Landscape assessment for landscape planning in Germany

May 10th, 2017

Diedrich BRUNS

(From previous issue No.36)

Introduction: ‚landschaftsbild‘ and landscape assessment

German landscape planners have, despite Germany’s long and distinguished tradition of distinctive landscape thinking, developed no direct equivalent of the Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) approach. Instead there exist, on the one hand, a strong focus on natural environment and diversity and special areas, and on the other a number of approaches frequently labelled ‘Landschaftsbild’. The term and concept of Landschaftsbild refers to visual aspects of a Landschaft. Practical landscape assessments are produced that inform and guide planning, design and management. This chapter explores and analyses such ‘Landschaftsbild’ approaches. The one overarching rule that all, administrators and practitioners, have to follow in the contexts of statutory landscape planning is that of the Federal Nature Conservation Act. According to this legislation three main aims and objectives must be referred to: (1) diversity conservation, (2) material and physical functioning and (3) the experience and perception of nature and landscape. For the latter the conservation act provides guidance by specifying that beauty (‘Schönheit’), diversity (‘Vielfalt’) and the specific quality and character (‘Eigenart’) of nature and landscape must be considered.
During the 1960s and 1970s landscape ecology became the foundation upon which modern landscape planning was built.3 Complex analytical tools were put into place that seamlessly fit the rational planning model of the day. Since natural sciences had provided the algorithms that satisfied people’s desire for non-ideological approaches to landscape analysis, algorithms were soon developed to not only measure the “ecological” but also the visual landscape. A milestone is the so called “Diversity Index”.4 With the “Diversity Index” at hand, the Landschaftsbild could now be measured and resulting numbers entered into landscape assessment matrices that resembled those of costbenefit analysis. The Landschaftsbild had effectively been removed from people’s experience of their every-day surroundings; it had become the subject matter of bureaucrats and calculating experts. At the beginning in the early 1990s, not all but some experts started to include members of the public into landscape assessment and to develop argumentative (qualitative) methods.

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Retaining walls of abandoned vineyard terraces on Tokaj Nagy Hill

Tibor József NOVÁK, József INCZE

(From previous issue No.35)

Dry constructed stone built terrace retaining walls are characteristic landscape elements in historic vine regions of Europe. Since the cultivation of these terraced slopes is mostly very expensive and labor-intensive they were abandoned in large extension during the last century. On abandoned vineyards trees and shrubs overgrow the walls, which failure and collapse without further management and corrections. Collapse of terraces and walls means not only loss of cultural heritage and destruction of soil archives, but has also environmental consequences as inducing increase of erosion and nutrient fluxes and cause slope failures. We investigated dry built stone terrace walls on abandoned vineyards on Tokaj Nagy-Hill, which is one of the most famous vine-producing region of Hungary, and a World Heritage site as cultural landscape as well. On the hill altogether 1.16 km2 terraced slopes were mapped and 90.9 km long stone walls were delineated.

Extension of slopes transformed by terraces and retaining walls on Tokaj Nagy Hill

Extension of slopes transformed by terraces and retaining walls on Tokaj Nagy Hill (source: Tibor József NOVÁK – József INCZE)

Based on the substructure of the walls four types of lithological constitution could be specified. In the first case walls are built on loess or redeposited loess material. In the second type lithological discontinuities could be observed, in which lay directly below the wall colluvic material, settled over weathered volcanic rocks. In the third case the walls were built directly on rock outcrops. The fourth type’s construction is initiated by digging a ditch at lower part of the parcels, and stones emerging due to cultivation were removed and putted in the ditch, since they fill the ditch and raised in form of a wall. In all wall construction types also soils on level of reference groups according to WRB were classified, and Cambisols, Regosols, Calcisols, Leptosols, Luvisols and Phaeozems were found. The further management and protection of this heritage is currently legally unclear. In the absence of legal protection e.g. in form of nature conservation areas, there are no any guarantees for persistence of walls, and implied natural and cultural values.

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The future of public parks in Europe; the role of landscape architecture in design and research –

3. Conservation and development of public parks

May 3rd, 2017

Martin VAN DEN TOORN

(From previous issue No.35)

This article is based on a presentation at a conference on urban parks organized by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Faculty of Landscape Architecture of Corvinus University in 2013. It is part of a series of three articles (see 1. and 2. articles in 4D No. 33 and 34) that gives a broad overview of the design of urban public parks in a European context. This article focuses on conservation and development of urban parks.
Three case studies of conservation and development are analyzed in the first part; the historic park of Stowe in the UK, the Afrikaanderplein in Rotterdam and the axis of the Louvre and Champs Élysées in Paris. In the three cases, a different approach to the historical situation has been developed that gives an idea of the scope and range of thinking in planning and design.

The development of the Louvre between 1190 and 1981

The development of the Louvre between 1190 and 1981
1: 1190 the Louvre as a castle outside the city walls, 2: 1380, 3: 1590 the castle of the Tuileries, 4: 1610, 5: 1640. 6: 1715, 7: 1848, 4 8: 1866, 9: 1981

In the second part the design means are analyzed to show how the concept of structure can enable new types of use while at the same time its historical character still remains. In the last part the focus is on the relation with research; structure and change, the concept of flexibility based on structure, the role of typology and design experiment in historic situations and problems.
One of the conclusions is that structure is a key concept in conservation and can be a basis for contemporary functions and use, instead of focus on the historical image. Applying these principles to the Városliget park at Budapest the idea could be to insert a new function in the park in the form of water conservation and add new uses to that. The design approach should focus not only this new function but also the park as an icon of the city both for local people and tourists.

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The role of eco-accounts in landscape conservation and management in Germany

May 2nd, 2017

Éva PÁDÁRNÉ TÖRÖK

(From previous issue No.34)

The German Federal Act on Nature Conservation and Landscape Management names regulation of intervention as an instrument for the general protection of nature and landscape. The purpose of regulation of intervention is to safeguard the performance and functioning of natural resources and valuable landscape features outside of protected areas as well. The titular eco-account is a type of regulation of intervention where municipalities create „pre-compensation” reserves consisting of areas appropriate for compensation and already implemented compensation measures. Thus, municipalities can realize valueadding measures of landscape management and nature protection that are refinanced from surcharges paid by later investments bound for compensation. In the following paper I wish to demonstrate the evolution and present role of regulation of intervention and ecoaccount in Germany, with a brief outlook on similar Hungarian instruments.

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The future of public parks in Europe; the role of landscape architecture in design and research –

2. Public parks in europe; use, performance and design

Martin VAN DEN TOORN

(From previous issue No.34)

This article is based on a presentation at a conference on urban parks organised by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Faculty of Landscape Architecture of Corvinus University of Budapest in 2013. It’s the second part of a series of three articles that gives a broad overview of the design of urban public parks in a European context. This article focuses on use, performance and design of public parks in Europe, from the origins of public parks in the 18th century. The variety of use starts from the issue of health, at first technical in the form of sanitation services and later on physical exercise and the outdoors.

Stadtpark, Hamburg The archetypical 'volkspark' designed by Schumacher

Stadtpark, Hamburg
The archetypical 'volkspark' designed by Schumacher

After WWII public parks become 'public green space' with a diversity of functions, forms and distribution in the urban landscape. The recent rise of the service economies in Europe has brought new roles and uses to public space in general and to public parks in particular. The relation between research and design is a key element. More research is needed especially for use and performance in the form of evidence-based research and post-occupancy evaluation.

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The City Park’s 200 years

Changes in spatial structure and park use in the life of an urban park

Kinga SZILÁGYI, Mária VERÉB

(From previous issue No.33)

“Eine ansehnliche Stadt muß in ihrem Umfang einen oder mehrere große offene Plätze haben, wo das Volk …eine freie und gesunde Luft atmet, und die Schönheit des Himmels und der Landschaft sich wieder zum Genuß eröffnet.”

Urban parks have been changing continuously during their century long history, depending on the nature of their social mandate, the changes in garden art and the varieties of forms, the economic context, the general behavioural norms as well as usage needs and expectations. The visiting of the parks, their use, the recreational habits vary as well according to the different periods and regions. But are there any eternal, unchanging values in the public welfare services urban parks offer? In today’s rushing, technicized and digital world, can the mentality that led to the birth of the public park movement at the end of the 18th century be considered a value? The idea born in the grip of Embourgeoisement, the quick urban development, the industrial revolution, the deteriorating living conditions and the quality of the environment: The Hirschfeld concept, aiming to raise the urban population and provide it with the luxury of aristocratic parks found listening ears everywhere in Europe. Public gardens (Volksgarten), urban parks and in general urban green and open spaces – with their development history of over two centuries – are fundamental criteria of a liveable city.

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The future of urban parks in Europe; the role of landscape architecture in design and research

1. Design of parks and urban landscapes

Martin VAN DEN TOORN

(From previous issue No.33)

This article is based on a presentation at a conference held in Budapest in 2013. It is part of a series of three articles that gives a broad overview of the design of urban public parks in a European context. This is the first in the series and focuses on design and research of parks and urban landscapes.
We start with a short historical overview of urban park development. It sketches a development of gardens and parks as green elements towards the concept of park systems and eventually the creation of urban landscapes.
In the second part the actual situation of the urban park is elaborated. This done by taking closer look at an approach basic for landscape architecture; the distinction between different levels of intervention and their design means. Two design approaches specifically for urban park design are further elaborated; urban & suburban, existing & newly designed parks.
In the last part the focus is on the relation between design and research.
The future and further development of landscape architecture as an academic discipline is predominantly based on research. The great amount of plans that have been made in the past can function as a research base for developing design knowledge which can be developed by systematic analysis of realised plans, nowadays called precedent analysis.

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The beauty of the city

April 27th, 2017

Imre KÖRMENDY

(From previous issue No.31)

The beauty of the city was studied many times in many ways, and was thought to be discovered in several forms. The beauty of the city is geometric order for some, or else the apparent or actual disorder, irregularity. Some people recognize the artistic, unique, historic value of individual buildings and details; others see the beauty of colours, materials, turrets, roofs or pediments. Several scholars studied the interrelations. Some get pleasure from great projects like avenues, boulevards, architectural ensembles, parks and attractions, others discover or tend to discover the local spirit and attraction in small aspects like a fine detail or a crooked solution or else a memorial site. Some prefer tightness, narrow streets; others give preference to spaciousness and placid spatial proportions, high elevations or extensions. Some are convinced about the beauty of artificial, manmade environments, others celebrate the towns adjusted, lost or hidden in the natural environment.

Casa verde

Casa verde

Recently a new phenomenon emerged in Pest, the world of ruin pubs (“romkocsma”). It is popular mainly among young people; has even become the theme of a university thesis. At first one easily classifies this phenomenon as a frolic of the youth (Juventus ventus), a way of quest and revolt. (The ordered built environment symbolizes for them the social order, where they do not have a place, or they do not find it, where the role allotted for them does not meet their expectations, does not harmonize with their self evaluation. Or else it may just be a fashion, nostalgia...). However, if one tries to go deeper into thoughts and literature, one may attain interesting discoveries. In Sándor Weöres’ Talks on beauty one can read for instance:

“My friend, the painter Árpád Illés told me once:
—There is nothing distasteful in Nature. What is more: it even corrects human distastefulness. Take a look at a tram-car: a blatant matchbox, painted yellow. But if you watch the city from the mountain top, colours match each other, and even those moving little yellow trams enrich the view. Or take an ugly chandelier you can see in most of the bourgeois flats: take it to the forest, bury it in the ground among the roots, then go and uncover it after a few months, and you will see that nature will have beautified it as much as she could.”
„What follows was told to me by him and other painters:
—It’s worth observing the splodges, cracks on damp, withering walls. There aren’t any pleasenter contours, more beautiful groups of colours anywhere. The brief or scattered forms of the splodges, the thick or thousandstringed lines of the cracks are full of harmony to an extent that human art can reach only in its clearest eras. Having the utmost colour variations, the greenish, bluish, yellowish shades of grey are reddish, dull-green, rusty colours, always in a simple and powerful harmony. But the eyes of men are accustomed to the rattletraps of the fair, and find it difficult to orientate towards the divinely beautiful.”

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Stylization of climate sensitive acidofrequent coniferous forests

April 26th, 2017

Ákos BEDE-FAZEKAS, Imelda SOMODI

(From previous issue No.31)

Stylization, a method of ornamental plant use, is often applied in urban open space and garden design based on an aesthetic consideration. In this article stylization will be contemplated from a different point of view that is novel in Hungary. Stylization of natural or seminatural habitats can sometimes serve as a method for preserving the physiognomy of the plant associations that may be affected by the climate change of the 21st century. According to Schmidt (2003) one can exercise influence on the character of a garden and produce the atmosphere of a certain landscape deliberately by stylizing a plant association found to be typical in that landscape. The method is about evoking the character (volume and space proportions, forms, color dynamics and other characteristics) of an association/habitat/landscape’s vegetation at different locations, at different times, under different climatic conditions, using primarily ornamental plants. Among others, a well-known example of stylization of the character of far landscapes is the Mediterranean garden. There are, however, very few proposals for the stylization of native habitats (poplar-juniper steppe woodlands and downy oak scrub woodlands; Schmidt (2003)). Some of the native habitats’ character has a value that is not surpassed by the often evoked Mediterranean, humid subtropical and Alpine habitats in any way.

Acidofrequent coniferous forest (Photo: Gábor TÍMÁR, Szakonyfalu)

Acidofrequent coniferous forest (Photo: Gábor TÍMÁR, Szakonyfalu)

The vulnerability of the habitats and associations has been examined by the Hungarian researchers only from the botanical point of view but not in terms of its landscape design value. Stylization is not only applicable for the evocation of the character of climate sensitive habitats. The method, in theory, could be used in the case of any native habitat. Stylization has, however, obvious significance in the case of climate sensitive habitats. Then the designer makes an attempt to bequeath a diminishing physiognomy. Stylization is not bound to the original location of the habitat and does not aim at contributing to habitat restoration. Due to the tightness of the available space and the high number and nearness of artificial elements, these plant assemblages are not to be handled as the occurrence of the given association. In addition, for stylization, garden architecture methods are applied instead of restoration techniques usually used in natural  environment. Therefore stylization has only garden and open space design and dendrological significance and does not fit into the methods of nature conservation efforts that attempt to conserve endangered habitats. Although the two approaches differ from each other in terms of both their aims and their methods, stylization can utilize the experience accumulated during the habitat reconstructions and the knowledge of the ecologist society amassed through decades.
The archetypes of stylization for someone searching for particular and novel things are typically the foreign, far landscapes and special associations. In addition to the plants of spatially far landscapes, also the time dimension of some associations might be interesting. For example those that might disappear, at least from Hungary, due to climate change. In that case stylization serves as a method for preserving the character of the habitat as a memento. Therefore we selected the group of acidofrequent coniferous forests that is in all likelihood greatly affected by climate change. We are going to overview the distribution, species composition, climate sensitivity, and the possibilities of stylization of the habitat.

/read the rest of this post in issue No.31/

Ecological plant design and biodiverse green roof of the Green House office building in Budapest

Péter István BALOGH, Ákos BEDE-FAZEKAS, Péter DEZSÉNYI

(From previous issue No.30)

There is a new office-building-garden in Budapest where beside the traditional landscape architectural elements a significant emphasis was put on an ecologically informed plant application and a bio-diverse green roof was built instead of the well-known homogeneous Sedum green roof. Beside the open-mindedness of the real estate developing company the designers were also aided by the international assessment system that beyond many other aspects also assesses the environment of buildings and awards environmentally friendly solutions with high scores and prestigious awards.

3D visualisation of the garden of Green House

3D visualisation of the garden of Green House

In our paper we will examine the international assessment systems for "green architecture" and then we will present the fundamental concept of the Green House's garden as well as its plant application.

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