Transforming with Water: IFLA 2008 Proceedings of the 45th World Congress of the International Federation of Landscape Architects, 30th June-3rd July 2008, Orpheus Congress Centre, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands

Front Cover
Wybe Kuitert
Island Press, 2008 - Architecture - 319 pages
Transforming with Water provides a wide range of thoughts and experiences on a highly timely theme, designing with water. The book represents the Proceedings of the 45th International Federation of Landscape Architects, IFLA world Congress, June 2008 with contributions from all over the world. It provides a global impression of the issues that currently challenge the field and the solutions that are being sought.

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The 2008 IFLA conference explored the theme of water. What better place than the Netherlands to explore the relationship between water, land, people and Landscape Architecture.
The conference
and talks are collected in the Proceedings: Transforming with Water. The works are divided in 3 themes: Living with Water, Land Meets Water and the Flow of Water. The presentations could have as easily been divided into categories like Politics, Policy and Advocacy; Conservation, Sustainability and Design; or Myth, Language and Sociology.
The collection of work from all over the world covers a vast array of project types, philosophies and approaches and, after close review, represent more than projects about water. The proceedings convey the larger on-going debate between understanding the nature of our resources and commanding an approach to deal with them. While water provides the common thread, it is in the unique approach of scholars, practitioners, students and agencies that the challenge is presented to the reader. In the description of each project a particular set of ideas and practices are presented, each of which represent a landscape solution.
The study of adaptive landscapes in ancient Chinese cities, the development of water networks in the Gobi and the management of urban riverfronts on the Rhine deal with different aspects of water; historic context, water management and planning, and flood management. Each accomplishes a level of completeness solving the challenge with mapping, diagrammatic analysis and systematic planning.
In dealing with natural disasters the community design for Kobe, the rebuilding of a cultural and ecological infrastructure for the Gulf Coast after Katrina and revitalizing the Qantas in Iran after an earthquake, undertake the challenge with natural integration and in-situ pragmatic solutions. In these examples we take note of long term solutions and their effect on future generations as well as the often inevitable next occurrence of a disaster. More so, we are made aware of the balance between comfortable existence and human upheaval and the effects of the uncontrolled or disrupted flow of water.
These planning and design projects are balanced by the works presented in the Seaward March, The Holiness of Water and Water and Deserts, Alice Springs. These are just a few examples of projects that represent the contemplative and poetic nature of the profession. Each explores water and its power as myth, reverent object and cultural signifier.
One of the strengths of Landscape Architecture as a profession and the projects presented in these proceedings, in my view, is its wide agency. Science, art, politics and engineering as well as other disciplines find their way into the landscape dialogue. The projects in the proceedings reflect the current state our profession, at times extremely rational, at times lyrical and never quite sure of its bearings. In bringing the theme of water to the forefront-its relation to community land and flow- the proceedings have also exposed the profession, academic and practitioner, to the richness of critical thought, art and poetry used in dealing with one of the simplest of elements: Water.
Richard Alomar, RLA, ASLA
Lecturer, Columbia University. Masters in Landscape Design Program

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