Parks and gardens which are now historical were once modern, corresponding at the time of their creation or redesign to the spirit of the age. It is only due to the passage of time and to retrospective evaluation that they have become legacies of garden culture.
Where are the historical parks and gardens of tomorrow being created today? What are the distinctive qualities of contemporary gardens whose design reveals potential of this kind for the future?
Friction between the old and the new, analysis of existing work as well as breaks and provocation are important driving forces of progress in art and culture. More than a few experts bemoan a too hesitant further development in garden design since the middle of the 20th century or at least the difficulty regarding acceptance of innovative ideas in the design of open spaces.
And yet there are examples in Europe today of the implementation of innovative ideas during the period of 1950 to the present, when towns, their squares and open spaces were being restored and redesigned, when destroyed or neglected gardens were being reconstructed, when new public and private parks were being created.
Towards the end of the 20th century, a new task was added, with the quest for new uses for disused areas of industrial production. In the Ruhr area in particular – the old industrial heartland of the German Land of North Rhine-Westphalia – awareness grew of the particular qualities and potential of industrial landscapes and industrial nature. These were opened up, enhanced to create unique parks and centres of culture in many cases and linked together to form a large regional landscape park.
Outstanding contemporary parks and gardens are distinguished, for example, by their unusual location, by new concepts for using space and design, by the diversity of what they offer, by the choice of materials and retention of existing structures, by new forms of documentation, information and didactics or interdisciplinary collaboration and the involvement of the public. They are always places for encountering nature or considering how we treat nature, the landscape, culture and ourselves.