Landscape Architecture Lab Bergamo

Maurizio Vegini wants to make Bergamo both a centre of the landscape and of landscape architecture. With this goal in mind, and with a lot of idealism, the Italian landscape architect, who both lives and works in Bergamo, launched the roughly three-week long event I Meastri del Paesaggio in 2011. This September he and the Lombardy Region successfully enticed numerous tourists and professionals to visit the northern Italian city for the seventh time. This is good for Bergamo’s sense of pride, as much of the time it remains in the shadow of the design metropolis Milan, which is only 50 km away. This situation is unjust, however, and not only because of this event, which lends the city a very lively and yet relaxed atmosphere for couple of weeks. With its surrounding countryside and the two very different parts of the city Città Alta and Città Bassa (the upper and lower city), Bergamo is the right setting to provide landscape architecture with the attention it deserves, but which it has not yet been given in Italy. This is the case even after the numerous landslides and floods the country has experienced in recent years.

Motto 2017: Cool Landscapes

“Cool Landscapes” was therefore a suitably chosen theme for I Maestri del Paessagio 2017. The idea was conceived by the Dutch landscape architect Lodewijk Baljon, who was entrusted with the temporary redesign of the Piazza Vecchi in the historic upper city by Vegini and his team from Arketipos (an association specially created to organise the event). With approximately 60 weather balloons hovering over the plaza and huge block of ice, which melted faster than the event lasted, Baljon wanted to highlight, among other things, climate change and the global warming associated with it. But his design of the plaza also did justice to the second meaning of “cool” (in the sense of fashion, appearance, attitude and style): For the duration of the temporary redesign the Piazza Vecchia was transformed into an incredibly attractive and relaxed place that was used during the day as well as in the evening by both young and old.

A meeting of masters

And yet I Meastri del Paesaggio also had more on offer: Numerous workshops, discussions about the landscape and exhibitions spread over the 18 days of the event and throughout the entire city, as well as a summer school and, as a fitting culmination, a 1-1/2 day-long international meeting at which numerous masters of landscape architecture came together, including Baljon, Thorbjörn Andersson from Sweden, Walter Hood from the USA, Perry Lethlean from Australia, Michel Pena from France and Filippo Piva from Italy. They talked professionally and entertainingly about both old and new projects and provided the nearly 300 listeners with a great deal of inspiration in the impressive setting of the former convent Sant Agostina, which has been converted into a university.

For three weeks a year Vegini is very successful in making Bergamo a centre of relevant landscape-related topics. With the support of the Lombardy Region and the goal of establishing a masters program in landscape architecture in Bergamo, this will hopefully be the case in the future as well.