From landscape character to urban image; transformation of vineyards in the old Buda regions

August 26th, 2019

Zsuzsanna ILLYÉS, Zsófia FÖLDI, Eszter JÁKLI, Eszter KATÓ, László NÁDASY

(From previous issue No.48)


Buda hills — considered as a liveable urban environment and attractive living space — has been formed on site of former vineyards. Similar area changes have occurred in different European capitals too, but, in terms of viticulture, corresponding territories have been occupied by urban landscape in a different manner. The primary focus of our study was to identify the building blocks of the Buda facade and its background.

Map of the study area – the Buda hills

Map of the study area – the Buda hills

This paper intends to analyse the landscape/urban transformation Buda vineyards has undergone since the last decades of the 19th century. The changes were analysed at the same territory using identical point of views. The study — by exploring the phases and driving forces of changes in urban growth and plant cover — intends to present the preserved characteristics and landscape elements of viticulture. Landscape approach of people at all times is pictured through the inconstant ways and tools of searching for landscape experience. The results show, that, in terms of Buda, the civil villas and estate centres of hill estates could be identified as the archetype of the subsequent urban growth character. The gradual urban growth followed by the phylloxera plague is equally attributed to the constant residential needs and to the inner market crisis of viniculture. The significant number of trees has a beneficial effect on urban character and a harmonising impact on architectural diversity. On the contrary, today, the same trees rather obstruct the visual connections from the higher parks and lookouts. According to the uniform landscape/urban character of Hegyvidék— divided into districts in terms of public administration —, its similar development history, as well as its values and problems, a capital zone levelled image regulation is needed.

International call for landscape renewal ideas to foster landscape identity

July 19th, 2017

JÁKLI Eszter, MANDEL Mónika

(From previous issue No.41)

The role of the landscape is getting more and more important in today’s culturally homogenized world, since – opposing the globalization – it guards our site-specific natural and cultural heritage and the traces of the human activity, in this way also defines our individual and communal identity.

The attachment to the landscape is the base of our psychological development, and an elemental part of each culture and each person’s life. It plays and important role in shaping the landscape character as well, as “besides the landscape, it is defined by the historically developed landscape structure, together with the emotions and traditions attached to it.”

There are different levels of landscape identity. The most subjective is individual landscape identity, which is based on the attachment to some elements of our own environment. Communal landscape identity might be interrelated to a wider area – in this case the community identifies itself with the landscape. Regional and national identity is mostly defined by the common history and the similar natural environment. Besides this, European identity can be mentioned as well. The same landscape identity – at any level – is an important tool in community building and cohesion.

Beyond these, strong landscape identity helps the development of settlements and regions. This correspondence was recognized by the European Union as well: it is stated in the European Landscape Convention that “the landscape contributes to the formation of local cultures and that it is a basic component of the European natural and cultural heritage, contributing to human well-being and consolidation of the European identity.”

With this end in view, it can be understood that strengthening the community’s attachment to the landscape, and its identity is of the utmost importance of renewing, revitalizing a landscape, as both the natural-cultural and the social-economical renewal can only be achieved by actively involving the local community attached to the landscape by real emotions.

Method and description of the project

We demonstrate the possibilities of fostering landscape identity based on the conclusions of an international landscape call for ideas titled Recovering Landscape and Place Výškovice- Wischkowitz, which was organized as part of the program of European Cultural Capital Pilsen 2015 and evolved to a project with different stages. We had succeeded to enter the 2nd round of the competition.

The aim of the project was to gather ideas about renewing the landscape of Sudetenland, based on the model of an abandoned community of Výškovice.

The former centre of Výškovice

The former centre of Výškovice
(photo: Mandel Mónika)

The goal was to recover and to reinterpret the landscape of the present day. The applicants were asked to search for and find the connection with the identity of the place, with the inhabitants and the Genius Loci, as well as resolving the profound historical problems behind the landscape. The authors of the 5 proposals considered to be the most interesting were invited to the one week long workshop organized in July 2014. The workshop was supervised by both local and international experts. During the time spent outside in the area and at local events we had the chance to get acquainted with the life of the local community as well.

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A socket to fit the town jewel

– Sopron castle district - public space renewal

July 17th, 2017


(From previous issue No.41)

Sopron is one of our medium-size towns still retaining much of their medieval character in their structure, while the buildings are reminiscent of a city milieu predating modernism. As the Napoleonic Wars brought technical innovations (such as military hot air balloons), and the urbanization trend had cities sprawl beyond their medieval limits, city walls were fast becoming redundant and obsolete. Many European cities opted to demolish their old perimeter walls. Inevitably this formed new open spaces which, according to different respective development concepts, were adapted to circuit roads, promenades, green rings, marketplaces, or developed land. In case of Sopron, the marketplace concept prevailed. Based on local historical data, the progressive Viennese trend has made less of an impact on urban life here, which would have prompted the adoption of a promenade or public garden (as in case of the Ring in Vienna). Yet it is evident that aside from the entire section of Ógabona tér and Petőfi tér being developed for construction, what used to be the rampart and moat system along the city walls is now a sweeping network of free spaces, a belt of public space encircling the almond-shaped old town center, the Sopron castle district. Vehicle transport and parking all but consumed this sweeping spatial network, which gradually slipped from its market function into a transport oriented public road status.

Only by 2009 did a new concept emerge for moving the Castle District's quality beyond the status quo. In this process, EU development funds, the city’s will of traffic calming and the domestic renaissance of a need for pedestrian dominance met each other in a competition. In this design contest, Hetedik Műterem and Geum took part jointly and received the second prize (no first prize was awarded.) Led by Levente Szabó DLA, the Hetedik Műterem architect studio and their regular project partners Geum landscape design office (Csenge Csontos, Borbála Gyüre, Gergely Lád) approached the Castle District issue with their usual zen minimalism. The result is a low profile jet black urban / open air carpeting, dotted with liberal splashes of green cover, conveying an overwhelming functional message of redistributing space with a vantage for visual unity.

Evening aerial photo of the town center

Evening aerial photo of the town center
(photo: Danyi Balázs)

Certainly it produces a distinctly contemporary layer overlaid on an organic urban periphery, interconnecting an organic medley of medieval, Baroque, and early 20th century wall sections, distinct with its own neutrality and lack of affect. This contemporary neutrality underscores the historical medley of periphery walls, boosted by the contrasting color scheme. The rondella bastion's breached outer wall not only reveals a section of surviving city wall, but also connects this project to another architectural feature, the Várfal sétány promenade beside the recently excavated old wall. It is as much a tip into time travel as it is a zone of urban privacy.

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Good examples of caring protection of local values in settlements

July 16th, 2017

MÁTÉ Klaudia

(From previous issue No.40)


Nowadays, maintenance and protection of our heritage gains more and more attention. Development cannot be successful and harmonic without integrating this heritage. Processes aiming at the preservation of traditions in the rural areas are not simply serving the goal of protecting values: in the long term, they also have the power to strengthen identities and build communities. However, in the light of continuous landscape and settlement development, there is a very legitimate question: what is value, tradition, heritage? After defining these, we face even more questions: why do we protect these values, with whom, and for whom? The answers differ in each region of Hungary, following various methods. The process is not set in stone, but the goal is the same everywhere: protecting values together with the community, for the community.

Several disciplines deal with the question of protecting the landscape heritage. There are lots of analogies in their conceptual backgrounds and legal systems. Unique landscape values, protected natural areas and our national heritage all form distinct categories. For experts thinking on the scale of landscapes, artificial, natural and intellectual heritage are all values. The basis for protection is the connection to the specific landscape. The notion of values belonging to a landscape incorporates the elements of cultural and natural heritage closely attached to that landscape. These values are all of social, ethnographic and ethnic significance, and form an integral part of the identity of a community, group, or, in some cases, individual.

Along with the protection of values appearing in the landscape, the intellectual and cultural values connected to that landscape must also be conserved – for example, the traditional ecological knowledge of individuals and communities living in the landscape. As Berkes says „…traditional ecological knowledge is a cumulative body of knowledge, practice, and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with one another and with their environment.”

Protecting local heritage can be successful in the long term if there is someone who knows the real value of that specific heritage – be it a building, a tradition, an agricultural method etc. –, and if there is someone who maintains it and carries it on. In different regions of the country, local communities have launched many initiatives to protect their values – either concurrently, or sharing their experiences with each other. A shared element, and a good tool for a caring protection of values are “greenways”. Mesés Hetés Greenway, Cserhát Greenway and the “Salt Road” of Hortobágy have all stood the test of time, and earned the local people's trust. The good practices described in the study show that it is not only top-down initiatives that can protect the values of a region or settlement. On the contrary, caring protection of values makes sense only in collaboration with local people.

Landscape management as a local tool for landscape protection

ILLYÉS Zsuzsanna

(From previous issue No.40)

By the early XXI. century, our understanding of landscape has extended past the mere grasp of uniqueness, natural and cultural values and attractiveness, and now includes knowledge about vegetation, spatial structure – both constantly changing in space, time and quality – and ecological functions. As a result, the functions of landscape protection have also become more extensive and complex – today, we consider landscape to be an entity with its own identity and history, that might be damaged in several ways, but can also be developed. Spatial planning and the protection of heritage and landscape have created a system of support and protection for restricting landscape use both legally and spatially. However, within the system, there is a lack of local professionals (both as a profession and as executive employees) who can apply the knowledge, understand the framework and are able to execute plans. The landscape management programme to be launched by SzIU will focus on the following landscape protection issues:

_ Protection of the ecological state
of landscapes
_ Protection of cultural heritage
_ Sustaining traditional and traditionally
innovative farming
_ Improving the population retention
and urban environment in
_ Rehabilitation of landscapes,
mitigation of disturbing or destructive

Landscape managers can and will be local professionals in charge of landscape and heritage protection issues, utilizing their knowledge of landscape, culture, farming and communities. Landscape is the „product” of local communities, therefore understanding and managing processes in local communities, as well as dissemination of information about the landscape, will be a major part of the training programme.

/read the full post in issue No.40/

(Magyar) A mátyásföldi nyaralótelep – egy értékeket rejtő városi tájegyüttes


(From previous issue No.39)

The former summer resort in Mátyásföld is a survived casket in Budapest’s XVI. district, from the end of the 19th century. I have been following its state since 2008, and – though I see progressive changes – I find there is more work to do so that it can obtain its rightful place in professional judgment and in the civil sphere as well. This essay shall help this process.

The restaurant

The restaurant

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Reflections on the subject of historic city centres – example Eger

July 9th, 2017


(From previous issue No.39)

Eger was the first city in Hungary, where, from the second half of 1960’s urban renewal was not limited to single buildings or groups of buildings, but extended to whole building blocks. In the downtown area interior public open spaces and public facilities were developed and new public squares were established. The city was also vanguard in the establishment of pedestrian zones comprising more than a single street or square, but a whole network of streets and squares.

Recently the review of the earlier concepts came on the agenda. The renewal of the historic centre with “functional enlargement” is currently under way. Since the autumn of 2012 an action containing 25 elements is in progress. The parking garage next to the market is completed, so is the renewal of Dobó square and several other public spaces, and there is a new cycle way by the rivulet. Several public buildings have been restored, sometimes partially, in other cases restricted to the building front.

It is therefore worth thinking about the background of this initiative, and dealing with the historic urban core of medieval origin. History should not be modified, but from time to time it is necessary to revaluate the heritage, to consider the new results of research and to adapt to the changes of concepts.

The discovery and evaluation of our historic heritage have their own history. The original focus on special, unique buildings and ensembles was gradually extended to the “containing” frame, and at the beginning of the previous century the art of streets and squares was also discovered. For the discovery, assessment and protection of our urban historic heritage the loss of the “Great War” led to significant changes, because our significant historic cities which had avoided the Ottoman rule have now became part of other countries. In the journal entitled Urban Review (Városi Szemle) published by the Statistical Office of the Capital the author of the article on the relations of physical planning and infrastructure development complains that we have lost our communities of long standing urban culture. This tragedy was a warning for our professionals to pay more attention to the remaining domestic values. This process continued after the destructions of World War 2. It happened several times that the ancient fragments and details of long forgotten or later refurbished old buildings were found under the ruins. The losses from the war and other events changed the classification of buildings under protection. What had not been regarded as of irreplaceable value, today it has become so.

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Zoo design – micro-landscapes and biodiverity

– the master plan of Sóstó Zoo (final thesis plan)

July 7th, 2017

FEKETE Orsolya

(From previous issue No.38)

Designing a zoo primary means creating hygienic, safe, comfortable and diverse habitats for animals. At the same time zoo design focuses on an institutional garden, which functions as a walkable recreational spatial structure dedicated for the visitors by offering a harmonic, informative environment that provides livable experiences. Zoos are also sustainable nature conservation centers, led by scientific and ecological aims. These three most important principles mentioned above can be observed in the spatial structure and most important objectives of the zoos themselves. The structure of the visitor areas, the system of the maintenance areas and the system of the habitats are characterized by significantly different operating schemes. While the relations of these three designwise distinct spatial structures define the zoo experience and the operating system of the zoo, it is essential to analyze each spatial system by itself and also examine their harmony.

The most characteristic spatial and road structures in zoos

The most characteristic spatial and road structures in zoos

The most important objectives of the modern zoos are the conservation of biodiversity, to support green education and nature protection researches. From these aims, green education can be fostered the most by zoo design through making the message of zoos – the importance of preserving biodiversity – clear. Educational boards are not effective enough in this case. The complex mission of zoos can be credibly represented only by a coordinated unity of the displayed animals and their enclosures and only if the view of the enclosure shows unequivocal relation between the species and their natural habitats.

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How does urban greenery influence our physical, social and psychological well-being?

– The effects of city squares with or without trees on well-being of users


(From previous issue No.38)

Statements such as „being in nature” and „being in the landscape” release positive emotions in our brain. This effect and the reactions initiated by the experience of being in nature have been scientifically proven in the psychological, physical and social fields. Given that modern life is predominantly urban, the creation of urban open spaces is of particular importance, allowing the positive effects described above to impact on the lives and activities of city dwellers. Having access to a variety of urban open spaces supports our wellbeing in many ways. The empirical study explained in this article explores issues around the perception of and the effects of different public open spaces.

Landscape scenes versus city squares

Open spaces in cities are complex places which not only allow leisure activities but are also places of residence, work and social encounters and are therefore partly responsible for increasing the quality of urban life. Schwartze and Rudisuli describe urban public open spaces firstly, as leisure and living space, secondly, as having a social function, and thirdly, as having a psychological- hygienic function. The latter became a trendsetting research chapter, which was identified as a future oriented theme during the 6th European Public Health Conference.

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The national history of land art

KATÓ Eszter

(From previous issue No.37)


Over recent years, various forms of land art (earth art, public art, nature art, etc.) have been gaining more and more ground, not only in several countries around the world but in Hungary as well. Over the last decade in Hungary, more and more institutes of higher education have started to specialize in this area of fine art. However, the national history of land art is poorly documented, and no detailed summary about the topic has been published up to this day. The aim of my thesis was to compensate this, also providing a framework for a first land art park in Hungary. This article introduces the results of my research in art history from the perspective of a landscape architect.

Hommage for Robert Smithson

Hommage for Robert Smithson

About land art in general

The concept of land art

In the 1960s and ‘70s, several artistic trends appeared all over the world, which marked out a territory in the borderland between landscape architecture and art. Over the years, the demand for a comprehensive denomination has arisen on the part of artists' and art historians' as well as on the part of landscape artists'. However, specifications that have emerged in this way are most often unreliable and misleading. This conceptual confusion may be solved by the consistent use of a specialist term – land art – the definition of which is as follows:

Land art includes those open-space pieces of art which have been made with the demand of art and which have a close and inseparable connection with their environment (they are sitespecific). The completed works and the hosting environment together form the land art work. The connection to the land can be manifested in the use of both living and lifeless materials, or “local energies” such as genius loci, cultural heritages, special landscape features etc.

Because of the site-specific nature of these works and because the location is known before the planning stage, the work and the environment have an inseparable connection from the first stages of creation.

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