This article is the first of two, in which we analyse the relation between the landscape as a natural system and landscape development from a point of view of regional development. It is an explorative study based on a field trip with students in 2014 and a short analysis of texts and maps. The geological context of the Carpathian Basin and surrounding mountain range forms a necessary point of departure for regional development.
Two case studies of settlements in the Călata Region, south-west of Cluj-Napoca, have been studied and show how the morphology of valleys and their relation to rivers can influence the settling and structure of villages.
In the second part of the article, the land and its historical context are related to three goals of contemporary landscape architecture in general: the problem of water management, of energy transition, and of creation of healthy environments for people.
One of the conclusions of the study is that the water system offers opportunities for future landscape development in the long run. The principles of water management based on the European Water Framework Directive – very well known in landscape architecture – are an excellent basis for restructuring and design. At regional level, the landscape structure is largely determined by geology and geomorphology in the form of watersheds. Landscape structure forms a link between landscape development in the long run and the material form of the landscape.
Given the rich cultural diversity in population, the enormous diversity in topography, and a rich history, the region has a potential for improving the qualities for contemporary use and living.
Keywords: landscape architecture, landscape, road system, water system, development, Transylvania