The nature garden concept in landscape architecture

The nature garden concept, as it is described by the Swiss author Schwarz, consists of promoting nature conservation in the garden by developing the natural biotopes that one would find in the ‘open’ landscape as much as possible in the city, such as hedges, wildflower meadows, ponds, etc. The urban open spaces should be made into compensatory spaces for threat­ened native species that find no place within the landscape of intensive ag­riculture (see Schwarz 1980). On the other hand, the nature garden concept was greatly influenced by the Dutchman LeRoy, who did not see aban­doned areas and gardens that have gone wild as ‘nature conservation ar­eas,’ but primarily as places for the free development of nature and for human activities, especially of children. He worked architectonically, building dry walls, paths and minimal pioneer habitats out of building rub­ble (cf. LeRoy 1978; for a summary see Andritzky and Spitzer 1981).

This perspective influenced the design philosophy of the landscape ar­chitect Peter Latz, as can be seen, for example, in the dry walls and plant­ing beds of building rubble designed by him for the Hafeninsel (the Harbor Island) in Saarbrucken (cf. Latz 1987). The Swiss landscape architect Di­eter Kienast also grappled intensively with the nature garden concept. He seized the innovative ideas that were bound up in the idea, but did not
submit to the nature conservation didactic of Schwarz’s variation. Kienast insisted on the use-oriented garden, which he saw as more appropriate for a livable space outside one’s home, as opposed to designs that imitated na­ture (cf. Hulbusch 1978 as an author of the Kasseler Schule). Kienast de­scribed urban abandoned areas which are not subject to any restriction as ‘natural’ archetypes of the ‘livable’ open spaces: “LeRoy and others have built or initiated such spaces together with those that are affected by them – the users.. .In this type [of nature garden] there is no imitation; the arti­fact is allowed to clearly emerge. Cultivation, construction and nature are not antipodes in their manifestations; they allow the autonomy of the other parts to stand or to become more striking in their manifestation” (Kienast 1981).

Подпись:Kienast offers an ideal example of a use-oriented open space in Berlin’s Gleisdreieck: “As one of the best examples of such a distinctive area, I got to know the Gleisdreieck in Berlin a few weeks ago. The cultural struc­tures of the tracks and rail yard are still clearly recognizable within the spontaneous vegetation despite forty years of mostly undisturbed neglect. Soil formation, microclimate, water and light availability, and intensity of use have lead to the development of diverse and differentiated plant com­munities…. Newer built interventions come, above all, from children. Art­istry and naturalness are concentrated here into an exhibition, whose preview has already been held in the every­day world. What can we learn from this? The work with history among other things and the ability to recognize quality where it exists” (ibid, p 42). For this reason, abandoned areas are often more important than official parks and are able to support landscape architectural design as a cultural expression quite well through the pre­servation of spontaneous vege­tation and historic materials (ibid, p 42f).

The achievement of entirely prosaic, functional requirements in open spaces, such as the design of entrances, the siting of paths and the place­ment of benches, is then a functional organization of open space that not only improves the possibilities for use, but also, through the carefulness of the interventions, avoids overwhelming the historic and natural structure. The concept for Berlin’s Sudgelande envisioned, therefore, spare interven­tions through the careful reuse of old structures (cf. Kowarik and Langer 2005); the rail lines, for example, were made into pathways and the main raised walkway through the nature conservation area was constructed over a set of tracks.

Подпись:From the point of view of landscape architecture, the design of the ur­ban-industrial nature of the Ruhr has to do with more than culturally aware design: this design has political components as well. Kienast describes the profession of landscape architecture (and nature conservation) as hostile to cities (ibid, p 106). This hostile position should be overcome as it is dem­onstrated through the design of former industrial zones that urban – industrial civilization can also produce meaningful cultural land­scapes. Latz (1999, p 14) attributes to landscape architecture the task of developing landscape concepts that change the contemporary under­standing of nature and compel a new discussion about nature in the city.

In this way through design it should be made clear that cities also produce a diverse and characteristic nature; cities provides for a ‘good’ existence (cf. Latz 1999a); the urban way of life should be given value.

It is not the value of nature that epitomizes this life-style, but rather the value of urbanity: The city stands as a place of cosmopolitan and democ­ratic culture (cf. Bappert and Wenzel 1987) that is mirrored in the specific urban-industrial nature. It is the authentic urban nature, which does not, as with Schwarz, imitate pre-industrial, rural conditions. The important status of urban-industrial nature for landscape architecture and urban nature con­servation allows the enormous birch-buddleia stands of the Land-
schaftspark Duisburg-Nord to be incorporated into the design concept as the black locust stands were in the Sudgelande in Berlin.