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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Germany : Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz (2000)


The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is an exceptional example of landscape design and planning of the Age of the Enlightenment, the 18th century. Its diverse components - outstanding buildings, landscaped parks and gardens in the English style, and subtly modified expanses of agricultural land - serve aesthetic, educational, and economic purposes in an exemplary manner.



Long Description

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is an outstanding example of the application of the philosophical principles of the Age of the Enlightenment to the design of a landscape that integrates art, education and economy in a harmonious whole.
The first essays in landscape design began with the foundation of Oranienbaum, with its unified layout of town, palace, and park from 1683 onwards. The resulting complete Baroque ensemble, with obvious Dutch connections deriving from its designer, Cornelis Ryckwaert, has survived to the present day. Further developments on these lines took place around 1700 with the reclamation of marshy areas along the Elbe and the creation of planned villages and farmsteads. During the reign of Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau (1740-1817), an extensive landscape design project was begun around 1765 over the entire principality. This ambitious programme was launched in close collaboration with the architect and art theorist Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff (1736-1800). Landscape design, public education, and encouragement of the arts were closely integrated in this scheme. Wörlitz became the point of departure for wide-ranging improvements based on English landscape gardens and neoclassical architecture.
This unified scheme of buildings, gardens, and works of art, with a pervasive educational theme became the outward expression of the Enlightenment. Schloss Wörlitz was built in 1769-73 and it was the first neoclassical building in Germany. The Gothic House (1774) established a vogue for Gothic Revival buildings all across Europe. A number of other landscape projects in the principality date from this period. One of the most innovatory was the Chinese garden at Oranienbaum (1790), based on the theories of the English architect Sir William Chambers.
The roads and dykes that were essential for infrastructural development were planted with avenues of fruit trees, giving them an ornamental aspect. By the time Prince Franz died in 1817 virtually the entire principality had become a unified garden. Despite industrialization and the consequent expansion of Dessau since 1900, the characteristic features of the landscape have been preserved.
The Garden Kingdom lies in the meadow landscape of the rivers Elbe and Mulde, the floodplains of which reach in places to the parklands. The core of the Garden Kingdom is the historic gardens, with their buildings and sculpture. In addition to the historic garden enclosures, neoclassical and neo-Gothic structures such as dyke watchtowers, hostelries, statues and bridges are to be found widely distributed, acting as key features of the landscape. The agricultural areas, such as fields, meadows, and orchards, have been improved by ornamental tree plantings, so as to enhance the aesthetic appearance of the landscape.
The western group consists of the Kühnauer Park, the Georgium, and the Beckerbruch. The Kühnauer Park, on the southern shore of the Kühnauersee, is a narrow elongated garden laid out in 1805 with views over the lake and its islands. Its orchards and vineyard have been partially restored. The main viewpoint is the Vineyard House, an Italianate classical building of 1818-20. Other buildings are the neoclassical Schloss Kühnau (c . 1780) and the Romano-Byzantine Church (1828-30). The Georgium or Georgengarten is a small neoclassical country house surrounded by a garden of 21.3 ha in the English style.
The garden contains a number of buildings and monuments, including the Roman Ruin and an open rotunda temple. The adjacent area of the Beckenbruch was left relatively untouched as a landscape of marsh and meadows, with a few statues and small structures inserted into it. It is designed so as to merge gradually into the Georgengarten. The central group is made up of the Luisium, the Sieglitzer Berg, the Tiergarten (part), and the villages of Mildensee and Waldersee. A wetland to the north-east of Dessau forms part of this group. The area of meadows in the bend of the Mulde was originally part of the system of dykes surrounding Dessau, laid out as garden scenery; it is now the Schillerpark.
Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC

Historical Description

The region between Dessau and Wörlitz has been settled since prehistory. Dessau later became one of the earliest centres of the Lutheran Reformation. A dynastic marriage in 1658 brought Anhalt-Dessau into close cultural and commercial contact with the Netherlands, and dikes were constructed along the Elbe by Dutch engineers, to reduce the periodic flooding. Tobacco growing and glass making became established in the region.
The first essays in landscape design began with the foundation of Oranienbaum, with its unified layout of town, palace, and park from 1683 onwards. The resulting complete Baroque ensemble, with obvious Dutch connections deriving from its designer, Cornelis Ryckwaert, has survived to the present day. Further developments on these lines took place around 1700 with the reclamation of marshy areas along the Elbe and the creation of planned villages and farmsteads.
During the reign of Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau (1740-1817), an extensive landscape design project was begun around 1765 over the entire principality. The ruler had paid several visits to England, the Netherlands, and Italy, and his ambitious programme was launched in close collaboration with the architect and art theorist Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff (1736-1800). Landscape design, public education, and encouragement of the arts were closely integrated in this scheme.
Wörlitz became the point of departure for wide-ranging improvements based on English landscape gardens and Neo- Classical architecture. Over the four decades starting in 1764, 112.5ha of landscape garden, the first in continental Europe, were laid out. It was a unified scheme of buildings, gardens, and works of art, with a pervasive educational theme (influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Johann Bernhard Basedow) and model working practices. It became the outward expression of the Enlightenment.
Schloss Wörlitz was built in 1769-73 and was open to visitors from the outset; it was the first Neo-Classical building in Germany, two generations before Karl Friedrich Schinkel. The Gothic House (1774) established a vogue for Gothic Revival buildings all across Europe. The influence of the Wörlitz buildings can be detected in the architecture and landscape design of, for example, Weimar, Berlin, Potsdam, Braunschweig, Gotha, and elsewhere.
A number of other landscape projects in the principality date from this period. One of the most innovatory was the Chinese garden at Oranienbaum (1790), based on the theories of the English architect Sir William Chambers. A dense network of sightlines and avenues progressively connected the various gardens and their buildings. At the same time the agricultural use of the countryside was integrated with the gardens, drawing the aesthetic, educational, and economic aspects of the entire landscape into a coherent whole. The roads and dikes that were essential for infrastructural development were planted with avenues of fruit trees, giving them an ornamental aspect.
By the time Prince Franz died in 1817 virtually the entire principality had become a unified garden. His successors maintained this quality intact throughout the 19th century. When the system of local roads was upgraded in the second half of the century, no new routes were cut through the Garden Kingdom, and the characteristic avenues of fruit trees were maintained when widening took place. Despite industrialization and the consequent expansion of Dessau since 1900, the characteristic features of the landscape have been preserved. Regrettably, however, the construction of the Autobahn in 1937-38 and the railway to serve the coal-fired power station at Vockerode in 1937-42 divided the Garden Kingdom into four parts.
Dessau suffered during World War II, but the Garden Kingdom escaped relatively unscathed. Subsequently, there has been some degradation of the agricultural landscape from the removal of field boundaries and the construction of large buildings for livestock. However, closure of the power station and the 1970s glasshouse complex at Vockerode in 1994-95 has resulted in a process of ecological stabilization, which has been favourable for the Garden Kingdom.

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