Winnipeg's Wildwood Park

By Martin, Michael David | Urban History Review, October 2001 | Go to article overview

The Landscapes of Winnipeg's Wildwood Park

Martin, Michael David, Urban History Review


This paper is a review of the history of the differentiated landscapes of Winnipeg's Wildwood Park--their origins and their transformations since the community's establishment in the late 1940s by builder/developer Hubert Bird. Bird patterned his scheme after Stein and Wright's Radburn garden-city fragment, but the uniquely evolved character of Wildwood Park owes as much to regional landscape, geomorphology, and local post-war culture as it owes to its famed antecedent. As a unique and idiosyncratic community design, Wildwood Park merits attention and further study by planning historians and those interested in alternative neighbourhood forms as social constructions or cultural landscapes. In addition, it suggests many things to designers of contemporary communities, many of whom are currently looking to traditional pre-World-War-II grid-pattern neighbourhood structure and aesthetics as inspiration for (presumably) more socially cohesive neighbourhoods. Whether such designers are inclined toward the garden-ci ty precept for separation of automobiles and pedestrians, or toward this contradictory "new urbanist" premise that cars and people should cohabitate within community open space, Wildwood Park has much to offer as precedent. Both its pedestrians-only park and its highly interactive lanes that do mix people and cars--and particularly these two complementary landscapes considered as a "matched set"--offer many interesting design lessons in matters of two-dimensional platting, three-dimensional neighbourhood structure and four-dimensional considerations for structural and landscape transformations that occur over the span of several decades.


Cet article fait le bilan du developpement historique des differents paysages formant le Parc Wildwood a Winnipeg. L'article elabore sur les origines et les transformations du parc, et ce, depuis la fondation de la communaute dans les annees '40 par l'entrepeneur et promoteur Hubert Bird. Bird etablit son projet suivant les idees de Stein and Wright, portant sur certaines parties du concept de "cite-jardin" de "Radburn". Mais le caractere specifique de Wildwood est tout autant fonde sur sa transformation historique provenant du paysage regional, de la geomorphologie ainsi que de la culture locale d'apres-guerre de la region de Winnipeg. Avec ces aspects caracterisques de design de quartier, Wildwood merite une attention particuliere pour les historiens de l'urbanisme qui desirent etudier les concepts relies a ce quartier. Les concepts intrinsiques relies a sa forme suscitera l'interet des historien(e)s attire(e)s par les constructions sociales on par les paysages culturels. De plus, la forme du parc pourrait inspirer les designers contemporains qui sont a la recherche d'un aesthetique de structure formelle (grille ou quadrillage) d'avant la deuxieme guerre mondiale.

Puisque que le parc utilise a la fois les concepts de "cite-jardin" (par la circulation limitee aux pietons dans le parc) et ceux du "nouvel-urbanisme" (par l'interaction des voies pietonnes et vehiculaires), il peut servir d'etude de cas tres interessante. Ces deux alternatives complementaires permettront de tirer plusieures lecons de design concernant la structure de design pour la communaute et sur son evolution morphologique a travers plusieurs decennies.

Introduction and Overview

Wildwood Park community in Winnipeg, Manitoba recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, a momentous event for past and current residents of the community that was duly reported in the local media. However, this was a milestone that, like the neighbourhood itself, has escaped the notice of most planning historians and those whose interests or professions lie in the realm of community design. It is a curious oversight, given the universal fame of the neighbourhood's antecedents and successors--the primary forerunner is Clarence Stein and Henry Wright's innovative Radburn in Fair Lawn, New Jersey (c. …

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