Stylization of climate sensitive acidofrequent coniferous forests

April 26th, 2017


(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


(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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Grassland on the top

Pilot project on a sustainable green roof


(From previous issue No.30)

„Nature is our freedom.”


Is it possible for a green roof to be in harmony with the landscape? Is it possible to create green roofs primarily from locally native species? Can we use local soils for green roofs? These questions troubled us when planning our ecological dwelling. Eventually, they materialized as an organic part of our pilot project that aimed at re-thinking the practical and theoretical aspects of ecological homes in Hungary. This paper summarizes the experiences and scientific observations on the novel green roof systems of our own building.
The green roofs in our experiment were created atop a functioning dwelling that had been built by environment-friendly technologies. The principles on their formation and design were based on two decades of observation and gathering know-how. Besides the experiences of several study tours to Austria and Germany in the 1990s, three fundamental professional preliminaries must be mentioned here. One is the visitor centre of the Glenveagh National Park in Ireland, designed by two experts in architecture and landscape architecture. The roofs of this building are perfect miniatures of the surrounding peatbogs and shrubland so perfectly they almost camouflage the visitor centre. The second inspiration came from the visitor centre of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales, which also hides underneath its pasture-like green roofs taking after the neighbouring landscape that had been formed by centuries of farming.

The green roof of the modern visitor centre in Wales (photo: Ágnes BALOG)

The green roof of the modern visitor centre in Wales
(photo: Ágnes BALOG)

The third example was set by the excellent theoretical and practical work of Hundertwasser himself. His „green-skinned” houses proved that human habitation can be interconnected with natural, live systems. These observations organically merged into the blueprint of our pilot project.

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Spontaneous genesis of form – a case study on the architecture of lake Bokod


(From previous issue No.29)

The area of validity of spontaneous architecture

There are two common misunderstandings in conjunction with spontaneous architecture worth dispelling first of all. One of them is heard most often in a lay environment, namely that instances of spontaneous architecture are worthless and ugly without exception. I also heard about the Bokod houses, to be analysed
below, a number of times that knockedup houses are not worth so much time to spend with. Clearly, the fundaments of that misunderstanding come from the unconditional and excessive respect towards canonised architecture, which, if we put aside, we can discover rare beauties. The other misunderstanding is more widespread among professionals. Many believe that subscribers to spontaneous architecture regard all spontaneous spatial creation good and beautiful. I
try to emphasise even apropos of the architecture of lake Bokod that spontaneity may be fertile only in certain scales of the constructed environment, and even there only at special conditions. I will use the example to present on the one hand, the way in which the structure of the landscape, the plastic art of flora and landscape integrate the otherwise fully individual architectural motivations. On the other hand I emphasize that the architectural dimension and complexity that appears here is in fact the most fertile soil for spontaneity, and this is the creative space where it would be completely unnecessary to deprive the lay architect from the joy of creation by elite-oriented overregulation. Not last because there is a great deal for observant architects to learn from this charming world of the good-meaning eventuality.

Attractive, operating whole (source: Tibor KECSKÉS)

Attractive, operating whole (source: Tibor KECSKÉS)

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100 years of education and research in garden history and garden art

From the Institute for Horticultural Education to the Faculty of Landscape Arcitecture

April 11th, 2017


(From previous issue No.29)

The fundaments of the Hungarian landscape architecture education were set more than a hundred years ago among the walls of an institution where gardeners have been trained from the middle of the 19th century. Beyond traditional cultivation knowledge also technical and engineering studies, thus geometry and geodesy were among the subjects taught before the turning of the century, as well as space shaping, space forming, and freehand drawing and painting aiding the illustration of designers' thoughts. Vilmos Gillemot, one of the founding members of the Hungarian National Gardening Association (OMKE) already clearly distinguished in an 1898 article horticultural studies ("thus no one should expect more from a gardener than to understand the cultivation of plants and floriculture...") from landscape gardening, which, in his opinion, as one of the branches of "technology", should be studied by every engineer and architect. Thus, at the end of the 19th century, a new education training system has been launched; due to the technical and art subjects the students of this institution acquired skills not only in the application and development of horticultural cultivation knowledge, but in something new, something different as well.
A decade later this renewing spirit has been carried on by a young, much travelling architect, Béla Rerrich, with the education of garden design and garden art.

Ceremonial garden in the Buda Arboretum, design: Béla Rerrich

Ceremonial garden in the Buda Arboretum, design: Béla Rerrich (1930)
Landscape design for the reconstruction: Péter István Balogh, Luca Csepely-Knorr, Teodóra Szabó, Máté Sárospataki, Imre Jámbor (2010)

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Character-forming role of building stones in the urban landscape on the example of Dunazug-hegység (Dunazug Mountains)

March 5th, 2014

VAJDA Szabolcs

(From previous issue No.28)

The use of traditional building stones often plays a fundamental role in forming a unique landscape and settlement character in Hungary’s mountainous regions. The geology of our mediumheight mountain ranges is so diverse that the use of traditional building stones can vary from town to village.

The traditional architecture of our rural regions was characterised by significant regional differences until the end of the 19th century. For builders and developers the most important considerations were the practical aspects and the economizing on resources; environmental factors heavily influenced architecture. This both meant adjustment to climatic factors, ground features and also to building materials which were determined by their immediate surroundings. In the 20th century, mainly after WW2, a strong and still decisive adverse process has started. Regional differences quickly diminished; village architecture started to become integrated and homogeneous.

Limestone fence

Oolitic limestone fence and gate post, Etyek

The apprehension about losing the distinct local character created the regional approach in architecture, in the sense of vernacular architecture, in the second half of the 20th century. Its main aim was to restore the regions' local architecture's traditional features. Possible methods for doing
this are judged very differently by architects. In my opinion, the unique character of rural landscape in Hungary could be ensured by a cautious return to the traditional details and scales of vernacular and anonymous architecture, also by jointly applying local materials and building techniques.

My research in PhD involved the thorough exploration of the use of traditional building stones in Dunántúliközéphegység (Dunántúl Mountains).

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Landscape architecture in climate protection

March 4th, 2014

by DÖMÖTÖR Tamás

(Frome previous issue No.26)

We celebrated the 190th birthday of Frederick Low Olmsted on 26 April 2012. Regarding his work, we can say that climate adaptation gained a key role as early as landscape architecture emerging in the second half of the 19th century as the Emerald Necklace of Olmsted, with its green areas and surfaces of water, as well as the chain of roads and objects threaded on this, served recreation and the balancing of settlement climate at the same time. In his city plans, through the introduction of the green ring, he also wanted to achieve the same balancing role. It is part of the whole truth that in those days emerging industrial cities were not familiar with the concept of climate change and their endeavours to improve targeted the preservation of health. However, the outlines of the mission of landscape architecture to create balance – their task in present-day challenges - were beginning to show even then.

The fact of climate change is still surrounded by debate; however, as the individual social groups find their own answers to the questions posed by the challenge, the phenomenon is becoming increasingly accepted. It is clear for landscape architecture, as a professional area striving for balancing, that the over-use of the potential of a particular area or the integration of new, exterior elements into the system (e.g. fossil sources of energy) will by all means result in the break-down of the ecological system. We cannot provide solutions to the truly major questions of global crisis, as stopping overpopulation, overproduction and overload caused by consumer society or providing for an increasing demand for energy but designers and, within that, landscape architects are to find answers to the challenges related to territoriality and spatiality.

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Characteristics of contemporary Chinese landscape design


(From previous issue No.25)

Chinese economic expansion has had many consequences in terms of changes to the landscape and urban spaces, and a number of problems have emerged as a result. Environmental problems in China are numerous and extensive (in terms of general negative influences, the intensity of these influences, and their expansion over a wide space) and are often the result of poor planning or unsuitable environmental and development policies. Because this paper aims to illuminate characteristics of contemporary Chinese landscape design, we will not address these specific problems in detail. Suffice to say that in the last ten years, the fields of landscape and environmental planning have been growing stronger in China, and the social, political, and economic spheres have contributed to this trend by promoting Chinese landscape architects who have been educated abroad. The fact that landscape architecture as a discipline has been gaining recognition in Chinese society means that it is encountering a number of banal problems such as the establishment of professional terminology. In the Chinese case, in addition to lacking words, written characters must also be created that can be used to communicate with other disciplines that intersect with landscape architecture.

Although the final product of landscape designers is an open green space (often designed to the least detail), the distinction in China between landscape planning and landscape design is disappearing and the various levels of landscape arrangement have begun to merge and complement each other. For example, a number of notable Chinese projects that have to do with the reclamation of derelict landscapes begin with an assessment of environmental impact and are carried out with recommendations that reduce impact included in the final design. There are many more projects focusing on open public spaces in China’s enormous cities and sprawling suburban agglomerations where landscape design solutions necessarily overlap with the urban planning and urban design approaches. The rapid growth and sheer size of China’s cities are inconceivable in Europe. In the last thirty years, new industrial cities of more than ten million inhabitants have grown in places where the population was once only ten thousand. Such an explosion of urban settlements causes numerous problems including the design of public spaces, from built to green open space.

Chinese design

Horticulture has a long tradition in China and numerous plant types that are in use in public plantings around the world come from this tradition. Difficulties in this general design approach include colour saturation and unnecessary kitsch elements.

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No.32 is off the press

December 20th, 2013


Issue No. hot off the press.

(Magyar) Mőcsényi Mihály professzor kapta a tájépítészet “Nobel díját”

September 11th, 2012