The future of the metropolis is green!

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Conference "metropolitan open space" - Landscape architects and planners from nine nations provided impulses for the green city of tomorrow

How much green do we need, for what and for whom, if more than three quarters of the world's population lives in cities in 2050? What strategies, alliances and resources are required for open spaces that increasingly take on social and societal functions in addition to ecological ones in the increasingly dense urban fabric? These were the questions addressed by around 150 participants at the "metropolitan open space" conference. The international specialist conference was organised by the Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection, IGA Berlin 2017 GmbH in cooperation with the Association of German Landscape Architects (bdla) from 18 to 21 May 2017 at the Centre for Art and Public Space (ZKR) Schloss Biesdorf and on the grounds of the International Garden Exhibition (IGA) in Marzahn-Hellersdorf.

Health relevance of our cities
The keynote speaker at the evening reception on 18 May in Schloss Biesdorf was Prof. Dr. Mazda Adli, stress researcher at the Charité Berlin, whose research findings from "neurourban studies" on the impact of urban living spaces on mental health were a talking point. His conclusion: cities can have a negative impact on mental health - the key to an effective health strategy in metropolises lies in public space, among other things. "Above all, we need spaces that prevent social isolation and enable participation."

The fact that public open space has not only an ecological but also a social function in an increasingly individualised and fragmented urban society, and that we need to protect and develop it in the face of development pressures in metropolitan areas, became clear in the contributions to the conference on 19 May. In his opening speech, Stefan Tidow, State Secretary for the Environment and Climate Protection, asked: "How do we succeed in designing urban green spaces in such a way that people take ownership of them and they become places of community building? What design and negotiation strategies are needed to achieve this?"

bdla President Till Rehwaldt pointed out that the "urban advantage", the urban location advantage that makes cities places of promise for a better life, will increasingly be linked to the "green advantage". Successful urban development relies on qualified green spaces. Christoph Schmidt, Managing Director of IGA Berlin 2017 GmbH, made it clear that sustainable green spaces can only be created through interdisciplinary and integrative planning processes. "We need intelligent planning concepts that allow for multiple uses, even of partial spaces, in view of limited financial as well as spatial resources."

Green pays off!
Reiner Nagel, Chairman of the Board of the Bundesstiftung Baukultur (Federal Foundation for Building Culture), pointed out that interdisciplinary lines of argumentation are also needed beyond one's own specialist circles. Michael Schwarze-Rodrian of the Metropolregion Ruhr emphasized the micro- and macroeconomic value: "Green infrastructure pays off." Together with Jakob Kastner, who is planning the Seestadt Aspern, one of the most sustainable private-sector new development areas in Vienna, and Prof. Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg, who is co-responsible for Hafencity Hamburg, one of the largest inner-city urban development projects in Europe, he discussed intelligent strategies for open space development in new construction. One of the most important tasks of the future for the green profession is the maintenance and activation of existing buildings, the panel concluded.

Strategies of appropriation and negotiation
Appropriation and negotiation strategies for the design of public spaces were discussed in great numbers at the conference. The IGA Berlin itself, which is creating a new park for Marzahn-Hellersdorf after the garden exhibition, was just one - albeit much-cited - example.

In his keynote lecture, Christophe Teboul from the Paris city administration referred to instruments such as "participation budgets", in which citizens have a say in the implementation of certain measures in public space. In the workshops "Participation and co-determination" as well as "Metropolitan projects", best practice examples for the activation of civic engagement were discussed as well as the prerequisites and obstacles. The workshop "Strategies for Urban Green" focused on the so-called White Paper "Green in the City" of the Federal Ministry for the Environment to discuss its relevance for planning practice.

The lectures by renowned landscape designers from Brazil, Lebanon, China, Thailand, South Africa and Australia, who presented their international IGA garden cabinets on 20 May, finally made it clear that, in addition to the strongly diverging international framework conditions for the design of public open spaces, emotionality is also required in the end. "We have to design emotional landscapes so that people feel responsible for them and take care of them in the long term," was how Kate Cullity from the Australian office T.L.C. put it in a nutshell.

Prof. Dr. Horst Bredekamp, founding director of the Humboldt Forum, showed with his excursus on the "history of the form of rebellious gardens" that a process of appropriation by new groups of actors is also taking place in the interpretation of traditional garden art.

A charter for the urban green
The closing remarks by Ursula Renker from the Berlin Senate Department, IGA Director Christoph Schmidt and bdla President Till Rehwaldt once again highlighted the complexity of the task but also the potential associated with open space planning for "cities in the Anthropocene". Ursula Renker pointed out that Berlin is facing the major task of developing a charter for urban green spaces - embedded in an extensive public debate. Till Rehwaldt summed up: "We are at a neuralgic point and are challenged to qualify the city for people again."

Walk and Talk
On Saturday, May 20, the international landscape architects of IGA Berlin 2017 explained their conceptual gardens and continued the discourse of the conference in the garden cabinets. They were supported by the office k1 - Landschaftsarchitekten, who as the Berlin contact office implemented and built the international garden cabinets at IGA Berlin.

Thematic tours in the afternoon dealt with various aspects of the IGA Berlin. These included: From Vision to International Garden Exhibition by the planners of the IGA, geskes hack landscape architects, Art at the IGA by the art historian and director of the ZK R, Katja Aßmann, and Sustainable Certification of the IGA Berlin by Markus Gnüchtel, GTL landscape architects, bdla.

On Sunday morning, May 21, members of the bdla Berlin-Brandenburg invited visitors to contemporary open space projects in the capital.

Association of German Landscape Architects bdla
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