For those who haven´t had the chance to join the conference „Let´s walk. New pathways in Design Research” of Studio Urbane Landschaften: My talk “Why walking? Engagement and ideas” is now online. For more talks and findings of the conference see http://letswalkurbanlandscapes.urbanelandschaften.de/
Read the precise review by Saskia I. de Wit on the symposium “Let´s walk Urban Landscapes. New Pathways in Design Research” published in the current issue of Journal of Landscape Architecture (JoLA). De Wit reflects on walking as a tool that can be used in all stages of the design process and that had been formative for the design of the symposium of Studio Urbane Landschaften itself. “The mix of lecturing, creating, discussing and reflecting, and particularly walking, dissolved the dichotomy of speakers and audience.”
The European Landscape Convention states that landscape protection, management and planning should be a task for all sectors of civil society. A key challenge is to enable different groups to identify their own landscapes. But how can we identify such complex process of transformation together with people of different backgrounds? The spatial visions designed by Stein+Schultz demonstrate the benefits of expressing landscapes through maps, images and words. There is a special focus on large-scale visions as elements of informal plans fostering creative transdisciplinary dialogue. Find a summary of the Top 5 spatial visions that help to capture the complexity of landscapes:
Not everybody attending the conference „Planung in der Status Quo Gesellschaft. Ist Wandel möglich“ (by ARL and DASL, 22.1.2016 in Dortmund) was convinced by Prof. Heinz Bude´s contribution to the debate on changes in society and how planners can influence processes of transformation. I found his talk on atmospheres intriguing, because Bude presented a way to frame the complexity of change. His definition of atmosphere (German: Stimmung) differs from what Gernot Böhme would call atmosphere, but one thing they have in common: Atmosphere is fluid, sometimes unpredictably and planners and designers of urban landscapes are well advised to sense these atmospheres carefully.
How do resilient structures of future cities look like? In my article I discuss ways to reframe those structures. The German city of Freiburg is an enlightening case study, because it has accomplished a turn-around: After years of focussing on developing new neighbourhoods like world-famous Vauban, it started a process of rethinking the structures of the whole urban landscape, including inner city areas, neighbourhoods and villages, infrastructures and forests. The goal was not to turn the whole city upside down but to find a spatial vision, hotspots for restructuring and spatial strategies all striving to operate as inspiring guidelines for the process of transformation. For the success of such an endeavour it is crucial to develop new housing areas and new open spaces in one go. Each new building project has to be associated with a new park, an improved public square or a new sports ground. This might seem impossible in an urban landscape that becomes denser, but the restructuring of a city generates new spaces: Former parking lots can become a park if the new houses incorporate the carports. Unused roadside greenery can become open green spaces if new sound-proof buildings are added along the street.
The ECLAS conference 2015 in Tartu again demonstrated the wide spectrum of landscape research. I found it encouraging seeing that there is a growing effort in doing research on landscape as a performative process of transformation. Laurel McSherry gave a great insight in her observations along River Raritan, presenting the method of line-walking as a profound way to experience and value sameness. I presented my thoughts on path-making as a way to produce landscape both as an unconscious act of movement and as a consciously applied methodology of design research. Because it helps to dissolve the dichotomy of static and dynamic and because it causes an intertwining of space and time, path-making can become a catalyst of landscape understanding and design. It promotes the fleeting act of moving as a constituent element of landscape.
While working on the “Perspektivplan Freiburg” we, a group of landscape architects and urban planners (cityförster, freiwurf, Stein+Schultz) walked the city quite a bit. On our walks one thing stroked us in particular: The intermediate spaces. Sitting between plaices of settlement, marking the city´s edge, they are very often dominated by technical infrastructures like roads or high voltage power lines. We built on that when designing strategies and spatial visions for Freiburg: The strategy CAPTURE! improves big streets for pedestrians and cyclists. We suggest using the unused roadside greenery for new houses and backyards. One of the three spatial visions we proposed for the future development of the city is called STRONG INTERCONNECTIONS and rethinks the city along its intermediate spaces. New dense neighbourhoods and open green spaces will be developed here. Most of our ideas emerged from the walks.
IBA Thüringen presents the Norwegian “Landscape Routes” as an outstanding example for landscape development. Knut Wold will present the approach on September 9 . I am very much looking forward to be part of the panel and discuss with him the role of path-making and architecture.
Stefan Kaegi, RIMINI PROTOKOLL, will present videos and comment on staged tours. His talk is part of the international conference “Let´s walk urban landscapes” of Studio Urbane Landschaften (funded by Volkswagen Foundation) – and it is open to the public! Come to Herrenhausen Palace in Hannover on September 1 at 8 pm.