Werkstatt für Landschafts-
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to my home page.
You may find here details about my job history, work activities, publications and other items of interest. You may choose between English or German language. You may also be interested in various subjects displayed on the left hand side. It is intended to add further contributions of more general interest to this list, in future.
In detail, this internet presentation contains...
- a short description of my job history
- a list of selected projects
- a list of selected publications
- special literature on "landscape aesthetics"
- other persons` opinions (in German)
notes 'n news
Banalization of nature.
The planned expansion of wind energy according to the goals of the new red-yellow-green-government will trigger a gigantic aesthetic transformation of the landscapes in Germany. As Robert Habeck, the Minister of Economics, completely callously but quite correctly notes, ‘The face of the country will change’. Nature conservation in Germany is now seeing its decades-long obliviousness to aesthetics fall flat on its face. The following essay of W. Nohl ‘Banalization of Nature’ – Banalisierung der Natur –, which appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – FAZ – on March 10, 2022, reports on this as well as on the helpless piecemeal approaches of established conservationists and planners, and on the aesthetic consequences for the experience of landscapes in which nature can no longer be perceived as a resilient and sustainable life-basis.
Please, note: The full text - in original language - can be found in the German version of this homepage under Willkommen - Hinweise und Neuigkeiten
Landscape aesthetic experiences and ecological knowledge
In contrast to nature conservation movements in Germany which do not pay much attention to landscape aesthetics, the discipline of landscape aesthetics is considered in the English-speaking world to be quite an efficacious strategy for preserving and developing landscape and nature as part of human lifeworld. Most landscape aesthetic concepts start from the premise that the perceived landscape as well as knowledge the beholder brings to it participate in the generation of landscape aesthetic preferences and values. The paper below (“Landschaftsästhetisches Erleben und ökologisches Wissen” by Werner Nohl, published in: “Interpreting Landscape: interdisciplinary approaches”, edited by Kreisel, W., Marsden, P. H. & Reeh, T., ZELTForum, Bd. 11, Universitätsverlag Göttingen, 2021) elaborates how in this sense, ecological or sustainability concepts may enhance the aesthetic appreciation of a landscape, provided they are integrated in a more comprehensive process of gaining aesthetic experience, binding together form and content, perception and knowledge.
That’s nature!? – Landscape aesthetical experience and nature awareness in our society
The following paper of mine was read in November 2015 on the symposium: ’Nature Conservation in the wrong box? – A symposium about a nature conservation in transition’, hosted by the Michael-Otto-Foundation in Hamburg. Based on the fact that the many nature conservation strategies so far were not able to stop the growing biodiversity losses in Germany, a plea is made to activate people as a reliable future partner of nature conservation. Empirical studies reveal that people possess a strong and emotionally grounded nature awareness, which finds expression especially in people’s landscape aesthetical interests. The paper shows how these aesthetical interests can be accommodated, not least in the everyday landscape, thus gaining a powerful ally in the struggle for a more successful nature conservation.
Contemporary wind converters are not windmills – Why modern energy landscapes are not beautiful (Windkraftwerke sind keine Windmühlen – Warum moderne Energielandschaften nicht schön sind)
That’s the title of my contribution (p. 114 – 136) to the exiting reader “Sacrificed landscapes”, which reports copiously about the dark aspects of the energy turnaround in Germany, published by Heyne Press, Munich 2016. As human beings, that’s my thesis, we are not only mind, that brings forth culture and technology. We are also (part of) nature, thus dragged regularly into landscape where we can experience nature in best manifestation. This experience of nature will always be affiliated with aesthetic pleasure, provided the landscape will not be dominated by disproportionately large megastructures, which principally put into question the desired nature-character of landscape. That’s why modern 200 m high wind converters degrade nature-symbolic landscapes to trivial zones of energy industry, which are aesthetically rejected, as a rule.
Landscape scenery – an elixir of life. The relevance of landscape aesthetics today
Our understanding of landscape, its preservation and sustainable development is supplied by many sources, it is composed of economic, ecological, aesthetic, technical, urbanizational, recreational and many other aspects. Yet, aesthetics plays a special role, for people tend to cope with the everyday complexity of their environment and landscape by trying to approach them in an act of emotional-aesthetical appraisal, from the very first beginning. By doing so they do not perceive the landscape as it is, but as it appears to them, due to their sensory and intellectual abilities. It is the appearance of the landscape, its scenery, which underlays people’s aesthetical experiences, and which let them witness the landscape as a mirror of their soul.
The following kick-off speech “Landscape scenery – an elixir of life. The relevance of landscape aesthetics today”, given by Werner Nohl in the Naturerbe Zentrum (Nature Heretage Centre) in Binz on the Island of Rügen (Baltic Sea) in October 2019 traces the significance, the function, and the operation mode of landscape sceneries, in hopes that the presentation will counter the prevalent landscape aesthetic speechlessness and the landscape scenery oblivion in today’s politics and planning.
Modes of aesthetic experience in today´s landscapes
In response to the ubiquitous, overwhelming alterations of the landscape, predominately produced by intensified agriculture and forestry, the aesthetic forms of experiencing landscape have changed, too. In the past the “beautiful” was the basic mode, by which landescape was aesthetically perceived and experienced. However, the beautiful has lost this monopoly, meantime. – This paper, written by Werner Nohl, is based on a lecture given on a conference of the research institute ‘Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon’ in Zurich/Switzerland. It discusses new modes of landscape aesthetic experience like the “interesting” (typical of periurban landscapes), the “plain” (typical of intensively used landscapes) and the “fascinating” (typical of wild and/or sponntaneous landscapes), comparing them among themselves and with the “beautiful” (typical of traditional cultural landscapes). It appears that under present landscape conditions the new aesthetic modes often do not (yet) lead to optimal aesthetic experiences; but there are indications, too, that the chances for more sustainable – and that means – for aesthetically more attractive landscapes will grow in proportion to the emotional acceptance of the new modes of gaining landscape aesthetic experiences.
The Loss of Quietness
The supporters of the so-called “energy-turnaround” don’t get tired, to illustrate the benefit of regenerative energy (wind power, photovoltaics, biogas) especially with recourse to forecasts, the prognoses being more venturous the larger the period specified is. But they waste no words about the cultural, particularly landscape aesthetic losses, which these landscape-consuming forms of energy production cause. The following paper of mine “The loss of quietness”, published on April 21, 2014 in the Berlin blog ‘Klimaretter.info’, confronts the realistically expectable energetic benefit with the landscape aesthetic costs, to give an idea of the true magnitude of the cultural deletions, which this form of energy production entails.
Landscape and Health.
Landscape planning always considered landscape as a health resource. Now neighboring sciences (environmental sciences, medicine, hygiene, sociology, psychology) discover this field. And that`s alright. We need alliance partners, for landscape is used more and more as porter of technical large-scale infrastructure (traffic lines, power lines, wind farms, antennas etc.) How does this development get along with the health aspect?
The following paper by W. Nohl "Does the factor `health` fall by the wayside with regard to landscape?" deals with this conflict area. It was given on the symposium "Landscape and Health" of the Landschaftsverband Rheinland at the Thomas-Morus-Academy in Bensberg (published in: Landschaftsverband Rheinland (ed.), "Landschaft und Gesundheit", Beiträge zur Landesentwicklung, Vol. 62, 74-87. Köln 2010).
Regional Identity and landscape aesthetics
Regional identity is based on participatory dealings with physical, social or cultural peculiarities of a region, by which people may enable themselves to identify with that region. There is no doubt that language, history, cultural goods, typical agrarian and industrial products amongst many other things belong to these peculiarities. But almost always regional identity is sparked off by the landscape, too. Without the aesthetic pleasure aroused by the special character of the landscape the feeling of regional identity will scarcely occur. But landscapes are different, therefore the following paper which I have given on the congress of landscape conservation in Bergisch Gladbach nr. Cologne in 2011, and published in: "Kulturlandschaft und regionale Identität" (Landschaftsverband Rheinland/Deutscher Verband für Landschaftspflege, eds.), Arbeitsstudien, No. 40, 7 – 16, Köln 2012, tries to find out, what emotional-aesthetical identification processes will be evoked in traditional cultural landscapes, in intensified agrarian landscapes and other modern landscape types, and how these landscape types may aesthetically contribute to the development of regional identity.
Cornerstones of a cemetery culture for the Second Modern Age
Cemeteries in Germany aren’t self-evident places, any longer. In their continued orientation to the big central cemeteries, as they were often founded in late 19th century, they cannot meet the changing cultural and societal demands which people voice today regarding cemeteries as funeral and mourning places. Searching for marks of a new contemporary cemetery culture the following paper “Cornerstones of a cemetery culture for the Second Modern Age”, which is based on a lecture of mine in the working group “Cemetery Cologne”, leans on characteristics in present human mourning behavior. The paper was published in the internet by AETERNITAS, consumer organization for interment culture, Königswinter/Germany and can be downloaded there (see below: << further information; next: Wissenschaftliche Arbeiten finden; next: Bausteine für eine Friedhofskultur für die zweite Moderne) or directly here (see below: << download).
Conflicts of interests in the landscape - aesthetics and recreation
This paper of Werner Nohl is part of the book ´Stadt und Landschaft´ (City and Landscape), edited by H.-D. Collinet and F. Pesch. It was published in early 2009 in the Klartext Verlag, Essen. All contributions of the book are dealing with the functional and visual change of landscape in the contemporary urban development. The book is subdivided into three chapters: ´Transformation der Landschaft´ (transformation of landscape), ´Stadt und Freiraum´ (city and open spaces) and ´Stadt und Region´ (city and region). - The following text tries to show that with regard to conflicts between aesthetics and recreation in periurban landscapes successful problem solving strategies have to draw on various well-founded modi of landscape aesthetic experience, which in turn may be explained by the manifold differentiation of the contemporary landscape.
The landscape aesthetic impact of wind turbines
In the face of the present covering of huge landscape areas in Germany with wind turbines this contribution published by W. Nohl in March 2010 in the journal "Schönere Heimat" of the Bavarian Association for the protection of home tries to find an answer to the question, what role the aesthetic-legal context plays in which the erection of wind turbines is embedded. Responding to that question the nature protection law and the building law are critically discussed. On the other hand the many landscape aesthetic damages of wind turbines are described in detail, in order to demonstrate that qualified landscape aesthetic concepts can be used to overcome the empty phrases and vague terms in the law as well as the often doubtful practice of authorities and courts.
Order form for the purchase of the new book "Landschaftsästhetik heute. Auf dem Wege zu einer Landschaftsästhetik des guten Lebens" (Landscape aesthetics today. Towards a landscape aesthetics of good life) by Werner Nohl
The book may be ordered in any bookstore (ISBN 078-3-86581-712-9). Or you may use the attached order form.
Evaluation of landscape sceneries as component in the process of calculating the landscape compensation for the erection of wind turbines - possibilities and limitations
Landscape sceneries belong to the finite resources and as such they are precious goods. Therefore the German laws of nature conservation prescribe to avoid, to reduce and to compensate damages of landscape sceneries, if necessary. These regulations affect wind turbines among many other constructions in the landscape.To figure out the necessary landscape compensation various evaluation models have been worked out, over the years. My own procedures for determining the amount of compensation in case of the erection of high-rise constructions like wind turbines in the landscape (Nohl, 1993) are employed in many Federal States, today.
In this lecture, held at the department of Geo-Sciences at the Eberhard Karls Univerity of Tübingen/Germany in January 2017, I develop a critical look at my own approaches, especially with regard to the landscape aesthetic destructive potential of modern wind turbines. Suggestions of improvement are made, too.
Further loss of grassland - consequences for landscape scenery
Recently, a massive turn-over of grassland into fields has been observed in the Federal Republic of Germany. The reason is the cultivation of plants for energy generation, particlarly of maize (corn). Biogas plants are no longer operated with dung, liquid manure, sludge, and plant material which stems from the everyday cultivation. However, to lay out fields for energy crops in flood lands or other non-arable areas points to the abandonment of "best practices" in agriculture, and will entail tremendous consequences on landscape scenery. The following article is based on a paper lecured by Werner Nohl in the International Academy for Nature Protection on the Island of Vilm (nr. Ruegen). It discusses the importance of grassland for the aesthetic experience of landscape and elaborates the role of grassland-rich landscapes for nature oriented recreation and tourism in Germany.
The role of memory in landscape aesthetic experiences
Without memory of landscape and the mental concepts, values and emotions associated with it, landscape aesthetic experiences are not possible. Whether it is the current aesthetic pleasure of a presently experienced landscape, in which "perceptual beauty" finds its expression; the aesthetic anticipation, in which "imaginative beauty" is effective; or the aesthetic resonance, in which "memory beauty" manifests itself, the memory of the beholder always plays a decisive role in the aesthetic experience of landscape. Accordingly, in the following article by W. Nohl "Landscape aesthetic experiences - on the meaning of memory" (Landschaftsästhetische Erlebnisse - zur Bedeutung der Erinnerung), printed in Naturschutz Magazin, Vol. 3, No. 1, 38 -45, 2021, it is deepened how influencial the memory in landscape aesthetics is in addition to further psychological aspects like perception, thinking, imagining, feeling and valuing.