Courage and beauty. IFLA Europe in Helsinki

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By Steffi Schüppel and Thomas Haas

On October 13, 2022, the "Boldness and Beauty" congress was held in Helsinki in the run-up to the IFLA Europe General Assembly. It was hosted by the Finnish Landscape Architects Association MARK.

The congress focused on innovative and unconventional approaches to planning that can not only lead to aesthetically pleasing solutions for public spaces, but at the same time address pressing challenges such as climate change and resource conservation.

Ein Vortrag im vollbesetzten Hörsaal
IFLA Europe representatives gathered in Helsinki from Oct. 13-16, 2022, for the "Boldness and Beauty" congress and general assembly at the invitation of MARK, the Finnish association of landscape architects.© Steffi Schüppel

Among the projects, some of which were also discussed controversially, were, for example, the climate-adapted redesign of a derelict pier in New York, the redesign of a park in Odense, Denmark, taking into account a wide range of user requirements, the temporary summer squares in Helsinki, the Estonian army's training center in Narwa, where security aspects were combined with environmental protection, and the reuse of former bunker and flooding facilities in the Netherlands. Finnish landscape architecture firms also demonstrated the breadth of their work through field trips to surrounding areas and visual planning processes.

The European congress also highlighted the aspiration to give contemporary landscape architecture a greater place on the political stage in Europe. In this context, Finnish Member of the European Parliament Sirpa Pietikäinen was awarded the IFLA Europe Prize.

Reconsidering Nature" exhibition

The transition to the General Assembly was the opening of the exhibition "Reconsidering Nature", which will be shown throughout Europe. The exhibition presents 53 projects from 20 countries that have been designed and implemented in close connection with nature. The series of best practices is intended to serve as an occasion for national associations to exchange and discuss current approaches to landscape and public space design.

The German profession is represented in the exhibition with three works awarded in the German Landscape Architecture Prize 2021 competition - Westpark Augsburg, Baumkirchen Mitte in Munich and Park Mitte in Hamburg-Altona.

Within the framework of the "IFLA Europe Students and Young Professionals Competition", which was also held under the motto "Boldness and Beauty" in two categories (conception and realized projects), projects of young landscape architects from Israel, Poland and Great Britain were awarded this year.

Recognition of landscape architecture courses by IFLA Europe

The General Assembly on October 15 and 16, 2022, was characterized by lively discussions on both substantive and association-internal topics. One important topic is the development of a Common Training Framework (CTF), which is intended to create transparency and facilitate the recognition of skills and qualifications of landscape architects in the EU.

Delegierte verfolgen in einem Konferenzraum konzentriert einen Vortrag.
Intensive international exchange in the plenary session. © Steffi Schüppel

Another project, which should support the exchange among national associations and cross-national cooperation, is the establishment of a member database. This database of members of national associations with specific expertise in different areas of landscape architecture, especially design, landscape planning and management, will enable IFLA Europe to respond to various requests for opinions, expertise or projects in related fields.

Furthermore, all national associations were called upon to promote recognition of landscape architecture courses by IFLA Europe at colleges and universities. A handout was also presented on this topic, which is now available and explains the background and advantages of recognition by IFLA Europe.

Helsinki resolution with call for climate protection

Future plans include the establishment of a platform for landscape architecture projects (similar to For this purpose, a new working group Landscape Architecture Professionals has been established, for which comrades-in-arms are still being sought.

In the individual working groups of IFLA Europe, interested parties from the national associations work together on the respective topics. The range of topics dealt with is wide, and the exchange is intensive and enriching. Anyone who would like to find out more about the working groups and IFLA Europe, or who would like to participate, is welcome to contact the bdla national office.

One of the internal topics of the association was a change in the statutes. In addition to the necessary adaptations to Belgian association law, third-party funding for projects is now also regulated. This is an important innovation in order to be able to carry out innovative projects with the participation of IFLA Europe in the future.

In the elections for the position of Secretary General, Diana Culescu, ASOP Romania, was confirmed; the outgoing Treasurer Hermann Gunnlaugsson is succeeded by John Boon, NVTL Netherlands. Finally, the Helsinki Resolution was unanimously adopted. Main elements in it are the call for climate protection in the built environment, the supporting role of landscape architecture in the implementation of various transformation processes, and bringing landscape architecture relevant issues to the attention of European institutions.

The next IFLA Europe General Assembly will be held in Naples from October 11-15, 2023.

Steffi Schüppel, Landscape Architect BDLA AIAPP, CATTANEO | SCHÜPPEL urban design and landscape architecture, Dresden, bdla-Speaker International. Thomas Haas, bdla national office specialist, Berlin.

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