Chair of Landscape Architecture and Public Space

Photo: Volker Kleinekort

Landscape architecture defines open spaces. However, it is the continually changing topographical, ecological and socio-cultural context of a city or the open countryside that is the motor for the respective mutations.

Landscape architects are the presenters and designers of these development processes. In conjunction with architects, town planners, artists, sociologists and engineers, landscape architects respond to complex questions of urban development and the development of rural areas. But it is not only design-related solutions that are called for. The main focus is on the careful conception of urban spaces that satisfy present-day needs of human co-existence. The continual transformation processes in our living environment pose new challenges. The modifications that evolve in public open spaces as a result of increased mobility, privatization, medialization and social change present us with new phenomena. This goes hand-in-hand with a permanently changing perception of town and country. This evolution is nothing new; it happens regularly and is "proof of the vitality of thought, perhaps the proof that we are really alive and that life goes on. It is at turning points like these that the mind casts off its skin, the eve and dawning of enlightenment." (Schlögel, Karl, Im Raume lesen wir die Zeit, spatial turn, at last, p.60, Munich/Vienna 2003)

Increasingly featureless inner-cities, the loss of identity due to a seemingly global idea of town, the tendency towards uniformity through design regulation render the legibility of authenticity more and more difficult, and even appear to dispute it. Our oversaturation with image worlds has simultaneously risen to enormous proportions. Being unable to resist them appears to be part of the concept. Despite the diversity of its guises in its individual phenomenology, the iconic turn has led to a simplification of what world represents, so we fear the banalization of public open space as a consequence. At the same time, the global village is fighting for its own, unique identity. Can this be the key to the survival of the European city?

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