Poetic landscape

© Peter Zumthor (courtesy of the artist)

I’ve been trying to define a type of landscape in my classes of Landscape Aesthetics from my personal objects of desire and research which, in turn, have lead me to think about what might be a poetic landscape. 

The name came from a project that Peter Zumthor had made in collaboration with a literature group in Detmold in the years of 1998 and 1999. It began with an idea of Brigitte Labs-Ehlert (responsible for the literature group in Detmold and for the preface of Peter Zumthor’s book Atmospheres) inviting several writers and poets, like Peter Waterhouse, Michael Hamburger and Yoko Tawada, to write a poem for a particular place in the countryside, near the town of Bad Salzuflen, in Germany. Then, several architects were invited to the sites chosen by the writers to create buildings to house the poems written about them. The main idea was that a certain feature of the countryside, a special place, would be interpreted in both literary and architectural form. And both interpretations could be experienced as one at the same place. Several places of this kind, near each other, would form a “Poetic Landscape” which could be explored on foot. However, the district government changed from one party to another and the project died. “Or did it really?”, asks Peter Zumthor.

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Release of "on the surface"