In 2013, the European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools’ conference took place in Hamburg. It was hosted by the HafenCity University Hamburg and both curated and coordinated by the Department of Landscape Architecture. ECLAS represents the interests of the academic community of landscape architects and landscape planners within the wider European social and institutional context. It provides an internationally recognized forum for academic exchange and international cooperation between universities. It represents a key platform for the discussion of specific issues currently of concern within the discipline.
As conference host, the Department of Landscape Architecture was responsible for the content and management of the conference. It gave us the chance to present the specific profile of the department and to set up current questions and issues to be discussed with an international audience and reflected on by renowned speakers. As conference topic we chose “specifics”: the term describes a fundamental task of landscape architecture, which is to examine the typical characteristics and potential of a place, to uncover its genius loci and thus extract the specificity of the location. The concept tries to emphasize differences of quality and to concentrate on significant strategies for research and teaching against the backdrop of globalization. How can we learn from the widespread international network of specific experiences and draw inspiration from them? The term “specifics” and its diverse meanings within the discipline were discussed in five sessions: Nature Happened Yesterday, Who Owns The Landscape? Best Practice Landscape Architecture, Landscape and Structures, Events, and Conversion. The topics of the sessions were expounded upon by internationally recognized keynote speakers such as James Benning (USA), Günther Vogt (Switzerland), Sigal Bar-Nir and Yael Moria-Klain (Israel), Elke Krasny (Austria), and Bruno Baur (Switzerland). The conference took place in the church of St. Katharinen. Its spacious room allowed us to host all events together in one building and gave the conference quite a unique atmosphere.
Around 250 participants from all over the world took part in the conference. A collection of the presented papers, keynote lectures, and comments from the presenters is forthcoming by jovis publishers, Berlin (April 2014).