Innovation, creativity and research foster the development of new forms of cooperation. Cultural landscapes are a place for such exchanges, through gardening activities, but also for artistic representations. Outdoor activities facilitate discoveries and provide access for everybody to all kinds of wonders.
Thus, the outdoor Art Museum in Pedvale, Latvia was opened by sculptor Ojars Arvids Feldbergs in 1991 and is now a state historical monument. Its 100 hectares covered by cultivated fields, flower meadows, hills, rivers and forests are an ideal place for creative professionals, – sculptors, painters, writers, artists – to express themselves freely, and they are encouraged to take their inspiration from nature using local materials. The permanent collection includes more than 150 works of art that were created during the symposia and workshops, an exhibition of Ojars Feldbergs and temporary exhibitions of local and foreign artists, with a new theme every year.
In Nantes urban landscape, the art installations of illustrator Claude Ponti attracted nearly 1 million visitors, with fantastic creatures straight out of the imagination of the artist, who invites the public to play with all the works and clink the Steeples-Pots, bubbled with Deputy flower, to talk to Simone-the-voice-of-the-station and finish relaxation among the thousand Cousspoussins … for the delight of children and « big kids ».
But the artist can also appeal to other senses than visual. Gilles Malatray « Inviting structures, institutions and audiences to explore new soundscapes around the city and the countryside, considering these environments as real aesthetic ear spaces, is not a simple artistic gesture. To address and tell new territories listening is sharing living spaces by ear, develop true and sincere human relations, glimpse of ecological, social, heritage approaches… It emphasizes the variety of approaches, postures, ways, to hear and be heard collectively ». His Hearing Points and soundscapes are shared valuation levers to spaces as beautiful as fragile, « the establishment of a set of tracks – tools available to the inhabitants, the artist, researcher, teacher, politics, developer (…) at the cross roads of listening, where the most uncertain things, the more fluid, the more exciting can emerge. « (Gilles Malatray, Desartsonnants, 2016).
Colmenar Viejo uses both together Visual and Sound Landscapes initiative. School students from the municipality took part in a voluntary activity where they learnt how to take landscape photos and record landscape sounds. They learnt a new way to look at the landscape and how to express their relation with the landscape though art. They made an exihbition of the photos and sounds recorded, where their parents realised the importance of landscape to contribute to the personal development of their children.
Innovation, creativity and research foster also the elaboration of cutting-edge designs, while contributing to excessive risk aversion and giving due consideration to ethical implications and outcomes. Public consultation in the Mersey Forest Plan includes innovative geospatial mapping methodology that has provided an evidence base upon which to develop and implement local policy. The work has identified key areas for increasing woodland landscape connectivity that can assist not only in helping to reduce habitat fragmentation, but also provide a range of ecosystem services.
On its side, ‘One hut full’ explores the history of the Dartmoor agriculture through a hike, and a multi-sensory experience, designed to provide thought, inspiration, and innovation for the future of a sector that, outside the protected national park, is threatened by increasing urbanization. It’s an experiential project set up to teach visitors about local practices, and to create new and more sustainable supply chains for locally adapted landscape products, with workshops running to connect different landscape members and to help them find new uses and niches for their products. The program supports innovative approaches that promote bio-based materials, and new sustainable technologies adopted by local entrepreneurs, as for example:
- Solidwool is a material made from wool and bio-resin and can be used in much the same way as plastic. The chair ‘Hembury’ created by its founders, Justin and Hanna Floyd already had some success and, Solidwool is moving today to manufacture glasses.
- With traditional materials whose use is diverted, Bellacouche, in turn, has created an award-winning basket, soft biodégragrable, from pure wool. The products of its creator are deeply influenced by the traditions of his Norwegian heritage.
- Twool is a garden twine made from sheep wool Whiteface Dartmoor. All the wool manufacturing process, the washing with winding, takes place in the UK, giving it a lower carbon footprint than imported jute (One Full Hut, 2016).
Cultural landscapes provide a space for experimentation for cultivated biodiversity and innovation towards resilience. By helping to conserve genetic diversity, the SAVE Foundation is the umbrella organization for the Safeguard for Agricultural Varieties in Europe. Its mission is to preserve and promote cultural genetic diversity. A particular focus is on survival of endangered breeds of livestock and crop species. Maintaining local varieties of fruit and vegetables, far from standardized market production, is a good practice example of innovative issue to facilitate adaptation to local soil and climate, and maintain attractiveness for micro-fauna, and consists in a real challenge.
Thus, the technology park at Porte des Alpes, Lyon Metropolis, and the company Tarvel partnered with the Golden Tulip kitchens to create a vegetable garden helping to conserve old varieties from Lyon area. The seeds that are grown there are, essentially, those of nearly extinct or endangered local fruits and vegetables, treasured by Lyon Resource Centre of Applied Botany (CRBA), continuing the program « Fruits, vegetables and flowers of the Lyon basin: a cultural and biological heritage to know and keep » hired by the CNRS laboratory « Resources terroir – Cultures, customs, society ». Cultivation of local vegetable varieties conserved by CRBA is also conducted on the Parilly park for tomatoes, peppers, melons, squash, basil … The CRBA, which also maintains representative horticultural varieties of Lyon’s domestic biodiversity and manages database Horti-Lyon, is located on the Lacroix-Laval Domain, who farms part of heritage vegetables in the castle garden, as well as many fruit. A Franco-Russian cooperation is now engaged and supported by the Foundation De Natura to support the Vavilov Institute, the oldest seed bank in the world which probably keeps some future food for humanity in its mission to enrich the cultivated plant diversity.
Thus, preservation of plant horticultural heritage, connected with a story, could provide right balance between standardized produced gardens with low biodiversity and wild gardens whose public acceptance is still fragile. Search for innovative designs to marry indigenous and cultivated plants, and valuation of gardeners work, at the crossing of landscape and environment skills, can meet stakeholders’ perception, sensation and emotion .