Design with Nature Online Seminar 2018

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An international reflection on the history and the future of landscape architecture heritage

Motivation and objectives

The court of the Lions, Alhambra, Spain Source: Alexandru Mexi

The history of landscape design is a reflection of the history of humankind's interpretations of nature. Gardens can be considered as a spatial interpretation of the relationship of man and nature. Embedded in a cultural context, with its specific beliefs, values and knowledge, design with nature is always a product of the time during which it has evolved. Gardens and parks are living monuments providing evidence of what a society considered as an ideal place, a space for relaxation, a place for sports, somewhere for strolling or even an earthly representation of paradise. But the ideas behind them are also subject to constant change, oscillating between the taming of nature and the desire for wilderness and natural process. What has been valued in the past might not be valued any more in the present.

In this seminar we want to reflect on landscape heritage from two perspectives, both being closely intertwined: First, the context of design with nature and the way in which it is influenced by a particular epoch, its geography, its religion, values and ideas of power. And second, the challenge of our present day when dealing with this living heritage: which interpretation of nature is worth preserving for the future? How to deal with overlapping design concepts that have evolved over various periods? Which design approaches are needed? And what is the role of landscape architects in this context? The seminar lectures will combine introductions to specific design periods with good practice examples of garden and park conservation. We will also reflect on the challenges of this specific field of work in various European countries.

Format and Target Audience

This seminar will be delivered as a series of synchronous online meetings on behalf of the LE:NOTRE Institute in cooperation with landscape architecture programmes at various universities. The seminar can be followed in conjunction with existing courses in garden history and conservation or be offered as a self-standing course introducing relevant themes of landscape heritage and conservation. Although the primary target groups are landscape architecture students and professionals from across Europe and beyond, this seminar is dedicated to all students and scholars interested in the subject of garden history.


  • Our webinars are free of charge and you can always listen in. Please proceed to this online registration form
  • While general participation (listen only) is free of charge we request a moderate fee for credit seeking participants. If you are working actively on the assignment you can receive a certificate after successful completion. For this it is required to become a supporter of the LE:NOTRE Institute. Fees are moderate and depend on your country of origin.

Seminar Schedule and Speakers

Please check the seminar schedule here.

Lecture Materials and Recordings

  • Missed a session? We document our lectures here

Timing and Schedule

  • The seminar will comprise 10-12 synchronous online sessions of 90 minutes duration.
  • Online meetings will be held on a weekly basis, on Wednesdays at 18 pm CET
  • Time period: October 10, 2018 – December 19, 2018.

Workload and recognition

An accompanying assignment will allow students to qualify to be awarded a seminar certificate. Students will get together in international virtual teams, elaborate on the seminar topics and link them to their local landscape contexts. We will specify this further at the beginning of the seminar activities in October 2018.

Contacts and Partnership

This seminar is being coordinated and designed by Dr Ellen Fetzer, Nürtingen-Geislingen University, Germany, and Alexandru Mexi, landscape architect, Bucharest University, Romania, in cooperation with the LE:NOTRE Institute and ECLAS, the European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools.