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Art Nouveau and Ecology
An overview before the final symposium with award of the Cultural Route label

The EU funded (through the Culture scheme) project "Art Nouveau and Ecology" is nearing the end. The final symposium will take place in Ljubljana in March 2015, along with the related travelling exhibition which opened there 20th of January. An overview of actions and symposia will be given here.

Art Nouveau and Ecology project exhibition in Brussels 2013
Maria Bostenaru 2013 / CC BY
Art Nouveau and Ecology project exhibition in Brussels 2013
The Reseau Art Nouveau is a network of cities with Art Nouveau heritage, which has been recently recognised the Cultural Route status by the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe recognises the importance of landscape for cultural routes, since the nodes of the route are a way not through the crowded city, but the landscape. UNISCAPE submitted proposals for a COST network in this regard, and is currently organising seminars at the Villa Carregi in Florence on the topic. The Cultural Route label will be given at this final conference in Ljubljana on the 20th of March 2015.
The relationship between architecture and nature is also given by the current project run by the network under the EU "Culture" funding. It is the third European project run. The first one was "Art Nouveau in Progress" and the second "Art Nouveau and Society". The current one, "Art Nouveau and Ecology" makes this connection. A number of symposia have been run, the first one being "Art Nouveau Herbarium", in Terrassa (2010). As an outreach activity at the end of the network a pedagogic activity is taking place, and the Herbarium is transformed in a children's book to be able to connect botany and architecture and recognise the plants which inspired Art Nouveau. A numbre of other children activities are available as Flash games on the site. "Nature, Creativity and Production at the time of Art Nouveau" was the name of the colloquium in Milan in 2011, to which we participated. The invited commentator noted the parallel between the decoration in Art Nouveau tapestry for example, where exotic plants were drawn, and the current green walls, where there are real plants. With the Bosco Verticale project, Milan is an adequate place for discussion, and also the EXPO 2015 discusses the topic of food production in vertical gardens in its creations. 2014 the last colloquium took place in Riga, Latvia, on the topic of "Consistency of inner and outer spaces in European Art Nouveau Architecture". Building in a forest like the Mezaparks garden city, or on the seaside resort Jurmala are characteristic for Riga and for the integration of the interior and exterior in Art Nouveau architecture, and a proof on how architecture and landscape architecture cooperate. Art Nouveau architecture was frequent in the creation of resorts, since it was the age when such tourism started, and this connection was important.
Apart of 5 such colloquia, and of online activities, the Culture project had as output a travelling exhibition "The nature of Art Nouveau". The exhibition is organised in two parallel travelling ones, one reaching now the 4th city, and the other the 5th (including the final presentation at the closing event). We visited the opening exhibition in Brussels in 2013 (see photo). The exhibition is divided in three parts, one dedicated to the newest discoveries in life sciences in the aera, one to the studio of nature (including the stilisation of elements into language elements of Art Nouveau), and finally artificial landscapes created by Art Nouveau created using the primary elements of nature (earth, water, air, light, fire). A catalogue is available on the webpage along with related educational tools.
See for more information.
According to Romanian legislation landscape architects may teach plastical education in schools, and hence learning such contents as stylisation and inspiration from nature are connected to the programmes.
From Romania the city of Oradea adhered to the network shortly after the Milan colloquium and marked by an event in Budapest and Oradea. Oradea is characterised by a rich Secession (a form of Art Nouveau) heritage from around 1900, an important representant of which is József Vágo, the father of Pierre Vago, who was the founder of the International Architects' Union in France. József Vágo emigrated from then Hungary to Italy where he won the competition for the ONU headquarters in Geneve, Switzerland. Valuable in the Oradea Secession edifices are the stained glass windows, which reflect nature stilisation. Other cities with Secession heritage in Romania are in Transylvania, such as Targu Mures. In the southern part worth mentioning is Sinaia, the mountain resort where the royal family had its headquarters. Queen Mary of Romania was inspired by the Art Nouveau of the Darmstadt artist colony, and in 2013 there was an exhibition there as well, dedicated to 100 years of Art Nouveau. Later on, Queen Mary also turned towards connecting inner and outer spaces in the gardens of Balcic in then Romania now Bulgaria on the seaside of the Black Sea.

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29. Jan 2015
Reported by Maria BOSTENARU DAN


exhibition (en), landscape elements (en), Architecture Theory (en)

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