Friday, September 10, 2010

Landscape architects?

A few days ago, we visited the municipal park service, talked to the director. Tucked away behind Urgench's 'Central Park', aptly named the Amur Timur garden - Tamerlane appreciated a fine garden- we found a few greenhouses (see picture), a small office, and a gentleman willing to talk about plants in the city. Despite his openness, it was not easy to discuss design of green spaces, or landscape architecture.

He himself was an agronomist, general agricultural expert, and he worked together with the architects at city planning. Sometimes they designed green urban spaces, asking him for planting advice later, sometimes they designed it on the basis of his planting and siting ideas, sometimes he did it himself. For the largest projects, e.g. the new Avesta park (Zoroastrianism is included in the heritage canon now) experts from the capital come over and assist in the process.

No mention of landscape architecture. Architects and agronomists decided on green spaces, in line with what we saw in Tbilisi and Erevan, where planning and urban design were also dominated by architects. There however, many had some notion of landscape architecture, and one could even study it at the academy of arts -I do not know how old these programs are.

When I asked him about his sources of inspiration, he showed me exactly one Soviet- era garden book, dated 1971, full of blurry plant pictures and model garden designs. Still, it seems to work!

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