In September the European Council of Landscape Architects (ECLAS) held their annual conference in Hamburg, Germany. Titled SPECIFICS, the conference was a gathering of international academics, researchers and practitioners. With attendees, presenters and keynote speakers from five continents the cross section of topics was highly diverse with themes ranging from landscape and infrastructure, energy landscapes, waterfronts and harbors, and landscapes of memory. The conference provided the forum for a unique exchange of ideas, best practices and approaches to design, theory and education.
Held along the canals of Hamburg within a renovated church dating back to the 12th century, the Katharinenkirche provided a unique context for the conference including music during intermission from a towering pipe organ rumored to be at one time played by Bach. In addition to several networking and awards events, renowned European landscape architect Gunter Vogt delivered the keynote speech. The parallel sessions organized five speakers per group within distinct themes. Despite the acoustic challenges of the church the sessions were lively and well attended. Among the presentation highlights were landscapes and infrastructure, design for climate change, a matrix for landscape assessment and the review of an iconic west coast hotel as an element of the urban fabric. Throughout the conference the broad spectrum of subjects sparked much dialogue and critical review.
James Royce and Lynne Giesecke, principals at Studio 2112 and adjunct faculty in the Urban Landscape program, presented an overview of the Central Artery and Kennedy Greenway within the Landscape and Infrastructure theme. The presentation included a history of Boston’s urban development patterns, impacts and attitudes towards urban planning in the era of urban renewal in the 1950’s, a timeline of the Central Artery and CA/T(i.e. ‘Big Dig’), and a review of the urban planning initiatives both during and after construction of the Greenway.
Following the conference they met their Urban Landscape students, who are currently in their semester abroad in Berlin, for a guided tour of the International Garden Show, just outside Hamburg. The IGA featured 80 gardens within 1000 hectares (250 acres) of parks designed by invited international practitioners. An annual event held almost exclusively in Germany the IGA plays an important role in both the redevelopment of the host city and advancement of garden design theory. This year provided an especially unique opportunity with the International Building Exposition running in parallel to the IGA. The building expo was held in various locations throughout Hamburg showcasing the latest developments in building technology and architectural design. The juxtaposition of current urban development within the historic context of Hamburg was an outstanding learning opportunity for both students and instructors.