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Headlines Published on 15 June 2005

Title Austria takes stock of its cultural heritage

With support from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Viennese researchers have put the finishing touches on a 20-year project to document the small Alpine country’s historic gardens and heritage dating back five hundred years.  

Documenting five centuries of Austrian cultural heritage and historic gardens.©FWF
Documenting five centuries of Austrian cultural heritage and historic gardens.
Austrian researchers have closed the book on 20 years of investigation into the country’s centuries-old parks and gardens. This huge survey of Austria’s historic gardens had to be split into three volumes and would not have been possible without the help of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and Vienna University of Technology (VUT).

The three volumes are a consolidated basis for further scientific work, notes the research director and author, Professor Eva Berger of the Institute of Landscape Architecture and Garden Design (VUT) in a statement.

Parks and gardens are both places of respite in overcrowded cities and green areas for recreation and aesthetic pleasure. Yet, according to the authors, little attention has been paid to the cultural heritage aspect of these facilities in the scientific literature. Indeed, the European Union felt similarly when it set up its ‘City of tomorrow and cultural heritage’ key action in the previous Framework Programme for research (FP5).

This scheme aims to improve urban sustainability through delivering real, noticeable benefits to citizens throughout the EU by 2010. It focuses on four specific areas to achieve this; namely, city planning and management, cultural heritage, the built environment, and urban transport.

The publication, called Austrian parks and gardens from the Renaissance to 1930 , includes some 1 700 entries divided into three volumes according to regions in Austria. The focus is on institutional and residential parks that have undergone extensive manicuring over the years. Examples are drawn from ecclesiastical settings – monasteries and churches – as well as castles, city palaces, public parks and those built in, for example, hotels and administrative buildings.

Historical tome
The palatial gardens of the Belvedere in Vienna are prime examples of aristocratic garden design. Investigation of Belvedere’s history and changes spanning hundreds of years shed new insight into the aristocratic tastes of its inhabitants.

In the scope of the research project, Berger and her team drew on secondary literature on architectural and garden history for references to existing historic open spaces of well-known buildings. They also followed-up on folkloric tradition to unearth valuable evidence of Austria’s rich cultural heritage.

The FWF-funded project has produced a first for Austria, say the authors. It’s the most comprehensive nation-wide documentation of the this EU Member State’s garden culture and art. The books will serve as a benchmark for similar preservation and conservation measures of treasured national cultural heritage, the authors conclude.

Source:  Public Relations for R&D (Austria)

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More information:

  • Press release (FWF)
  • Çity of tomorrow and cultural heritage
  • Commissioner's speech on technology platforms (Rapid, 9 June 2005)

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