chapter  4
Walled Gardens: Online Privacy, Leisure Architectures, and Public Values
Pages 33

Walls can protect as well as suff ocate. Containing a space can be akin to sustaining a particular cultural mode of being. This is especially true as these enclosures become normalized over time. In such a context, the garden can be viewed as a social response to containing the wilderness, either by taming the undesirable or walling off from it. If we pry into the history of garden making, we discover the breeding of patriotism, class, and femininity manifested in a spectrum of controlled landscapes. Take, for instance, the early 18th-century English landscape and the obsession with the garden. This greening of urban space was a reverberation of the political climate that was consciously moving away from the then French ‘dictatorial system’ to a more ‘modern’ and fl exible ‘English’ way of designing leisure grounds (Hunt & Willis, 2000). The walling of these greens was perceived as a more benign and enlightened sort; not the heavy-handedness

that came from the princely states but rather, from a more nuanced and open perspective. According to Stephen Switzer, a key spokesperson for the early English gardens, it was desired that “where possible, enclosing walls should vanish, and by means of ‘an easy unaff ected manner of Fencing,’ it would look as if the adjacent Country were all a Garden” (Hunt & Willis, 2000, p. 2). This was espousing not the removal of barriers altogether but the removal of the feeling of boundaries that came with a historical connotation of imperialism and monarchy. Humphry Repton, one of the last great English landscape designers of the 18th century, was instrumental in communicating these ideas through the manufactured greens:

Repton’s own fundamental contribution to landscape history was to reclaim gardens for social use and relate them again to the houses they served. He pushed back the park and reintroduced regular and architectural forms-terraces, raised fl owerbeds, trelliswork, conservatories. These were the logical extension of the social spaces of the house. (Hunt & Willis, 2000, p. 32)

So while private gardens were embracing the aesthetics and values of openness and accessibility, there was a parallel trend of the closing in of the walled gardens during the Victorian era that intended to protect, preserve, and nurture. The initial design of these structures was driven by the main goal of producing more agreeable conditions for the select landscape to prosper and thrive (Campbell, 1987). Soon enough, however, this ‘walled garden’ perspective extended to the carving of social space along the lines of class, as well as marked spaces of protection for women and children. This came with a paternalistic rationale of security and safety, of preserving innocence and virtue. This meant there was a concerted recognition of what was undesirable and thereby, gardens were walled off from select territories. Over time, this concept of the ‘walled garden’ has taken on several guises, from the most confi ning to liberating to radically transformative in nature. In this chapter, we deal with four urban leisure landscapes: gated communities, shopping malls, children’s playgrounds, and guerrilla gardens. Each form comes with its own (and often paradoxical and opposing) rationale, design, cultural practice, and gatekeepers, but all share in the struggle between the private and the public sphere and between inclusivity and exclusivity.