International Conference Thinking the Contemporary Landscape

Thinking the Contemporary Landscape – Positions & Oppositions

20-22 June 2013, Herrenhausen Palace, Hanover, Germany

The conference organized by the Chair of Christophe Girot under the auspices of the Volkswagen Foundation called for a critical debate about the contemporary intelligence of landscape architecture: For three days outstanding thinkers and practitioners have shared their thoughts and convictions in lectures and discussions during the sessions “Science and Memory“, “Power and Terrain“, and “Method and Design“.
Twenty-five prestigious speakers and respondents from all around the world, among them James Corner, Adriaan Geuze, Kathryn Gustafson, Kristina Hill, David Leatherbarrow, Alessandra Ponte, Saskia Sassen and Charles Waldheim as well as a wide audience of over 200 specialists and students of landscape architecture discussed the scientific and emotive qualities of a landscape, its characteristics as a mirror of society and its cultural perception. Major themes were how landscapes tend to generate indifference and the question of what beautiful in the context of landscapes might mean. Landscape architecture as a form of knowledge was analyzed as a powerful discipline for making the anthroposphere secure for mankind, as well as giving a voice to the biosphere while challenging aesthetical knowledge and sensitivity. Regarding design methods, speakers presented different kinds of analog and digital modellization techniques: the debate touched on the relationship between digital techniques and the construction of the world, the descriptive character of information and the role of technology in the design process.
The term „Topology“ elaborated by Christophe Girot and his team, referred to the Chair’s position of a landscape architecture strengthened as an integrative discipline with a deeply rooted tradition in shaping and preserving nature.

Furthermore, nine young researchers were selected to present posters about what they consider to be the most pressing issues with regards to research and the design of the contemporary landscape. The jury composed of Georges Descombes, Sonja Dümpelmann, Anette Freytag, Bianca Maria Rinaldi, Antje Stokman and Christian Werthmann selected three to receive awards: Christiane Kania (University of Hanover) for “On Playing and Designing”, Maider Uriarte (TU Munich) for “Dystopic Landscape: The Specificity of Urban Landscapes on Slopes” and Nadine Schütz (ETH Zurich) for “The Acoustic Dimension of Landscape Architecture”. Nadine Schütz also was awarded the audience award.


The entire conference was recorded: watch the online videos.

See the photo gallery and our facebook album.
Download the programme

Download the programmatic texts
Download the flyer


Concept and Organisation:
ETH Zurich, Institute of Landscape Architecture: Christophe Girot, Anette Freytag/Dora Imhof (project lead), Albert Kirchengast, Suzanne Krizenecky, Dunja Richter

Volkswagen Foundation, Hanover, Germany: Wilhelm Krull, Anorthe Kremers, Cornelia Soetbeer

For media enquiries please contact:
Anette Freytag, freytag@arch.ethz.ch