Greater awareness of landscape qualities

Editorial by Franziska Schwarz, Vice Director FOEN

Franziska Schwarz

Every time I travel to Zurich, I savour the openness of the landscape. To me, having grown up in the city on the Limmat, the lake and the wide vistas mean home. In Bern, I alwaysfeel slightly hemmed in: its arcades are like a lid above my head and the north face of the Eiger feels just a little too close. For others, the reverse may be true: Bern’s cosiness winning out over Zurich’s slightly distant air. Yet most people would agree that diverse and distinctive landscapes are both a characteristic feature of Switzerland and one ofits greatest assets.

However, while all of us would like to live in beautiful surroundings, the landscape and its quality inevitably come under pressure from the demands that we place on it. Our dreamsof owning a home with a garden all too often result in frayed and amorphous settlements, and a haphazard look to the landscape. Moreover, in a world of increasingly standardised buildings and nondescript settlements that could be anywhere, we have a yearning for the individual, for things that have evolved in a particular region.

Of course, the solution cannot be to stand still. The landscape must be allowed to develop, but its qualities need to be conserved, and even, where possible, enhanced. This requires skill and expertise – and a well-thought-out approach. The Swiss Landscape Concept (SLC) provides a basis for exactly that, one of its aims being to promote landscape diversityby enhancing regional landscape character and advocating site-appropriate land use.

Switzerland owes a lot to its beautiful landscapes. Here I am thinking less of the tourist hotspots that draw people from all over the world, and more of the well-designed, people-friendly urban landscapes and settlement edges that provide most of us with a high quality of day-to-day life. To preserve the advantages conferred by Swiss landscapes, all those who shape them need to have the awareness and competence to act appropriately. Promoting these is a stated aim of the SLC, and of this dossier, which I hope you will find both interesting and useful!

Last modification 02.09.2020

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