River Landscaping in Third Modernity – Remaking Cosmopolitics in the Anthropocene

What is Cosmopolitical Design? Design, Nature and the Built Environment, Ashgate, Hampshire, UK, (2015)


Nature and society, town and country are opposites in appearance only; in the “cosmopolitics” of urban design they are entangled and recongured daily, as the history of urban river design illustrates. Considerable shifts in attitudes towards urban rivers have been observed in European cities. During industrialization and the process of urbanization, rivers dramatically changed their appearance and ecology, together with their place and role in society. They were subjected to urban growth, modern engineering, and the needs of transportation, power generation, water supply, and sewage (Castonguay and Evenden 2012). At the same time, early forerunners of environmentalism emerged and started politicizing the use and perception of rivers. Environmental changes in the course of industrial appropriation and remaking of river landscapes also explains why, as early as 1902, the Bavarian “Isartalverein,” one of the very rst nature conservation organizations, was founded by Munich architects and artists. Concerned urban residents wanted to protect the “nature” of the Isar River against further exploitation for hydropower, and started by building paths on the riverside in the south of Munich. A hundred years ago, the ways in which the “unspoilt” nature of the river and its banks were described already as matters of concern characterized by situated evaluation criteria, with the result that overall consensus could not be reached (Gribl 2002).



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