Walking, Writing, Designing: The Author Peter Handke and his Influence on Three Swiss Landscape Architects

Three Swiss landscape architects of international renown claim that Peter Handke (b. 1942) has crucially influenced their design work: George Descombes (b. 1948), Dieter Kienast (1945–1998) and Günther Vogt (b. 1957).  Movement in space is a central motif in Handke’s work, whereby his observations and descriptions focus especially on the margins of urban space.  Walking in the city, out into the periphery, crisscrossing and passing through nature are frequently recurring motifs.  At such moments, Handke finds a “legibility” and “experienceability” of landscape that corresponds to his poetic ideal, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2019.  Anette Freytag’s lecture shows how Handke, who found his way to a phenomenological aesthetic in the late 1970s and the three landscape architects aimed to uncover an experience of an existing landscape that is, however, only manifested through form.

About Anette Freytag
Anette Freytag is a Professor of the History and Theory of Landscape at Rutgers University. She is a graduate of the University of Vienna and the ETH Zurich. Her research focuses on 19th- and 20th-century landscape architecture.  Her quest is to bridge the gap between landscape history and contemporary practice. She holds the ETH Medal for Outstanding Scientific Research and was awarded the Theodor Fischer Prize 2012 for Outstanding Research on the Architecture of the 19th and 20th Centuries, the DAM Architectural Book Award 2016, the German Garden Book Award 2016 and the European Garden Book Award 2019. Before joining Rutgers University in 2016, Anette Freytag taught undergraduate and graduate students at various European universities including the ETH Zurich, the University of Basel, the University of Innsbruck, and the KU Leuven. Her latest book The Landscapes of Dieter Kienast was published by gta/ETH Zurich in January 2021.