von Tamás Kende
Introduction: After a self-organised excursion to Copenhagen, I decided to dedicate my life to landscape architecture. Probably the biggest trigger was the city’s main transportation hub, Nørreport, which allows the pedestrians to cross its dense structure free and easy, while it pampers the eyes with state-of-the-art design. This excursion was one of my first conscious encounter with the profession, and this encounter was guided by Landezine. Since then I am a frequent visitor of the website and I admire its high standard and extensive database.
The symposium is taking place every year at a different place, and this year’s host was the HafenCity University in Hamburg. Several Vestre furnitures greeted the visitor at the entrance, and one of the first speakers was from Vestre as well. His presentation stressed the importance of landscape architecture due to our rising contemporary problems: urbanisation, migration, climate change, importance of social exchange in public spaces… The presentation was not be ashamed of quietly suggesting that their furniture could be an important element of the solution.
The next one to present was Mr. Leontiev from the special mention in office category prize winner Strelka. They are situated in Russia, which is an ultra-urbanizing country with an outdated urban structure. In this environment have they managed to change the image of the public space. As someone from the audience stated it during the Q&A session after the presentation, Strelka is an icon for many of us. One of their secret ingredient is their tuition fee free academy which provides them a good source of human resource. The average age of their multi disciplinary and international team is just 27 years.
A very interesting aspect was presented by The Landscape Studio, an African based firm, where the available budget for some projects is no more than a few thousand Euros. Under these
circumstances do they need to plan and create which may lead to re-using the available materials
and self growing trees. It was a delight to see next to the large-scale projects how small budget can work and make space for creative thinking. Their studio got a special mention in the garden category.
The American Coen+Partners office was the winner in Garden Category with a minimalistic project. As it was stated during their presentation, the oversea scene is not known for its theoretic approach, but rather for their sensitivity of design. To be honest, this approach looked quite bleak to me compared to the European “high-intellectuality”. Nevertheless, this American office is working a lot in the Middle-East where they are involved in large-scale projects.
The 2018 winner in office category is mosbach paysagistes from France. Their strongly conceptual portfolio was a delight after the American presentation, and interesting issues were
raised by them, like the connection between control and stringency, our belonging to nature etc. It seems that the jury and me have a similar taste, as the winner in the best project category was my personal favourite. Mr. Georges Descombes presented the Renaturation of the River Aire project. Its story is as follows: there is a power plant on the river that pays a certain amount on a regular base as credit for its existence. This amount has not been used since a while and now was submitted to this project. The being of a regulated river is terrible for ground water and this concern led to the idea of restoring a part of the river to its natural state. The solution was to create a new platform for the river where it can find its own natural way to flow. The old river-bed, now dry, became a public space for human recreation and observation of the new flow. This project does not try to mimic nature, but creates a space for nature to be itself, and therefore bringing back harmony to a small area in the state of Geneva.