Model village

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Almshouses in Saltaire, Yorkshire, typical of the architecture of the whole village

A model village is a type of mostly self-contained community, in most cases built from the late eighteenth century onwards by industrialists to house their workers. Although the villages are located close to industrial sites, they are generally physically separated from them and often consist of relatively high quality housing, with integrated community amenities and attractive physical environments. "Model" is used in the sense of an ideal to which other developments could aspire.

The term "model villages" also refers to the forcible resettlement program for civil war refugees in Guatemala developed by the national government to isolate civilians from guerrillas by confining them to closed garrison towns. The system was based on the Strategic Hamlet Program in Vietnam instituted by the US military and the Diem regime during the earlier parts of the Vietnam War,[1] and has parallels with the village guard system enforced by the Turkish government during the Turkish-Kurdish conflict.[2]

In the British Isles[edit]

An example of houses at Port Sunlight.
Typical local shopping parade in Bournville village

Model villages were created in the United Kingdom by some of the first industrialists. Arkwright and Wedgwood built housing for their workers in the 18th century, but fully developed settlements are more typical of the 19th or early 20th centuries. The development of Poundbury, a model village in rural Dorset has been supported by the Prince of Wales.


Model villages were built by philanthropist industrialists such as Titus Salt and George Cadbury to house their workers and provide social amenities. Architects associated with the movement include the designer of Woodlands Model Village and Creswell Model Village, Percy B. Houfton. They were influential in the development of the garden city movement.

There were often significant restrictions for living in model villages, often depending on the views of the owners. For example, Bournville model village had no public houses, because Cadbury abjured alcohol.

There are some estate villages which can be seen as model villages. English examples are seen when a medieval settlement has been rebuilt by a rural landowner, as at Edensor on the Chatsworth estate, at Milton Abbas and Selworthy.

England[edit]

(Chronological order)

Some villages were built around coal mines. In Yorkshire, the villages of Grimethorpe, Goldthorpe, Woodlands and Fitzwilliam were all built to house workers at the colliery, around which the houses were built. Following the mass pit closures of 1984-94, many of these villages suffered from huge losses in population.

Ireland[edit]

(Chronological order)

Scotland[edit]

Wales[edit]

In Continental Europe[edit]

Italy[edit]

In Italy's Lombardy region, Crespi d’Adda is a particularly well-preserved model workers' village, and has been a World Heritage Site since 1995. It was built from scratch, starting in 1878, to provide housing and social services for the workers in a cotton textile factory erected on the banks of the river Adda.

Germany[edit]

In Germany, Stadt des KdF-Wagens was built for the Volkswagen factory.

Spain[edit]

The town of Nuevo Baztán outside of Madrid dates from the mercantilist and entrepreneurial ambitions of an industrialist from the early 18th century.

In the Americas[edit]

United States of America[edit]

Model villages were also built in the United States along the same lines as planned industrial communities, for example at Gwinn, Michigan and Pullman, Illinois. There were also such agricultural communities as the 18th century Davis Bend, Mississippi. Boulder City, Nevada was originally built in 1931 for housing for workers who were building Hoover Dam.

Mexico[edit]

The first model villages appeared during the Porfirio Diaz regime, the most notable being Metepec and Tlacotalpan.

Jají model village, Mérida, Venezuela

Venezuela[edit]

India[edit]

India has its equivalent as model town. The first was Model Town, Bathinda put up with exclusive purpose of housing the employees of Guru Nanak Thermal Plant. Similar model towns are attached with many Indian cities.

Pimpri Gawali

See also[edit]

related 'Idealised' town building schemes

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sanford, Victoria (19 April 2003). Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala. pp. 137–139. 
  2. ^ Turkey's war on the Kurds, 13 Aug 2005

For Individual entries see the articles. Standard reference work on subject (including some US and European examples) are;

  • Gillian Darley's 'Villages of Vision: A Study of Strange Utopias' first published 1975 (Architectural Press, pb 1978 Paladin) and republished with fully revised gazetteer 2007 (Five Leaves Publications)