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scape 1/2006 Hot spots: Barcelona, Beijing, Shanghai / Karres & Brands / Coastal strips


The international magazine for landscape architecture and urbanism 2006 / 1

Hot spots Barcelona: language and significance / European Biennal for landscape architecture /

China: higher, bigger, faster / 101 Metropolises / Karres en Brands’ power of invention



Park Piedra Tosca in Les Preses, Girona, Spain:

winner of the Rosa Barba prize.


The international magazine

for landscape architecture

and urbanismn

This is the first number of ’scape, the new international

magazine for landscape architecture and urbanism. ’scape is

an initiative of the editors of the Dutch magazine Blauwe

Kamer. Years ago they received the request to publish an

English-language edition. Blauwe Kamer aroused

international interest through its combination of town

planning and urban design and landscape architecture

specialist fields that are increasingly entwined and which

also have a growing international orientation. Planners,

designers and architects work together, with an

international interest. This is why ’scape is being published.

scape offers a journalistic, critical, professional and

international view of the design of landscapes and

townscapes. ’scape informs, raises opinions and inspires, and

contains news, features, interviews, portraits, design

criticism, essays, book reviews and commentaries. The

magazine is produced for landscape architects and garden

designers, planners and urban designers, ecologists,

architects, developers, geographers, artists and anyone in

the public or private sectors and education or research with

an interest in landscape and urban design.

scape is produced and edited by the makers of Blauwe

Kamer and the triennial Landscape Architecture Europe,in

collaboration with Birkhäuser – Publishers for Architecture.

This international team is working enthusiastically and with

expertise on the publication of two numbers a year. By

doing so, we hope that we can help you to contribute to the

development of the specialist fields and the spatial quality

of town- and landscapes.

The editors

1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 3


1/ 2006

16 Avant-garde

Modernism appeared as a liberating activity to the Catalans. In

Barcelona, landscape architects keep inventing new forms and

significations for avant-garde urban landscapes, which are influencing

the methods of work and activities of the Northern

European professionals.





Hot spots

Inspiration from the Biennale

More entries, more participants and much industrial heritage:

the fourth Biennale for Landscape Architecture in Barcelona.

However, the Biennale is in particular a meeting of landscape

architects from all over Europe, with each other, and with that

special town along the Catalan coast.

Record speed in China

At a record speed China is replacing its old districts by copies of

European urban planning and by often spectacular high-rise

buildings. However, this also has its drawbacks. For example, is

it possible to have an Olympic marathon in 2008, with all the

thick smog of Beijing?

Building excavation China

From all over the world architects and urban planners are

going to China to manage the immense building needs. A

discussion with China visitor Rem Koolhaas. What is the responsibility

of western architects and urban planners in this display

of planning power?

Atlas of world cities

The Metropolitan World Atlas is the first atlas that is based on

urban agglomerations. Editor Arjan van Susteren has made a

book with maps with the same scale, so that the metropolises

can be compared with regard to numerous criteria.

1 / 2006 ‘scape 5

6 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006

in this issue

news 8

Urbanism in Europe

Peter Walker’s empty spots in New York

Book: the best landscape architecture in Europe

Moscow s building a new district

Designing for New Orleans after Katrina

Lexicon concerning landscape architecture

London is condensed with new houses

portrait 50

Karres en Brands landschapsarchitecten have created a

major landscape architectural oeuvre that is starting to

receive international recognition. Metropolitan design

skills characterise the office, as do independent thinking,

remarkable sensitivity for context, and an ability to

reinvent themselves anew with every project.

essay 60

On the tourist-recreational map of Europe hotspots and

trendy activities follow each other up at a fast pace,

cities and regions are developing their hinterland and

landscapes are made available for consumptive development.

Enough challenges for European landscape

designers, according to Johan Meeus.

review 64

Near Copenhagen, Denmark, an elongated beach park

has been built in front of the island of Amager.

Concrete constructions create a confusion, but they also

give an identity to the beach.

The Dutch resort Egmond aan Zee has given its North-

Sea side a facelift according to the current fashion in

the public space design: plain, empty, well-organised

and beautifully stylised materials.

With its coastal project the Spanish town of Salou is

hiding from the intrusive tourism that dominates the

coastal areas. The park connects the Mediterranean Sea

to its hinterland in a natural way.

ground plan 80

In this column we focus on special city maps. For exam-

ple, this tourist map from the American map publisher

Meridian Graphics. ‘Portrait San Francisco’ is one of the

more beautiful copies.


Volume 1

scape, the international magazine for Landscape

Architecture and Urbanism is

produced and edited by Lijn in

Landschap Foundation, Schip van Blaauw,

Gen. Foulkesweg 72, 6703 BW Wageningen,

The Netherlands

T +31 (0) 317 425890, F +31 (0) 317 425886

scape is published twice a year in collaboration

with Birkhäuser – Publishers for Architecture,

P.O. Box 133, CH-4010 Basel,


Part of Springer Science + Business Media


Fons Asselbergs (chairman), Tineke Blok,

Gert Middelkoop, Willem Verbaan, Karen

van Vliet

Editorial board

Bert Bukman, Rob van der Bijl, Lisa

Diedrich, Harry Harsema and Mark


in cooperation with Maarten Ettema, Maris

van der Laak (translation), Derek Middleton

(translation), Marinke Steenhuis, Hank

van Tilborg, Peter Paul Witsen


Kristof Van Assche, Henri Bava, Noël van

Dooren, Malene Hauxner, Meinoud

Hehenkamp, Elisabeth Keller, Christiaan

Krouwels, Johan Meeus, Lodewijk

Wiegersma, Martin Woestenburg

Secretariat and back office

Annemarie Roetgerink


Michel Backus, Marjan Gerritse and Harry

Harsema. Marijke Apeldoorn (illustrations)


Modern, Bennekom, The Netherlands

ISSN 1389-742x

© 2006

Stichting Lijn in Landschap Foundation

and Birkhäuser – Publishers for Architecture

This edition of ’scape magazine, including

all parts and articles in it, is protected by

international copyright. Prior permission

shall be obtained in writing from the

publishers for any use that is not explicitly

permissible under the copyright law. This is,

in particular, true of duplications, processing,

translations, microfilms, storing

contents to memory and processing in electronic


A bird’s eye view of Dutch landscape architecture

The Netherlands is an ‘invented land’. Its towns, villages and

landscapes have often arisen out from the ideas of

designers, including landscape architects. Peter van Bolhuis,

landscape architect, writer and aerial photographer, picks

out the highlights from more than fifty years of landscape

architecture in the Netherlands. He unveils the special

features of each site and exposes their spatial architecture.

Perspectives and examples

Sustainable Urban Design, perspectives and examples,

describes, in a clear and accessible manner, sustainable

urban design as it is practiced at the present time in the

Netherlands. By means of an historical sketch and clear,

richly illustrated examples of present-day projects, the

authors show that sustainable urban design is no utopia. It is

a form of urban design that is undergoing continual development

in day-to-day building practice and one that is gaining

an ever more unquestioned position within the discipline.

Blauwdruk publishers

The Invented Land

Sustainable Urban Design

The invented Land 176 pages full colour, bilingual ISBN 90-75271-17-4 € 39,-

Sustainable urban design 176 pages full colour, bilangual ISBN 90-75271-19-0 € 37,all

prices include VAT, exclude shipment

1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 7


The launch of the European yearbook

of landscape architecture -

Fieldwork – Landscape Architecture

in Europe – took place recently in


It marked the end of a production

process of many years. In mid-2004, the

foundation for Landscape Architecture

Europe invited landscape architects,

artists and designers throughout

Europe to submit projects that had

been carried out. The best and most

high-profile designs were to be

published in the book Fieldwork. This

book presents a representative crosssection

of contemporary landscape

architecture on the continent.

Quality and professional expertise in

the assessment of the plans and in the

production of the book - this was the

guarantee given by the Dutch landscape

architect Michael van Gessel, the

initiator of the book, and the former

professor Meto Vroom of Wageningen

The Rotterdam practice Maxwan

architects + urbanists are making the

masterplan for the new city of

Novoye Kommunarka near Moscow

after winning an international design

competition. In the final round they

beat the design teams of John

Thompson & Partners (England) and

Albert Speer & Partner (Germany).

Novoye Kommunarka is a major

urban extension to the south-west of

the Moscow ring road, which encloses

the vast majority of the city. The location

is a former sovkhoz, or state

farm, and is set among natural

forests and scattered urban settlements.

The area is popular among

Muscovites wanting to escape the

city: it contains many dachas (traditional

Russian country cottages) and

The best landscape architecture

of Europe

View of the Forum of Trajan from the bridge of Nemesi Studio.

University, who acts as chairman of the

foundation, in their invitation for


Substantial size

More than six hundred professional

colleagues accepted the invitation and

Maxwan planning Moscow extension

Birds-eye view of the new city in Russia designed by Maxwan.

sent in their best plans. According to

Van Gessel, there was a great deal of

’landscaping’ and ‘over design’ among

the entries and some of them could be

described quite bluntly as ‘boring’. Only

43 designs were eventually selected.

The book, which is substantial in size,

was launched in Rome on 11 February

2006. There are French, German and

Dutch editions besides the English one.

The intention is that Fieldwork will

appear every three years and the next

edition is scheduled for 2009.

Almost one hundred people were

present at the launch of the book. As

chairman of the jury, Michael van

Gessel explained how the selection

procedure had taken place. Most of the

projects concern cities and come mainly

from Western Europe. In Van Gessel’s

view, there is no question of a radical

break with the past or a shock of innovation.

Regrettably there are few

designs for private gardens, nor are

there designs for large-scale landscapes.

Master plans and regional

designs are also conspicuous by their



Fieldwork contains a plan for a walkway

over the classical Roman ruins in

Chairman of the jury Michael van

Gessel: ‘Much landscaping and


the Forum Romanum drawn up by the

Roman Nemesi Studio.

Forum Romanum has been etched in

my memory as a deep hole where you

need a guide to help you identify the

objects in the various historic layers.

Visiting it on your own means you have

new villas are being built. A consortium

of private firms wants to build a

new city for about 160,000 people.

Maxwan’s plans are for about

46,000 mainly detached houses. The

masterplan puts great emphasis on

the landscape character of the area. A

network of parks and urban woodlands,

which closely follows the existing

pattern of watercourses and

water bodies, will connect the residential

zones. The metropolitan functions

are located along the main arterial

route to Moscow. These include a

business district, with high-rise buildings,

and a campus area with independent

building complexes set in a

green environment, which will house

a university and several leisure facilities.

A number of industrial estates

to puzzle to try and discern the significance

of the remains of the buildings.

With rough Corten steel plates and

shiny stainless steel railings, Nemesi

Studio rolls out a veritable route

through the Forum of Trajan. The route

is suspended free of the walls and was

built without radical alterations. It

allows the visitor to stand eye to eye

with Roman architecture and objects

whilst at the same time maintaining a

distance from these elements.

It is only at the location itself that

the fragility of the construction is

noticeable. Some of those present were

overcome by a feeling of vertigo. It

seems that stainless steel can rust and

Corten steel becomes shiny and slippery

when walked on a lot. Both types

of steel show no welds.

The construction attracts so much

attention that it is not clear what is

really on show here. Only after reading

Fieldwork does it appear that the

Forum of Trajan was built by Appodollorus

van Damascus in 114 B.C.‘The

Forum was at the centre of the classical

world and holds a unique place in

Western civilization’.

8 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 9

See also page 77.

Johan Meeus

are also located along the route. Various

smaller urban centres are

planned throughout the area, which

is composed of four separate zones.

Maxwan is working on the project

with H+N+S Landschapsarchitecten

(Netherlands), the European engineering

and environmental consultancy

URS and the landscape practice

Martha Schwartz Partners (United


Peter Paul Witsen

in short

Landscape architects, designers, artists, plant specialists and garden owners

can submit their garden designs for the best garden prize for 2006 until 12

June. This prize is organised by the team from Austria’s Private plots & Public

spots. Entries will be judged on aesthetic terms, innovative design solutions

and the use of materials and ecological principles. The winner will be announced

during an international symposium on garden architecture to be held on

29 and 30 September.

The European Urban Landscape Partnership, a recently set up network of

European cities, schools, governments and companies, is organising a seminar

in Vienna on 19 and 20 May. This meeting will act as a platform where

anyone involved in European city scapes can exchange information and experiences.

The underlying idea is that cities can learn from each other on the

subject of the development of solution strategies.

On the first day, there will be a discussion of several cases, like that of Barcelona,

Oslo, Budapest, Berlin, Birmingham and Istanbul. The keynote speaker will

be Maguelonne Déjeant-Pons of the Council of Europe, who will talk about the

Landscape Convention signed last year. On the second day there will be excursions

to various locations in Vienna.

The Conference for the Eastern Region of the International Federation of

Landscape Architects (IFLA) will be held in Sydney from 25 to 27 May. The

theme of the event will be the theory and practice of the profession in eastern

Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Speakers include Kathryn Gustafson, Kongjiam

Fu, Professor and Director of the Chinese firm of Turenscape and the

Columbian IFLA President Martha Fajardo.

In October the annual IFLA World Congress will take place in Minneapolis in

the United States. This is the largest event in the world for landscape architects.

Visitors can participate in workshops and excursions, and also visit the

accompanying EXPO open air exhibition where various designs can be seen.

See also:

The M-30 through Madrid will be constructed underground in a six-kilometrelong

tunnel with four exits. Construction work will transform the nearby river

valley from being on the far side of Madrid into being near the entrance to the

city. The municipal authorities invited the Swiss firm of Herzog & deMeuron,

the Dutch firms of OMA and West 8, and the Frenchman Dominic Perrault to

draw up a design for this area. In March Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón announced

that the Rotterdam firm West 8 was the winner; its design includes a park

with five streams, a promenade and a bridge.


An Alkmaar live/work warehouse.

The winners of Europan 8, the international

competition for young architects,

have been announced. Sixtyone

teams of architects, urban designers

and landscape architects submitted

winning entries for sites across

Europe. Their brief was to add ‘urbanity’

– the positive qualities of collective

life in the city – to urban sites.

Europan is a European design

competition organised in separate

national competitions. In the Netherlands

the entrants could turn their skills

to one of six sites, each presenting a

specific challenge, in Alkmaar,

Dordrecht, Enschede, Haarlem, Tilburg

and Zwolle. For the first time there was

no overarching competition theme.

Previous sessions of Europan demonstrated

that European cities face similar

problems – typical urban issues relating

to the quality of urban spaces that the

European organisers call ‘urbanity’.

Starting with this eighth Europan, the

particular problems that stand in the

10 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006

Designing for urbanity in Europan 8

The Zwolle platform . Shepherd’s Garden in Tilburg.

way of urbanity are decided separately

for each site.


In Zwolle the aim was to make use of

a forgotten piece of farming landscape

on the northern edge of the city for typical

central area activities for which there

is no room in the city centre itself. The

winning team – consisting of the

Germans Fabrice Henninger, Gabriel

Kiderlen, Helga Schmid and Rainer

Geerdes – devised an elongated platform

linking the existing residential

neighbourhoods of Stadshagen and

Westenholte. The platform provides

space for a railway station, shops and a

multistorey car park. The Dutch Europan

jury, chaired by Anna Vos, was impressed

by their design for the public space, with

its reference to the openness of the old


The site in Tilburg is in the western

part of the city centre. This site is to

become a secluded residential oasis. It

was not an easy brief because the ring

Contour-shaped housing block in Haarlem.

road runs along the edge of the site and

a number of buildings and trees have to

be retained. Dominique ter Beek, Chris

Luth and the Swede Jenny Eklund

designed a strip of buildings with a

central communal space called Shepherd’s

Garden. The strip contains spaces

for a variety of uses, from workshops

and studios on the ground floor to penthouses

on the second floor.

In the eyes of the jury many of the

entrants for the site in Haarlem

misjudged the brief. The area is located

between J.D. Zocher’s green structure

and the site of the former Phoenix

textile factory close to sections of the

old fortifications, and needs to be treated

with respect. The only entrant to

successfully achieve this was Rindert

Gerritsma. He designed a readily accessible

housing block whose contours

blend into the shape of the site.

More freedom

At first sight, the Enschede brief

appeared to be the simplest: the redevelopment

of a site on the edge of the

city centre and a small green residential

area. But the designs did not meet the

jury’s high expectations. One plan stood

out from the rest: Triade, by Robert

Verrijt and Floris Cornelisse. They creat-

Triade in Enschede.

Waterfront development along the Merwede in Dordrecht.

ed an attractive design for the city block

in the form of an industrial complex,

complete with a wall and courtyard. The

jury found the transition from tall to

low buildings to be just right. Only the

green component could have been

treated with a little more care.

The future use of the Dordrecht site

was made known only when the design

process was already underway. This

gave the designers a freer hand, and

the plan by Wouter van Alebeek and

Joost van Noort came out as winner in

the end. These two architects designed

an urban ‘barcode’ lying on an imitation

deck. Cuttings and slopes provide room

for a variety of uses and different house


In Alkmaar an old industrial site

along the railway line and the Noord-

Hollands canal had to be transformed

into a vibrant and visible urban centre

where intrusive noise has been

banished for good. René Berbee and

Marc Holvoet from Belgium designed

three live/work ‘bazaars’, with new

sightlines running between them. The

power of the design, according to the

jury, lies in the way the designers have

retained the existing plot layout.


Dutch designers were also successful

in the other countries’ competitions.

Dagobert Bergmans and the American

Thomas van Arman produced the

winning entry for Erfurt in Germany. The

landscape architects from Lola landscape

architects – Eric-Jan Pleijster, Peter

Veenstra and Cees van der Veeken –

with the architects Pieter Sprangers and

the Irishman Finnbarr McComb were

the winners for the Sintra site in Portugal.

Their design reconciles the desire to

live in a green environment with the

need to conserve a valuable nature park.

Mark Hendriks

See also and

in short

The European Council of Town Planners (ECTP) will present the European

Urban and Regional Planning Achievement Award 2006 (EURPA Award) in

the autumn. The ETCP wishes to show with this prize how diverse planning

activities in Europe are, what the advantages of interactive and regionally

oriented planning processes are, and which plans actually contribute to attractive

European cities and regions. The ceremony will be held in Seville.


At the Global City Conference organised by Reed Midem in Lyon from 17 to 19

May, city councillors and experts can exchange ideas, concepts and practical

experiences on the best way of urban development. Representatives from

Barcelona, Ghent, Seattle, Freiburg, The Hague, Nantes, Leeds, Budapest and

Stockholm will be present. There will be papers from the architects Renzo

Piano and Jan Gehl, and a mayors’ panel will be held.

True Urbanism and Healthy Communities. This is the theme of the 44th International

Making Cities Livable Conference. Speakers like Diane D. Denish,

Governor of New Mexico, Dean Michael Lykoudis of the University of Notre

Dame in Indiana, Gabriele Tagliaventi, Professor at the Italian University of

Ferrara and many others will discuss the principles of ‘true’ urban development,

the relationship between health and the built environment, social cohesion

and citizen participation in planning processes.

The Conference will be held in the American city of Santa Fe.


The International Freising Garden Fair will be held for the tenth time this year

from 12 to 14 May to celebrate this milestone in the history of the gardens of

the Freising-Neustift convent in Germany.

Professional garden designers and florists will demonstrate ways of making a

real garden, even in small areas, like a balcony or window sill, and there will be

an exhibition with model gardens, and growers from the whole of Europe will

be there. There will also be talks, including one by the Dutch botanist Piet


Contact: Anita Fischer,

The second European Landscape Conference will be held in Lille from May 31 to

June 2 around the theme ‘Protéger la planète: the landscape vision’. The event

is organised by the French Landscape Federation (FFP) in cooperation with the

EFLA and the IFLA.

During the conference visitors can join lectures, workshops and debates. At the

last day two round table discussions will be organized. In the first journalists

will talk about European reviews and publictions. At the second round table

politicians and landscape architects discuss their possible collaboration. With

Henri Bava, Gilles Vexlard, Joan Roig and Roberto d’Agostino, mayor of Venice.

1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 11


Peter Walker: ‘The Twin Towers Project is the culmination of my work.’

The American landscape architect Peter Walker has been awarded the Geoffrey

Jellicoe Gold Medal by the International Federation of Landscape Architects

(IFLA). This medal is the highest possible honour that the IFLA can give a landscape


The gigantic voids of Peter Walker

Newer Orleans will never forget Katrina

On 16 February American and

Dutch planning and water

management experts met in the

Netherlands Architecture Institute

(NAi) to discuss flood disasters.

This was in response to the flooding

of the American city of New

Orleans in the wake of hurricane

Katrina. Was the city poorly

protected? Did the relief effort

start too late? And could a similar

calamity strike the Netherlands?

The discussion focused on the gap

between policy and practice. According

to disaster expert Eelco Dijkstra of

George Washington University, there is

no awareness of disaster in the Dutch

collective consciousness, and talk of

risks is generally written off as fearmongering.

The American participants

were somewhat surprised to receive

Dutch compliments on the way they

Impression of final stage of the design by West 8.

deal with threats and disasters. The

American speakers complained that

their government made one mistake

after another during and after Katrina,

The Geoffrey Jellicoe Medal will be

presented once every four years to ‘a

landscape architect whose achievements

have had a lasting impact on the

welfare of society and the environment’.

The Medal was awarded for the

first time at the end of last year during

the IFLA Congress in Edinburgh. The jury

chose Peter Walker from the landscape

architects nominated because of the

major significance of his many projects,

books and lectures.‘Being a landscape

architect means everything to me’,

Peter Walker says in his first reaction.

Eighteen months ago the 73-year-old

designer received a similar award from

ASLA, the American Society of Landscape

Architects. ‘I would like to thank

IFLA for this great honour.’

Walker, who is relatively unknown in

Europe, is one of the most respected

landscape architects in the world. This

was highlighted last year when Walker,

together with architect Michael Arad,

but were full of praise over the way the

Dutch have managed to keep their

country dry for many centuries.

Besides this rather abstract discus-

won the design competition for the

World Trade Center Memorial in New

York. The competition was probably the

most discussed and emotionally

charged competition ever held for an

exterior space in America. Walker and

Arad’s winning design, titled Reflecting

Absence includes two gigantic voids on

the spot where the Twin Towers once

stood. In the plan, the impressions of

the towers remain empty, whilst the

space around them has been designed

as a park. Despite all his other projects

and successes, this is the project he will

be remembered by, Walker knows.

‘This project is the culmination of my

work’, he says but he immediately puts

this into perspective:‘or the opposite of

course, because it may backfire. If many

people know about it, you have a lot to

gain, but even more to lose. The risk is

enormous.’ And yet Walker is aware of

his privileged position.‘We are very

fortunate to be able to work on this

sion, the NAi also hosted the exhibition

‘Newer Orleans’. In addition to the

inevitable shocking pictures of the

disaster, six plans by American and

project. It is a fantastic project and I

think it is a very good plan. Unfortunately

the circumstances are not easy.

New York is a difficult place to build,

certainly because everyone is so

emotionally involved. But we have

another four years to go. We are working

on it every day.’


Walker studied landscape architecture

at the Universities of California

and Illinois, and completed his master’s

degree at Harvard School of Design

where Frank O. Gehry was one of his

fellow students. After graduating in

1957, he set up the bureau of Sasaki,

Walker & Associates together with his

mentor Hideo Sasaki.‘The commissions

flowed in and after a few years we

opened a second office in San Francisco

which I was in charge of. We employed

more than 250 people at that time.’

After several years, Walker left the SWA

group because he had been asked to

succeed Sasaki as Head of the Department

of Landscape Architecture at

Harvard.‘During the twenty years I was

Dutch consultancies for rebuilding New

Orleans were also on display. Huff +

Gooden Architects of Charlston and

MVRDV of Rotterdam designed a

primary school. UN Studio and Morphosis

of Los Angeles produced a design for

a multimedia centre in downtown New

Orleans. West 8 and Hargreaves Associates

were both asked to design a

distinctive landscape for the broken city.

West 8 took on the former City Park.

Their design is built up in three stages.

First, the park will function as a temporary

relief centre for the many homeless

residents, where they can pitch their

tents or park their mobile homes. In

time, as these people return to their

homes in the city, water will be given a

more prominent place in the park. But

first it will have to be cleaned up. For

this, West 8 have designed a system of

lagoons called the Jordan, to be built by

volunteers, who will also plant two

million young trees. Their voluntary

efforts will symbolise the hope for a

Walker and Arad’s winning design,

titled Reflecting Absence, contains

two voids which refer to the spots

where the Twin Towers once stood.

in charge of the department, I started a

small experimental bureau, where I

worked with various people, including

Martha Schwartz and William Johnson.’

The bureau is now called Peter Walker

& Partners and is situated in Berkeley.

It is a teaching office, says Walker.

better future. In the third stage, the area

will be restored as a city park. Four main

elements in the park will define it as a

miniature Mississippi delta. Besides the

Jordan, there is the Promenade of Music

and the Path of Freedom jogging circuit.

And Katrina has not been forgotten: on

the Track of Katrina, people will be able

to wander past large lily ponds in

remembrance of those who died.

The design by Hargreaves places New

Orleans in a new network of engineering

works, with an eye to the urban

design and social problems left behind

by Katrina. From this infrastructure

network the city will be reoccupied by

its characteristically rich mixture of

cultures and communities. The

improved infrastructure has been

designed as a medium for restoring the

relation between the city’s people and

the water.

We have predominantly young people

working for us; they are the best

students from universities in America,

Europe and Asia. And they continue

their studies with us. The partners are

the faculty as it were.’

The way the bureau has been set up

is a reflection of Walker’s conviction

that developments in landscape architecture

are determined by the design

practice.‘The leading professionals

prepare the way. They are the ones that

confront the real problems in the real

world. If, for instance, I want to know

what is happening in the Netherlands, I

look at Adriaan Geuze. For France, I look

at Michel Desvigne. I am really interested

in what is happening in Europe.’

Pat on the back

In the almost fifty years that Walker

has been a landscape architect, the

field of study in the USA has expanded

enormously.‘When I graduated, there

were about two thousand landscape

architects in the United States. I knew

the majority of my most important

fellow colleagues personally, like Ian

McHarg, Stanley White and Lawrence

Halprin. I had no idea at that time that

it was such a unique situation. Nowadays

with roughly thirty thousand landscape

architects in America, this would

no longer be possible.’

The Jellicoe Medal this year and the

ASLA award last year are not the first

prizes notched up by Walker. In the

course of his long career, he has

received many distinctions and won

numerous design competitions. Walker

has always been pleased with the

attention.‘If you have ever made a

design, you will know how difficult it is

to make a good plan. Whenever I see a

design that I really like, I send a short

note to the designer. It is not easy and

you don’t get many pats on the back in

this profession. The landscape is usually

taken for granted.’

Meinoud Hehenkamp

Elizabeth Keller

More information on Peter Walker and his

bureau can be found at

The plan for Ground Zero can be found at

12 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 13

Mark Hendriks

The three development stages for City Park in New Orleans: relief, recovery, use.


The publication of Meto Vroom’s

Lexicon of Garden and Landscape

Architecture marks the end of ten

years trawling through a vast and

varied body of literature for the

retired professor. His voluminous

book explains more than 300 landscape

terms. Meto Vroom was

professor of landscape architecture

at the Department of Spatial Planning,

Agricultural University of

Wageningen, the Netherlands,

from 1966 to 1995.

The idea for a book containing a

classification of terms used in garden

and landscape architecture stems

from an original initiative by the

University of Wageningen in 1996. A

number of enthusiasts wanted to

make a CD-ROM of inspirational landscape

projects from the twentieth

century. By clicking on a project the

user would be able to access descriptive

texts, illustrations and background

material. Because the plan was

to allow users to compare projects,

Meto Vroom was asked to work on the

Urhahn Urban Design advises London

The city authorities of London have

commissioned the Dutch firm of urban

designers Urhahn Urban Design to

examine ways of increasing the building

density of ten districts in North

London. A recently published report

has predicted that by 2016 the British

capital will have 800,000 more inhabitants

than at present, and the city will

need an extra 345,000 houses for


Urhahn Urban Design presented a

catalogue full of design ideas for the

ten neighbourhoods. The designers

wanted to show with these proposals

that intensification does not necessarily

mean overfull neighbourhoods

Meto Vroom and the language

of landscape architecture

Leonardo da Vinci’s bicycle.

formulation of a clear and unambiguous

terminology. ‘It was a wonderful

idea,’ reminisces Vroom in his study in

Wageningen. ‘A database that would

allow you to browse through a whole

range of projects. But as is the case

with so many great ideas, there was

not enough money. The 43,000 guilder

subsidy was soon exhausted and the

participants pulled out one by one

The busy Crouch End district in London. Is intensifcation still possible?

with no green areas and no open

spaces. Well thought-out additions to

because of other commitments.’

Vroom decided to continue on his

own and focus his efforts on compiling

a workable lexicon for his beloved

discipline. Working alone suited him

fine. ‘It was a joy to read works from

this wonderful and expanding literature.

I was a regular visitor to the

university library, where I was given a

free hand. And I collected many books

existing developments can in fact

create more vitality and jobs. The

at home,’ recounts Vroom, gesturing to

the bulging bookcases that line his

attic room.

Charles Dickens

According to the New Oxford Dictionary

of English, a lexicon is ‘the vocabulary

of a person, language or branch of

knowledge’.‘The book’s title is Lexicon

of Garden and Landscape Architecture,

but it is in fact my own language. If

someone else had written it, the

contents would undoubtedly have been

different.’The book is not a dictionary,

although it is almost long enough to be

one. Each entry includes a short definition,

but this is followed by an extensive

explanation and a personal essay. Technical

aspects are hardly touched on.

Vroom explains:‘When I talk about

something I think in terms of perceptions,

impressions and references, and

what it means to people. The book

describes the terms in a context: where

do they come from and how are they

used? So I did not just read the specialist

literature, but also Charles Dickens and

the works of Margaret Atwood.’

report does not designate actual

locations for the houses, but it does

indicate the opportunities where a

city can incorporate such numbers,

and the preconditions which are

important for actually achieving this.

According to the study there are

three. First, greater densification

means that there must be more traffic

modalities than the car alone to

prevent roads becoming clogged.

Second, districts with high-quality

public transport hubs must be used

as intensively as possible. Third, there

must be a merging of functions to

maintain the socio-economic level of

an urban district.

Mark Hendriks

Vroom drew inspiration from seven

hundred books and the same number of

journal articles. This makes the Lexicon

not only a reference work but a doorway

to a much richer experience. From the

philosophical term Arcadia the reader

wanders, via the practical word ‘fountain’

and the policy construct ‘nature

conservation’, past design terms such as

‘perspective’ and ‘sightline’ to the ideas

encapsulated by ‘modernism’ and


Never finished

Despite the pleasure he obtained

from his work, Vroom also went through

periods of uncertainty during his quest.

Have I covered everything, do I know

enough, am I missing something? He

experienced all these doubts. The retired

professor found support from his ex

students and professional colleagues,

who reviewed and commented on his

drafts, a task which was later taken over

by an editorial board. And then the book

was ready. In fact, though, a book like

this is never finished. As the literature

continues to expand, the lexicon should

really continually be updated. Vroom

speaks from experience.‘Even when the

book was almost ready to be sent to the

printer, I came across a bicycle in Berlin

that was designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

This bicycle illustrated precisely what I

had written about the term ‘system’.

I hastily took a photograph, which was

included in the book. You can say that

this project more or less took over my

life during the last ten years. Whatever I

read, wherever I looked, the lexicon was

always in the back of my mind.’

Chaos theory

Sometimes Vroom had to draw the

line. When preparing his discussion of

the term ‘geometry’ he was led into an

exploration of fractals, and from there

became embroiled in chaos theory.

‘There came a time when I simply had to

call it a day. You cannot write about

material that is beyond you.’ Neither did

he always follow tips given by his regular

reviewers.‘As I said, this is my lexicon.

I quite understand that other people

may think differently about certain

topics, that they would scrap certain

terms or describe them differently.’The

old professor smiled.‘I sincerely hope

that my book stirs up controversy. The

lexicon is a good starting point for a

debate about the terminology used in

the profession of garden and landscape


Town centre enhancement with new public gardens, art galleries and restaurants,

Crouch End, London.

Henri Bava

Between Barcelona

and Venice

The word landscape is on everyone’s lips: attractive, flexible and

short, it is ‘trendy’. People are falling over themselves for it. Always

indispensable, now it has become imperative. For some years now it

has even had its own Biennale in Barcelona; just like architecture has

its own in Venice. One has just finished; the other is already in preparation.

But for anysomeone attracted by these events and debates and

wanting to make landscape their profession the question arises:

where is it best taught? The answer is not easy because, with the European

educational reform known as the Bologna Reform (Bachelor,

Master, PhD) cutting education up into small modules, an institution

that does not have some landscape in its curriculum is becoming a


Schools and faculties of architecture have almost all without exception

added this word to their study programmes, and have most often

substantiated it with high standards, considerable attention and

detailed information. They have combined it with different disciplines

such as urban design, art, and of course architecture. But have

they supplanted the ‘landscape’ schools? It is hard to compare the

content of what the institutions teach, but the schools have such an

appetite for change and such application that at first glance it seems

as though the balance of power was has been in their favour. In fact

they have set up the encounter – often decisive – between the student

and the landscape. Nevertheless, and yet they do not train landscape


Conversely, I believe that the essential difference is basically about

ideas of duration and motivation. Just like as you do not become an

architect in two years, you do not become a landscape designer in

this short period of time either. The necessary maturation engenders

a desire for conquest that transforms graduates in both disciplines

into ‘knights’ passionately ready to engage body and soul to change

the world and to prove how fully justified their apprenticeship washas

been. With this criterion used as a yardstick, the plethora of European

schools suddenly fades away: few teach landscape continuously

from the Bachelor’s to the Master’s degree and the doctorate.

Or else you can do what the landscape architect Frederick Law

Olmsted did, or the architects Peter Zumthor and Tadao Ando: start

by doing something completely different.

Henri Bava is landscape architect, principal of Agence Ter and

professor at the University of Karlsruhe.

14 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 15

Mark Hendriks

Meto J. Vroom, Lexicon of Garden and

Landscape Architecture. Basel: Birkhauser.

Price € 39.90. See also page 77.

Hot spots

Barcelona, Beijing, Shanghai:

hotspots of landscape architecture

and urbanism

Not so long ago, Barcelona was just one of these

Mediterranean harbour cities whose streets smelled

of fish and oil and cars. For a long time the Catalans

were paralysed as such – Franco’s dictatorship didn’t

want Catalonia and its capital to be pretty or powerful.

Much energy was oppressed – and almost exploded

after Franco’s death, creating a movement of

activity and ingenious renewal. "Posa’t guapa", get

beautiful, was the motto of Oriol Bohigas, mayor

Maragall’s chief architect, set to encourage commitment

in renovation projects in order to prepare the

city for the Olympic Games of 1992. He managed to

attract a group of very young and very talented architects

from the Barcelona architecture school ETSAB to

work with him at the city’s architecture service, and

these "dibujadores de oro", golden designers, created

a totally new kind of public space, totally new forms,

a totally new comprehensive approach for renovating

a city. At the end of the 80s many international architects

flowed into Barcelona to admire the multitude

of new streets, squares and parks. At that time landscape

architecture hardly existed as a word in


However, in the meanwhile, supported by landscape

architects of the architecture course of the

ETSAB, the "Biennal de paisatge", will be organised

for the fourth time this spring. This is the international

conference where landscape architects from all

over Europe come to meet each other in order to

learn about each other’s work and developments in

the field. In addition, the European Award for Urban

Public space will also be awarded for the fourth time

this summer. Barcelona remains the centre of international

interest, also because of the continuing flow

of innovative projects, such as the Forum 2004 and

the Parc Litoral along the coast just north of the city,

where the industry with its shining metal proves to

be an attractive background for recreation.

Since China has permitted commercial house

building in 1979, more than 350 million people have

moved from the countryside into the cities. The pace

and scale of Chinese urbanisation has reached stag-

OMA’s striking design for the new China Central

Television headquarters in Beijing.

Source: OMA/Rem Koolhaas, Ole Scheeren

16 ‘scape 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 17

Parc Litoral (Abalos & Herreros, 2004).

Parc Litoral.

gering proportions. Whole new cities are being built

at a phenomenal rate and one record after another is

being broken. A third of all building in the world

currently takes place in China. Admiration, fascination,


China is eager to present itself to the outside

world as a new economic superpower. The 2008

Olympic Games are being organised by Beijing and

two years later Shanghai will host the World Expo.

Many European architects and urban designers are

working in China. They are asked to base their

designs on European architectural and artistic traditions.

Whole new districts are being built in German,

English and Dutch styles.

China is certainly the one of the hotspots, but will

cities such as Bejing and Sjanhai also become a place

of pilgrimage for urban planning and landscape

architecture? Although the most fantastic buildings,

districts and cities are being built, the Chinese are

paying a price in the form of unprecedented environmental

pollution, violation of human rights through

forced evictions, the destruction of historic districts

and disregard for their own culture. In Barcelona the

architectonic revolution was supported by a broad,

cultural movement, while in China the explosive

growth is strictly managed by the government.

Which role can architecture play in this case? Do

Western architects, planners and urban designers

wanting to work in China have to have a weakness

for totalitarian systems? Famous Dutch architect Rem

Koolhaas states: Western civilisation has two

hundred years of destruction on its conscience. In his

view it would be the ‘utmost arrogance’ to tell China

now how it should behave.

Photos: Harery Harsema

In the following pages Hank van Tilborg gives an

impression of this breathtaking urbanism in China

and its drawbacks. Peter Paul Witsen reports on a

debate with Rem Koolhaas, who designed the spectacular

new building for the Chinese state broadcasting

service. Malene Hauxner looks back on the eventful

period in Barcelona, in which the avant-garde of

landscape architecture, town and country planning

and architecture sought and found an expression.

Harry Harsema reports about the inspiring fourth

biennale of landscape architecture, where the

tension in the field between architecture and nature

development was explicitly present.

And then there is also the beautiful atlas of Arjan

van Susteren, who put 101 metropolises on the map.

By printing the maps on the same scale (1:750.000),

the result was a spectacular atlas in which the most

important metropolises of the world can be

compared with regard to numerous features. Rob van

der Bijl and Bert Bukman have met him: ‘The most

beautiful place in the world is not in one of these

cities, quite the reverse. The most beautiful part of

the world is the Sahara. Its absolute emptiness and

its absolute silence – no metropolis can come near

this, to be honest.’

Speaking about hotspots.

Reflections on the


The Igualada cemetery (Enric Miralles & Carme Pinos, 1985).

Because of the architecturally quiet period under the Franco regime, Modernism

appeared as a liberating activity to the Catalan. If they have owed anything to the

Scandinavian modern direction, they have repaid with interest in the meantime. In

Barcelona, landscape architects keep inventing new forms and significations for

avant-garde urban landscapes, which are influencing the approaches and activities

of the Northern European professionals.

Malene Hauxner

Language and significance in

Barcelona’s urban landscape

The Mediterranean and Scandinavia appear

to have something in common. Perhaps it is due

to the wind and the water, perhaps the marginal

geographical position. What leads to this observation

is that in these two regions there are

examples of architecture and landscape architecture

where the buildings and the landscape

are the prerequisites for each other, where

passages, transitions and architectural promenades

have a particular significance.

Alvaro Siza’s beach pools at Porto, Leca de

Palmeira (1961) and Carlo Scarpa’s Palazzo

Querini Stampalia in Venice (1961) possess

some of the same qualities as Alvar Aalto’s

Muuratsalo summer house (1953), Jørgen Bo,

Wilhelm Wohlert and Agnete Petersens’

Louisiana (1958), Jørn Utzon’s Roman houses

18 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 19

Photo: Hisao Suzuki

.. to shape the landscape so that it resembled an erosion cleft cutting

through the agricultural landscape

(1958) and Sverre Fehn’s Norwegian Pavilion at

the Venice Biennial (1962). In the south, shadows

are sharp; they give the landscape contours.

In the north the world is less clear. But the

dialogue with nature and the past is the same.

The city and the urbane can be seen as nature,

and movement is the fulcrum.

The Danish architecture theoretician Nils-Ole

Lund suggests that it was possible to build on

these modernist ideas in Barcelona because the

architecturally quiet period under the Franco

regime made Modernism seem like a liberating

activity rather than a straight-jacket. The

Spaniards were free of the idea that Modernism

was guilty of tearing the city apart and of the

descent of architecture into stereotypical repetition.

1 If the Catalans have owed anything to the

Scandinavian modern direction that they call el

organismo, they have repaid with interest.

Artificial flowers

The Igualada cemetery (Enric Miralles &

Carme Pinos, 1985) lies in an industrial area

with abandoned quarries and gravel pits. From

the gateway made of three steel supports one is

led past the chapel and the sacristy down into a

burial chamber through a passage whose walls

consist of stacked columbaria built into the

slopes that lean alternately inward and outwards,

broken by small passages that lead up into the

light to a first floor. The floor of the burial

chamber is concrete, surfaced with a smattering

of small stones. Something that looks like driftwood

in a river is pressed into the concrete.

Sloping concrete slabs cover graves grouped in

three quadrants. The walls that support the

slopes of the gravel pit are of ashlar-stone held

in place by rusty reinforcement netting bent

over at the top. The wall is built up in layers as if

there were sediments in the earth. Rosemary

and fir grow between the stones. Mausolea are

built into the walls with shutters of rusty cast

iron. The architraves and lintels are large

concrete beams. The association can be Eqyptian

temples or Jørgen Utzon’s Roman houses,

depending on one’s background. On the way

one is met by apparently self-seeded poplar trees

that cling to the earth to resist the current, if we

stay with the river metaphor, or like the trees in

Chinese cemeteries that must not be removed

The same applies to vertical, triangular stones

and lamps of rusty steel cut off slant-wise at the

top. Everything is irregular or according to an

Photos: Malene Hauxner

apparently natural order. The materials bear

witness to the passing of time. Steel rusts, trees

fade, concrete crumbles and plants wither. This

is a structure, not a building in a landscape built

up around a flow of movement. An illustration

that cultivation of the landscape can lead to

architecture and landscape architecture, that

building art can be enriched by an element of

cultivation. Unused, the graves lie open, when

occupied they are closed with a concrete slab,

forming a background for artificial flowers and

photographs of the deceased.

A white, open book with a sketch of a cat

signed MIS (Puss) bears witness that the creator,

Enric Miralles is buried here.

Miralles’ first instinct when he looked at the

task of creating a cemetery in this wasteland was

to shape the landscape so that it resembled an

erosion cleft cutting through the agricultural

landscape. By using diggers he was able to

hollow out the landscape faster than by natural

erosion. Tree crowns were to fill the gash and recreate

the original level of the landscape. The

whole cemetery would apparently disappear

under the ground and form a kind of communal

grave covered by a green grave-stone, from the

basic idea of placing a cut like the trace of a path

without disturbing the landscape. Miralles has

taken the inspiration for the path that marks a

movement from the Norwegian architect Sverre

Fehn. ‘A path comes into being out of the resolution

to proceed from one place to another and

this act determines its form….a series of

scratches on paper which by drawing assume

increasingly concrete forms and are gradually

filled with memories, with back-references, with

associations.’ 2

The cemetery is highly textural, which

Kenneth Frampton emphasises as a part of the

architectural direction ‘critical regionalism’.

Miralles has learnt about this in the written

lectures of the Danish architect Carl Petersen:

‘Textural effects’ and ‘Contrasts’, but also by

studying Gunnar Asplunds and Sigurd Lewerentz’

Woodland Cemetery in Enskede. 3

Sporadic impact

In the first years of the war many young architects

went to the Mediterranean countries

anonymously to study building and the cultivated

landscape. Some travelled as far as

Morocco, Mexico and China, others to Italy,

Greece and Andalusia. Then the stream

quietened for a time.

In 1968 the students demanded power to the

imagination. First American, apolitical hippies,

then Neo-Marxists and Anarchists in France,

Holland and Germany had a deep-rooted belief

in the spontaneous, free life and wanted to

return to nature, i.e. re-establish and recover the

natural life in all its purity and authenticity. Postwar

Modernism did not enter their imagination

– on the contrary.

They followed a language that like that of the

poster-artist Aubrey Beardsley was informed by

the psychedelic, Jugend and Art Nouveau styles.

El Modernismo , the Catalonian national romanticism

as it appeared in Antoni Gaudì’s exotic

Parc Güell could be used. The bizarre, turgid

forms, the intricate wrought-ironwork, the

City park in Vejle (Preben Skaarup, 1991). Harbour Park on Islands Brygge in Copenhagen

(Annelise Bramsnæs, 1994).

carved natural stone, the coloured glass, the

mosaics, the patterned tiles and exposed wood

had a material expression that entered the

language of the protests. 4

An early example of the new orientation in

this direction in Denmark is Ayala Green Belt

Park in Manila in the Philippines by architect

Hans Peder Pedersen and landscape architect

Peter Holst from the practice Box 25. A bridge

over a lake divides the park into a formal and

informal part with a waterfall of natural rock.

From the period when there had been a garden

centre on the site there were some large groups

of trees and a curved avenue. The architects

emphasised the tension between the two

languages. Many years were to pass before this

concept broke through and when it did it was in

Barcelona. 5

The eyes and mind of Europe were open

when Barcelona’s new City Council with mayor

Pasqual Maragall in the lead and ETSAB’s head,

architect Oriol Bohigas as leader of the newly

established practice, Servei de Projectes Urbans,

started a strong planning initiative which had

far-reaching effects. The planning can be seen as

the result of a board game, that signals a haphazard

natural order. As the architect Rafael Moneo

expressed it in connection with the exhibition

‘Architecture for Barcelona’ in 1978, ‘place your

bets, place your bets’. 6

At the end of the 1980’s and the beginning of

the 1990’s the concept was given visual expression

from Lyon to Copenhagen, when park planning

was seen as a result of sporadic impact

instead of being characterised by Modernism’s

green bands and wedges, and in detail in the

form of sloping slabs and tilted surfaces, glass

roofs and perforated steel, and edges and

spheres of white-painted concrete. The city park

in Vejle (Preben Skaarup, 1991) and the

Harbour Park on Islands Brygge in Copenhagen

(Annelise Bramsnæs, 1994) are some of the

successful examples.

Barcelona has powerful landscape characteristics:

mountain chains and rivers towards north,

west and east; sea, coast, harbours and beaches

towards the south. Villages and Roman ruins are

spun into the regular street network in Ildefonso

Cerdà’s Ensanche quarter from 1859 and the

whole is intersected by boulevards and avenues.

In Gracia, one of the villages Ensanche had swallowed

up, Gabriel Mora and Jaume Bach had the

task of refurbishing the squares Rius y Taulet,

Diamant, Virreina, Trilla, Raspall, Nord unificaciò,

Rovira and Sol. The cars were removed or

moved to underground car parks. The squares

were furnished with groves and rows of trees.

They were given new surfacing, lighting and

benches. Plaça del Sol (1980) particularly

attracted the attention of a Danish public. The

new horizontal floor adjusted to the original

sloping terrain with three steps; the rectangular

granite paving stones in different sizes and

nuances of grey, divided by bands with rougher

surfaces; the light mountings on high masts;

magnolia and plane trees planted in rows, and

the characteristic long, two-sided benches with

perforated backs were admired.

The closure of harbours, meat markets, factories,

workshops, railway sidings and gravel pits

made space available so that parks and squares

could be created with a special character.

The aim was to give the urban landscape its

dignity back and the strategy was to identify and

articulate some special places. Often there were

harbour areas whose function had changed and

contaminated land left by industry after it

Parc de Joan Mirò (Arriola, Quintana et al., 1981).

20 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 21

Photo: Frank Meyer

Plaça del Sol (Gabriel Mora and Jaume Bach, 1980).

Photo: Harry Harsema

The aim was to give the

urban landscape its dignity

back and the strategy was

to identify and articulate

some special places

Parc del Clot (Freixes & Miranda, 1982).

moved to the suburbs in the 1960’s. According

to the board game method the many regeneration

projects need not necessarily hang together,

but could be contrasted.

Council politicians, officers, architects and

landscape-architects flocked to Parc de Joan

Mirò on a site which had been a slaughterhouse

(Arriola, Quintana et al., 1981) to Parc del Clot,

where there had been a station, sidings and rail

tracks (Freixes & Miranda, 1982) and to Parc de

la Creueta del Coll in an old quarry on the

wooded Tibidabo mountain (Bohigas et al.,


Art and nature

In these parks a special language could be

studied that spoke of contrasts between the

straight and the curved, the worked and

unworked, the clear and the opaque, the

informative and the inspirational, the urban and

the rural, on the difference between culture and


New components that both activated and

provided for rest, decorated and told stories had

arrived. Lakes with rowing boats, grassy slopes

with jogging tracks, swimming and paddling

pools with fountains and waterfalls, old-fashioned

slatted park benches and modern long

benches; foot-bridges, amphitheatrical steps,

pergolas and glass half-roofs, white concrete

spheres and light towers, sculptures and

bollards, column-shaped cypresses;plane, fir and

palm groves planted systematically and hedges

and tress in rows in decreasing lengths. The

Photo: Harry Harsema

geometry was angled and curved, the directions

diagonal and right-angled. The compositions

were asymmetrical and layered, the tone often


In Villa Cecilia’s garden (Torres Tur &

Lapeña, 1981), role-play between the artificial

and the natural was introduced. The correspondence

between art and nature manifested itself

in hedges with bold sweeping contours, stylised,

broken terrain curves, benches with wheels like

skateboards and lamps that resembled flower

petals blowing in the wind. Elias Torres Tur, one

of the architects, had studied with Charles

Moore, who in his turn had worked on landscape

architect Lawrence Halprins Lovejoy’s

fountain in Portland, Oregon, created precisely

in this dramatic language that plays with art and


Whilst squares in the inner city followed a

contextual language, Plaça dels Països Catalans,

the station square at Barcelona Sants, was different

(Helio Piñón and Albert Viaplana 1982 with

Enric Miralles as co-worker). In the plan its

outline is drawn as a triangle with a horizontal

base line and convex and concave sides. The

floor of pink rectangular granite slabs forms a

convex curve, highest in the centre. The components

are a quadratic, gently sloping perforated

steel roof supported by 16 tall thin poles each

resting on a small ‘pillow’. The square is

furnished with an s-shaped metal roof with thin,

round, shorter poles, seven benches that resemble

steps with a riser and two bases, a short and a

long, so one can lie down and sit up; a metal

espalier, a 25 meter long black-polished s-shaped

basalt granite bench, slanting metal bollards

with lights, steel spheres, pots with twining

plants, paper baskets, a slanting box with spotlights

and round metal tubes with water spouts.

All steel elements are painted steel grey. The

syntax is s-shaped curves, straight and slanting


At the end of the 1980’s it was thought that

the source had dried up after an over-consumption

that was close to abuse – but a new, pure

Modernism and a gardening and production

aesthetic broke through in the 1990’s as in Parc

de la Trinitat (Battle & Roig, 1989) at the motorway

junction between Trinitat Vella and Sant

Andreu, where the motorway, railway and electric

pylons from France are merged with the aid

of olive groves and fruit plantations, screens of

cypresses and poplar that continue out into the

landscape independent of the geometry of the

roads. The change from the mixed style, that

contained grid and meandering lines to

‘barcodes’ and sweeping curves have entered

the field and a re-discovery of a modern

language that values human production.

Folded surfaces

In an article in the journal ‘Science’ (1967),

the Polish-born mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot

asked ‘How long is the British Coast?’, wellknowing

that the coast has no well-defined

length. The more small bays and inlets one

includes, the longer it gets. He expressed this

condition mathematically by introducing the

concept of fractal dimensions, involving organisation

into systems consisting of small patterns

that repeat themselves, for example a bend in a

bend in a bend.

Mandelsbrot’s idea was that objects such as

coasts did not conform to ordinary geometry.

They are neither lines, which are one-dimensional,

or surfaces which are two-dimensional.

They can be in-between. The coast is almost a

flat, whole surface and therefore has a dimension

closer to two. A line that meanders whether

Villa Cecilia’s garden (Torres Tur & Lapeña, 1981).

Plaça dels Països Catalans (Helio Piñón and Albert Viaplana 1982 with Enric Miralles as co-worker).

22 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 23

Photo: Harry Harsema

Photos: Malene Hauxner

Jardin Botànic (Bet Figueras, Carlos Ferrater & Jose Luis Canosa, 1989).

Plaça del Mar (Olga Tarrasò, 1995).

as a zig-zag or in s-curves covers a corresponding

surface. A surface that is bent and folded

becomes a volume. A mountain chain has a fractal

dimension that lies between two and three

because it is a surface that manifests itself in

space. The same applies on a smaller scale. In

brief, if you fold surfaces you can make an infinite

number of volumes – a method that is used

in Barcelona in countless variations.

Around the turn of the century Montjuic

mountain in Barcelona was turned into an exhibition

space and a number of beautiful gardens

survive from that time which in spirit are Italian

Renaissance. Walls, steps, terraces and waterfalls

cultivate the slopes. Mies van de Rohe’s German

pavilion was rebuilt in 1986 at the foot of the

mountain on a shelf cut out by a strong horizontal

and vertical cut, just sufficient for one to walk

up a few steps and be protected at the back. On

the other climactically considered ‘good’ southwestern

side of the mountain is Jardin Botànic

(Bet Figueras, Carlos Ferrater & Jose Luis

Canosa, 1989), a botanical garden with Mediterranean

plants. Two buildings were intended to

be a herbarium, library, exhibition room, office,

service room, personnel locker, main entrance,

shop, ticket office and notice-boards.

Bet Figueras has folded the sloping site so

slanting cuts appear where there is a need for a

Photo: Malene Hauxner

This ‘supernature’ will

presumably characterise the next

decade – and Barcelona is still the


shelf for cultivation and traffic, and sealed them

with sheets of Corten steel. The folds can face in

or out, convex or concave. The walls are supplemented

with roofing plates and gateways and

buildings have appeared. The pattern of movement

between the 72 Mediterranean plant

groups from forest to wetland areas is indicated

by three meter wide main paths with a steep

lateral gradient and paths half as wide march off

to the sides and now and then lead to small

squares. The paths of 18 cm thick concrete

poured in situ are assembled with triangular,

overlapping boards. The gutters zig-zag down

the slopes as in vineyards. In some places the

path is cut into the slope, in other places it is

built on the outside. Water from the walls and

floor runs into a gutter. Drainage pipes under

the slabs take the water into a reservoir at the

bottom of the garden. The benches are folded

steel plates with four surfaces and three folds.

Architectural intervention

It probably began with Fossar de les Moreres

(Arriola & Fiol 1988). With the folded floor of

red tile a special language was introduced that

was later developed in the Parc del Mollinet

(Arriola & Fiol, 1987) in the suburban town

Badalona east of the river Besós. Here the tile

floor is laid in a herringbone pattern

surrounded by pergolas and a slightly lowerlying

gravel square with trees planted in a grid.

Parc Carrer del Madrid on the other side of the

road (Arriola & Fiol, 1989) consists of a sloping

grass lawn that is folded and flipped over a triangular

pattern. Since then another mountain

slope has been folded into a landscape for play

and movement, this time towards the north:

Parc Central de Nou Barris (Arriola & Fiol,

1997). The folding of Plaça de General

Moragues (Tarrasò, 1987) in one of Cerdà’s

quadrants that has been amputated by a railway

has the effect of making you look towards the sky

first – an architectural intervention that has

been brought to perfection along the coast,

most recently with the changes to the harbour

front in connection with the Forum 2004 exhibition.

It was incidentally also an effect le

Corbusier used at Chandigar, where he masked

Parc Plana Lledo (Enric Miralles, 1992)

the sight of grazing sheep to get closer to the


Where Plaça del Mar (Tarrasò & Henrich,

1995) now lies, there were once fish restaurants

with sand on the floors, bars and sports clubs

leading to a dirty beach and a polluted sea.

When the huts were demolished and the water

quality improved a charming milieu disappeared,

but a view to the water from Barcelona’s

side-streets was created, along with a bathing

beach and a promenade that finally became 1.8

km long.

Here is a small rhomboid square, whose floor

is lifted up in one corner and supported by

steps, with the effect that first you see the

primary lines – the sea’s horizon – and last the

life on the beach and other details. The difference

in level between Barcelona’s first promenade

and a new one has become a sloping

square in the same way.

In this new millennium the language and

significance has changed again. And once again

Enric Miralles and his practice, now continued

by Benedetta Tagliabue, are in the vanguard. In

the Parc Plana Lledo (Enric Miralles, 1992) a

marginalized site has been programmed to fill

both an urban, architectural and social space

24 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 25

Photo: Duccio Malagamba

between three city quarters. The solution has

become an ideal landscape put together with

biomorphic figures in a network of artificial

flowers, fruits, light and water in daring colours

like the graffiti of the quarters ‘A place where it

rains every morning – early’.

This ‘supernature’ will presumably characterise

the next decade – and Barcelona is still

the avant-garde in choice of language and significance.

1 Lund, Nils Ole, 1990. Den nordiske inspiration,, Arjkitekten


2 Mirailles,Enrik,1994. From what time is this place? Topos


3 A conversation with Enric Mirailles at Thomas Wiesner

SKALA 1985-1994. Pedersen, Carl, 1919. Stoflige virkninger,

Architecten and Pedersen, Carl, 1920. Modsætninger,

Architekten have been translated into English, French and


4 Sestoft.Jørgen,1990. Kataloniens hovedstad. Arkitekten


5 Box 25 Architects,1978. Ayala Green Belt Park, Manila,

Philippines. Landskab 8/1978.

6 Moneo, Rafael,1978. Hagen juego, hagen juego. Architectura.

In: Manuel Ruisanchez Capelastegui. Laboratoriums

of urban development. Topos 1/1992.

Fourth European Biennale for Landscape Architecture

Inspiration of Barcelona

More entries, more participants, much industrial heritage and two winners again.

These are the first initial findings of the fourth Biennale for Landscape Architecture in

Barcelona. However, the Biennale is in particular a meeting of landscape architects from

all over Europe, with each other, and with that special town along the Catalan coast.

Harry Harsema

Dancing Spaniards in one of Barcelona's beautiful squares.

The exhibition area in the COAC Building where entries for the Rosa Barbra

Award were on display.

In Barcelona the public space is opening up.

On this sunny Sunday morning in March you

can see dozens of young and old people enjoying

being outside on a simple terrace at the

renowned Placa del Països Catalans. They are

playing, talking, reading, drinking, walking and

resting in this sometimes exuberant outside

space, which has been designed with care and

love. It is it not for nothing that Barcelona is still

regarded as the icon of contemporary public

space design. Of course, the climate is a stimulating

factor that much of social life takes place

in the public space. However, the freedom after

Franco, the pride in the city and the southern

social life and temperament also contributed to

the revival of the design, which already dates

back to a few decades. You can see that the landscape

architecture and urban development is

largely experienced and determined according

to the architecture. The abundant use of architectonic

forms and materials here, in the city of

Gaudi and Miro, is striking and obvious.

Day chairman Catherine Mosbach in conversation with Julian Raxworthy

(right) from Australia and Marcel van der Meijs of Dutch architects Juurlink +


It is more or less the end of the fourth Biennale

for Landscape Architecture, a four-day

meeting in Barcelona where landscape architects

from all over Europe will meet each other.

An inspiring meeting, in which I could participate

as a jury member. We came with a surprising

result for the Rosa Barba prize (see box).

Besides, there was a varied symposium, organised

by the French Catherine Mosbach, cowinner

of the last Biennale, and a presentation

of the International Bau Austellung in former

East-Germany. After this, Richard Styles, a representative

of the European Council of Landscape

Architecture Schools, reported about developments

at this European platform for educational

organisations, and the German publicist Lisa

Diedrich focused on the book Fieldwork, Landscape

Architecture Europe.

Steel and split

The theme of the first day of the Biennale was

the Rosa Barba prize. In a packed lecture room

Carme Pigem of RCR Arquitectes presents the winning design for Park

Piedra Tosca in Les Preses, Girona.

of one of the university buildings about four

hundred participants and students followed the

presentation of the ten finalists on Thursday

morning. When watching the ten presentations,

you came to the conclusion that this Biennale

mainly focused on transformation and the influence

of heritage.

For example, there was a building that was

designed for a Roman cooking place along the

Spanish Mediterranean Sea coast, a temple

made of heavy gabions, with mirroring access

doors, light shafts and a terrace. Impressive and

poetic. This also applied to the redesign of an

isolated geological park in Catalunya, with a

beautiful walking route and a reception room

dramatised in Corten steel. Or in Winterthur,

where an old steel industry complex was transformed

into a residential area, whereby the

designers limited themselves to using industrial

materials and form elements. Rails were left

intact and concrete surfaces processed with

metal grindings, so that beautiful pools are

26 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 27

Foto’s; Harry Harsema

Area for three Roman ovens, Vilassar de Dalt,

Spain. Design: Toni Gironès. The motive to make

this structure was the site of a Roman settlement

near the coast with three ovens was. Built up of

gabions, fitted with monumental, mirroring doors

and a terrace, the design looks like a temple.

Light shafts and materials provide an authentic


Landscape Park Riem in München, Germany.

Design: Latitude Nord (Gilles Vexlard and Laurence

Vacherot). A large and impressive park, 210

hectares, at the former airport of Riem on the

eastern border of Munich. It includes: a large

terrace, a big swimming pool, a few wood strips,

meadows and a path structure based on the pattern

of former fields. The park, partly realised under the

denominator of the Bundesgartenschau in 2005,

was awarded the German landscape architecture


created after rain. Steel and split are dominant

in the public space, a few trees shoot from an

underground of metal.

The transformation of an old mining area in

the north of France still goes one step further.

Here a nature park has been developed in a

lagoon through a combination of water purification

and nature development. The water is clean

enough for swimming and nature offers many

opportunities to walk.

And there is also that large city park on the

southern border of Munich, with a view on the

Alps, where vast tree strips recall the disappeared

runways. How do you make such an area

accessible which at first was not accessible

because of its function? Which new function,

which new programme can be realised in an

abandoned area? How much recreation and

nature can Europe have? And how imperative is

the design in this case?


You would think it is easier for designers of

concrete projects. Whether it involves an expansion

or redesign of cemeteries in Amsterdam

and Weiach, a covering of a big motorway along

the coast of Barcelona, a design of a school site

in Slovenia or a new residential area in Stuttgart

– it are unambiguous assignments. The fact that

they finished in the finale at the Biennale had to

do with the special solutions that nevertheless

were found.

Earlier the jury had selected the ten finalists

from only fifty of the submitted 450 projects.

The preselection had been done by the organisation

itself and therefore the jury itself as not

responsible. As a matter of fact, this task to judge

fifty projects in one day was already difficult

enough: how can you judge such a serious plan

in such a short period? Nevertheless, the jury

was beginning to sense that many things in the

European landscape architecture have become

very similar. Too much formwill, too much use of

fashionable materials such as Corten steel and

too many tricks with outside lightning.

However, the ten finalists came up with fine

entries, and we had great difficulties finding the

winner. We discussed the question whether we

should give a signal against the tendency that

there is an insufficient distinction in European

landscape architecture in finding unique, placebound

and well-considered solutions with an

international power of expression. Perhaps the

winner should be a small-scale and one-dimensional

project that possesses this exceptional

quality in perfection. Like that project with

those Roman ovens. But is that project part of

landscape architecture?


With the final decision to nominate two projects

as a winner the jury wanted to initiate this

discussion. This decision can be regarded as a

statement. The fact that the discussion on the

relation between architecture and landscape

architecture is an extra sensitive issue in

Barcelona is clear: the study of landscape architect

is not an independent study, but a postgraduate

course at the architecture college.

The one winning project, Park Piedra Tosca in

Les Preses, Girona, Spain, was praised for the

extraordinary way in which the designers had

opened up the volcano landscape literally and

figuratively. On the one hand detached, by only

removing some things or by doing nothing at all,

on the other hand by giving meaning and power

of expression to the landscape through a powerful

intervention. Some jury members thought it

was asocial and aristocratic, not a landscape

where a family would eat tapas in a hot summer,

that it perhaps was land art... But most found it

Lagoon of Harnes, France. Design: Paysages, David Verport. In total 17.5 hectares of a former mining area was

redesigned through nature development and water purification. The result is a regional water park with a

large biodiversity, including a natural swimming pool. A few old bunkers have been saved.

Katharina Schulzer Square in Winthertur, Switzerland. Design: Vetsch Nipkow Partner AG.

A redesign of an industry complex in a contemporary district, based on features of the old

steel industry. A consistent application of materials and forms, which has been carried out

with a great sense for aesthetics, creates a daring, completely individual, applicable


28 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 29

Site around the primary school Ob Rinzi in Kocevje, Slovenia. Design: Ana Kucan.


The landscape design (3.5 hectares) conforms with the undulating,

wood-like environment in a beneficent informal way, and fully takes advantage of this environment. A few open playing places have been added,

without disturbing the atmosphere of the wood. There is a great strong relationship between inside and outside.

Expansion of the cemetery De Nieuwe Ooster in Amsterdam. Design: Karres en Brands landschapsarchitecten.

The 33-hectare large expansion forms a contrast with the old cemetery of the famous

Dutch garden architect Leonard Springer. The tight strips, derived from a bar code, offer a large

range of options for contemporary burying. Striking elements in this rich design are a large pond

and a special urn wall.

Scharnhauser Park at Stuttgart, Germany.

Design: Wolfrum+Janson Architektur+Stadtplanung.

Construction of part of the town of 140

hectares on a hill that is orientated to the south,

partly on an old encampment, with a prominent

role for a kind of avenue, which is built up of

terraces. These imposing stairs form a characteristic

and supporting public space, with a view on the

Schwabian hills.

Passeig de Garcia Fària, Barcelona, Spain.

Design: Ravetllat/Ribas, arquitectes. This partial

roofing of the busy coastal road offers a real

solution to a real problem. Underground parking

facilities are being built, as well as space for

parading and jogging at this alternative

boulevard, with a view across the sea.

Expansion of the cemetery of Weiach, Switzerland. Design: Kuhn Truninger Landschaftsarchitekten. A current addition of 1.7 hectare, with a

remarkable semi-transparent fencing of larch that fits in well with the old walls around the church and recalls the use of fences around

orchards. With graphical lines on gravestones a relation with the old cemetery is established. A fountain and a few trees complete this subtle

and serene work.

so good and so loving in revealing the beauty of

a landscape.

The other winning project, the Harnes

Lagune in the north of France, was the only

project with a more regional significance, which

also had an emphatic ‘green’ solution through

the combination of nature development and

water management. At the same time the

cultural component, or in other words, the

content of architecture is not very present. Why

not make nature development and the redesign

of a mining area visible as a cultural act? On the

other hand some state that it should be

respected when this is not done. In the end the

implementation and temptation of the perspective

for larger parts of France, Belgium and the

Netherlands was convincing, where similar problems

exist - nature development as the future.

Yes, that temple for the Roman ovens could

not be considered as landscape architecture. It

was hardly embedded in the environment: the

inaccessible location along the sea was clouded

by the maladjusted environment of new housing.

The stairs of the Scharnhauserpark remained

too much a means of design of urban development,

the rigid design of the Kathrarine

Schulzer Platz was not sufficiently convincing in

the combination of freedom, memory and

hospitality. And with this fine expansion in

Weiach the jury wondered whether it was not too

much a stylised translation of history and the

environment, and too little an intimate place

where you could take your loved ones.

Bronze elements

The expansion of De Nieuwe Ooster cemetery

in Amsterdam also raised doubts. The designers

suggest that their design would create a freedom

when burying a person. But what else is there to

choose than one of the strips, which in terms of

the design represent one of the lines of the bar

code from which the expansion was built up?

Was the rigid application of this device incompatible

with the desired freedom, despite the

surprising completeness of the design? It could

be that differences in the culture of burying in

Europe play a role here.

The French approach to the design for the

Riempark was also regarded to be a bit technocratic

and arrogant in the end. Although the

park had a remarkable size and the approach

was impressive, why was it necessary to indicate

the coordinates of the site in bronze elements

on the world map? Why so many concrete lines,

borders and stairs? Is this a park that will make

you feel at ease? The majority of the jury kept

their doubts. And these doubts continued to last

a whole evening and a whole night. Only in the

course of Friday morning the final judgment was

given, the ex aequo, although it was not

supported by the entire jury. And we had really

intended to choose one winner.

On Friday evening the public therefore

started to shout in protest after the result had

been announced in two languages by jury chairman

Paolo Bürgi. This despite the fact that the

was remarkably similar to the public result: the

winner there was the Lagoon of Harnes, second

place for the Park Piedra Tosca, and third place

for De Nieuwe Ooster.

Big trees

There was much more to experience at this

Biennale. Like the sometimes confusing but also

fascinating conference organised by Catherine

Mosbach for Friday – which made it clear that

the Biennale can gain character and substance

by establishing a kind of curatorship.

For example, the contribution of the botanist

Claude Figureau who investigated the prevalence

and development of all kinds of fungi, mosses

30 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 31

Park Piedra Tosca.

Lagoon of Harnes, France.

Park Piedra Tosca in Les Preses, Girona, Spain. Design: RCR Aranda, Pigem Vilalta, arquitectes. Special and

almost artistic impulse for a geological park of volcanic stone, on the one hand because of proposals for smallscale

agricultural recycling, on the other hand by designing a route through the area with a few special

‘reception rooms’ made of Corten steel. Minor interventions that reveal the beauty of the area.

and other microbiological species was intriguing

– but what was the significance for landscape

architecture? The abundance of forms? The

finding that much biological life has disappeared

from our cities and villages? What can we do with

the finding that species from Asia and Africa

carried under a person’s shoes may end up in

Lyon? Mosbach states that she herself could

never have made the prize winning project of the

Botanic Garden in Bordaux without the intellectual

interference of Figureau. Landscape architects

should be more open to contributions from

other disciplines.

The variation in the programme was great. For

example, the Danish landscape architect Stig

Andersson showed a few of his projects, with

playful and creative and high-tech solutions for

nature in the current city, including sound

effects of thunder and water and including light

effects, whereby shadows suggested the presence

of large trees.

And what should we think about the video in

which mankind shows its destructive force: burning

landscapes, bodies, destruction. Hereby the

story of Juurlink and Geluk about their designs

for the Dutch city landscape was rather lighthearted.

The Australian landscape architect

Julian Lexworthy showed his interest in building

with nature, as done by a number of Dutch architects

and landschape architects, using old

concrete as well as straight 'artificial' lines in the


Mosbach wants to make things more profound

and broaden them. That she used the denominator

‘landscape as product, landscape as

production’ seems a little noncommittal in hind-

sight. And with questions from the public such

as ‘why aren’t there any women in the panel’, or

‘why can’t landscape architects work in Spain

without the title of architect’ the discussion did

not make much progress. The fact that the

discussion on the relationship between architecture

and landscape architecture is extra sensitive

in Barcelona is obvious. For example, many

landscape architects disagree that the study of

landscape architect is not an independent study,

but a postgraduate course at the architecture


During the final debate on Saturday morning

Rosa Barba was quoted: ‘Beyond architecture

there is landscape’. It is a statement of which the

significance only becomes clear after a while. It

The Rosa Barba Prize and the European Prize for Urban Public Space

In 1998, two initiatives were started

parallel with the other in the Catalan

capital, without the two being aware

of each other: the important cultural

centre CCCB prepared a show named

‘The reconquest of public space in

Europe’, including the edition of a

Public Space Award and, parallel with

the ETSAB architecture school, created

a professional congress on European

landscape architecture - together with

the Catalan architects’ chambernamed

‘Biennal the paisatge’, which is

further edited every two years. Looking

back, it was as if an epoch ended

and another one started this very year

in Barcelona. It was as if the show

closed the heroic period of new public

spaces created by Catalan architects,

and as if the Biennal opened the era of

Catalan landscape architecture as a

new issue for creating public spaces,

territories, and environments. At the

launch of the CCCB-powered Prize for

Urban Public Space, city architect Oriol

Bohigas qualified landscape architecture

as ‘being a decorative profession

for women’, surely smelling the emerging

competition of others. At the first

Biennal many landscape architects

from all over Europe shared the feeling

shows a compassion, which is expressed even

more explicitly in the idea that, when you fell a

tree, you also destroy the soil ‘in’ the tree.


It is Saturday late in the evening when we are

sitting at the Placa Real and drinking wine and

grappa – a summer spring evening, music, many

people, palms, fountains. We are discussing the

difference with the Netherlands, the fact that

almost everything there is made of landscape as

a result of the topographical, more pliable

conditions, and the discipline of architecture

therefore has other roots and perspectives than

in Spain, where other ambitions and motives

dominate as a result of other conditions and the

of attending the birth of a new Catalan

movement full of spirit and the

serious wish to exchange experiences

with professionals all over Europe.

The Biennal proved to be a vivid and

serious laboratory of European landscape

architecture, strategically very

important for the Catalan and Spanish

landscape architects in their struggle

for the recognition of the title, and at

the same time totally opening up to

the European professional world. The

fourth edition, between 23 and 26

March of this year, attracted more than

three hundred participants from all

over Europe. They could feed upon

symposia, exhibitions, excursions and

presentations. A central part is the

European Prize in Landscape Architecture

Rosa Barba, named after one of

the founders of the biennale. Rosa

Barba was a prominent landscape

architect in Barcelona. She died in

2000, shortly after the first edition.

With recent projects from the last

four years more than 450 entrants

from all over Europe competed for the

first place and a sum of 15,000 Euro.

This number of entries was almost

fifty percent more than with the last

edition. The main supplier is Spain

with 45 percent (of which 75 percent

from Catalonia). In addition, Portugal,

Switzerland, France, the Netherlands

and Germany are also strongly represented.

Chairman of the jury for the Rosa

Barba prize was Paolo Bürgi from

Switzerland, one of the two winners of

the previous edition. The jury included

Theresa Andresen from Portugal, chairman

of the European Federation of

Landscape Architects (EFLA), Marc

Claramunt from France, editor of the

magazine Pages Paysages, Harry

Harsema, producer of the magazines

Blauwe Kamer andscape, and Sara

Bartumeus, Ramón Pico and Joan Roig

from Spain. Bartumeus was part of the

organisation, while Pico won the

public prize last time.

The European Prize for Urban Public

Space will also be awarded this year,

also for the fourth time. In the meanwhile

this initiative is organised in

cooperation with several architecture

centres in Europe, like those in Vienna,

London, Paris and Rotterdam. The prize

is awarded to designers and clients.

The Public Space Prize and the Biennale

are still two separate entities. For

traditionally strong input of architecture.

Like at this square. The trees at the Placa Real

are placed in squares which have been cut away

in the natural stone floor. They lie deeply, which

is probably easy for the water supply. In addition,

the stone floor has a powerful expression, plain,

without superfluous details. This square in its

current form is also the result of the revival that

placed Barcelona on the map as an international

focus of (landscape) architecture. There is still

much to learn, although a few people grumbled

that the quality of the public space was declining.

Maintenance and vulnerability: perhaps that

would be a good subject for the next Biennale.

example, Aron Betsky, director of the

Rotterdam Architecture Institute NAi

and co-organiser of the Public Space

Prize, does not know about the Biennale.

And on the other hand: during

the Biennale the Public Space Prize

was no topic at all.

Betsky refers to the Public Space

Prize as something especially for

southern countries, where there is a

much greater interest in the public

space. This is proved by the submissions

and the results. Landscape architecture

is participating now – nevertheless

the words of Bohigas – even

male landscpae architects. This is

evident from the results of the last

edition in 2004: the (shared) first prize

was awarded for a landscape development

plan for a refuse dump, designed

by the Catalan architects Battle @

Roig, while DS Landschapsarchitecten

from the Netherlands received a

honourable mention for the design for

the Tilla-Durieux park in Berlin.

The award for 2006 will be

announced in June.

32 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 33

Environment and tradition pay

the price for change

The giant scale model of Shanghai.

Higher, bigger, faster in China

The political and economic transformation of China is fuelling an unprecedented

growth of its cities. China has opted to adopt a Western model of urban development.

Western architects and planners are being hired to replace its old districts with copies

of European urbanism, often including spectacular high-rise buildings. But despite

breaking all records, new problems loom large on the horizon. Will it be possible to

run an Olympic marathon through the smog-filled streets of Beijing in 2008?

Hank van Tilborg

34 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 35

Photos: Alex Sievers en Hank van Tilborg

Next to the People’s Park in the heart of

Shanghai stands the Urban Planning Exhibition

Hall, a rather insignificant five-story building in

this city of skyscrapers. The only eye-catching

feature are the four steel structures on the roof

that represent magnolias in bloom – the city

flower. Once inside the building the real spectacle

unfolds: a large 1:500 scale model of the city

covering dozens of square metres. With its thousands

of high-rise buildings seemingly dotted at

random throughout the city, the model reveals a

bizarre reality that outstrips the logic of West

European city planning. China is hot. The attention

devoted to China by the European media

might seem somewhat exaggerated, but in fact it

receives too little coverage for a country that is

rapidly becoming a global economic powerhouse.

On its route to the top it looks specifically

to Europe for inspiration rather than the

United States. Europe is now a more important

trading partner for China than America.

Shanghai is a good illustration of China’s

precipitous growth. Its port, once known as the

Paris of the East, is now its economic heart.

Shanghai is the fastest growing city in China’s

fastest growing region. After a period of hibernation

during the Communist regime, the city

gradually reawakened during the 1980s. Development

picked up rapidly in the early 1990s and

has really taken off over the last few years. In

1843 Shanghai had 250,000 inhabitants, rising to

about three million in 1930, but now the city is

home to more than twenty million people, about

the same as Beijing. Two years ago Shanghai

took Rotterdam’s crown as the largest port in

the world. Five of the ten biggest ports in the

world are in China.

New face

Shanghai’s business district, Pudong, was still

farmland in 1992. Anting new town, a satellite

city of Shanghai, was just a farming village seven

years ago. Five years ago Volkswagen established

a presence there, followed shortly by General

Motors, and in a short time the town has become

the Detroit of Asia. Formula One Grand Prix

races have been held there for two years on a

race track built in just nine months.

China is eager to present itself to the outside

world as a new economic superpower. The 2008

Olympic Games are being organised by Beijing

and two years later Shanghai will host the World

Expo. In preparation for the World Expo 2010

work began recently on the Xizang tunnel under

the river Huangpu. It was designed to relieve

pressure on the existing river crossings in the

city, particularly the Nanpu and Lupu bridges.

The Olympic Games and the World Expo are the

motors behind many new construction projects.

China wants impressive and striking new archi-

Labourers at work on the outdoor areas of the Two Bay City project.

View of Pudong. Left, the Oriental Pearl Radio & TV tower; right, the 420 metre high Jin

Mao tower.

tecture to present a new face to the world and is

hiring Western designers to work with local

architects to achieve this aim. The new office

building for Chinese state television in Beijing,

designed by Rem Koolhaas, will be a major new

landmark in the city. In Shanghai the tallest

building in the world, at 539 metres, is currently

under construction right next to the Jin Mao

tower, which at 420 metres is currently the tallest

building in Shanghai. The 53rd to 87th storeys

of the Jin Mao tower house a hotel with a lobby

atrium that runs right up to the top of the building,

making it the highest hotel with the largest

lobby in the world.


Shanghai is breaking one record after

another. The new South Station, currently being

built to a design by the French firm AREP, has

the largest clear span glass canopy in the world.

The Siemens ‘floating’ train that links the city

with the international airport – and later the

Expo site – carries its passengers at a speed of

430 kilometres per hour. The train hardly has

time to reach top speed before it arrives at its

destination. This magnetic levitation train takes

just seven minutes to cover the thirty kilometres

from the city centre to Shanghai International


The new Two Bay City district in Shanghai.

Every month the number of cars in Shanghai

rises by 2500 to 5000, aggravating the already

huge problems of congestion. The city is avidly

investing in new infrastructure, including public

transport, and in new public green space. To

green the city, rows of planters have been hung

on kilometres-long stretches of vehicle safety

fences along the urban motorways. The number

of parks in Shanghai has also increased from

about 50 to more than 250 in recent years:

according to official figures 35 per cent of the

city now consists of green space. One of the

recently created parks is Yanan Green Space, to

the west of the city centre, which incorporates

Tianshan park. Several new parks nestle in and

around an interchange on the inner ring road,

surrounded by flyovers and linked together by

an elevated pedestrian route. This creative

example of intensive land use gives rise to an

almost surrealistic image of people looking for a

place to relax, hold a quiet conversation, prac-

tice t’ai chi or play a game all within a stone’s

throw of the hurtling traffic.

For West European companies the question is

no longer how to compete with China from their

home base in Europe, but whether they dare to

invest in China and establish a presence there in

a bid not to miss the boat. After Germany, the

Netherlands is the second biggest European

investor in China, with more than three

hundred companies in Shanghai alone. These

are no longer just manufacturing companies,

but also businesses active in more knowledgeintensive

sectors. Philips has thirty-six factories

in China, and this will rise to more than seventy

in a few years time.

Tiny homes

The explosive rate of growth in China

depends largely on its enormous labour pool.

The 800 million or so Chinese peasants still in

the countryside are a vast source of cheap

A dying tradition: tai chi in the open air.

Jian Wai Soho, the new business district of Beijing.

Traditional alleyway district.

36 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 37

Yanan Green Space.

labour. They can easily be tempted to move to

the cities where wages and living standards are

higher. Neither does China have a shortage of

hard working, entrepreneurial and independently-minded

people. Besides their own families

and friends, money is high on most people’s list

of priorities. It is quiet normal for these workers

to live literally on the building site, in barracks,

and move on to the next site when the work is

finished. Building is a continuous process: in

Beijing and Shanghai the sound of construction

can be heard ringing out from the brightly lit

sites throughout the night.

The rapid changes taking place in China are

going hand in hand with a major social

upheaval. The old districts in the big cities, the

hutongs in Beijing and the lilongs in Shanghai,

are being swept away and replaced by new developments.

In these alleyway districts, with their

tightly-knit social and economic networks, the

houses are grouped around patios and courtyards

linked together by narrow alleys. Much of

the social life in these districts takes places

outdoors. For many of the inhabitants these

close social networks make the primitive conditions

in these crowded districts – with their tiny

living quarters which often lack private toilet

facilities – far more preferable to the comforts of

the anonymous high-rise flats. But this is not

reflected in the government-controlled media.

In the Shanghai Daily you will find only gushing

praise for the new developments being built for

the 2010 World Expo, while more than ten thousand

families are being evicted from their homes

to make way for them. The censors do not allow

open criticism of these projects for ‘progress

and improvement’.

Faceless cities

The West is the model for progress. Fashion is

Western; even the billboards are dominated by

white Western models. In the new China,

customs and traditions hardly seem to matter

anymore. The old ways, such as practising t’ai

chi on the street or in the park before work, are

still followed by the older generations, but are of

little interest to the younger generation. Even

traditional Chinese architecture and town planning

seem to have been marginalised. Architects

are flown in from Europe to design whole new

districts on the Western model.

In taking this route China is not doing justice

to its own rich architectural tradition. This disregard

for China’s own values and customs – its

people’s very identity – is threatening to disrupt

the social fabric. Beijing and Shanghai are

already being called ‘faceless cities’, and the first

calls have been made to preserve a few alleyway

districts for posterity. In this respect the growing

tourist industry in China’s main cities may be

their salvation. Besides excursions to the Forbidden

City and Tiananmen Square (Gate of Heavenly

Peace), a visit to Beijing is not complete

without a tour of one of the alleyway districts,

where new tourist bars are springing up all the

time. Paradoxically enough, transforming a

traditional alley into a street full of bars may just

be the way to save the hutong. There is also

increasing interest in the more recent heritage,

as evidenced by the NEW 798 area in Beijing.

This industrial complex, built in the 1950s by

the Russians and designed by East German

architects in the Bauhaus style, was on the list for

clearance. However, in 2002 the area was taken

over by a group of artists and is now a lively

neighbourhood of galleries, studios, restaurants

and cafes. The communist slogans of the period

– ‘Long Live Chairman Mao’ – which cover the

walls throughout the complex are a tangible

reminder of China’s history and form a striking

backdrop to the contemporary works of art.

Chinese toys

It is remarkable how quickly the Chinese have

put their own stamp on the building boom. The

building projects completed in Beijing and

Shanghai a few years ago are still marred by

Zhu Jia Jiao, or Cambridge Watertown.

numerous flaws. At first sight they seem to be

quite impressive reproductions, but closer

inspection reveals the failings of the builders.

The detailing in a project like Sa Na Wei La Villa

Park, a gated community designed by the

Chinese firm Turenscape, is well below standard.

The drainage is poorly designed throughout, as

if it was decided to add the drainpipes at the last

minute when construction was already well

underway – a defect that also plagues the previously

mentioned Anting district. The buildings

in Sa Na Wei La Villa Park are also aging quickly.

The development is rather like a Chinese toy: it

looks attractive at first sight, but does not stand

up well to heavy use.

The projects now under construction, though,

are up to the same standard as new buildings in

Europe. The phase of minor but nevertheless

obtrusive flaws is over, and the building designs

are particularly well suited to their environment.

In the German theme town of Anting, in the

area surrounding the new South Station and in

the new Zhu Jia Jiao district (Cambridge Water

Town) near Shanghai no expense has been

spared on the public spaces. The outdoor areas

have been carefully designed using high quality

materials (brick pavers, Chinese granite setts)

Sa Na Wei La Villa Park.

38 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006 1 / 2006 ’SCAPE 39

and large numbers of very big trees. Of course,

the low labour costs free up resources to pay for

all this – and growing on nursery stock is

cheaper in China – but it is also a question of

setting priorities. The fact that the first residents

only move in once all the homes and the

outdoor areas are ready is proof that a well

designed public realm is a valued attribute.


It seems, therefore, that China hardly needs

Europeans any more to build an attractive residential

district, station or station area. The question,

then, is whether the Western architectural

Scale model of the design for Anting.

Anting New Town, by the German architect Albert Speer Junior.

40 ’SCAPE 1 / 2006

firms active on the Chinese market would not do

better to concentrate on the really pressing

issues. Instead of importing chocolate-box urban

compositions from Europe, such as Dutch canal

towns and German Siedlungen, Western consultants

could help solve China’s burgeoning environmental

problems – the dark side to its

riotous growth.

One such problem is the rapidly rising mobility,

along with serious air pollution and water

supply problems. One in four Chinese has to

make do with drinking water polluted by China’s

dirty industries. Each year people are killed by

floods. This presents an enormous challenge,

and Western European architects and engineers

have a reputation in this area. Appearance,

impressions and image dominate the Chinese

way of thinking; issues like sustainable water

management and ecological values are much

less important. Individualism in Chinese society

still stands in the way of an energetic approach

to solving such collective problems. The heavy

hand of the state and the ban on private ownership

of land, however, do present some opportunities

in this regard. Air pollution is a serious

problem – so important that it is questionable

whether it would be responsible to hold a

marathon in Beijing in 2008. When the city

received the Olympic Committee the factories

were shut down for four days. There are even

rumours that the grass was cleaned and painted

to make the best possible impression on the

delegates. But it will not be long before the environmental

problems can no longer be brushed

aside and will start to impede further growth.

That is the challenge facing China, not building

the highest tower or the biggest hotel lobby.

German Anting

Anting is not just a car manufacturing

city but a residential centre as

well. When completed, this new town

will be home to fifty thousand people.

The residential area was designed on

the German model by Albert Speer

and Partners and the Stuttgart landscape

architect David Elsworth.

Inspired by the Weimar Republic, and

with a nod toward the characteristic

use of colour by, among others, the

architect Taut in the well-known

Berlin Siedlung Uncle Tom’s Hütte,

Speer’s firm have given this new

Chinese housing development a

German ambience.

The satellite development Anting is

a fifty square kilometres area used for

production, trade, exhibition, education,

management, tourism, entertainment,

a Formula 1 racetrack and

dwellings for 50.000 residents.

The designers used typically Western

principles as multifunctional

block structures, public open spaces

and pedestrian-friendly streets for

the masterplan. In the centre the

building blocks are five storeys, the

more residential areas to the east and

the west are four and three storeys.

Albert Speer and Partners tried to put

in environmental and sustainable

technologies. In China Anting is one

of the first new towns where quality

standards and resource efficiency

played a role.

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