Friday 15 September 2023

ERASMUS + G.R.E.E.N. - Parks and Gardens survey results

One of the first activities teachers and students thought about was the Parks and Gardens survey. We  started it during lock-down, comparing the reality of the five countries. The results were released after lock-down ended. This presentation was prepared by students from all countries. Click on the image to find the presentation.

Monday 7 August 2023

History of gardens and park V - Modern times

Since the late 18th century, more and more public green spaces have been created. Until then, parks and gardens were only privately accessible and served the recreation and representation of the nobility and upper classes. Palace gardens were opened up and royal hunting grounds close to the city, such as the Tiergarten in Berlin or Hyde Park in London, were transformed into landscape gardens.

Some gardens were also created directly for the population in this context. Designations such as Volkspark (People’s park) or Bürgerpark (Cititzen’s park) make this clear. The goal was to educate people and promote positive character traits by walking in an artfully composed natural setting. In this way, access to nature was made possible for the population in the growing cities. Typical of such parks are extensive grassy areas, wooded sections, monuments, pavilions and cafes. In some cases, entertainment facilities are also present - the Prater in Vienna or the Tivoli in Copenhagen are examples.  Often such parks are created on land of little value or in floodplains along rivers, and today often on former industrial sites. Likewise, parades grounds near cities or in inner cities are rededicated - examples here are the Tivoli in Copenhagen or the English Garden in Munich.

In peacetime after the Congress of Vienna and as a result of new military technology, the historic city fortifications become obsolete. The fortifications are removed and replaced by spacious ring roads, magnificent boulevards and parks close to the city. Often, as in Frankfurt, the course of the bulwarks can still be clearly seen. To this day in Frankfurt, this area may only be built on to a very limited extent. These ring-shaped green spaces are easily recognizable from the air. The old town centers located within are generally without public green spaces. The dense development allows at most small private backyard gardens.

With the end of the nineteenth century, romantic historicism becomes dominant. Park design and architecture of buildings in parks make use of the fashions of foreign countries and past times. Typical of this period are artificial castle ruins, which are built as a design element already in ruins.

Particularly exotic were the facilities in zoological and botanical gardens that often took up architecture from the origin of the plants and animals shown. With middle of the nineteenth century many larger cities see the foundations of zoos. In addition to an educational idea, the recreational value is always of great importance in these parks. Zoo and Palmengarten (a botanical garden) in Frankfurt have very large representative buildings (society houses) for balls and concert events. The zoo and Palmengarten also each house a theater. Ponds with rowing boats (as in Schönbusch Park in Aschaffenburg or the Palmengarten in Frankfurt), cafés and restaurants, playgrounds and concert shells complete the leisure facilities. Even sports facilities can be found in such parks. The botanical garden in Frankfurt (Palmengarten) at times had its own tennis courts and even a race cycling track on its grounds.

In addition to the recreational function, another aspect of green spaces is coming to the fore in times of global warming. Today, the shading, evaporation, filtering effect and cold air corridors provided by parks are of great importance for the quality of life in cities. 

Tivoli gardens in Copenhagen (Picture: Charlie,, CC BY 2.0)


History of gardens and parks IV - English landscape gardens

A monopteros (a small temple like building on a hill) is a common momument inside an English landscape garden - English garden in Munich (picture: Michael Siebert auf Pixabay)

The so-called "English Gardens" got their name because they were grown in the natural style of an English landscape. They developed in England during the 18th century and were originally intended as a revolt against the abstract Baroque gardens. These geometrically designed Baroque gardens included unnaturally shaped trees, shrubs and bushes, as well as sculptures. Its successor, the English garden, was intended to produce the opposite. A landscape created by man, which should appear as if it had been created by nature.

William Kent (Wikipedia, public domain)
 A fitting example would be the English Garden in Munich, which is one of the largest gardens in the world (3.75 square kilometres). It was one of the first parks to be open to the public and was created at the request of the Elector Karl Theodor (1724-1799). The gardens he had cultivated in Munich were intended as a useful occupation for soldiers in a time of peace and were also to be open to the general public.

The man most associated with the then new type of gardening is known as William Kent (1686-1748). He began his life with art and architecture, but later devoted himself to his career. (Leonie and Emilia)

English garden in Munich - fake natural landscapes (picture:Michael Siebert auf Pixabay)

 A world heritage site - the Gardens of Dessau-Wörlitz