AIAPP International Conference 12-13 October 2023 and IFLA Europe General Assembly 2023 13-15 October 2023, Naples Italy
Looking at the transformation of landscapes in recent years, we cannot ignore how the speed of the dynamics that caused this, is undergoing a new, strong acceleration.
Scientists, researchers, and scholars describe the current world as one out of control, where environmental, economic, and identity crises are interconnected; although their dimensions are global, they are perceived locally, profoundly affecting the places and landscapes that are an expression thereof.
Landscapes, it is well known, are constantly evolving. Yet, sometimes, such transformations occur improperly - despite their constitutive rules, in a homogenizing manner, causing inconsistent rips and scars - so that they lose their recognisability. “Have we lost our landscapes?” philosopher Venturi Ferriolo asks. This question is not trivial, and it is not so important to answer it as it is to trigger new actions and processes in order to “(...) save local specificities, often no longer recognizable enough to reclaim a dying identity.” (M. Venturi Ferriolo, Landscapes in motion: For an Aesthetics of Transformation, 2016).
The problem of identity is crucial: there is not a single identity for a landscape but multiple ones, and these are linked to social perception. Furthermore, what we consider identity is often the result of a process of ‘reverse filiation’, whereby, “(...) It is not the past that produces the present, but the present that shapes its past.” (M. Bettini, You’ve Got the Wrong Forest. The Fury of Identity, 2020).
Landscape is the “door” to enter that dimension in which memory and imagination meet to give birth to something new: a design process that feeds on an “operating memory” (see. ‘Lost Landscapes’) to nourish its performative nature, far from nostalgia and lament of what is lost.
Opening a reflection on how landscapes change or become something else by cutting the thread that binds them to their origin, letting go of something, losing characters and meanings and sometimes acquiring new ones, entails the necessary consideration of landscape architecture as the attitude of design most capable of interpreting the conditions of the ‘contemporary habitat’.
Landscape Architecture must become the game-changer, essential not only to consolidate, reconstruct and practically conform the Earth’s ecological systems, but to contribute decisively to the transformation of the way we inhabit, produce, and traverse our landscapes.
Its task is to stand as a negotiator between nature and culture, between technological innovation, ecological and poetic imagination, to play a decisive role in reconstructing the meaning andalue of our relationship with the Earth.
Landscape Architecture is a critical practice, a condition in which design becomes action; it is a way of thinking and acting combined. It expresses a professional competence capable of redeveloping living environments through complex transitional processes.
It is the responsibility of Landscape Architects to conduct an action of truth, to bring back the project’s issue in full awareness of each of its aspects: configurative, social, and environmental.
The field of action of the landscape project increasingly concerns the landscapes of everyday life. Those where communities live, work, and transit. The landscapes where it is necessary to metabolize major human-induced transformations, including those related to emerging environmental problems. The ‘Lost Landscapes’ conference aims to activate a discussion table in which points of views, lines of research, and practices of landscape architecture can confront each other around certain capabilities of the project that are put in tension with three thematic areas, but also those landscapes that have the characteristic of not being identified by precise geographical or typological connotations.
One inhabits a landscape when one shares in the exchanges that make it intensive. There is a foundational and fertile ambiguity in dwelling landscapes. This ambiguity resides in the suspended dimension between city and countryside, urbanity, and hinterland. It is about new characteristics, no longer rural or natural but neither properly urban, marked by an alternation, an overlapping, and above all an inconsistent co-presence of these states.
It is on these issues that the contemporary attitude of the landscape reveals its potential through the power of rewriting, of acting in networks by points and systems, of assuming incompleteness and discontinuity as part of the outcome.
These contexts often become “reserves” of biodiversity and (considering the new climate and social challenges) can stimulate a new consideration of the city’s open spaces, no longer seen as fragments, but as a ‘system’, significant and meaningful at the metropolitan and territorial scale, waiting for new opportunities for recognition, revitalization and regeneration that could arise from integrated strategies of preservation, management, and innovation.
Landscapes of Production
An important goal of the Landscape Architect is to design productive landscapes that are resilient and capable of providing as many ecosystem services as possible, beginning with a collaboration with the actors who will implement them, first and foremost the communities that live and produce there. Such complexity cannot be solved by simply replacing a pre-existing landscape such as the rural landscape, with a monofunctional landscape such as the agro-industrial one, or mass tourism or energy landscapes. Especially because whenever strong economic interests have affected rural areas, communities have moved away from them and with them knowledge, material, cultures, and ancestral ties that had created those very landscapes in the first place. How, then, can we succeed in introducing innovations without depopulating and causing desertification, but instead enlivening it with new functions?
Landscapes of Crossing
Ecological, infrastructural, settlement, perceptual, social, and economic networks and relationships structure the landscape. Links that are not only physical, but also intangible, evident not only in the present but also as traces of a memory that is projected into the future. Networks that traverse and describe landscapes, connecting places of life (roads and routes for soft mobility, ‘greenways’, ‘blueways’, etc.) whose intangible dimension is the poetic design-key to create new ways of active and dynamic enjoyment of the landscape (i.e., wine and flavour routes, historical-cultural itineraries, etc.).
The design project of the crossing of landscapes and the design project of the crossed landscapes, become a single narrative that connects stories and geographies. The landscapes of crossing are the places where the material and tactile value of relationships is manifested, but that also emerges for their ability to narrate space and time, testifying to the centrality of landscape design in order to construct a contemporary narrative that maintains a thread with the past.
More details about programme and practicalities to follow.