The concept of wilderness as the opposite of culture

Contrast is the most important way to support the visual and aesthetic per­ception of complex structures of wild vegetation. (Therefore its also the basic method for its design). The contrast between wild natural vegetation and regular man-made patterns also corresponds to a common cultural concept of wildness: the symbolic contrast between nature and culture (Bredekamp and Janzer 1985; Seel 1991).

The arts, literature and horticulture have formed images that describe this idea of wildness as the opposite of culture (or society, Grossklaus 1993). The symbolic contrast between wild nature and culture is the basis for the perception of wildness in the peri-urban landscape.

Industrial nature as an aesthetic concept for wildness

The IBA Emscher Park project has developed a new concept of industrial nature (Dettmar and Ganser 1999). This concept refers to a symbolic meaning of wildness: the natural development of vegetation (representing wildness) symbolises the possibility of a peaceful coexistence between na­
ture and urban culture as nature “recaptures” the remnants of old industry. This coexistence also seems to prove that this new industrial wildness is no longer the opposite of urban culture but a part of it.

However, the design of this new type of industrial nature as a mixture of new wilderness and industrial remnants also incorporates the traditional concept of culture which designs images that contrast wild nature and cul­ture by constructing “hybrids” of them.

Industrial nature is part of a long cultural tradition of these hybrids of nature and culture. There are many examples of cultural wildness as artifi­cial wilderness in garden history that combine apparently wild vegetation and artificial objects representing culture or arts. This image of wildness as a mixture of an artificial wild nature and artefacts was developed in the Renaissance garden (Puppi 1993). An even more elaborate example is the mannerism garden of Sacro Bosco (Bomarzo, Italy) which combines (arti­ficial) wildness, sculptures, buildings and even a zoo (Bredekamp and Jan – zer 1985).

Подпись:The examples of wildness in garden history show that the cultural concept of wil­derness includes wildness in the design. This design basi­cally starts with the contrast between wilderness and culture. The contrast has been made readable by dif­ferent aesthetic “designs” of wilderness throughout gar­den history. Wild vegetation became “designed wilder­ness” as well, for example, by integrating man-made elements that accentuate its natural character.

This design of wilderness represents the dialectical relationship of na­ture and culture that comes from the perspective of the prevailing culture. The model of industrial nature therefore reflects the current relationship of society to wild nature: “wildness” represents an autonomous development of nature in contrast to a totally controlled man-made environment.

Updated: October 16, 2015 — 10:47 pm