The UNESCO World Heritage site of Muskauer Park / Park Mużakowski is an extensive landscape initially developed between 1815 and 1844 by Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau on the grounds of his estate, and continued by his student, Eduard Petzold. Set harmoniously in the river valley of the Lusatian Neisse, the park’s integration into the local town and surrounding agricultural landscapes heralded a new approach to landscape design and contributed to the advancement of landscape architecture as a discipline. The extensive site includes the river Neisse, other water features, human-made and natural, bridges, buildings, forested areas, and paths. It is an example of a cultural landscape in which the site’s natural attributes have been harnessed with the utmost skill.
The park is of the highest aesthetic quality and its composition blends fluidly with the naturally-formed river valley. Its essence is the visual relationship between the central residence, the New Castle, and a series of topographical focal points comprising ideal vantage points laid out along riverside terraces flanking the valley, each of which forms part of a masterfully fashioned network of vistas. Pückler incorporated human-made architectural elements into this network along with natural components, including the terrain’s geological features. It is distinctive with its extraordinary simplicity and expansiveness.
The property encompasses the central portion of this extensive landscape composition measuring 348 ha (136.10 ha in Germany and 211.9 ha in Poland). The remaining part of the composition falls within the surrounding buffer zone of 1,205 ha.
Here, Pückler laid the foundations of an integrated landscape design with the extension of the park into the town of Bad Muskau through green passages and urban parks. The incorporation of the community into the overall composition, as a key component in his planned utopian landscape, had a great impact on contemporary town planning, particularly in the United States of America, as illustrated by the green areas of the city of Boston, and on the development of the landscape architecture profession. Pückler published his principles of landscape design theory in “Andeutungen über Landschaftsgärtnerei” (1834). Moreover, the training of landscape gardeners by Prince von Pückler and his student Eduard Petzold helped create skill standards which influenced the work of other gardeners and planners. This training tradition has been revived in recent times by the creation of the Muskauer School, as an international school for the training in garden and cultural landscape maintenance.
The project presents itself as an ideal example of practical work in the skills of management and comprehension of the constituive elements in a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape. The site remains within the traditional concept of a historical garden which has been melded into the landscape, incorporating different elements both natural and human, into an ensemble with outstanding universal value.
The first task will be to rediscover and recreate a part of the former path system in the "Bath Park" on the German side of the transboundary site. The works will be guided by qualified personnel which will provide an indepth understanding of Pückler’s design and vision.
A second task involves replanting a historic flower garden in the "Mountain Park" area in accordance with the historic evidence available. This practical activity will enable the participants to comprehend the peculiarities in the upholding of the authenticity values in the context of an everchanging natural site.
The educational part of the project will inform the participants about the background of the site management, pondering into the peculiar situation of the property becoming a transboundary site with the change of the borders in 1945. The participants will be provided with knowledge about historical English landscape gardens and park architecture, traditional gardening and other related topics.
The site is facing the effects of climate change due to the lowering water levels in the region and rainfall decrease. For this reason, Muskauer Park is one of the places in Europe where emerging approaches to face the climate emergency’s effects on World Heritage sites are being studied. Consequently, the participants will also have the opportunity to gain knowledge in climate change resilience practices being developed to protect and preserve this World Heritage site.