Last May we had the pleasure of being invited to the ELASA meeting in Matera organized by the Italian group.
As the SIP Forum, we follow the work that these young landscape students do during their European meetings. So we asked for a short report on the ELASA meeting held last summer.
As it has every year since 1990, ELASA (European Landscape Architecture Student Association) organized an annual meeting and a mini meeting in which students from all over Europe had the opportunity to work together and exchange ideas.
The ELASA 2019 annual meetingdi was held in Estonia and Finland, from 6 to 17 August. Around 40 students from 15 European countries took part, including three from Italy.
2019 was a year of firsts, not for Estonia which was hosting for the third time (the first was in 2000, the second in 2007), but for Finland (and also for Italy, which hosted the mini meeting in the spring), hosting for the first time since the association’s foundation. It is important to remember that this association, as well as the annual meetings, owes its existence entirely to the enthusiasm and commitment of the students who belong to it, who manage and organize everything themselves.
The meeting was titled “Finest Landscapes”: a play on words (‘finest’ consists of the first syllables of the names of the host nations FINland and ESTonia); the meeting was designed to trace the threads that hold together the fabric of the landscape, using the tools and the knowledge that every landscape architecture should know, as well as an invitation to look beyond appearances into the depths of the forest of contrasts, patterns, cultures, to discover the highest qualities of the landscape and those who work with it.
Turning to the various events that were organized during the meeting, many workshops were held and many places visited. Estonia is one of the greenest countries in Europe, with around 50% forest cover, and it proved to be the perfect destination for hikes and explorations of the wildlife, much of which is extinct in most European countries. Tallin, Tartu, Kreenholm, and Narva were the cities that hosted the meeting and the students had the opportunity to apply their knowledge in some very interesting projects, including a workshop to produce ideas and solutions for Tartu’s candidacy as Capital of culture in 2024 (a contest which it has won).
Many locations in Finland were also visited; while the untouched forest landscapes are in some ways very similar to those of Estonia, the Finnish landscapes offer something extra, which is water: indeed around 10% of its surface is covered by lakes.
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