Landscape belongs to everyone
17 June 2019
Landscape democracy is about understanding the human as well as the physical elements of a neighbourhood; vegetation, mountains, rivers, buildings, streets, people and even the hidden power structures within a community all play a role in shaping a space and its identity. This was the key concept of the 'Landscape and Democracy workshop session', which took place within the 'Le:Notre Landscape Forum’ held in Zagreb during the week of 9 – 13 April 2019. The session focussed on Sesvete, the proGIreg Living Lab and post-industrial area in the East of the city.
The LE:NOTRE Institute, an umbrella organisation for interdisciplinary collaboration between education, research and innovative practice in landscape architecture, has been organising this Forum on an annual basis in different locations since 2012. The aims are to develop and strengthen the links between landscape education, research and innovative practice, by focussing on dialogue, debate and discourse in informal workshops and unique field visit settings.
The aim of the Landscape and Democracy session at the Zagreb Forum was to create a shared idea of how to improve landscape democracy in the city of Zagreb, particularly Sesvete, and to ensure this cross-cutting theme was embedded into all topics addressed within the Forum – from Urban Agriculture to heritage and identity. Participants questioned the role of identity in Sesvete, how it relates to identity in the whole of Zagreb and connected local landscape democracy to the planning level within Zagreb. With these considerations in mind, the group proposed ways that the management of public spaces and the urban landscape could foster social cohesion in community of Sesvete. Methods included an analytical walk, interviews with local people as experts of the area, and mapping power structures, the relations of stakeholders and their interests in the landscape. Additionally 621 locals – about 1% of the population - participated in a survey, about the quality of landscape and life in general.
Participants in the landscape and democracy session included landscape architects, architects, local activists and sociologists from proGIreg partners local NGO Zelene I Plave Sesvete and the Architecture Faculty of the University of Zagreb, and hosts Le:Notre Institute. The combined research gathered gave the participants a great insight into the needs, challenges and visions of the people of Sesvete. It also encouraged them to embed the concept of landscape democracy into future urban planning. „We should all have equal access to landscape and an equal voice in how landscape is used, valued and maintained“, said Marijo Spajić of proGIreg partner Zelene I Plave Sesvete.
Image: Borko Samec