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Scenic Backdrops

Scenic Backdrops

Viewpoints
and routes

Town entrances

Residential developments

River landscapes

Seafronts

Urban landscapes

Agricultural landscapes

In many landscapes, the relationship between a figure or form and its backdrop is important in the composition of the images perceived and highlights the diversity, particularity, beauty, history and meaning of these landscapes. It is important to maintain, enhance and recover these visual and identity-related points of reference for the purpose of strengthening their unique scenic properties.

Visual landmarks are elements of the landscape whose location and value make them key components of the imagery of the area. Some examples include:

  • towns or cities with a unique geography that forms an urban skyline;
  • quality urban façades;
  • peaks, ridges, cliffs and other unique geomorphic features;
  • fields of crops and certain agricultural structures;
  • massed forests;
  • heritage structures (castles, churches, etc.),
  • compositions of any of the above

Moreover, scenic backdrops formed by the sea, topographic elevation (hills, mountain chains, etc.) and vegetation complement this image and serve as a basis for it.

The landscape catalogues of Catalonia have defined tools and measures that may serve as a basis for local authorities to pursue the following three objectives with regard to their respective visual landmarks and scenic backdrops:

  • Learn about, enhance and promote visual landmarks and scenic backdrops.
  • Improve the quality of the visual landmarks and scenic backdrops in existence.
  • Safeguard the quality of visual landmarks and scenic backdrops.

Learn about, enhance and promote visual landmarks and scenic backdrops

Some tools and measures that towns may implement include:

  • Creating an inventory of the main vistas, visual landmarks and scenic backdrops in the town as a way to discover the most significant elements of the town's image and take stock of the historical, symbolic and identity-related significance of the local landscape.
  • Enhancing the views of certain mountains, fields of crops, the sea, etc., from the main roads, public spaces and edges of the town.
  • Enhancing the view of certain quality urban façades from the motorways that pass by the towns.
  • Using durable materials and harmonious colours in the exterior finishes of façades and building roofs with the scenic backdrop dominating.
  • Enhancing the unique imagery that can be found in the entrances to the urban centres of some towns and the scenic views surrounding them (for example, the view from a tree-lined avenue of a certain mountain or of an element of heritage). These scenic values may be made more visible by modifying the landscape.
  • Promoting education and information that explains the presence, age and location of the visual landmarks and scenic backdrops and relates them to the rest of the landscape values in the surrounding area. Their historical or contemporary relation to literature or art inspired by them increases knowledge of what the place means and of its unique local character.
  • Enhancing viewpoints, motorways and routes along which people may contemplate the main visual landmarks and scenic views of a town.

Improve the quality of the visual landmarks and scenic backdrops in existence

Some tools and measures that towns may implement include:

  • Returning changes in the terrain (piles, etc.) that could distort certain visual landmarks and scenic views to their original state.
  • Restoring or recovering landmarks that have deteriorated over the passing years, especially heritage structures (castles, towers, churches, etc.).
  • Making an inventory of the buildings and infrastructure that disfigure the main visual landmarks, urban façades and scenic views and concealing them, harmonising them or eliminating them if necessary.
  • Making an inventory of visual barriers (advertising signs, temporary constructions, etc.) that hamper contemplation of main views, especially from motorways, viewpoints or routes and eliminating them when necessary.
  • One of the most common ways to deface the scenic backdrop of a town is through the disorderly installation of telecommunication antennae. Making them compact (so that they are installed in a single support located far from major landmarks) and working on them aesthetically would help to integrate them better into the visual background.

Safeguard the quality of visual landmarks and scenic backdrops

Some tools and measures that towns may implement include:

  • Generally avoiding the disfiguration of scenic backdrops and of scenic landmarks with geomorphic alterations, constructions, infrastructure and visual barriers in general whose size, volume, shape or colour considerably mar, distort or obstruct perceptions of the most interesting imagery of the town from the most accessible places and busiest stretches of road.
  • Using urban planning tools (POUMs, special plans, etc.) to preserve the landmarks and scenic backdrops of the town. Among other measures, this could entail:
  • Ordering new urban growth (residential, activity-related, service-related, etc.) considering the presence of scenic backdrops and landmarks.
  • Preventing new constructions from disfiguring the quality urban façades and unique silhouettes of some settlements.
  • Limiting the construction of tall and unique new buildings in parts of settlements that affect fields of vision or horizons and favouring projects that are integrated into the environment with quality design.
  • Finding alternative lines for laying down infrastructure and other barriers and establishing areas and strips of land with parameters that limit construction or non-construction.
  • Using a municipal urban development plan (POUM) to establish zones where special urban development plans must be drafted to preserve the most iconic visual landmarks and scenic backdrops of the town.
  • Preventing large advertising signs from affecting expansive views of basins and the most iconic visual landmarks and scenic backdrops.
  • Ensuring that new licenses for mining and quarrying activity are only granted on the condition that visual landmarks and scenic backdrops are preserved.

 

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