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Topology: On the Design of Contemporary Landscape (ETH Zurich, Semper Aula) Jola15

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Topology: On the Design of Contemporary Landscape (ETH Zurich, Semper Aula) Jola15
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  8889 Green Infrastructure: From Global to Local EFLA Regional Congress   Saint Petersburg and Uppsala 11–15 June 2012   Review by Shelley Egoz, Lincoln University, Christchurch  The well-established concept of green infrastruc-ture in spatial planning has always been very much a landscape architectural model, from Frederick Law Olmsted’s Boston Emerald Neck-lace in the mid-century through Ian McHarg’s pioneering Design with Nature  in 1969 to the con-temporary embracement of ecology by landscape architecture. In this spirit, the EFLA Regional conference Green Infrastructure: From Global to Local, jointly staged by the departments of land-scape architecture at Saint Petersburg Forest Technical Academy and the Swedish University of  Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, was an opportu-nity to bring together international scholars and professionals to present and discuss the latest developments in the theory and implementation of green infrastructure. During this ‘travelling conference’ participants convened in Russia for two days, and from thence continued on a train to Helsinki and an over-night ferry to Stockholm for another two days of technical excursions and presentations in Upp-sala. An ambitious organizational challenge, this format turned out to be immensely successful; it provided networking opportunities for par-ticipants through informal discussion, and sus-tained a high level of stimulus. The site visits in Russian and Scandinavian countries also provid-ed tangible examples of the current diversity in range and types of green infrastructures. Some of this diversity was expressed by the six keynote speakers from the hosting Baltic region, Germa-ny, the United States and Lebanon.Larisa Kanunnikova, chief landscape architect of the host city of Saint Petersburg, gave an histor-ic review and presented plans for the city’s green infrastructure. The city centre is on the UNE-SCO World Heritage list, yet contemporary mar-ket-focused economic paradigms pose a challenge to the preservation of public space. The city ad-ministration has thus adopted a comprehensive capacities, illustrated by planning and design practices and principles, both as imagined futures and existing examples from the USA,  Asia, New Zealand and Europe.The last keynote talk took place in Uppsala on the concluding day. Jala Makhzoumi from the  American University in Beirut described a sim-ilar trend to that occurring in Europe: the loss of green urban and peri-urban landscapes. En-croaching development is threatening productive land and the traditional cultural landscape of vil-lages in the Middle East. As a landscape architect and pioneering scholar of ecological landscape design and planning in the Middle East currently working with a team in a reconstruction project of the city of Erbil in Iraq, Makhzoumi identified the appropriateness of an ecological landscape planning approach. Her proposal was to mediate community needs with ecosystem health, bio-diversity protection and landscape heritage con-servation. Challenged by a plan that ignored the qualities of the hinterland and overrode those landscapes all together, she managed to ‘move mountains’ and alter the srcinal plans. By apply-ing her theories of ecological planning to a large-scale urban greening plan she made a significant contribution.Delegates from around forty countries presented examples and discussed the issues of green infra-structure. A high proportion of participants and presenters from the former Eastern European block, some from countries who after the collapse of the Soviet Union embraced neoliberal plan-ning deregulation ideologies that threaten pub-lic open spaces, common ground with landscape architects and planners, who often struggle to influence the protection of existing green infra-structure, let alone develop new green and blue networks in existing cities, highlights the signif-icant contribution of this conference to a global cause. Such thinking on green networks is in the spirit of Olmsted and McHarg.approach to address both the complex site con-ditions of a city constructed on a wetland and threats from development pressure. In 2010 a set of regulations was put in place to improve ur-ban environmental quality through sustainable development and preservation and development of an integrated green system that includes the historical centre’s urban landscape. Kanunniko-va stressed the need to learn from international examples, and that conferences such as this are thus of major importance.Some examples of such good practice for green infrastructure in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland and China were presented by two of the Swedish organizers, Per Berg and Maria Ignatieva, who introduced the recently launched ‘Resilient Citylands’ research programme including car-bon-neutral, transport- and resources-efficient urban/rural integrated human settlements, to be realized in Baltic Region cities within the next four decades.Perspectives of urban blue-green infrastructure were presented by another Swedish University of  Agricultural Sciences researcher, Clas Florgård. This included discussing the multiple advantag-es of well-designed structures as illustrated by the city of Stockholm, where blue-green ‘fingers’ bring the surrounding countryside right into the city centre.Stephan Pauleit of the Technical University of Munich presented results from the research pro- ject on peri-urban land use relationships in Eu-rope. He made the point that while there is gen-erally a trend towards increased urbanization in Europe that threatens open spaces, in some cit-ies where the population is shrinking there are ‘leftover’ wastelands with high levels of biodiver-sity that could ameliorate green space deficits in densely built areas as well as contribute to mod-erating the urban microclimate. Addressing climate change and the benefits of urban green infrastructure and its potential contribution to mitigating the effects of extreme climatic phenomena was Nancy Rottle’s subject. Rottle, from the University of Washington, also highlighted the multiple advantages of urban green infrastructure systems and adaptation Conference Reviews  Journal of Landscape Architecture / spring 2013 Journal of Landscape Architecture / spring 2013 Topology: On the Design of Contemporary Landscape   ETH Zurich, Semper Aula 11–13 October 2012   Review by Andreas Lechner, Graz University of Technology With topology  Christophe Girot refers to the ap-proach that his Chair of Landscape Architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zu-rich pursues—to strengthen landscape architec-ture as an integrative discipline with a deep-root-ed tradition in shaping and preserving nature. The intention to openly and multifariously dis-cuss topology, revealed not only the bandwidth of specific displacements that various disciplinary gazes produce in analyzing, commenting on and designing our landscapes, but also argued for the re-appropriation of the discontinued topological, spatial and sensuous intelligence for and in the design of future landscapes. Strengthening the design aspect in landscape architecture to active-ly engage in the creation of a locus amoenus  should neither be reduced to planning nor to the self-re-striction of academic analysis and comment.The symposium opened with a discussion on the-ories and contexts of landscape and landscape ar-chitecture, providing an overview on cross- and interdisciplinary implications and their respec-tive aesthetics. With his lecture ‘Landscape Ar-chitecture—Topographia and Topothesia’, art and landscape historian Erik de Jong asked how aes-thetics of and theories on landscapes differ from aesthetics and theories of landscape architecture.  An intellectual and emotional approach to land-scape architecture can produce a topology that understands itself as a shared culture, working on theories, aesthetics and design anew and in the face of a significantly growing public interest.  Art historian and theoretician Annemarie Bucher dissected the complexities of the commonly used term ‘landscape’ as a physical space (environmen-tal issues), as a social space (societal issues), as an idea (cultural issues) and as an image (represen-tational issues). Bucher sees in the contemporary artistic focus on the processes of change a pos-sibility for challenging the ‘crisis of seeing’ and moving toward a trans-disciplinary and, thus also, practically relevant landscape architecture. restoration and historic preservation. Sociologist and open space planner Wulf Tessin talked about the aesthetics of the pleasant in landscape archi-tecture, delineated by four central topics: func-tion, fiction, feelings and form. Starting from the everyday use of open urban space, he identified possible consensuses in the appreciation of the pleasant in recreational spaces. Typology asked for possibilities of integrating the multifarious and multidisciplinary implications and topoi   into an epistemological, physical and poetic framework. At the intersection of concepts and ideologies of nature, culture and ecology, the symposium encouraged the participants not to unify but to expand the notion of the physical and philosophical, the scientific and poetic into the design tasks of landscape architecture, which nonetheless, ‘means reinventing nature so that people appreciate and understand it in their dai-ly lives.’[ 1 ]Pamphlet 15, Topology / Topologie , a bilingual publication on the concept of topology for land-scape architecture, can be found at the chair’s website girot.arch.ethz.ch. All lectures and dis-cussions of the symposium can be viewed online at www.multimedia.ethz.ch/conferences/2012/topologie. 1  Girot, C. (2005), Vers une nouvelle nature. In Institute for Landscape Architecture ETH Zurich (ed.), Landscape Architecture in Mutation – Essays on Urban Landscape (Zurich: gta Verlag), pp.19–34. Philosopher Jörg Zimmermann examined the validity of the traditionally romantic notion of landscape that needs cautious and careful trans-lation into contemporary aesthetics.The issue of diverse scales and methodologies in which landscape architecture operates was ad-dressed by garden historian Michael Seiler with his lecture on the exemplary all-encompassing scale in Peter Joseph Lenné’s oeuvre—from the sensuously detailed to the grand scenograph-ic designs. Engineer and biologist Norbert Kühn elaborated the scale of vegetation as a further im-portant topos  in landscape architecture, while Swiss architect Aita Flury examined another scale of landscape architecture by revealing the ten-sions between landscape and architecture from integrated to autonomous. Yet another scale was entered by Antje Stokman in describing the con-tradictory experiences in the practice of planning infrastructural systems.Other speakers were called to explore their re-lationship to landscape architecture as experi-enced through their professional practice. Archi-tect, historian and ETH-Zurich professor Vittorio Magnano Lampugnani showed his perimeter block design of the Richti Quarter as a new resi-dential neighbourhood with higher densities and qualities within the Zurich city limits that could help relieve the pressure of further suburbaniza-tion. Architect and ETH-Zurich professor Gion A. Caminada described a personal and poetic rela-tionship to landscape architecture with his ideas on mindfulness and appropriation. Dealing with specific sites, his projects elaborated ambivalent notions and borders between human and natu-ral spheres.Philosopher Lothar Schäfer explored the pivot-al topic of aesthetics. According to Schäfer, ‘un-touched’ nature only exists as an idea, any con-cept of ‘returning’ to it is highly dubious. Nature, is always already a human relationship to nature and should therefore be conceptualized as an ex-pression of human self-understanding. Sociolo-gist Stefan Körner examined the shifts in the re-lationship of modern subjectivity and landscape around J. B. Jackson, acknowledging not only  Jackson’s appreciation for aesthetics of the pro-saic, but also critically reflecting on his links to
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