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81. Abril-juny 2024
Quarterly Bulletin of the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia

Back to the convention

Riccardo Priore
Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe Landscape Convention

In 2006, I was invited by the then Director of the Observatory, Joan Nogué, to write a text, as an 'Observer', on the first issue of Landscap-e. As a civil servant of the Council of Europe, I had the privilege to coordinate the drafting of the European Landscape Convention, including the intergovernmental negotiations for its adoption and opening for signature in Florence on 20 October 2000. I devoted my time and energy in 2006 to developing a co-operation network that could facilitate the implementation of the Convention, both at academic level and in collaboration with local and regional authorities.

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The public exhibition period of the Penedès Landscape Catalog is extended

The public exhibition phase of the Landscape Catalog of Penedès is extended until June 7. In this phase, citizens can leave the suggestions, proposals and observations they consider appropriate to the document previously approved on February 6, 2024 by the Department of Territory. The Landscape Observatory had delivered a first version of the Catalog in June 2022 to the General Directorate of Spatial Planning, Urbanism and Architecture (DGOTUA) of the Department of Territory and, from that moment, there was a review joint work between the DGOTUA and the Observatory which lasted several months in order to fit the Catalog and the Territorial Plan of Penedès, especially in relation to the integration of landscape quality objectives. The Penedès is made up of 16 landscape units, which confirm its diversity and landscape richness.

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The publication Repensant els jardins històrics is now available

With the support of the Catalan Ministry of Culture, the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia has just published the book Repensant els jardins històrics. El passat en el present (“Rethinking historical gardens: the past in the present”). It is the eighth volume of the “Reflexions” series of the “Plecs de Paisatge” collection and includes most of the presentations from the international seminar organised by the Landscape Observatory with the support of the Catalan Ministry of Culture’s General Directorate of Cultural Heritage in Olot in 2022. Historical gardens play a crucial role in current discussions about landscape quality and management. In addition to the gardens recognised in the official catalogues, Catalonia has many others with significant values that often have little or hardly any protection and are sometimes in danger of disappearing. They are gardens that must be acknowledged for their values and their identity creation with tools adapted to contemporary times. The book can be downloaded forfree in the Landscape Observatory webpage.

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Academics, professionals and artists debate the role of color in the perception, management and intervention in the landscape at the "Landscape and Color" Conference

On 5 April, the seminar “El paisatge i el color. Percepció, significats i intervenció" (Landscape and colour: perception, meanings and intervention) was held in Olot. It was organised by the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia, with the support of Bòlit, Centre d’Art Contemporani and Olot City Council and in cooperation with the Catalan Ministry of Territory’s General Directorate of Spatial Planning, Urban Development and Architecture, the Professional Architects’ Association of Catalonia’s Demarcation of Girona, the Fundació Fita and the Art School of Olot. The seminar brought together around 70 attendees who discussed how we can read the colours of the landscape and use colour when planning. Videos of the seminar will soon be available on the Landscape Observatory website. Three exhibitions linked to the theme complemented the seminar: “Desenfocar l'ànecdota” (“Taking focus off the anecdote”) by Espai Nyamnyam at the La Garrotxa Museum, “Apories sobre l’aire” (“Aporiae on the air”) by Bòlit in Girona and “Horitzó 256” (“Horizon 256”) by the Art School of Olot at Espai Cràter in Olot.

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The Territorial Commission of Catalonia approves criteria for implementing wind farms in Catalonia with the Landscape Observatory’s involvement

On 4 April, the Territorial Commission of Catalonia, a collegiate body of the Generalitat of Catalonia competent in matters of territorial policy and urban planning, approved the document “Criteris per a la implantació de parcs eòlics a Catalunya” (“Criteria for implementing wind farms in Catalonia”). The document establishes a set of criteria that serve as a guide for both town councils and planning commissions to interpret the regulations and follow uniform and consistent guidelines in accordance with the particularities of each place. Thus, the document starts out by specifying that “although the territory is made up of various social, cultural, environmental, landscape-related and economic components, the proposed criteria are limited to landscape-related aspects, since that is the subject in which they have competence”. The Landscape Observatory was part of the working group that drafted this document and also contributed map information from the landscape catalogues.

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Brittany publishes the first regional landscape and well-being survey

Since this month of April, the French region of Brittany has had a survey at a regional scale in France on the perception of landscapes by its inhabitants which makes it possible to have data on the appreciation of their everyday landscapes: urban, peri-urban, rural, forest, coastal, etc. The results of the survey, carried out since 2022 by the Region of Brittany, the DREAL Brittany, and the Observatory of the Environment of Brittany, have been published in the document "Well-being and Breton landscapes", and it becomes the first survey on a regional scale in France on this subject and is at the same time a pioneer in Europe. The survey gathered almost 2,300 responses from a representative sample geographically, demographically, socio-professionally or by gender, among others. The results constitute very valuable information for regional and local authorities to implement actions that take into account citizens' perceptions and aspirations in relation to their landscapes.

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The Ministry of Culture invites the Landscape Observatory to revise the National Cultural Landscape Plan

The Ministry of Culture is revising the current National Cultural Landscape Plan, approved on 5 October 2012. It has created two working groups to do so, involving the director of the Landscape Observatory, Pere Sala i Martí. The revision began last February and the work will continue over the next few months. The overall objective of the National Cultural Landscape Plan it to “safeguard landscapes of cultural interest, understood as action aimed at guaranteeing the viability of these landscapes, including their identification, characterisation, documentation, research, protection, improvement and revitalisation”. The Catalan Ministry of Culture’s General Directorate of Cultural Heritage is also participating in the revision of the National Cultural Landscape Plan.

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Final weeks of the exhibition “Two stones: persistent landscapes” at Palau Robert, Barcelona

The exhibition “Two stones: persistent landscapes” can be seen for free in rooms 1 and 2 at Palau Robert until 2 June 2024. The exhibition aims to show the richness and diversity of landscapes structured with dry stone to highlight this millennial and universal technique and to lay claim to its validity and persistence. At the enf of April, the exhibition had already received more than 40.000 visitors. The initiative was launched by the General Directorate of Diffusion in collaboration with the Catalan Ministry of Culture’s General Directorate of Popular Culture and Cultural Associations and was produced by the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia. A series of complementary activities have been organised for the exhibition. Catalonia is one of the richest areas in the world in dry stone constructions. Dry stone not only represents one of the most characteristic features of our landscapes and an extraordinary heritage, but is, above all, a true source of inspiration and an exceptional container of those values that will serve us so well to face the challenges of today's world. [+]

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A new CCCB exhibition delves into the landscapes of the periphery

The Center for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) deals with the urban and social complexity of the residential neighborhoods of the periphery in the exhibition “Suburbia. Building the American dream", inaugurated on March 20, 2024 and which can be visited until September 8. In recent decades, cities have overflowed as a result of intense dynamics of globalization, metropolization and diffuse urbanization, and the peripheries have been expanding with little or no concern for the quality of the resulting landscape nor for its efficiency in the face of a model of sustainable society. The exhibition - and its catalog - is nourished by abundant historical material, period documentaries, photographs, paintings, films and series, novels and magazines, works of art or everyday objects, to reflect on the value of the city and public space today. Various complementary activities have been organised, including the Seminar "Life in Europe's urban sprawl", in which the director of the Landscape Observatory participates.

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The CADS and the Nature Protection Council publish a document on Criteria and proposals for the implementation of renewable energies compatible with the conservation and sustainable use of the natural environment and landscape

The Advisory Council for the Sustainable Development (CADS) and the Nature Protection Council (CPN) organised a two-session working seminar to identify criteria and solutions to make the regional implementation of renewable energies compatible in Catalonia with the conservation and sustainable use of the natural environment and the landscape. Over 40 people with different professional profiles participated in the sessions. The document can be viewed here. It states that the landscape is not a simple aesthetic issue, but that it integrates a great diversity of values, and that the social conflicts associated with the implementation of renewable energy infrastructures are usually related to the values of landscape identity. The document is full of criteria and proposals, including the idea that the landscape unit (result of the landscape catalogs of Catalonia) take on more strength as an action unit when establishing the network of energy transition advice offices promoted by the Catalan Energy Institute (ICAEN).

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The website of the Landscape Observatory launches a new design and functionalities

During the month of March, the Landscape Observatory launched a new website, which has completely renewed the design of the previous one and incorporated new functionalities. We have tried to offer a website that is more intuitive, interactive and suitable for all types of devices. Secure page SSL web certificate has also been achieved. The contents have been reorganized with the aim of accessing them in a more intuitive, orderly and direct way. In this sense, the new menu The landscape in Catalonia stands out, which includes everything that exists in the field of landscape policies in our country. Here you can find landscape catalogs, landscape guidelines, maps and landscape plans, the map of landscape units, landscape criteria for local policies and existing landscape legislation in Catalonia, among others information. There is also a _Landscape resources _section which, as the name suggests, collects a lot of resources, tools and projects from around the world that may be of interest to work on the landscape. Likewise, it is also worth noting the new direct access to the Collection of the Observatory's Documentation Center and to the complete content of all the Observatory's Publications.

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Viu el paisatge. Alt Empordà

Website on the landscapes of Alt Empordà (based on the landscape units of the Landscape Catalog of the Comarques Gironines) and various projects to enhance them, prepared by the Regional Council.

Arxiu d'Imatges 'Landscape and color'
Oriol Clavera Observatori del Paisatge de Catalunya Jordi Grau
Claudia Misteli Jordi Bas Observatori del Paisatge de Catalunya
Joan Sotillos Saenz Observatori del Paisatge de Catalunya Joan Sorolla
Laura Rangil Garro Sara Boldú Botam Jordi Salinas
Francesc Muntada Rafael López-Monné Carmen Huerta Martin
Borja Ballbé Pere Sala i Martí Borja Ballbé
Rosa Ferreres Plans Observatori del Paisatge de Catalunya Àngela Llop Farré
Els nous paisatges energètics

Nogué, Joan; Vila, Xavier (ed.). Banyoles: Centre d'Estudis Comarcals de Banyoles. (Quaderns; 43). Available here.

Notebook number 43 of the Banyoles Regional Studies Centre focuses on the impact of new energy infrastructure on the territory and the landscape and the changes it will bring about in how people produce, consume and live. The book includes sociologist Ramon Folch’s opening speech for the 28th Autumn Colloquium in 2022 and the talk by Pere Sala I Martí, director of the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia.

Pasea y ojea. Monográfico critico y especial

Clara Nubiola. Madrid: Libros del KO, 2024. ISBN: 978-84-19119-62-9.

In this publication, artist Clara Nubiola adopts the enthusiastic and idealised language of travel magazines, but overloads it to highlight the urban problems and discomfort behind so many slogans. Do not expect any learned reflections or taciturn musings, because Pasea y ojea (“Stroll and glance”) is a celebration more than anything. Though set in Barcelona, it could take place in any other city.

Cultivating continuity of the European Landscape. New Challenges, Innovative Perspectives

Mauro Agnoletti, Saša Dobričič, Tessa Matteini, Juan Manuel Palerm (eds). Cham: Springer, 2024. This volume reviews 20 years of studies as part of the European Landscape Convention. The many contributions to the book, exemplifying European internationalisation and interdisciplinarity, are organised into three main areas: landscape policy and governance, landscape design and time and landscape observation. One of the authors is the director of the Landscape Observatory, Pere Sala i Martí.

Topofilia: El paisaje y sus relaciones: política, salud y patrimonio biocultural

Martín Checa. Available here Today’s cities undergo certain urban processes that tend to exacerbate the problems, citizen unrest, growing inequalities and forms of exclusion that define the most recent urban scenario. The aim of this volume is to present studies and research that reflect and analyse these problems of the contemporary city.

Architettura del paesaggio. Paesaggi fantasma / Ghost Landscapes

Anna Lambertini (dir.). núm. 46 (2023)

This monographic study of the journal Architettura del Paesaggio is dedicated to the central theme of the IFLA Europe congress, held in Naples in October 2023, on “lost landscapes”. However, the journal provides other complementary interpretations. Pere Sala i Martí, the director of the Landscape Observatory, and Gemma Bretcha, the head of its Documentation Centre, contributed to this issue.

Manual practico para a integración ambiental e paisaxística da reestruturación parcelaria en Galicia

Santiago de Compostela: Xunta de Galicia, 2023. ISBN: 978-84-09-5471-8.

The purpose of this manual is to develop a practical methodology for restructuring plots of land with a more comprehensive vision, where landscape conservation is an added value in the entire process. Available here.


Juan Sánchez. Barcelona: Ediciones Anómalas, 2023. ISBN: 978-84-09-52746-5.

Photographer Juan Sánchez shows us La Panadella, a rural village on a hilltop 710 meters above sea level, between the basins of the Llobregat and Segre rivers. It has always been a place of passage, towards the plateau, France and the coastal cities... It marks a border between regions and different people, a place so real that playing fantasy seems pointless.

Arrels: Pedra seca

Anna llacher (ed.). [S.l.]: Abacus, 2024.

This is a special issue of the magazine Arrels published to coincide with the exhibition “Two stones. Persistent landscapes”, dedicated to the same theme. Dry stone is part of the rural architectural legacy of the Mediterranean basin and uniquely of Catalonia, which is why both the exhibition and this special issue of Arrels analyse its implications for the landscape, the economy and biodiversity in Catalonia.

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