IFLA World Congress

Plentiful or scarce, water, the theme of this year's IFLA World Congress, is integral to landscaping.

The line between water and land is always changing
The line between water and land is always changing

Plentiful or scarce, water, the theme of this year's IFLA World Congress, is integral to landscaping. Speaker Anahita Mahmoudi reports for COD on the event.

The 45th International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) World Congress took place in the Netherlands last month.

The primary focus of the three-day congress, which had the theme Transforming With Water, was to facilitate discussion on the possibilities of designing with water, to consider whether water is friend or foe, and to discover new ways of living and working with water's transforming power.

Among all the materials with which landscape architects craft their storylines, water is one of the most powerful.

The main subject of the first day was 'Living With Water', an examination of the relationship the landscape architect has with water, whether it is designing systems to irrigate places where water is scarce or inventing landscapes to drain and control a surplus of water where water is plentiful.

The keynote speech was made by Adrian Geuze, partner and founder of Netherlands-based urban design and landscape practice West 8, who presented the firm's plans for Governors Island, a new public park for New York that will be surrounded by water.

'Land Meets Water', the main subject of the second day, was particularly interesting. Land and water are two opposites, like yin and yang. When land meets water our imagination is captured, but shores and coasts can also be places of worry and concern.

The dividing line between land and water is always dynamic and dramatically changing: sometimes because of unpredictable disaster, sometimes because of the will of man, sometimes because of the land or the sea.

Dynamic processes of nature often appear where land meets water. These processes can be turned into mechanisms for landscape planning and development. How can designers deal with the urban waterfront when major changes are taking places?

The keynote speech that day was made by Anne Whiston Spirn, professor of landscape architecture and planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Designers are storytellers," Spirn said in her presentation 'Landscape Literacy - Reading the Waterlines'.

"Among all materials with which landscape architects craft their storylines, water is among the most powerful, both figuratively and literally. Water is a source of life, power, comfort, fear, and delight, a symbol of purification."

"Meeting the environmental and social challenges posed by water in the coming century will demand landscape designs and plans that combine the pragmatic, the poetic and the political, that reframe old stories and tell new ones," Spirn said in the presentation.

"The landscape architect's task is also to make the landscapes waterlines tangible and legible, to teach others to read landscape and to understand those readings so that together we may speak new wisdom into the landscape of the city, the suburb, and the countryside," she added.

The third day examined the role of rivers and streams in landscape.

The congress was part of the Apeldoorn Landscape Triennale, an event dedicated to the world of landscape architecture.

The 46th IFLA Congress is set to take place in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in October, 2009.

Text supplied by Anahita Mahmoudi and edited by COD. Mahmoudi works for a consultant engineering office in Tehran, Iran.

Most popular

Awards

CW Oman Awards 2020: Meet the winners
A round of the thirteen winning names at the Construction Week Oman Awards 2020 that

Conferences

Leaders UAE 2020: Building a sustainable, 'resilient' infra
AESG’s Phillipa Grant, Burohappold’s Farah Naz, and Samana's Imran Farooq on a sustainable built environment
CW In Focus | Inside the Leaders in KSA Awards 2019 in Riyadh
Meet the winners in all 10 categories and learn more about Vision 2030 in this

Latest Issue

Construction Week - Issue 767
Sep 01, 2020