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Carlo Scarpa Prize goes to Berlin in 2022

Laura Puttkamer

For the first time in 25 years, the jury of the Carlo Scarpa Prize honours a park landscape in Germany.

 

The Entrance to the Natur Park Südgelände (Photo: Marco Zanin for Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche)

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For the first time in 25 years, the jury of the Carlo Scarpa Prize honours a park landscape in Germany.

The Carlo Scarpa Prize 2022 goes to Berlin’s Südgelände

The International Carlo Scarpa Prize, named after the Italian landscape architect, will go to the Natur Park Südgelände in Berlin in 2022. This is the first time in 25 years that a German park landscape has received the prize.

The Italian Benetton Study and Research Foundation, based in Treviso, announced the award on March 16, 2022 in Milan. The Carlo Scarpa Prize has been awarded annually since 1990. It recognises places special for their landscape architecture that relate nature-related, historical and design values. According to the foundation, the Natur Park Südgelände stands for Berlin’s special understanding of nature and represents a bridge between ecology, art, and urban culture.

Natur Park Südgelände was secured by the city of Berlin and developed and operated by the state-owned company Grün Berlin GmbH.

Christoph Schmidt, Managing Director Grün Berlin: “We are very pleased to receive the prestigious Carlo Scarpa Award. The linear Natur Park Südgelände is not only exemplary for the transformation of a former Berlin railroad line into a park. Opened in 1999 as a decentralised project of EXPO 2000 in Hanover, Schöneberg’s Südgelände is a mixture of wild nature, technical relics and art that can be experienced: a piece of urban nature that is inextricably linked to Berlin’s political, social and urban history.”

What used to be a marshalling yard is now a park landscape. (Photo: Marco Zanin for Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche)

Natur Park Südgelände

Luigi Latini, Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche, said, “The Natur Park Südgelände stands for an intensive mediation of a sense of nature, for memory culture, innovation and aesthetic research. Its history is understood as a key to a broader understanding of a city that has developed an extraordinary relationship with nature and conveys a particular idea of ‘urban nature’.”

In this context, Natur Park Südgelände also stands for the whole of urban nature in Berlin, far beyond the Tempelhof-Schöneberg district. This is because the site is part of a protected biotope network and open space system that runs for over eight kilometres as a linear area from north to south through Berlin.

The park area offers many opportunities for use and recreation, links important places in the city’s history and politics, and at the same time serves as a route for walking and cycling. It is located on the site of the former Tempelhof marshalling yard, which was shut down in 1952. Afterwards, nature reclaimed the tracks and station areas. To this day, the technical elements of the station can be seen here, as well as the environment and art. The wild nature is maintained by a team of gardeners as well as by Heidschnucken sheep. The area also includes the almost 5,000 square metre locomotive hall with water tower and bridge master’s office. It was renovated in accordance with the preservation order to become a cultural event and studio location.

The award: A detailed documentation of the park

The 2022 Carlo Scarpa Prize was awarded on the grounds that the Südgelände stands for “a sense of nature, memory culture, innovation and aesthetic research.” The core of the award is a scientific study of the award-winning landscape. This includes detailed documentation on the development and history of the site, photographic and scientific essays, interviews with the actors involved, and a documentary film. From May 2022, the documents will be published in English by the Benetton Foundation.

In its justification for the 2022 Carlo Scarpa Prize, the Foundation writes: “[…] because of the increasingly urgent need to see places as the result of shared experience and a site for the encounter of knowledge and listening, positioned between social environment and cultural debate, the Scientific Advisory Board of the Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche has decided to award the Carlo Scarpa Seal to three personalities who convey the spirit of this shared experience: The landscape planner Rita Suhrhoff (Grün Berlin, responsible for the park), the sculptor Klaus Duschat (Odious) and the ecologist and landscape planner Ingo Kowarik. In their hands, the prize is an expression of solidarity and recognition of all those whose work demonstrates the need to develop a conscious relationship with the earth, and who demonstrate their passionate pursuit of knowledge combined with a tireless desire to meet the highest aesthetic, ethical and ecological standards in the design of landscapes.”

All technical elements such as railroad tracks have been retained. (Photo: Marco Zanin for Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche)

The second Carlo Scarpa Prize for Germany

Natur Park Südgelände is only the second German winner of the Carlo Scarpa Prize. Before that, the Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Kingdom received the award in 1997. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other prize winners and research objects of the foundation are the Agdal Gardens of Marrakech (2000), the “Rose Valley Red Valley” in Cappadocia, Turkey (2020/21), and the tea gardens in Wuyuan, China (2019).

The Carlo Scarpa Prize is intended not only to highlight the landscape specificity and care of certain green spaces, but also to serve as an instrument to protect them in a sustainable way. Accordingly, the prize draws attention to the intellectual and manual tasks behind the creation and maintenance of a park. In addition, the committee looks for special projects that are thought-provoking and have sustainable concepts. It consists of an international team of architects, garden experts, agronomists, geographers, botanists, and historians. The seal of the award is based on a design by Carlo Scarpa himself (1906-1978).

If you would like to read about the previous Carlos Scarpa Prize Awardees, you can find an article on the 2019 winner here.

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