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Csepely-Knorr, L., 2012.

Public parks: Reflections of social and cultural transitions in the urban environment

Output Type:Conference paper
Publication:49th World Congress of the International Federation of Landscape Architects, IFLA 2012
Pagination:pp. 113-127

Social and philosophical movements have always influenced the development of landscape architecture theory. Parallel to the architectural ensembles, private gardens reflected the ideology of their commissioners. By opening these lands to a selected group of visitors, owners desired to educate them through the "most effective art", both in terms of aesthetics and history (LIKACHEV 1963). The appearance of the theory of public parks was at the same time result of the philosophical principles of the Enlightenment and the enormous growth of cities. The aim of creating these spaces, for the first time in the history of garden art, expressed the needs of people from every layer of society. By doing so, and by placing social thinking into the focus of the planning process, they echoed the aims of the general public. As a consequence of the broader community as a commissioner, political and social changes can be traced on public park theory more clearly than on any other type of designed landscapes. Historical changes of the 19th and 20th centuries did not leave untouched the parks built in previous periods, and the various social and ideological transitions are reflected in the different layers of our public parks. Changes in the spatial structure and monumental programs of parks reiterated the altering aims and principles of the community. Through the detailed analysis of the history of the iconic Hungarian public park, 'Gellérthegy' in Budapest, together with its precedents and forerunners, this paper aims to map the traces of the social and political transitions on the structure and meaning of the park. As a result of this examination this paper will argue that public parks can be seen as Lieux de mémoire (NORA 1989), and their 'identity value' needs to be preserved to achieve successful reconstructions (JACQUES 2000).