2022 IFLA Europe Yearbook ‘Bold and Beautiful Landscapes’
Landscape Architects are currently offered a significant leading role in the development of the landscape. Landscape architecture is an area that concretises how we view our environment and that makes our society’s relationship with nature visible.
The aim of design has always been to increase well-being. The 19th century was marked by technological advances and engineers played a leading role in developing the industrializing world. In the 20th century, alongside technology and ecology, humanistic values rose in discourse; aesthetics and social dimensions. Architects took a central role and set out to solve the challenges of the post-war world.
Now in the 21st century it is Landscape Architects’ turn. The element of nature and the post-humanist perspective add to the goals of design, and traditional design processes go hand in hand with a with a greater understanding of the interaction of technology, man, and nature, and their mutual relationships.
As the operating environment and the issues to be solved in it become more and more complex, Landscape Architects have the necessary know-how to coordinate different requirements. The focus of design is increasingly shifting from shaping the end result to controlling the entire process, and the Landscape Architect profession provides the necessary skills for this.
By raising the profile of the debate, we see that taking on a socially significant expert role requires courage and responsibility. Until now, the formation of our profession has required taking bold action, and now there is a greater need for action than ever before. It is time for Landscape Architects to take on a leading role in the development of the landscape. We ask, under what conditions can we, as Landscape Architects, act more boldly at this moment, and by what means will we redeem this mandate? How can each of us act boldly in our own work and how do we see our own responsibility in our actions?
Aesthetics is one of the cornerstones of landscape architecture. There are now numerous new themes on the design table to solve and coordinate. For this reason, it is timely to ask what is the role of beauty and aesthetics in landscape architecture. The skill of our profession to create beauty undoubtedly adds value to projects, but how can we make better use of this expertise? What is the value of beauty in a world of change and crisis?
Boldness and Beauty
By bringing these two themes together, we want to launch an internal identity debate within the profession. Can these boldness and beauty together form the guiding themes for the design of the urban landscape of the 21st century? Through what examples, design projects, and actions can these themes be defined in
THE LANDSCAPE IS NOW
We live uncertain times. 2020 will make history as the year where we experience and suffer, all around the world, the costs of climate change and biodiversity lost, and the relationships between urban planning and humans health. During some months, we put our lives in the center and we join strengths to get ahead. We also finally understand the urgency to change the way we interact with the environment. We verified, on the ground, that science was not wrong.
We can see the consequences of the alteration of the air quality, the water cycle and the environments. Everything is connected: the health and the extinct animal species, the hunger in the world and the soil depletion, the migrations and the water war. Meanwhile a part of the world wastes resources, the other part doesn’t have the minimum to live..
The climate emergency forces developed countries to act: for social justice, for environmental ethics, for survival…We must proceed now and do it two directions. On one side, drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, on the other to regenerate forest, soils, seas and biodiversity. Taking care of other species is also taking care of ours there is no trace of doubt, and no time to lose.
Urban, agrarian and rural, coastal and natural landscapes require, today more than ever, adequate protection, planning and management, as stated in the European Landscape Convention in 2000. More recently, the Paris Agreement and the United Nations 2030 Agenda outlined a clear roadmap to curb climate change. Mitigation and
adaptation specify measures to reduce greenhouse gases, on the one hand, and to adapt our environment to new climate scenarios, on the other. The next decade will be decisive. The landscape is in the center of all eyes and landscape architects have a lot to contribute.
THE LANDSCAPE IS HERE
According to UN data, cities are home to more than 55% of the world’s population, 70% of carbon emissions are produced and this is where 828 million people live in slums. In 2050 the world population will reach 9.7 billion. All of this poses significant environmental and social challenges, especially in urban settings. In addition, they are closely linked to the abandonment of the rural area, which translates into an enormous loss of natural and cultural heritage.
Improving the quality of life of citizens requires creating healthy spaces designed by and for people. Green infrastructure, urban forests, streets and small parks, squares and gardens can meet many of these needs when nature-based solutions are applied. At the same time, the recovery of the rural world is announced as part of the solution to overcome the current eco-social crisis. Working in multidisciplinary teams in the analysis of the geographical, social and identity conditioning factors of a place is the only way to apply the most accurate project measures and decisions for each case.
Landscape architecture, an academic and project discipline with more than 120 years of history, knows well the principles that govern natural, social and cultural processes. Making natural and human dynamics compatible is inherent to the landscape architect´s work. We play with an advantage. Holistically analyze the characteristics and needs of the place, generate spaces of high environmental quality and improve the quality of life of individuals and communities, preserving the local character, are the principles that govern the best landscape architecture projects.
The theme of the IFLA Europe General Assembly 2019 and the CTLA Landscape Architecture Conference was ‘Landscape as collective memory”.
Considering the landscape as a scene, where interaction between people and their surroundings is realized in a particular place, with heritage, identity and history in mind, the important role of landscape architects in understanding of landscape, its’ protection and shaping the future of landscapes was highlighted.
The year of 2019 was particularly significant because of the celebration od the 30th Jubilee of IFLA Europe which was created in April 1989 as the then European Foundation for Landscape Architecture (EFLA) with the objective to represent, support and promote the unique and stand‐alone profession of landscape architecture across Europe.
Annual theme „Landscape as collective memory“ was presented from the perspective of the IFLA Europe national Delegates during the Pecha Kucha session. They shared diverse selection of examples of different memory and identity landscapes from their homeland, few current research projects and some local groups initiatives
and activities regarding the topic. It was interesting to see different approach, attitude and emotions brought to us about the topic. As it can be seen in the yearbook, landscape as collective memory is presented in different emotional categories (as places of enjoyment, happiness, national pride, hard labour, sadness, suffer, mourning), various forms (natural, industrial, traditional-rural, urban, historical or even virtual) and as differently valued (positive examples of good maintenance and/or restoration or
neglected examples of vulnerable and/or degraded landscapes). (Darija Perkovic, Vice President for Communications)
“IFLA Europe Yearbook 2018 - Valuing Landscapes”
”..When it comes to Valuing Landscapes, it appears as a living topic which encompasses all the cur-rent opportunities and difficulties together with many contentious issues and frequently with hidden surprises. Over time, the perception of space and its values changes. These changes can be extreme due to a change in the way of life and a different approach to the use of space. We are currently witnessing a reevaluation that seems to be occurring at an accelerated pace and no doubt the result of the processes initiated by subsequent industrial revolutions. The aspirations, momentum and scale of the industrial revolution and other major social and political upheavals prompted a reevaluation of the landscape (places, areas, localities) and the resources of the landscape may thus be said to be continually reassessed. In contrast, for instance, to the development of the urban / industrial landscape, our interest, perhaps subconsciously is directed on the richness of natural and cultural diversity.” (excerpt from 2018 IFLA Europe Yearbook)