A few days ago I carried out my fifth river walk – the 50km Aarhus River Walk together with my walking compatriot Thomas Juel Clemmensen. For a full fourteen hours we walked in and along the banks of the Aarhus River. From Astrup Mose through the undulating river landscape of farmland, forests, villages and hills into the Aarhus River Valley where the river runs into the Bay of Aarhus close to my office at the Aarhus School of Architecture.
The river was one of the main reasons for me participating in the 50th IFLA conference in New Zealand in 2013.
As our planned walk along Skjern River has been postponed to the spring of 2016 the Aarhus River Walk was a fitting sequal to our first river walk in May 2013, where we carried out the Aire Walk together along the banks of the Aire River from its springs in the mountains of France across the national border into Switzerland to where the river disappears underneath the city of Geneva.
During the final stretch of our Aarhus River Walk, walking a pitch black September night, we passed by silently what was once the minor site of one of the major gardens in 20th century Danish landscape architecture: Sven’s Garden on the northern slopes of the river valley.
From 1965 to 1980 Sven Hansen was Professor in Landscape Architecture at the Aarhus School of Architecture. In 1948 he co-founded IFLA. His garden beautifully exemplified how certain landscape architects in Aarhus have related their work to the city’s overarching narrative of water, topography and territory.
A narrative we are now continuing through the establishment of the Aarhus Landscape Laboratory placed in the valley of Dead Creek on the southern banks of the river directly opposite Svens garden. A garden that was closely linked to the territory we traversed on our walk.
So, to some extent our Aarhus River Walk was also a walk through time and Sven’s Garden…