vendredi 15 mai 2015

The Drosscape.

AUC, Grand Paris Stimulé, 2009.

Landscape architects in academia give little attention to urbanisation, often dwelling instead on the traditional areas of landscape history – site engineering, construction detailing, and project-based design studio education. But beyond and behind these topics is a reality so huge we tend not to see it at all – what I call the drosscape, or the inevitable “waste landscapes” within urbanised regions that eternally elude the overly controlled parameters, the scripted programming elements that designers are charged with creating and accommodating in their projects. Adaptively reusing this waste landscape figures to be one of the twenty-first century’s great infrastructural design challenges. This essay chronicles this condition and suggests that those with an understanding of both landscape and urbanisation will be best positioned to act on these sites in the future. 


The waste landscape emerges out of two primary processes: first, from rapid horizontal urbanisation (urban “sprawl”), and second, from the leaving behind of land and detritus after economic and production regimes have ended. From its deindustrializing inner core to its sprawling periphery to the transitional landscape in between, the city is the manifestation of industrial processes that naturally produce waste. Designers often paint a black-and-white picture of complex industrial processes. A common term, “post-industrial”, has been used by landscape architects, architects, and planners to describe everything from polluted industrial landscapes to former factory buildings usually found in declining sections of cities. The term itself creates more problems than solutions because it narrowly isolates and objectifies the landscape as the byproduct of very specific processes no longer operating upon a given site (residual pollution aside). This outlook reifies the site as essentially static and defines it in terms of the past rather than as part of ongoing industrial processes that form other parts of the city (such as manufacturing agglomerations on the periphery). I suggest that it would be strategically helpful for understanding the potential of these sites if designers avoid the term “post-industrial” and its value system when discussing them. 

Drosscape is created by the deindustrialisation of older city areas (the city core) and the rapid urbanisation of newer city areas (the periphery), which are both catalysed by the drastic decrease in transportation costs (for both goods and people) over the past century. It is an organic phenomenon heedless of the academic and human boundaries that separate environmental from architectural/planning/design issues, urban from suburban issues, and nostalgic definitions of community from actual organisations of people, workplaces, and social structures. I argue that planned and unplanned horizontal conditions around vertical urban centres are intrinsically neither bad nor good, but instead natural results of industrial growth, results that require new conceptualization and considered attention, and that these must be in hand before potential solutions to any problem discovered can be effectively addressed or devised.

Alan Berger, Drosscape in The Landscape Urbanism Reader, Princeton Architectural Press, 2006, p.199-201. 

Merci à M.J.

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