…Clou…d…s…

…from the earth…

…the changing of the airs…

There are days when I look across the valley and see flows of clouds, flows of clouds I do not understand. Right side of the brain…nil. Left side of the brain…nil.

Yet, I am entranced by the beauties of the flows…

Other days, I wake up, eager to see those flows…and I find…what might as well be infinitely far away…something in that distance…all by itself…sigh.

the ether the sky

…and it begins…

I sigh confronted by beauty I can not fathom. Clouds…if I can not grasp them in my hands, how can I describe them? How can I write about them?

Suggestions?

 

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Food Gardens

The history of the Interlaken landscape before river channel control was one of a swamp as the Lutschine and Lombach emptied huge Alpine catchments into this flat land adjacent to the Aare River.

Up the valleys Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Saxeten and Lombach where swampiness was not a problem, people have for centuries managed arable land to support their families. Particularly in the Grindelwald area, there are seven centuries of written records documenting how they managed the landscape.

So this region has a tradition of agriculture, crop and animal management in family scale over the lands from Alpine heights to valley floors. The following series of images show how the Interlaken neighborhoods now follow that same tradition of small land management and family food gardens today.

…001/015…

Most families dedicate a patch for seasonal vegetables close to their house.

…002/015…

Veg, flowers, and a place to sit outside.

…003/015…

This ‘front yard’ is 80% mixed garden, with little strip of grass–maybe for a pet.

…004/015…

A garden filled with healthy plants speaks of health and commitment to neighbors and passersby.

…005/015…

When the yard is large enough, there will be found a fruit tree. If even larger, a nut tree.

…006/015…

Each homeowner finds unique balance with the plantings of flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables.

…007/015…

Municipal water supply for allotment gardens for people who have no gardening space at home.

…008/015…

In the allotments, beauty comes from sweat equity. Healthy allotment gardens are the best of public realm commitments–people and plants in harmony–heart warming it is.

…009/015…

Past the edge of town is a rural landscape with small scale patches of crops.

…010/015…

Small scale farming climbs up the slopes becoming pastures which are grazed and/or cut for animals.

…011/015…

Villages are densely built in the foreground. Pastures in the middle ground with barns for storing hay.

…012/015…

I just can’t stop including more images of healthy veg gardens next to homes–such a fulfilling feeling.

…013/015…

In this image is a public path on the right–and one heck of a healthy veg garden to the left. Tell me that is not a beautiful and inspiring landscape?!

…014/015…

Pasture in the foreground, veg in middle ground, flowers and home in the background. Nuf said.

…015/015…

Fruit trees and crops right up to the edge of town, then each home with its own veg and flower garden. It is not ideology, not theory. It is fact. It is the result of people understanding plants, gardens and landscapes through their own hard work and intelligence.

Interlaken: design & tourism

…Interlaken Jungfrau…

The yellow dots with black outlines are previously busy successful hotels that are empty, or rarely occupied, or struggling for a four or five-star rating

At the heart of a tremendous landscape. Interlaken.

In the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps, Interlaken is a 365day/year resort destination on the Aare River connecting two lakes at the confluence of four valleys.

Interlaken alone has more than 900,000 overnight stays/year. Tourism drives the economy. Landscape drives the tourism.

This place is all about design, why? Because this landscape exudes inspiration, it enables captivation. A guest can see it, breathe it, feel it, taste it and touch it. Landscape feeds design.

But change is inevitable. New design is required.

…mountain cure comfort…

The last of the great Interlaken-Jungfrau five-star resort destinations from the Victorian era. Take the airs. Take the views. Take the walks. Take the cures.

…take your pick…

This view of the Jungfrau from Interlaken across the Hohematte today has become nearly a touristic cliche. It was the original tourist attraction. Now it is only 10% of the landscape attractions accessible from Interlaken.

What is the inspirational magic that fills the air in this landscape? For two hundred years the greatest authors, composers and all humans have been captivated by this ethereal landscape beauty which has propelled them to design, compose, write, paint.

Great American writers have built on their experience in this landscape: Mark Twain, James Fenimore Cooper. And a partial list overwhelms: Haller, RousseauGoethe,(as inspired by the Staubbach in Lauterbrunnental), Byron, Mendelssohn, Schiller, AC. Doyle, Tolkien, Bierstadt, Caspar Wolf, Hodler, Calame, and pop ‘artists’ like James Bond, Clint Eastwood.

In the last century the Art Nouveau movement spurred deluxe hotel and town growth here.

The most practical and interconnected transportation and communication systems were overlain for easy access. Best in class convenience from the international airports of Zurich, Geneva and Bern via network of trains, trams and busses seamlessly linked to networks of bikes and pedestrians to all winter and summer recreation options including every xxx-treme sport. These put visiting humans into direct touch with the landscape.

Interwoven in all the above is the art of living in these inspirational landscapes. People who live here have translated their inspiration to trychler, yodeler, alphorn, sagen and scherrenschnitt.

Visitors gain access via Interlaken to sites having the UNESCO ‘international seal of approval’:

UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch: An area of 400 square kilometres to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature unfolds as a mystical world with pre-Alpine moorland and karst landscapes.

UNESCO World Heritage Jungfrau Aletsch: An overwhelming display of the Alps’ natural beauty covering over 800 square kilometres. At its heart lies the mighty rock massif of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and the glacial landscape around the Great Aletsch Glacier. The Aletsch Glacier is 23km long, the longest glacier in the Alps.

So what’s the problem? The hotel, resort destination cycle has been bottoming as the visitor profile has changed. Nobody has grasped what is the 21st century successful tourism paradigm. Four and five star hotels are out of business. Other hotels from the Art Noveau era can not easily meet the 21st century energy savings regulations. And the visitor who 30 years ago would visit one or two weeks, now visits two or three days.

Recent tourism numbers and trends intrigue.

Berner Oberland Region = 12,000 beds; net occupancy rate 50%

Interlaken Region = 4,000 beds; net occupancy rate 64%

International Arrivals = Europe 50%, Asia 25%, Americas 15%, Africa 5%, Middle East 5%

Interlaken Region Arrivals = Swiss 45%, International 55%

In conclusion, this Interlaken landscape region has undeniable attraction to Swiss and every geographical segment of  international visitor. The annual visits are steady. The communication and transportation infrastructure is up to date and best in class; but the types of accommodations are not leading the way. The tradition of four and five star has all but disappeared–it struggles.

But there are committed private sector players whose future is based upon visitors’ feet on the landscape, regional transportation and watch consolidator. Both of them rely on successful, comfortable and convenient overnights.

Where does this landscape tourism go in the first half of the 21st century?

Airbnb, local holiday apartments, dormitory accomodations?

Are the traditional comforts of four and five star hospitality culture a memory, not suited to today’s green regulations, today’s pace of life, today’s constrained economics?

Or is there a new paradigm still undiscovered that matches and challenges this timeless inspirational landscape?

That is a question for designers, entrepreneurs and lovers of landscape.

…mountain magic…

For centuries, humans from this region have used the alphorn to express how this landscape inspires them.

…sweetest music you never heard…

Berner Oberland landscape and plants work their way into the finest corners of human inspiration, design and crafts.

…enzian…

Gentian blue, four species…but the color of lapis lazuli…implies the cultural wealth of millennia.

…taste the mountains…

The local brewery, with 700 yrs of history, sells its brew in two litre refillables–collectible graphic design, no?

…fresh water air

Lake steamers connect Interlaken to all towns and villages on the Thunersee and Brienzersee–fresh air carried on fresh water from the Grimsel Pass glaciers.

…workmanship…crafts…

The arable land yields food for humans who respect that miracle in their crafts and architecture.

…music, always music…

Whether by jodeling, alphorns or tales…human connections with the landscape are easily accessible in this region.

…flying is too fast…

A visitor can access this landscape in every imaginable manner.

…take a gamble…

Human shelters for entertainment and education–the old and the new both sitting nicely in the landscape.

…up the valley…

Departing Interlaken from the Hohematte foreground in the direction of the Jungfrau begins an exceptional landscape design sequence of spaces experience working up through the valleys to Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen.

…hohematte…

This is a view across the Hohematte toward the Jungfrau. The Hohematte is a 14 hectare meadow in the center of town, first owned by the Augustinian Monastery, then by Bern and finally in the 1860s bought by a consortium of locals who have preserved it as a meadow in perpetuity.

…transcend…

Interlaken blends modern with tradition in many aspects of design, arts and crafts.

…edelweiss…

Ethnobotany–only the bravest of the climbers could find edelweiss–Leontopodium alpinum.

…two km straight up…

Network interfaces–urban quality interfaces at the foot of Eiger and Jungfrau. Convenient and awe inspiring.

…where…

For walkers the wayfinding is superb. Networks to networks–superb. Clear, crisp.

…water's edge…

In Interlaken, the Aare River connects the upstream Brienzersee to the Thunersee and continues as the largest tributary to the upper Rhine.

…and still the landscape inspires…

Churches tell the political and religious history–Catholic, Reformed–Austrians, French…via arts and crafts.

…idealized plants…

Art Nouveau craftsmanship inspired by the landscape.

Petal Mirror

…time is illusion…

Petal Mirror–is the universe in that petal mirror? Are those stars?
And if those are stars…what is the reverse mirror?

Mirrors, look into yourself? Or, mirrors, look into the clear night sky?

I was looking into this African violet petal mirror and saw everything about the night sky that I could not understand…and…everything about myself I could not understand.

Before I collapsed from dizziness, I asked how can a plant do this?

…and today, I’m happy just to enjoy this flower’s beauty. Really, I’m just fine. 🙂

Implied Basics

…snow basics…

In this photo is the loop of life. All the basics are there or implied. Tree yields wood for shelter. Tree implies arable soil and vegetation upon which all life subsists. Snow is the provision of water. That is all. The fuzzy bit is the uncertainty that all get automatically at the time of birth. But even with uncertainty the entire picture can indeed have balance, even though asymmetrical.

On 1May2016 an unexpected snow fell.

Sometimes sharp and crisp doesn’t tell the story. Fuzzy around the edges, that is real life. Between the door of birth and the door of death, uncertainty, that is the real day to day life.