“Decording diversity. Bringing it together through landscape architecture”
21st August – 2nd September 2009
The main meeting in 2007 was held in Romania and was organised by students from the faculty of Landscape, University of Timisoara. In total 34 participants from 11 countries attended.
The theme was of the meeting was ‘Decoding Diversity’. This topic set the tone for the entire programme of the meeting and whilst moving around the country participants engaged in a series of workshops, talks and site visits that highlighted a diverse range of issues that is facing modern Romania.
Throughout the course of the meeting participants travelled from Timisoara-Sibiu (European Capital of Culture 2007), back to Timisoara for the primary workshop, then onwards to Anina (a town within a mountainous mining valley), Sasca Romana and Potoc before returning to Timisoara.
A brief description of the workshops and associated activities are given below:
Timisoara (21st August):
Opening of meeting
Sibiu (23rd August):
Cultural tour of Sibiu, International Evening, and Visit to Traditional Romanian Folk Museum (Note: this was the part of programme organised with very short notice due to the withdrawal of the Bucharest team).
Timisoara (24th August):
Roof Garden Workshop: This was a primary focus of the Annual meeting as it is hoped that the results, design ideas and themes will be taken forward into an already ‘live’ project. Participants worked in groups to develop proposals for the Marasti building, a Communist apartment block in the city centre on a major gateway into the historic town core and a major landmark to the city. It also forms a key visual backdrop and contrast to the Baroque architecture of Unirii square. The design brief was to offer ideas on how the building could be ‘greened’ as well as providing a key resource for residents.
This workshop lasted several days and was underpinned by lectures from city planner arch. Ciurariu Emilian Sorin and Diana Avramica, from “D-project” Architecture studio, who helped outline the challenges facing the city as it tries to move positively into the future moulding a vibrant identity for itself whilst respecting the strong and unique heritage. Technical talks given by Karl Heinz from Zinco, and Peter Kostner, Director of exhaust and waste water treatment plant from Munich, outlined challenges in relation to water supply and usage in the future and the opportunities that green roofs offer.
This workshop received extensive coverage from the local press and interviews and press releases were organised. Such publicity was particularly effective as this is a ‘live’ project and therefore of great relevance within the spatial design and planning of the city. Also because the aims and design proposals are quite new and different from anything that Romania has seen, therefore they are attracting a lot of attention. This is a particularly innovative and exciting project Timisoara as it is one of the first that integrates the ecological, social, and spatial needs of the city.
Anina (29th August):
Here participants were involved in a visit to Crivina Power Station and Anina Shale Quarries. This was the site of a major mining project to extract coal in the 1980s, which ended up becoming a total failure with tremendous financial and environmental losses. The result of the extraction is a terraced hillside where ‘cuts’ have been made. However over the last 2 decades the area has been ‘renaturalised’ and through the work of Dr Zeno Oarcea. Dr Oarcea’s projects aim to improve the biodiversity of the area and encourage a range of species including Pinus nigra (a species unique to this area).
Participants were also informed about the social and environmental issues that are affecting these mining towns and were asked to produce a series of strategies relating to different parts of the project.
The Timisoara workshops, and indeed ELASAs presence in the city attracted a lot of local media coverage. Not only was this really positive coverage for ELASA and the meeting but also for helping to raise the profile on Landscape Architecture within the city and the way in which the city is developing and reinventing itself. This was highlighted through the involvement in members of the local authority being involved in initial presentations as well as TV interviews and press releases.
Sasca Romana / Potoc (1st September):
In this mountainous area participants camped in beautiful woodland and rural village settings. After rafting down the River Nera participants arrived in Potoc where, they met organisers from the PAO Project who were also involved in their annual summer school. This incredibly interesting project was approaching the topic ‘Ethnological Landscape’, and organisers were enthusiastic to meet with ELASA students and see the work they had been involved with in Timisoara.