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Topos: EFLA Regional Conference: Mind the Gap

Postitas: Sirle | Kuupäev: 15/11/2011

Allikas: Topos, 11.11.2011, Peter Zöch
The EFLA regional conference, the first of its kind, was held from 2 to 4 November, 2011 in Tallinn, Estonia. The theme of the conference was “Mind the Gap: Landscapes for a New Era.” This broad theme focused on urban landscapes and quality of life but still allowed for a variety of lecture topics. A range of interesting keynote speakers delivered very different but inspiring lectures, some showing their projects, like Mary Bowman from Gustafson Porter of London or Juliette Bailly-Maître from Mutabilis paysages of Paris. Others presented their thoughts in the form of polemic lectures, like Jan Gehl from Gehl Architects of Copenhagen who detailed his commitment to create more livable cities for people. Topos Award winner Antje Stokman, professor at Stuttgart University and partner of osp urbanelandschaft in Hamburg, called for “bridging the gap” between the disciplines and to overcome professional boarders in order to create more sustainable environments. (A presentation of her thoughts and work will be presented in the forthcoming issue of Topos. The topic of Topos 77 is “Leadership”.)

In parallel sessions about 80 of the nearly 300 participants presented their papers. As is well-known from other conferences, there is always a variety of themes and quality in these presentations, some interesting, some provoking and inspiring and some mediocre. The conference proceedings will be documented in a printed publication.

One of the important things about international conferences is the platform of exchange and discussion for people with different cultural backgrounds. These conferences allow the unique chance to find out about interesting places and projects in the host country. Technical tours, as part of EFLA, offered participants the possibility to visit sites around Tallinn, for instance the historical centre and new projects in the city centre like Freedom Square and a small park in Harju Street. Another tour introduced a local community initiative in a neighborhood called New World Community. The active citizens brought not just cultural life to the city quarter but also started a geography-based open source web platform called Community Tools, which helps in the organisation of different local activities.

The tour to the Lasnamäe area gave a contrary impression of the city. About a quarter of the inhabitants of Tallinn live in this huge settlement of the Soviet era. The construction of the housing area started in the 1960s but was never finished. Small interventions, also in the green structure, are intended to improve the living situation.

In the profession of landscape architecture there is one big gap to overcome in most countries: the gap between the professional world and the public world. The public typically knows very little about what the profession is doing. The Estonian organizing team for EFLA 2011 managed to close this gap, at least a little bit. With their well-organized conference they managed to attract the attention of the local and national media.

Efla News:

Nigel Thorne, President, Carlos Bruschi, Vice-president for Professional Practice and Marina Cervera, Secretary-General were re-elected for two years.

Tony Williams was elected Vice-president for Education. Andreja Tutundzic terminates his 2nd term at the end of the year.

The Estonian Landscape Architects’ Union (ELAU; Eesti Maastikuarhitektide Liit, EMAL) and the Bulgarian Association of Landscape Architecture (BALA, Bulgarska Asiciacia Landshaftna Arxitektura) entered EFLA as full members.

The Association of Landscape Architects of Russia (ALAROS) will organize EFLA 2012 Regional Congress (June 11-13) and General Assembly on 9-10 June in St. Petersburg.


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