Review: 9th Barcelona International Biennial of Landscape Architecture

Review by Marina Cervera Alonso de Medina, IFLA PPP Chair: It was a hectic week for the Landscape Architects professionals and students visiting Barcelona last week. A wide range of events, exhibitions, technical visits … were set to celebrate the profession for five days during the 9th Barcelona International Biennial of Landscape Architecture. The event was a great success, the international reputation of the prize was consolidated and, with IFLA support, the event is helping to raise the profile of the profession. It all started on the Wednesday 28th September 2016, the heart of city Barcelona -its Cathedral square- was dressed up in green to announce the kick off for 9th International Biennial of Landscape Architecture of Barcelona. A rug of 8000 small aromatic plants, invaded part of the Plaça Nova in Barcelona as part of the installation POP UP GREEN, developed by the Biennial with the collaboration of Barcelona City Council, seeking interaction with citizens, who could “adopt” the plants and plant them in other parts of the city to design landscapes they imagine or claim. In this way, the installation was being transformed in a social study that lead to the identification of spaces of opportunity with intervention on spaces with green cover, constructive complaints on empty spaces, games with improvised nature and living installations. This action of tactical urbanism, dressing in green Ciutat Vella’s heart, served as a starting point for the Barcelona International Biennial of Landscape Architecture through an act open to the public and designed to attract a non-specialized audience. The day action was completed by the opening of two exhibitions organized within the framework of the Biennial: “Desemboscant” by Dr. Martí Boada and the Barcelona MAPPING, a projection on the large model of the city about the development of open spaces in the city of Barcelona. Biennale Barcelona 1 The time lapsed video of the event can be found here: Biennale Barcelona 2 Since its first edition, the European Landscape Biennial has expressed its desire to intently study and discuss landscape interventions, as much from the perspective of landscape architecture as from other disciplines linked to its study and evolution. The Biennial has been consolidated on a European scale in its seven previous editions— “Remaking Landscapes” (1999), “Gardens in Arms” (2001), “Only with Nature” (2003), “Landscape: A Product / a Production” (2006)— “Storm & stress” (2008), “Liquid Landscape” (2010) and “Biennial versus Biennial” (2012); during the last and eighth edition, the Biennial has unveiled new landscape realities through the internationalization of its Rosa Barba Landscape Prize. With “A Landscape for You” Barcelona opened itself to international landscapes for the first time. Last September, with its ninth edition “Tomorrow Landscapes” the symposium took place in the Petit Palau de la Música for three days and included talks, presentations by those finalists competing for the Rosa Barba Landscape Prize, papers, roundtables discussions, exhibitions and samples from which we be able to track and discuss the evolution of landscape architecture worldwide. The day after Pop up green, on the 29th September 2016, as first day of the symposium, projects and designed interventions were the object of the discussion, it was the Rosa Barba International Landscape Prize day. The Jury of the Rosa Barba International Landscape Prize, organized with the support of the Banco Sabadell Foundation, had selected 10 projects of constructed landscape and approved landscape planning created worldwide between 2011 and 2016 as finalists. IFLA President Kathryn Moore was invited by the organization to partake the Jury for the 9th Edition, according to the tradition set in 2011 to always have the IFLA president -IFLA EU when the Prize was solely European-  as one of the 5 members of the Jury. The International Jury members for this edition are the following:

  • James Corner, (president of the International Jury), landscape architect and founder of Field Operations, (USA)
  • Manuel Ruisánchez, architect, EXCO at the Architects’ Association of Catalonia and teacher of the Master of Landscape Architecture in Barcelona. DUOT (UPC) (Spain)
  • Anuradha Mathur, professor at the University of PennDesign (India)
  • Kathryn Moore, president of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) and professor at the University of Birmingham City University (UK)
  • Eduardo Cadaval, architect and founder of Cadaval&Sola Morales founder (Mexico).

Biennale Barcelona 3 The finalists were invited to present their projects during the symposium, on 29th of September, running for the prize – an award of 15,000 euros- that was going to be announce live in the ceremony for the 30th of September. All finalists gave great lectures and the audience was privileged with ten spectacular project around the world. Biennale Barcelona 4Barangaroo Reserve Sydney (Austràlia) Peter Walker, David Walker, Jay Swaintek i Doug Findlay, PWP Landscape Architecture   Biennale Barcelona 6 Renaturation de l’Aire Confignon (Suïssa) Georges Descombes, Julien Descombes i Marco Rampini, ATELIER DESCOMBES RAMPINI   Biennale Barcelona 7 A Flood Adaptive Landscape: Yanweizhou Park Jinhua, (Xina) Kongjian Yu, Turenscape   Biennale Barcelona 8River Forest Island Changsha (Xina) Xiao Zheng i Sean O’Malley, SWA group   Biennale Barcelona 9The Metro-Forest Project: Bangkok Urban Reforestation Bangkok (Tailàndia) Tawatchai Kobkaikit i Wannapin Boontarika, Landscape Architects of Bangkok   Biennale Barcelona 10 Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Londres (Regne Unit) George Hargreaves, Mary Margaret Jones i  Gavin McMillan, Hargreaves Associates   Biennale Barcelona 11 Landartpark Buitenschot Baixos Hoofddorp (Països Baixos)Lodewijk van Nieuwenhuijze, H+N+S   Biennale Barcelona 13 Musée Parc Louvre Lens Lens (França) Catherine Mosbach, Mosbach Paysagistes   Biennale Barcelona 14 Superkilen Copenhaguen (Dinamarca) Martin Rein-Cano i Lorenz Dexler, Topotek1   Biennale Barcelona 15 The Goods Line Sydney (Austràlia) Sacha Coles, ASPECT Studios   The event culminated on 29th of September with the official opening of the Exhibition of the ROSA BARBA INTERNATIONAL PRIZE AND THE SCHOOLS EXHIBITION PRIZE at COAC, Architects’ Association of Catalonia, 19,00 h Plaça Nova, 5 08002 Barcelona. The International Landscape Prize exhibition will expose the projects selected, participating in the Rosa Barba International Landscape Prize. This year, 312 projects were selected, divided into four categories: Articulation, Intersection, Regeneration and Transition. Likewise, there will be the International Exhibition of Projects in Schools of Architecture and Landscape Prize, collecting the best projects from 74 universities around the world. All the materials presented in both exhibitions are online: ROSA BARBA INTERNATIONAL PRIZE SCHOOLS EXHIBITION PRIZE Biennale Barcelona 16 The 30th September 2016 was entitled “Tomorrow Landscapes”. The motto chosen by the scientific committee refer to the context of a new climate regime, in which personal or professional indifference is not an option. The Anthropocene leads us to redesign and rethink the management of territories of nature in arms. We have witnessed the emergence of professional practice proposals mitigating the effects of climate change (through project or planning), collective demands to rebuild with a new integrative design (rebuilt by design), global assessments of the resilience of cities (Un habitat) and demonstrations of citizens with a new concept of landscape as common good to safeguard with tactical projects (guerrilla gardening, tactic urbanism). Tomorrow Landscapes decidedly faces the future, talking about climate and social strategies, declined on the project (s) and process designs in landscape architecture. Tomorrow Landscapes presented the discussion of what should be the landscape design and planning nowadays and provide a plausible (and exciting) future. Consequently, the Biennial had revised field and formats, formulas, concepts and objectives of the discipline, while critically contemplates itself as a living landscape platform and watchtower of international landscape movements 6 speakers of international prestige reflected on our theme “Tomorrow landscapes”, to promote the debate on the Landscape of tomorrow from a transversal point of view, a Planning actitud. Biennale Barcelona 16 Joan Subirats Professor of Political Science in the Autonomous University of Barcelona UAB     Biennale Barcelona 17 Alexandre Chemetoff Architect, urban planner and landscape architect, winner of the Gran Prix de l’Urbanisme in 2000     Biennale Barcelona 18 Kate Orff Landscape Architect, author of Petrochemical America, and founder of SCAPE     Biennale Barcelona 19 Anuradha Mathur Professor of Landscape at the University of PennDesign.     Biennale Barcelona 20 Dirk Sijmons Professor of Landscape Architecture and Director of H+N+S Landschapsarchitecten     Biennale Barcelona 21Tomàs Molina Meteorologist and President of the Climate Broadcasters Network Europe   Also the 2 video tributes to French landscape architects Michel Corajoud and Jacques Simon, presented by Karin Helms and Bernadette Blanchon, moved the audience with great lessons of the past we shall not forget. The closing of the day was the Prize Ceremony which thrilled the auditorium with the announcement of the 3 winners of the night and generated healthy debate and controversy among the audience and social networks. Biennale Barcelona 22 Biennale Barcelona 23     Biennale Barcelona 24       Barcelona Biennale 25       On that day the presence of the Professional Association world-wide and European level, was brilliantly represented by its presidents K. Moore -IFLA- and Tony Williams IFLA EU. Their speeches inspired our colleagues and stressed the importance of the profession and its recognition in front of local authorities. The culmination of the symposium was composed by a morning session on Saturday 1st October entitled Today in action and the technical visits of Sunday 2nd October. Beyond the reflections on the professional practice for tomorrow, Saturday’s session on 1st of October gave voice to several interesting initiatives being carried out worldwide by urban planners and landscape architects: from interventions of public space in the Syrian refugees’ camps by Gabriella Trovato (member of the LAWB group IFLA PPP), urban resilience programs in developing countries, containment strategies of environmental pollution in large Chinese cities, the Montreal Summit in which IFLA also will be present for the WC, or new ways of professional practice straddling several continents. Barcelona Biennale 27 Dan Lewis The Chief of the Urban Risk Reduction Unit, UN-Habitat, Kenya       Barcelona Biennale 28 Zhu Yufan Landscape architect and professor at Tsinghua University (China).       Barcelona Biennale 29 Maria Gabriella Trovato Professor of Landscape at the American University of Beirut       Barcelona Biennale 30 Henri Bava Landscape architect, the director of the Landscape Architecture Department at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany). Founder of Agence TER. The autumn storms put the final point to this exceptional experience, to this vibrant professional meeting point. On the 2nd October, right after the technical visit around the city in bike and beyond to the Landfill Park by Batlle I Roig, the rain set in and dissolved the meeting… Behind us, more than 800 accredited visitors to the event, 4 exhibitions, actions around the city, 3 technical visits, 25 lectures and up to 37 interventions…all around Landscape Architecture echoing its health and good prospective for the professional future. Now, in front of us another long path until the 26th, 27th and 28th September 2018. The 10th Edition of the Barcelona International Biennial of Landscape Architecture. We will be waiting for you!!! Barcelona Biennale 31