A TABLE FOR EIGHT: Landscape conversations

The event:

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche, last 21st of October 2017, a landscape conference and debate day was celebrated. The event took place in the auditory of the Foundation based in Treviso, from 10.00 to 18.00h.

The director of our Master, Jordi Bellmunt, attended the event as was one of the rapporteurs.


Under the title “Table for eight”, proposed for this 30th anniversary, the Foundation aims to evoke the round table celebrated in Amsterdam in 1966 on the occasion of a conference of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) where the role of the landscape architect was defined as we know it nowadays. That original meeting was attended by influential figurers in the field of Landscape Architecture, such as Lewis Mumford, Geoffrey Jellicoe, Lawrence Halprin and Francisco Cabral.

Treviso’s “Table for eight” aims at drawing inspiration from the most original contribution of that even now regarded as historical. That is, the piece written by Jellicoe the title of which is precisely A Table for Eight.

The “table” described by Jellicoe was imagined as a device for eight different people to speak their minds, eight “crafts” that engage in conversation seeking to understand the cultural and social role attributed to landscape architects at the time.

The goal:

“In a profoundly change society that it is hoped will keep looking at landscape as a possible cultural beacon and benchmark, we are seizing the opportunity to make use of this indication to build a table similar to the original 1966 one”, says Luigi Latini, president of Fondazione Benetton’s Scientific Committee.

“This time, to discuss the objectives of our work and the boundaries of potential shared ground. It will be an opportunity for in-depth analysis, but above all, an opportunity to celebrate together thirty years of the Foundation’s work, pointing out its accrued specific features, outlook and objectives shared with other roles and institutions. We will therefore ask –like Jellicoe did in his imaginary table –eight notable people to talk about their work and research experience, motivated by the same wish for delving deep into the topic of landscape. The dialogue we are fostering unfolds as an exchange between contributions that today are believed to be essential to guide innovative research and analysis in this work field, which in the Foundation’s vocabulary is defined as striving for “studying and caring for places”.


The result:

The event started with a talk by:

  • Domenico Luciani (architect, director of the Foundation from 1987 to 2009), with an analysis on the meaning of landscape “management”, retracing the spirit of the Foundation’s work.
  • Juan Manuel Palerm Salazar (architect, professor at the University of Las Palmas and chairman of Uniscape), who broadened the picture to include topics related to the European Landscape Convention.
  • Jordi Bellmunt (architect and landscaper, director of the Landscape Biennial of Barcelona), tackled the topic of knowledge and the need for communication in the field on landscape with a conference held under the heading of “Disseminating knowledge, the endeavour of the Landscape Biennial of Barcelona”.
  • Henri Bava (Agence Ter, Paris) contributed with his practical experience.

After a brief break, which included a visit through the Foundation’s building, the afternoon went on with lectures given by:

  • Maria Teresa Andresen (landscape designer and garden historician, Scientific Committee of the Benetton Foundation), who introduced the topic of Heritage in its intersections with the sphere of landscape.
  • Marco Navarra (architect, senior lecturer at the University of Catania), who reflected on the contribution that a field such as architecture may offer to the contemporary debate on the topic.
  • Massimo Venturi Ferriolo (philosopher, Scientific Committee of Fondazione Benetton) in the domain of philosophy added to this dialogue.
  • Gilles Tiberghien (professor at the Sorbonne University and École Nationale du Paysage of Versailles), a scholar who had long been reflecting on the relationship between landscape and art.

 The session finished with a debate with the active involvement of the Scientific Committee of Fondazione Benetton.