Austria has a rich history of arts and music but what about the international and national awareness of the Austrian Landscape Architecture scene?
This question has also been raised in the recently published book titled nextland – Contemporary Architecture in Austria. Despite the history of garden design, it had not always been very easy to get the discipline of landscape architecture in Austria to get the necessary attention in public debates.
By definition, landscape architecture is in its present form, the planning and design of open spaces. This means that the entire outer area in the form of squares, parks and promenades, sports and leisure facilities, gardens, urban development projects or refurbishing industrial and port areas. It could start from small to large projects, from strategy to competitive projects, or about the question how cities could look greener in the near future.
History of landscape architecture in Austria For centuries there were architects, gardeners, painters or simply laymen which designed the gardens, parks, public spaces and landscapes. Debates about the qualifications and regulated training for designing gardens and parks were strengthened out in parallel with similar discussions in 1900 in the Austrian Architecture scene. It was a time of bitter controversy of style in art, architecture, arts and crafts and garden art – and especially between, “scenic” and “architectural” design principles.
The first step towards the establishment of the profession in Austria has the been made through the foundation of the The Association of Austrian Garden Architects (VÖGA) in 1912. This marks the beginning of the visible professional engagement with garden architecture, landscape architecture and designed open space in Austria
Contemporary landscape architecture in Austria
It was only since 1991, that Austria has a regular study of landscape architecture. After the study attempt “LÖK“ (landscape ecology and landscaping), finally a regular study LAP (landscape planning and landscape management) at the University of Natural Ressources and Applied Life Science (BOKU) Vienna was established. This fact owes the commitment of the Austrian Society of Landscape Planning and Landscape Architecture (ÖGLA) which is the the successor of the Association of Austrian Garden Architects (VÖGA).
Moreover an aperture of ÖGLA for all the willing applicant, a generation change on the board and the commitment of a group of young landscape architects among whom were also the publisher of nextland – Karl Grimm and Lilli Lička, brought a new momentum in the landscape architecture scene in Austria. Accordingly to them, new areas such as urban and rural renewal, cooperative planning process and the suitable everyday-use design of open space became part of the self-image of landscape architects. In the 1990s especially this new drive of ideas and visions for a modern landscape architecture in Austria has now been made visible through the publication of nextland – Contemporary Landscape Architecture in Austria.
The book describes in a vivid manner the history and the transformation of the discipline. It is in particular an enormously dense and massive retrospective of Austrian landscape architects, which should be not shy away from comparison with colleagues in the international scene. In particular with the despite lack of public awareness and the lack of sufficient budgets to accomplish inviting well designed open spaces. The book presents 187 open space projects which had been realized in the last two decades.
As part of the publication of nextland we had the chance to speak with Lilli Lička on the potentials and constraints of contemporary landscape architecture in Austria.
The book nextland – Contemporary Landscape Architecture in Austria, has been published by Birkhäuser.
This book, for the first time, contains a comprehensive presentation of contemporary Austrian landscape architecture: nextland demonstrates how diverse the briefing, how complex the boundary conditions and how simple and exciting successful designs can be. The richly illustrated book profiles 187 open spaces of the last two decades in Austria, and accompanies these with a photographic essay. Well-known European landscape architects, art historians and specialist journalists provide the historic and international context and comment on the status of landscape architecture in Austria.
ÖGLA – Austrian Society of Landscape Planning and Landscape Architecture (only in German available)