Nettel or Wasabi — Rethinking plants

Plants are alive, real, in motion and changeable. They actively perceive their environment, act and react – perhaps they even feel. They connect the soil with the atmosphere and make life possible.

Biology is rediscovering plants as complex and intelligent living beings. At the same time, society is demanding more greenery in the city. And biodiversity is omnipresent as a topic. What does the awakening of self-aware plants mean for current landscape architecture – and how does this fit in with society's current understanding of 'green'?

At the Rapperswilertag 2021, we will deal with plants as ubiquitous unknowns.

We will be surprised by new perspectives, images and research results and ask ourselves how a new view of plants can inspire landscape architecture.

Nettle or wasabi? Does the current biodiversity crisis threaten design freedom? Or do plants lead us down new paths to burning hot ideas and the creation of unusual experiences?

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The intact nature, the ideal city with a lively living envi­ron­ment: as landscape architects we are orientated to­wards model pictures of an environment worth living — towards ideals.

We aspire to compose land­scape considering the needs of society. Open spaces, as space for acti­vities and experiences, should meet the func­tional and emotional needs of their users. Their needs are diverse and some­times difficult to capture.

Designed open spaces need to consider nature and topography, but also culturally-­topologically aspects. In our projects, beauty should be achieved, without static ideal images restricting usage.

The better the composition, the better society can respond to the designed environment, with identification, adoption and further development of open spaces.

At the Rapperswiler Tag, professionals report about their research, experiences and analysis with ideals and ask the following questions:
— What do we consider as ideal?
— Who can make his ideals heard and enforce them?
— How do we translate ideals into projects and how do we deal with contradictory ideals?

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Extraordinary — Success story of landscape architecture

Like any good planning, successful landscape architecture requires specialist knowledge, perseverance, foresight, curiosity and courage and often also luck, the right time and the right partners. It is important to track down the potential of each task and persistently search for the special — even when the specifications and circumstances present us with challenges. A design process often begins as a venture.

How is good landscape architecture created?
What is certain is that it shows itself in a variety of forms and that the grand gesture is not necessarily required for this. Sometimes the trigger is a collaboration in which all those involved open up new paths in the project through impartiality, sometimes it is innovation and a spirit of research that open up remarkable approaches to solutions. Careful planning mediates between the demands of investors and users, or a park becomes a sustainable meeting place because all those involved face up to both social and creative responsibility.

On Rapperswil Day, we present both daring projects and successful projects and we want to know: What makes good landscape architecture today? How do we develop continuously?

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Boundless — Free stage for the big dimensions

The transformation of landscapes through structural development is all present and is increasingly shaping the image of Switzer­land as a country. These are not only the obvious changes, caused by the densification of settle­ments, the expansion of transport infras­truc­tures or the generation of energy, but also the creeping processes of trans­for­mation by the agri­cul­tural economy, by mining activities and landfills, or by large-scale material shifts.

These ‘new’ landscapes require careful and high-quality planning and design. What is needed are adequate answers to the unsur­mountable changes. It is also important to recognise the opportunities for multi­functional uses, examples: Revi­tali­s of water bodies enable attractive recreational zones; settlement areas become bio­diver­sity hotspots; large infra­struc­ture buildings such as the Neat create new landscapes.

The great current challenges in the land­scape can neither be taken into account with an arcade land­scape nor with a static and protective appro­ach. Planning and design tasks overlap, they take place on different levels and in different scales. Uncon­ven­tional appro­aches and far-sighted ways of thinking are called for. Country relevant planning is to be conceived as a long-term process.

The Rapperswil Day 2017 deals with the big dimensions. It explains theories, methods and innovative projects and sheds light on complex inter­relation­ship.

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«It is the encounters with people that make life worth living.»
(Guy de Maupassant, 1850—1893)

Where people meet, they are often spectators, but at times on stage. Today they are only passers-by, but tomorrow actors, engaging and getting in touch with others and then again just drifting with the crowd. Encounters build communities and therefore the vitality that helps create lively, attractive and convivial open spaces.

How can neighborhoods, parks and living environments be transformed into space of public encounters? What do different generations, cultures and user groups need in public spaces? What makes them stay and use them?

During the conference we will discuss the fundamentals of planning based on the facets of the everyday life. We debate how landscape architecture facilitates the meeting of people and we present examples of open spaces with the guiding theme of encounter.

The Rapperswiler Tag 2016 is a part of the campaign «Gartenjahr 2016 — Raum für Begegnungen» («Garten 2016 — space for encounters»)  www.gartenjahr2016.ch

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Atmosphere — Sensibility — Space

Whether people are fully conscious of this or not, they actually derive countenance and sustenance from the «atmosphere» of the things they live in or with. They are rooted in them just as a plant is in the soil in which it is planted.
(Frank Lloyd Wright, The natural house, 1954)

Atmosphere reflects the reality of our environment as a sensitive experience. Moreover, atmosphere determines whether or not we feel comfortable in a given place. Currently, there is the potential to create more vibrant spaces in landscape design in order to not only meet the needs of customers and users, but also to raise multi-faceted moods and open the mind for more. Urban and rural spaces which surprise us, where we slow down our pace and spend more time interacting with others. Perhaps spaces with a more fragile, coincidental and volatile structure.

The purpose of the Rapperswil Tag 2015 is to identify solutions and opportunities within the field of landscape architecture to provide more space for atmosphere and sensibility. This involves focusing on the interrelationship of physical design elements (buildings, trees, roads, etc.) and the subjective perception of the space. Questions that we seek to answer at this conference include: In what way do plants, seasons, and materials, as well as sounds, smells, and movement within a space influence our perceptions? How can we detect hidden atmosphere? And, finally, how can we evoke images and feelings in the viewer and use them as experience?

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Good Perspectives

The current discussion about urban density, sustainable energy production, prevention of natural hazards or the latest political decisions has left no doubt that the issue landscape has increasingly gained relevance within the Swiss society. This results in a political mandate to intensify efforts regarding landscape, its utilization, development and design, as well in urban and rural areas and based on all scales.

Who will be in charge of this mandate? It requires landscape specialists with an integrated approach, someone who cares with core competencies in analyzing and responding to landscape challenges. There is a need for specialists with a sense of judgment and creativity and a willingness to take social responsibility.

To interfere in actual debates and to take clear positions is one thing. The other thing, which is a more demanding and trust building is to propose innovative solutions, to take care about needs of users and to support processes in the long term.

The landscape architecture considers itself as the guardian of needed knowledge and appropriate tools to develop landscape quality. How can the profession reach more social relevance and what can be offered concerning emerging new challenges?

We are looking forward to discuss these topics on the next Rapperswil Conference and to create a platform for new ideas.

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all inclusive!

Until a few years ago, a Berlin-like wall divided the domain of landscape architecture: into open space design on the one hand, and landscape planning on the other. Scales, methods and instruments of the two approaches lay worlds apart. Yet over the past years, slogans such as «Switzerland is a city» and «everything is landscape» blurred this divide to the extent that the overlap between the two approaches is nowadays close to 100%. The emulsion of city and countryside, of planning and projecting leads to something completely new, inseparable, which is far more than the sum of its parts.

Settlement areas and infrastructures are spreading out further and further — calling for entire stretches of land to be considered foremost as recreational spaces belonging to the respective settlements. This has radical consequences on their identity, use and form. Urbanites appropriate landscapes close to settlement areas and thus produce open space. Forests and agricultural areas cannot develop anymore according to their own logic, because they have become part of a designed habitat. The importance of landscape and open space production compared to the importance of wood and food production increases continuously. Demand for open space is rising. Agricultural aesthetics shaped by production logic are replaced by landscape ideals of urban dwellers looking for recreation.

Defining development goals for these new landscapes and achieving them through actual projects is mandatory. Rapperswil Tag 2013 will be a place to discuss the challenges of an integrated view on space and to take a close look at good examples.

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This way! — Paths (in)to the Landscape

The notion of what we call landscape is changing. Switzerland as a whole is but landscape and ... Petrarca, who described the term landscape as a construction of subjective perception seems to have served his time. Given the rapid and dynamic development of settlements and infrastructures, it takes some time getting used to this.

In times where more and more areas are threatened of falling through the grid of landscape perception, the question of quality surfaces together with the question of perception, both taking the centre stage of the landscape architectural discourse. Ways and means that make landscapes legible and accessible are demanded, both literally and figuratively. In some cases, a few signposts will do, yet every now and then there are more efforts needed to bridge the gap: interpretations, directions for use or even the landscape architectural machete are called for.

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Suburban and transurban open spaces have a high potential to agglomerate different settlement structures, districts or municipalities — at least this is the latest in the contemporary debates in urban planning and development. Aimed at controlling growth and densification and creating new urban qualities, all over the country visions, concepts and projects for new landscape and open space structures are mushrooming.

But do any of these wonderful creations, e.g. Aarepark, Wiggerpark, Limmattalpark and all the other watercourse parks, ever get past the stage of cycle track signaling? Do green spaces in the urban periphery actually manage to reconcile town and country? What is there supposed to be connected, for whom and how? Is there a way to succeed in the balancing act of offering equally optimal habitats to humans, hares and hawthorns?

What potentials actually lie dormant in the urban periphery, and how can they be kissed awake? What new spaces are emerging between the Campagne genevoise and Glatttalstadt? What qualities and aesthetics are characteristic for them? Which technical and design strategies lead to success?

These and many more burning questions will be discussed in 2011's Rapperswil Tag, approaching them from different angles and by referencing them to living examples.

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The Real Hit

It's everbody's dream, everybody aims at it, one rarely succeeds and, time and again, one cannot explain it: the big, the real hit.

Designing and planning is a complex process, and a draft the basis of any definite project. The draft not only is the result of an analysis of a location and a situation but the connection of this analysis and the special task involved with something that's difficult to define: the idea, the necessary inspiration — maybe even by the Muses —; but they don't give kisses every day!

The successful landscape architect is permanently and impetuously engaged in a search for intellectual nourishment, the ingredients for his creativity; always striving to find plausible and adequate answers to questions put more or less precisely. Landscape architects often walk this fine line between hors-sol-creativity and what is inherent in a location and only waiting to be revealed, to be uncovered with the help of adequate tools. We focus on nothing less, nothing but the genesis of landscape architecture, the creative process itself.

Where and how does a creative idea — or process — originate? Where do we find (inspiring) examples? Does the question already contain and, thus, give the solution? Is there something we call «genius loci» and how can we get through to it and distil it? How can I expound my draft proposal convincingly? What can be called — what's at the bottom of — good landscape architecture? These and more questions we would like to discuss at the Rapperswilertag 2010.

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Paysage mon amour

This roaming a colour, or according to measure, or with both hands, like love. Landscape, curling from its corners.
(from Scapes, Ingrid Fichtner )

Today, for the first time since man has learned to walk upright, it has become possible for individuals to exist totally independent of their naturally given or physically constructed or shaped environment (hitherto, in short, called «landscape»).

How do these new options, increasingly made use of by ever increasing numbers of people, change the relationship between individual and landscape?
Is there something getting lost? Is this space, which provided us with lots of experiences but which we also, all the time, filled with desires and expectations, vanishing? Is it something past? Are we entering post-Arcadian times? Are individuals and landscape drifting apart? Do we, still, face up to landscape? Do we, still, take landscape into account?

The Rapperswil Tag 2009 wants to make the relationship between man and landscape its topic for discussion. On the one hand, examples will be given how landscape is used and shaped today, in cities and in the countryside. On the other hand, we want to elucidate our relationship to this «something» which we are part of but which may have/probably has its own soul — and to suggest possibilities how this relationship can be renewed, strengthened, and intensified.

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Yes, that's what you want: a villa in the countryside with a large terrace, the Baltic Sea in front, Friedrichstrasse in the back; with a beautiful view, rural and sophisticated, the Zugspitze can be seen from the bathroom - but you're not far from the cinema in the evening.
(Kurt Tucholsky, 1927)

Everyone lives, everyone knows the difficult situation of finding a flat with the desired number of rooms in the right place with an appealing outdoor space, and everyone has different ideal ideas.

The Rapperswil Day 2008 dealt with the open space associated with living, the living environment. Using various examples from classical to contemporary, a broad spectrum of historical, urban planning, sociological, market and artistic aspects were presented and critically discussed.

Conclusion: We landscape architects must touch the residents, bring the living environment out of the self-evident "somehow". The living environment must offer culture and generosity. Living environment means spatial organisation. Living environment is home. Living environment means infrastructure and means togetherness. The living environment should once again be called "being able to pick flowers".

Landscape architects, create sensuality in the living environment!

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Parks, regions, landscapes

The definition of the terms park, region and landscape is interpreted very differently in international discourse and requires fine-tuning. Near-natural landscapes, cultural landscapes and even landscapes on the edge of settlements are the object of a "parkisation" that is not always successful.

With the recent revision of the Nature and Cultural Heritage Protection Act, a legal basis was created for new national and nature parks in Switzerland.

At the Rapperswil Day 2007, international experts will discuss the effects of the new parks in the regions, the ecological, social and economic improvements that can accompany them, how landscapes change as a result and which designs provide sustainable impulses.

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