Alessandro Martinelli

IFLA APR reaching out for contributing to establish novel international disciplinary standards

"LANDAWARD is an international landscape award born to reward excellence in the field and recognize the value of international projects that contribute significantly to the dialogue between nature and artifice, developing awareness of the transformation of cities, territories, and places of living. The objective is to reward projects that contribute positively to people's quality of life and integrate art, architecture, and landscape.
[..] Indeed, private, public, or collective landscape spaces naturally constitute the connective tissue of cities and the privileged site of public art, to which the citizens pay attention, driven by the desire to regain areas of encounter between nature and culture [..] and regenerate the systems of open spaces that structure the cities of ours.
[..] Also, the promoters share that landscape represents an essential element for interpreting contemporary territorial dynamics. Indeed, policies of territorial conservation, enhancement, and use -increasingly experienced and participated by the citizens worldwide- are increasingly placed at the center of the actions by the institutions governing the territory." from the LANDAWARD website.

Bergamo is a peculiar city. It boasts a majestic system of defensive walls that date back to the time when the Venetian Republic extended over North-East Italy. These walls surround the historical nuclei and are inscribed into the UNESCO world heritage list. Most interesting, their ballistic purpose and topographic specificity -which makes the center a bit disconnected from the rest of the urban space has made them into a unique public space, sort of linear park characterized by never-ending panoramic views. That said, the modern expansion of the city boasts a unique system of public spaces, too. This is the juvenile but well-round work of an architect, i.e., Marcello Piacentini, that has come to
define the Italian fascist style, i.e., a special spatiality where abstract monumentality, urban scale, and respect for historical context coexist.

In recent years, elaborating on such heritage and the current need to promote, update, and amend it, the architectural scene of Bergamo has been characterized by new professional happenings at the level of both professional associations and governmental bodies. New ties between profession and politics brought the nature park complementing the city walls into the position of internationally acknowledged heritage, too, and a program of redevelopment for the modern core was established, now offering evidence about the local quality of planning and design.

With these initiatives, new local awareness about the importance of 'landscape culture' has sprung. That is, despite the longstanding tradition of Italian public space based on built features, such as hard-paved areas, a new understanding of the contribution of nature developed. This happening has been marked by the formation of a new association that has begun organizing an annual event promoting the local development of landscape and the global progress of related knowledge. Characterized by conferences and installations in the urban space, this event has quickly grown into a vibrant happening, capable of attracting tourists and providing further improvements -even though temporary- to the city.

Driven by the same objectives, in 2021, the association launched the LANDAWARD program, the ceremony of which is expected to take place during the event. Thanks to the ties developed by the organizers, this award has quickly received national acknowledgment by the local, regional, and central institutions of Italy, including universities like Milan Polytechnic University. That said, the social ties have been vital in reaching out at international level, too. Indeed, after a first mediation provided by me -Bergamo is my origin place and, although I left it in the early 2000s and live in Taipei since the mid-2010s, I still have a socio-professional network in the place- the President of IFLA APR, Mrs. Monica Kuo, has found interest in the award and its objectives. After a preliminary review of the activity and organizers, she brought the initiative to the attention of IFLA EXCO, which finally helped LANDAWARD reach out to IFLA Europe and receive patronage at both the international and regional levels. In the context of today's global world, where organizational-geographical hierarchies do not correspond to or facilitate the structuring of any social network, the reach and mediatory attention of IFLA APR was crucial to developing global recognition of a bottom-up initiative like LANDAWARD.

Alessandro Martinelli
Associate professor, Landscape architecture department, Chinese Culture University, Taipei


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