Farmland of the 21st Century

Farmland of the 21st Century

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Each time again on my way to Hungary and back I am impressed by a strong experience of the 21st Century landscape. This is Burgenland, the area between Vienna and the Hungarian border, a great wine region, the rich harvest area of the Esterhazy's, who acquired their fortune from grain trade, and the birth ground of Joseph Haydn, who was hired as their house composer. The A4 highway is in this particular stretch gently embedded in the ground, thus allowing for acoustic absorption and making it easy for green ducts to cross the highway. On my way I count at least seven of these robust landscape bridges, in the background I count hundreds of windmills. It gives me the feeling of navigating the farmland of the future, only solar farms are still missing to complete the picture. Of these I have seen many on my way in Bayern, where farmers turn to harvest solar energy as an alternative to growing crops. In Burgenland farmers lend their land to harvest wind energy, and cyclists experience the region as a continuous landscape, while the highway is sunken into the ground and hidden behind the bushes, the monotonous noise of the highway no longer bothering their appreciation of the soft mixed use landscape.

What this simple but effective intervention in Burgenland does is to connect what has been spaced apart before. Highways typically create barriers in the landscape, but now the Burgenland approach shows that such barriers can be overcome, that separation of functions can be transformed as to become a connection instead. We now have entered the age of connectivity and interactivity, indeed the age of the Internet of things and people. The urgency to connect and re-connect is to be found on many levels, on the level of landscape planning, on the urban level, while such awareness completely will change the way we shape our built environment, changes the way we establish relationships between the components of which our hyper-natural world is made of.