From 21st until 25th May 2008 the first mini-meeting was held in Kleinwalsertal in Austria. Under the topic “at:de border – approaches to sustainable landscaping” around 45 students from 19 countries participated.
The interesting and unusual location of Kleinwalsertal within the Alps helped to set the scene for reflections about borders in the landscape and our professional practice. Geographically and politically Austrian, but economically German and only accessible from Germany, this particular valley has experienced an interesting and challenging history as it has developed over the past centuries. It has evolved from a primarily agricultural landscape into one orientated around tourism and recreation, experiencing increased house building and development pressures as it has become the second-largest tourist destination of Austria.
The second day introduced participants to the spatial and planning issues within the valley
The meeting ended with an exhibition of participants work in the Town hall where experiences of their journey to the meeting and the borders they crossed/experienced (whether spatial, political, personal etc). The exhibition consisted of two banners, each 7 per 1 meter, which were filled with the participants‟ border experiences during the first two evenings of the meetings.
The final day focused upon disciplinary borders and through the participation of professionals working within the fields of Geography, Urban Planning, Ecology, Art, Psychology and Architecture participants were encouraged to look at the varied challenges that face Kleinwalsertal through the unique approaches offered by professionals. As participants took part in discussions prompted by a multidisciplinary backdrop issues were highlighted in regards to collaboration and potential borders between the disciplines within the professional world and how these may be overcome through increased understanding of each other‟s skills and roles and how such an understanding can encourage a more fulfilling, productive and holistic approach to projects and challenges.and the settlements effected by growth and development. On an excursion to Bregenz, Vorarlberg the group passed the transcended border Austria/Germany and experienced the unique landscape of Bregenzerwald. After being introduced to spatial planning implications in the Rhine valley, which are met by an interdisciplinary, participatory planning approach, the group proceeded to Bregenz to exercise a series of „flashmobs‟ and installations in the city-centre. Participants were encouraged to observe the reactions of members of the public as they were faced with installations that were unusual and encouraged certain patterns of movement and reactions. As on each day the course of the day was later reflected in a plenary group discussion in our alpine hut back in Kleinwalsertal.
Different characteristics of „Borders‟ have been approached from three distinct angles over the main 3 days of the meeting. The first day was started with a keynote lecture by architect and philosopher Christa Kamleithner who introduced the historical development of borders and their current transcending into regional entities. The afternoon focused upon personal borders where participants spent the day carrying out a series of tasks and activities which helped to familiarize them with the valley alongside getting to know the other participants and pushing their own personal limits. Activities progressed from climbing and abseiling to finish with a 30m bridge freefall/abseil.
More info at: http://platzregen.twoday.net/