Dessau-Wörlitzer Gartenreich

The International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens

VIII Annual Award, 1997

The eighth Carlo Scarpa Prize was dedicated to the extraordinary Dessau-Wörlitzer Gartenreich, the “realm of gardens” situated within an area of some 300 square kilometres on the left bank of the River Elbe near the city of Dessau.
Commissioned by Prince Leopold Friedrich Franz von Anhalt-Dessau (1740-1817), the work took over half a century from 1764 and involved a large circle of architects, agronomists, gardeners and decorators as well as a Europe-wide network of intellectuals, travellers and correspondents.
Based on the original bed of the Elbe and a number of abandoned tributaries, the landscaping was inspired by the new attitude proclaimed by Rousseau and interacts with Palladian style monuments and examples of English, English-Dutch and English-Chinese garden design.
The award was intended heighten public awareness of this neglected masterpiece of the Enlightenment and to encourage the regional authority of Saxony-Anhalt to review its industrial building programme, which provides for a new cement-works in an area that has already been partly spoiled by the Munich-Berlin motorway and a huge, disused, coal-fired electric power station. It is also hoped that the Prize will encourage a climate of interest and knowledge that can ensure that the site will be protected from the invasive, consumer-orientated consequences of EXPO 2000, to be held in the nearby city of Hannover.

Text taken from the 1997 Carlo Scarpa Prize Statement, edited by the Jury.