Stadtluft will take the examples of Paris, Berlin and Zurich and seek to examine the role of trees in the city. Why do the trees, greeneries and parks of a city look the way they do? What are the historical, economic, cultural and social aspects? What philosophy is the use of greeneries in the city space based on? Who defines the aesthetics of trees in particular and the public space in general?
How are decisions met with regard to tree species, the design of parks and greeneries? In short, what is behind what is visible on the surface? And do trees shape a city? Do they exude poetry and joie de vivre? Or have urban strolling under trees, celebrated by so many literary figures, long become passé in the age of the car, shopping malls and ‘smart cities’?
Walking in the shade of an avenue, reading a book in a park or taking a walk in an urban forest are among the most pleasing amenities a city has to offer. Nature is never so beautiful as when it is sharply confronted by civilisation. For many years, it was the trees that stood as the last Mohicans against the traffic of the post-war period’s car-friendly cities. We have also come to view green spaces as air filters and cooling machines for our overheated cities. The role played by green spaces in cities varies greatly.
For example, London is known for its large parks; the most famous of these being Hyde Park which has been there since 1637. In Venice too, the historic city gardens are still admired to this day. Densely populated Paris is characterised by its relatively small, but meticulously maintained parks such as the Jardin des Tuileries or the Jardin Luxembourg. A few years ago, quite a stir was caused when the Coulée Verte René-Dumont saw a disused elevated railway adorned with greenery and expanded into a 4.5-kilometre walking path. Berlin’s green spaces are huge and wild: the Tiergarten in the heart of the city, for example, is 210 hectares in size. Zurich, as proud of its lake as it may be, has a limited number of parks, with the old botanical garden being a little gem among these. Those who want to get into the countryside head to the forests on the hills surrounding the city.
The past, present and future of trees, parks and green spaces in Berlin, Paris and Zurich will be analysed systematically. Decision-makers from the worlds of politics, administration and lobby groups in the three cities will all exchange views. The exchange will be enriched by input from artists, scientists and members of the public. By invitation only.