A fruitful way to reevaluate cultural landscapes.
Nowadays, as landscape architects, we are called to manage complexity, made by crossing confused fluxes of people, goods, information and energies that provokes irreversible changes affecting our planet.
In this context, the landscape itself becomes the unintentional protagonist suffering the imminence of the events.
Among the swirling whirl of these flows and changes, I think that a really important and in some how “salvific” attitude , would be to try to rediscover the sense of the places: reading trough the different layers that compose the sophisticated mosaic that makes the place itself, and from the deeply understanding of its genius loci 1 in order to valorize and manage the new cultural landscape in its complexity.
Doing this, it will be fundamental to understand the deep sense of the quite abused word “sustainability”, to learn how to manage the landscapes together with either locals or temporary inhabitants.
So, it will be strategically important to test discipline’s boundaries, from a multicultural and pluridisciplinary approach, trying to find as much as possible an interaction with the other correlated topics as art, design, architecture, as well as anthropology and sociology; together with science, biology, geology, among others.
Our role as educators is to empower students… and support them to be able to reevaluate the contemporary cultural landscapes in order to create a new generation of “landscape facilitators”.
Also it would be important to take in consideration the politics, international cooperation and environmental and human resources management studies; which could help in shaping a new perspective inside our traditional practice.
From this perspective, it could be possible to stimulate and activate a new focus that approaches the traditional landscaper toward a figure of a “landscape’s facilitator”, transforming the landscape architect into a sort of mediator between all persons interested in the landscape: be they local people, temporary communities, local Administrations, Civil Protection, forest rangers or even Military Forces.
At this time, I think that we need to look for a different method, as well as a different way of making school of landscape architecture.
It is crucial to develop a training model for the discipline of Landscape Architecture, encouraging students to experiment new ways not only during the approach to the design phase, but even more before putting together rigorous analyses.
I believe that our role as educators in order to create a new generation of “landscape facilitators”, is to empower students developing critical frameworks and support them to be able to reevaluate the contemporary cultural landscapes.
An open and implementable formula, is the experimental workshop called LandWorks-Sardinia, founded in 2011 inside the Master in Mediterranean Landscape Urbanism, DADU Department of Architecture, Design and Urbanism of University of Sassari, directed by Stefan Tischer.
I am co-founder of the LandWorks Program and i have been Scientific Coordinator of the Workshop for the last six editions.
Based in the ancient Sardinia island, in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, it is basically an international operative program to search new ways to analyze, underline, revitalize and manage the cultural contemporary landscapes, engaging internationally well-known practitioners, from very different disciplines as landscape architecture; dance, music, art and architecture; who perform, in a quite short time, ephemeral installations.
They do this collaboratively with diverse international students, with whom they create shared, operative and spontaneous works through a pluralist disciplinary and multi-cultural approach.
The goal of the workshop is to train students in landscape architecture through a workshop “on site”, trhough manual, “hands-on” and participatory activities, such as planting, digging, the building of small artifacts and landscape installations.
Since the first edition held in the 2011, landscape architects, environmental designers and artists have explored designed and created site-specific ephemeral installations inside Sardinia´s Mediterranean landscape.
The places of interest for the LandWorks Program, are generally abandoned or compromised inside of the contemporary landscape contexts on the Mediterranean area.
Similarly, the artistic environmental installations are mostly ephemeral and always made with natural material, or waste found on site.
Some of the installations produced in collaboration with the local community have been able to withstand time and are still visible today, simultaneously cultivating local memory for the inhabitants as well as for new visitors.
1 For the Romans it was “genius” or protective spirit of the place. Later the term was used by the English Alexander Pope in the eighteenth century to refer to the identity of a place.