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Metropolitan landscapes: polycentrisme, dilatations, multiperipheries and microperipheries

From the cliché landscape to the calidoscopic landscape 1. Quo vadis city? Quo vadis territory? Quo vadis landscape? The use of the territory has always followed an expansive trend. The city, however, has presented until the last century controlled forms. Now, the city and the territory change inexorably and, because of that, their interpretation, that is to say what we perceive as «an urban landscape» or «territorial landscape », does not have to be made from positions apocalyptic or nostalgic. We revise the state of the city and the territory to improve them and -following the aphorism «the landscape is the soul of the territory»to try to construct landscapes of quality. And it is always a good moment to start. There is nothing definitively lost with respect to the quality of the city, the territory and the landscape. They are many seminars, expositions and articles derived that have been occupied to investigate about the new landscapes, and specifically about the metropolitan kinds.1 Singularly I would like to highlight those that have developed in highly occupied territorial contexts, where phenomena like sprawl condition the determining characteristic of a social worry which wants to approach with a renewed key its environmental management. The American city has already experimented many years before that in our contexts the dilatation of the city overthe territory and the literature of works is very wide that they have become interested in the phenomena of metropolitanització and that they have generated a consistent bibliography of explanation and interpretation.2 «Cities without Cities» is the title of the introductory lecture of the seminar The Future Metropolitan Landscape: Conference Reflections, which moves about the interest in understanding the regional contemporary metropolitan landscapes. A title that hits in the consciousness of the loss of the form The Future Metropolitan Landscape: Conference Reflections recull les reflexions derivades de l’exposició al York’s Museum of Modern Art «Groundswells» (february 2005). 2 Vegeu els nostres treballs: Llop Torné, C., A. Calvo i M. Marincioni (col·l.) (2004); «Formes de ciutat al segle xx», en L’explosió de la ciutat / The explosion of the city, 1a ed., Barcelona, COAC i Fòrum Universal de les Cultures, pàg. 346-352 i «Mocions i lògiques d’intervenció en el projecte territorial renovat en les regions urbanes», ibid., pàg. 346-379. 1

of the traditional city -more or less compact, but measurable and delimitable- and the progressive constitution of an infinite city - disperse and delayed on the territory, less delimitable, heterogeneous and multiform-, a city that some authors already qualified as a great mixed coloidal, city of lumps, or a variety of constructed forms over a territory fractured by infrastructures, dotted with eidifcation and fragmented in its geographical continuity. It is not only a physical trivialization what the metropolitan territories are bearing. It has to do above all with the loss of quality that hits fully upon the weakening of the social integrity and of the economic strength. A landscape degraded and perceived with displeasure is the expression and the feeling of the citizens who inhabit it, in seeing the extensions of «urbanalized» residencs, the abandoned agricultural areas, the residual spaces of the edges of the infrastructures, the industrial areas in precarious state, the big spaghetti bowls in the intersections of the big metropolitan roads. It is the abandonment that degrades the territory and what shows a landscape belligerent and disappointing where we feel the need to reclaim a renewed perception of space. Rethinking and reworking the landscape of the metropolis is probably the only thing path for refinding the the quality of that lost perception.

2. The landscape as a perception of the territory, multilandscapes We can attribute multiple senses to the word landscape. So many, that it starts to produce us a certain confusion. What do we provoke when we use it in such an indiscriminate form ? A healthy reaction is to attempt to establish consensus over the meaning that we give it and the precise use in identifying and formulating shareable questions about the perception of the territories. I have used both key words deliberately, and I change their order: territory and perception. The territory is the fundamental key for delimiting the subject of which we are talking and perception is the word that enriches the interpretation of what is happenning in this territory. The territory brings a tangible reality and the perception the judgement that one makes, hermeneutically and criticism, when he/she observes, analyzes

establishes a specific appraisal. Perception, cognition and affectivity are the categories that one exercises with the landscape perspective.

The landscape is the fusion of what is seen and what is not seen of the territory, the texture as an expression of the deep structure and of the history that has preceded and conditioned it, «a semantic latency», as Eugenio Turri proposes, formed by the communities that have lived the territory and they have configured it geographically and socially. We have idolized too much the contents of the «landscape» and we have lost the strength and forcefullness of what is and what we mean with the word «territory». The territory that explains itself based on the features of the environment, transformed by the forms of living. The landscape has to refind its condition of «country»! There´s no sense neither in the nostalgia of the old irretrievable landscapes, nor in the apology and the pseudomodern fascination for the no-places or the landscapes of the homogenizing globalization. If the territory is not animated, the epidermis degrades and dries up. 3. The territories in a world of explosions, landscapes that explode in the middle of the territory Perhaps we could be convenient that the contemporaneity is marked by explosions: demographic, urban, migratory, of mobility, economic and, definitively, a social explosion that breaks with the classical paradigms. It is interesting to observe how we compare/contrast the territories in the limits of the determinate thresholds for the maximumum urban occupation, the metropolis, and the total absence of anthropization, the desert. This extreme duality happens however equivocally, given the progressive loss of definite isolation in the desertic territories, that him produces The transformations of the périphérique of París

parallelly to the increasing isolations/insulations that the man suffers in the a-topia of some metropolitan places. The nature becomes every time more urbanized and the city redisovers new forms of forest abandonment. The urban explosions provoke an uncontrolled fragmentation of the physical space, which happens like a fractured mirror, a cracked space, a brittle mosaic, where the fragments still keep the sense of the whole decomposed. This fragmentation offers a broken landscape and a desolation to whom intends to understand the integrity of the territory, because neither the sequence or the link between the pieces exist. This is the landscape of the ordinary periphery, now transformed into a multitude of incongruent and banal, polluted and noisy peripheries, carved by the highways and badly communicated, with a lot infrastructures but little infrastructured... The city sprouts with very diverse processes in plural forms, however we have to admit the new forms of urbanity although the new city forms seem to us paradoxically inadmissible. It is important to distinguish between «city» and «urbs» as Henri Lefebvre proposed,3 but we are not capable of understanding and less to identify the reality of the contemporary city. Because of that, there´s no sense in making the panegyric of the careless/left city to the chaotic order of the flexibility of the no-rule or of the normative deregulation, neither the praise of the periphery as new type of modern space. What is necessary is being conscious of the phenomena that characterize the metropolis, to understand the challenges of its possible transformation: - Extension of the forms of city over the territory with the consequent dissipation of its functions. - Residential dispersion over territorial areas each time further off from the centers. - Polarization of central functions about the nodes of metropolitan accessibility. - Great internal transformations of the consolidated city. - Loss of centrality. - Increase of the periurbans perimeters. - Congestion of the infrastructures. - Problems of use for certain lands/grounds.

4. Multiperipheries and microperipheries, the effects of the diffuse limits in the use of the territory The city has withdrawn from the atàvistic relationship with the territory, fact that has generated a multiplicity of heterogeneous forms, often fragmentary and mixed. Lefebvre, H. (1972); Espacio y política, Barcelona, Editorial Península. 3

The real city is a great «nebulous urbana»4 that is necessary, however, knowing how to decipher, understand and consequently to act there. The new lexicons that we look for to understand phenomenologically the urban fact are devices for the project and the management of the urban processes. The mobility conditions and determines the form of the territory and the metropolis is the maximum stage. The dilatation of the persons on the territory determines the metropolitan scale. It does not exist without movements and flows of materials, goods, information and persons. The «product» and the «reification» of this mobility are the urbanization development of the territory and the most visible expression of the background the skin of what is the metropolis; its real landscape, in the kinetic perception and in the changes and transformations that it accumulates. The long use of the territory, which has progressively marked the forms of the urban life, has expanded the city over a vast geography. This has caused a territorial geography highly anhropised and in a system of cities every time more conurbaded and close to each other-. The dilatation of the city, the overemployment and the fragmentation of the forms of territorial occupation have increased the perimeters of contact between the countryside and the city, between countryside and countryside and between city and city, in the multiple situations that provoke the contemporary urban realities: landscapes of the consumption (commercial strips), landscapes of infrastructures, residual landscapes (brownfields), wastelands, great industrial occupations, transport hubs and the mobility, marginal landscapes, marginated landscapes... Stuttgart

Source : Carles Llop In the last hundred years, the urban revolution, based on the concentration in large cities has given rise to diverse denominations of a city different from the traditional city of a nuclear configuration. See our elaboration : Timeline, Nuevas formas de ciudad en los siglos XX-XXI.

5. Recompose the territory, reinvent it, generate new landscapes The territory is a permanent archive. The biophysical substratum is the evidence, expresses the environmental dynamics and is a testimony of the social actions. It is the history and geography of the production of the space. From a holístic perspective of the territory as a contemporary expression that includes the memory of the past and the vindication of an improved future, we understand that it is possible to intervene modifying the pathologies of the territory. The most suitable strategies are its recomposition but but also its re-invention. The recompositions are in the agenda: «Re:mix. Re:make. Re:configure. Re:consider»5 are formulations applicable to the social behaviors and consequently, to the recomposition of our territories from a compromised ecological perspective, for the environmental harmonization between the contemporary city and the permanent territory. The city expands and the territory accommodates it. This has been and still is the binomial that the territorial transformations are based on. The new paradigm for the project of the contemporary city should settle about the technic-political and social harmonization that in the last years we have been constructing in the actions of the territorial government, in the urbanistic and territorial plans and in the civic proposals and manifestos. All these agents and platforms, mostly talking for the case of Catalonia (they do not accompany us unfortunately in this journey other autonomous communities of the peninsula), we have kept on creating a set of principles conceptually solid and efficient when it comes to ordering, projecting and managing this phase of the city that we get to live. - In the face of the dispersion, the concentration. - In the face of low density, the work with regard to new reasonably higher densities. - In the face of the territorial fragmentation, models more reasonably compact. - In the face of the hyperspecialization, the mixture and the mixture of uses. - In front of the social segregation, the project of the social space as an incentive of the cohesion and the solidarity. - The reticular polarization of the centers capitals linked in network with the intermediate metropolitan cities, according to the principle of the theory of networks: autonomy of the parts and complementariness among them.


REBAR, group of creators, designers and activists (San Francisco, USA), 5

To reinvent landscapes means to create renewed ways to relate with the territory, to use it and manage it. Bernando Secchi says with respect to the metropolitan landscapes: “Watercourses once engineered for transport can be set free or reconnected to wetlands. Industrial areas can be transformed into porous sites, and the infrastructure of rail lines can become an opportunity to enhance mobility and make the city truly accessible to all without relying on private transportation”. They are images that do not

belong to the pre-existent territory, but to the virtual imagination of these new stages. The re-invention is based on new imaginations that hatch in the virtual world, in the reflection on the possibilities of changes, on the base of a spatiality that does not belong to the real sight, but to the evocation of the reflexive thoughts and in the cybernetic world, in one a priori still not formal that will become possible through the landscape project.

Projects of urban articulacions in the south-west of Besòs, in la Mina i Sant Raimon de Penyafort

6. A new structure to rethink the efficiency of the metropolis: the «territorial mosaic city» The renewed territorial project passes, then, through the recomposition, the re-invention, that are specified in the articulation of the fragments and in the adequacy of the different city forms in a new physical and functional system of organization. The «territorial mosaic city» is a structure, morphological and environmental at the same time, thought in key of the mutual ecological adaptation and the co-evolution of the urban and natural ecosystems in interaction, based on a mosaic articulated by urban pieces and of the biophysical matrix of the territory, environmentally balanced, composed of: - The consolidated urban structures. - The urban tesseraes of high quality about the perimeters and the metropolitan interstices, as in new spaces of the city. - The new attractors equipped in the contact between the great territorial voids and the urban tesserae. The conceptualization of this model entails a series of operating objectives: - The encouraging of the osmosis and the dissolution of borders, through the planing of spaces of permeability and exchange. - The work of requalification of the edges. - The articulation of the pieces of the mosaic through one efficient management of the mobility and a project every time more careful of the road grid. - The regeneration and the articulation of the empty spaces of the metropolis. The active voids is the nocity, compound of the set of spaces of the biophysic matrix of the territory, the plenum of the rivers and of all its components, of escorrenties of water and the more capillar hydrographic network, of fields of crops and vegetable gardens and of the forest spaces.

7. The calidoscopic landscape The relationship between the city and its environment has produced a great amount of confusing sensations and the creation of a set of imaginations or multiple landscapes that praise or criticize the distinct territorial situations. Of-

ten we have found ourselves with no model to manage the territorial project. I think that now we have to speak from the wealth of the disciplinary diversity, from a forum of visions and polyhedral opinions, even dialectically confronted, because we move in uncertain times, but in the tension between the most pernicious liberalism and the claim of a new culture of the territory or «for the territory» that after all it is that, incorporating the persons who inhabit it, constitutes the true ecosystem where we live.

We have to reinterpret the possibilities of the landscape as a tool. In the metropolises, the landscape interventions have to create social harmonization to make an improvement in the quality of life (environmental, cultural, aesthetic...) in useful places for the community, for an efficient mobility, for the creation of habitability, for the health in a suitable environment ... A new beauty, a new aesthetic, a new sense of the possibilities of the metropolitan man for generating comfort and equity...

Speaking from the optics of the planner, of the designer, corresponds, of the one who, if you allow me, constructs the city intervening in the subtle equilibrium of the diffuse border between that natural and that constructed, aware of what Joseph Rykwert reminds us: «The planner of today [...] still has to learn an important lesson from his/hers predecessor [...], that any “pattern” that the city offers has to be strong enough to survive any unavoidable disorder [...] and he/she has to structure the experience urbana».6

The use of the landscape has to be a tool of social mediation for the management of the transformations. On projecting territorial transformations it is demonstrated how new landscapes open up. The project of landscape is then one tool, a cultural mediation to generate a critical vision about the abuse of the territory and to bring up new paradigms of use. Recycling the territories ill-treated from the metropolitan peripheries supposes generating a factory of landscapes that, besides new forms and spaces, they provoke new ethical attitudes of the citizens who inhabit them. As Gaston Bachelard proposed, people «dream before contemplating, before being a conscious show, every landscape is an oneiric experience. Soleley it contemplates with an aesthetic passion, the landscapes that before they have been seen in dreams. We recognize in the human dream the preamble of the natural beauty».7 Looking like this at the metropolis, we will lose the cliché that limits and we will discern the possibilities of the kaleidoscopic landscape.

Without any nostalgia for the past and with a deep enthusiasm to manage the project of the city , thinking in the construction of the «new» space in this path towards the infinite city, we will have to explore to the maximum the possibilities of the landscape.

Rykwert, J. (2002); La idea de ciudad: antropología de la forma urbana en Roma, Italia, y el mundo antiguo, 1a ed. de 1976. [S. l.], Ediciones Sígueme. 6

Bachelard, G. (1978); El agua y los sueños: ensayo sobre la imaginación de la materia, Mèxic, Fondo de Cultura Económica. 7

paisatges metropolitans_ingles  

2. The landscape as a perception of the territory, multilandscapes We can attribute multiple senses to the word landscape. So many, that it...

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