Jaqueline Tyrwhitt

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Mary Jaqueline "Jacky" Tyrwhitt (25 May 1905 – 21 February 1983) was a British town planner, journalist, editor and educator. She was at the centre of the transnational network of theoreticians and practitioners who shaped the post-war Modern Movement in decentralized community design, residential architecture and social reform. She contributed in developing methods for the application of the ideas of Patrick Geddes, as well as publicizing them.[1]

In the 1950s she was a professor at the University of Toronto, where she helped establish a graduate program in city and regional planning and then in 1955 moved to the Harvard Graduate School of Design in the Department of City Planning and Landscape Architecture, where she taught for many years until her retirement.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Mary Jacqueline Tyrwhitt was born in Pretoria, South Africa to Thomas Tyrwhitt and Jaqueline Frances Otter. In Pretoria her father worked as an architect in the public Works Department where he designed public buildings as part of the reconstruction effort after the Boer War of 1899-1902. After the conclusion of a two-year posting in Pretoria the family relocated to Hampstead, north of London. In 1918, she won a scholarship to attend the St Paul's Girls' School, Hammersmith.

Although Jacqueline wanted to pursue a history scholarship at Oxford, her father did not allow her.[3] Instead, she prepared for the general horticultural examination of the Royal Horticultural Society, which she passed with high marks in March 1924. The following September she was among eight women in a group of 30 students who comprised the first-year class at the Architectural Association (AA) which at that time still followed traditional Beaux Arts principles and methods. In mid-1926 she took a job working for a small firm of "garden architects" in her London neighbourhood and was also enrolled in an evening course at the London School of Economics.

Interwar Work and Professional Development[edit]

Tyrwhitt spent the first nine months of 1937 studying town planning and land settlement at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin (TH-Berlin). In later reflections on the experience she said she had wanted to experience life under a totalitarian regime, in particular to observe early town planning schemes created by National Socialist planners. There she studied under Gottfried Feder who sought to apply Nazi anti-urban, Blut und Boden doctrine, aimed at the dissolution of the metropolis whereby metropolitan populations would be reabsorbed into the surrounding landscape.

Building on the English garden city model, he proposed the redistribution of the German population to small cities of a maximum of 20,000 inhabitants each. He promoted a Nazi ideal urban plan based on an oval, with a civic core centred in a radial street pattern. He called for housing produced in the traditional arts and crafts techqniues in a Volkisch vernacular style. This strategy was embraced as a means of both preserving historical settlement patterns and German-izing the landscape and peoples of occupied areas.

World War II and post-war[edit]

Tyrwhitt served as both Director of Research and Director of Studies during World War II at the School of Planning and Research for Regional Development, where she worked for seven years.[4] Beginning in 1941 she worked under Lord Reith with the Association for Planning and Regional Reconstruction for wartime mapping of social statistics and planning for postwar reconstruction. She worked with, among others, Anthony Pott, Anne Radford Wheeler, Alison Milne, Bunty Wills, Peter Saxl, and Lady Eve Balfour.[5]

In 1951 she left England for Canada and helped establish a graduate program in city and regional planning, where along with University of Toronto colleague Marshall McLuhan, anthropologist Edmund Carpenter, political economist Tom Easterbrook, and psychologist D. Carl Williams, co- founded the Explorations Group and the Ford Foundation Seminar on Culture and Communication at the University of Toronto in 1953.[6] The next 18 years were spent working for the School of Graduate Studies in Toronto, for the United Nations in India (1953–54), and later at Harvard University, all in town and regional planning-related jobs. She retired from Harvard in 1969, and moved to Greece, where she was appointed editor of the journal Ekistics, whose publisher, architect Constantine Doxiadis, was a friend.[7]


  • Jaqueline Tyrwhitt (ed.), Patrick Geddes in India, London, Lund Humphries, 1947, OCLC 352855
  • Jaqueline Tyrwhitt and Gwen Bell (eds.), Human Identity in the Urban Environment, London, Pelican Books, 1971, ISBN 978-0140213645
  • Mary Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, Making a Garden on a Greek Hillside, Limni, Denise Harvey & Co., 1998, ISBN 978-9607120144
  • Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, Society and Environment: A Historical Review, London, Routledge, 2015, ISBN 978-0415706599


Tyrwhitt died at her home in Paiania, Greece, at the age of 77, on 21 February 1983.[7]


  1. ^ Caves, R. W. (2004). Encyclopedia of the City. Routledge. p. 681. ISBN 978-0415862875.
  2. ^ "The Harvard Years, 1955-1969", Harvard Graduate School of Design News, April 1983, ISSN 0193-6107
  3. ^ "Mary Jaqueline Tyrwhitt". deniseharveypublisher.gr. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  4. ^ Jaqueline Tyrwhitt at archINFORM
  5. ^ Jaqueline Tyrwhitt: A Transnational Life in Urban Planning and Design, by Ellen Shoshkes, Portland State University, USA, Imprint: Ashgate (May 2013; 274 pages); ISBN 978-1-4094-1778-1/ISBN 9781409417781
  6. ^ Bridging Urban and Media Studies: Jaqueline Tyrwhitt and the Explorations Group 1951-1957, Michael Darroch, Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 33, No 2 (2008).
  7. ^ a b Profile of Mary Jaqueline "Jacky" Tyrwhitt, deniseharveypublisher.gr; accessed 1 May 2014.